Sunday, January 20, 2013

Taipei November 2012 Part 4 - Food in Taipei

A few months before my trip, I started researching on food in Taipei. To me, a trip is incomplete if it's not carbonated with fabulous food. My first night in Taipei, I had one of the worst Chinese food ever. I visited Shinyeh, a Chinese restaurant located on the 85th floor of Taipei 101. The restaurant offered a spectacular city view along with expensive food with horrible tastes. That's it for me to ever dine at an overpriced restaurant on a top of building.

Fortunately, my food experience got better and better day after day. I had the best Cantonese food at a restaurant called J-Garden. It was so good that I went back three times. Here are some pictures I took. Didn't take one for ever single dish that I had.

Appetitizer - cherry tomatoes: the cherry tomatoes were refrigerated beforehand. They were cold but not too cold with a mixed sweet and sour taste. One of the must order dishes
Stir fried green beans with minced pork - nothing special
Pumpkin egg soup - a creamy soup with a mix of sweetness and saltines. Absolutely delicious!
Steamed fish. The fish was very expensive. This little bowl cost about $20CAD. I can't remember the name of the fish. It was probably leopard coral grouper. The fish tasted pretty bland. People pay for the nutritional value of the dish not much  for the taste.
Scrambled eggs with cilantro, green onions and the juice from the steamed fish
Steamed egg tofu with pork, cilantro and green onions - not a big fan of this dish. It was bland to me.

Sweet orange flavored spareribs - very tasty! 
Egg custard steamed bun, a signature dim sum dish - I didn't know good custard tasted like this. Best custard sweets I have ever had.
Baked sesame seed coated cake stuffed with ham and green onions - another signature dim sum dish

I also visited a popular hot pot restaurant called Wu Lao Guo. Guo means pot. It's a Japanese style hot pot. I guess the major difference between a Chines one and a Japanese one is the soup base. One of their signature dish is ice cream tofu. I never had or even heard of ice cream tofu. It was invented by the Japanese a few hundred years ago. Apparently it's mashed tofu mixed with cream and sugar and then being refrigerated.


Soup to pour into the hot pot

The hot pot base - one side is hot, one side is mild
The famous ice cream tofu - didn't taste that special to me
Veggies and meat I ordered 
Top row, left to right - sauce dish for dipping cooked food, fish dumplings, fish ball and Chinese donuts
Some special cooked pork - you can eat it just as it is or cook it in the hot pot. This dish was highly recommend by the server saying the pork was braised for long hours with some special sauce. Personally I think it's a rip-off. Overpriced, mediocre taste with a great presentation. But we are talking about food here, not some decoration to buy for home.
A close shot of the pork. See, nothing special.
Liquid nitrogen coming out of the glass container

I still like Chinese hot pot better. I also checked out a few night markets. Nigh markets are very popular in Taiwan as they offer cheap and quick street food for the locals. I didn't take any pictures at these markets. Here's a great link to cheap eats in Taiwan:

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Taipei November 2012 Part 3

If you haven't been to the National Palace Museum, you haven't been to Taipei. The National Palace Museum holds one of the largest collections of ancient Chinese artifacts and artworks in the world. Originally established in 1925 in the Forbidden City, the museum was split into two as a result of Chinese Civil War between the Chinese Communists and the Nationalists. In 1948, when the war worsened, the Nationalist Government decided to evacuate the most valuable collections at the Palace Museum and five other institutions to Taiwan. 5,522 crates of artifacts, which were only 22% of the total collections, were shipped to Taiwan between 1948 to 1949. The rest remained in Mainland China, most likely are at the Palace Museum in the Forbidden City.

Today, there are over 600,000 artifacts at the National Palace Museum. There's a debate about which Palace Museum has more collections, the one in Taipei or the one in the Forbidden City. The museum itself is not big at all, compared to the size of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the British Museum in London. Only 3, 000 pieces of the museum's collections can be exhibited at once. This means if the exhibition is to be changed every 3 months, it will take 108 years to have all the artifacts exhibited.

The National Palace Museum's majority collections are artifacts collected by ancient emperors. Thus it's not surprising the collections are amongst the highest quality artifacts. They are truly one of a kind. I spent at least three days visiting the museum.The museum doesn't allow any cameras in the exhibition area. I could only get a few photos from outside.

The front of the main exhibition hall

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Taipei November 2012 Part 2

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall is one of the must visit places in Taipei. Chiang Kai-shek was one of the most well known political figures and military leaders in Chinese history.  He became the leader of National Party after his predecessor Sun Yat-sen passed away in 1925. After the Nationalists beings defeated by the Communist Party of China in 1949, Chiang's governement retreated to Taiwan.

The main entrance of the memorial from far way

The gate at the main entrance with Chinese writing (meaning freedom plaza) on top 

Too bad, the main hall was under construction. I could only get a photo from outside

At the Memorial Hall Square, there are the National Concert Hall

and the National Theater.  The two look the same to me

The shape of the sides look pretty cool

Braised pork rice is one of the most popular small eats in Taiwan. Basically it's finely chopped pork belly slowly cooked in special sauce and then mixed with rice. It has a mixed flavour of sweetness and saltiness. Jin Feng Lu Rou Fan is a restaurant that supposedly offers the best braised pork rice. This restaurant is less than 10 mins away from Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. Of course I paid a visit here. Everything on the menu is cheap, nothing costs more than $5CAD. The portion is small though. But you get to try different dishes without filling yourself up.

The braised pork rice sure tasted really good, although it's not some meat dish I would be craving for. I had better meat before.

I also tried ding bian cuo, a bowl of rice flour pasta. It was too bland for me.

And pork ribs soup. This one was really good. My photo is a bit blurry

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Taipei November 2012 Part 1

Taiwan is a place that most Chinese from Mainland are longing to visit due to historical reasons.  Ever since the National Party went to Taiwan with their army and families in the late 1940s, mainlanders have not been able to enter Taiwan freely. Well, actually, ever since Mao and the red army took over, mainlanders are not allowed to visit any country without a visa. I finally got my Canadian passport this year. To celebrate the freedom of mobility, I decided to visit Taipei.

After almost 13 hours of flight, I arrived Taipei at 7 am in a chilly morning of November. Despite the fact that my hotel, Eclat, has rooms available, it refused to check me in without charging me $110 USD for half day. By the way, I only paid about $170 a night at What a piss off! Last time when I arrived around the same time in New York, Intercontinental checked me in right away without any additional charge. That was definitely a bad start. 

So I decided to check out the area around Taipei 101.  Too early, most stores were not even open. Luckily, Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall was only 10 minutes away. A good place to kill time and force myself to stay awake.

The garden in front of the Memorial Hall

Statue of  Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the George Washington of China, one of the greatest men in Chinese and world history. Here is a link to his wiki page:

Silver dollars issued by Nanking Mint in 1912 in honor of his great contributions to the establishment of the Republic of China

A shot of Taipei 101 from the Memorial Hall

A closer shot of the tower

Finally stores opened.  An inside of a handbag store at Att 4 Fun shopping centre nearby Taipei 101.  I thought the lanterns are very cute.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Into the Wild

Into the Wild

Featuring Burberry Prorsum leather-trimmed twill trench coat, Hervé Léger panelled bandage dress, Marc Jacobs necklace, Marc Jacobs clutch, Bionda Castana saffron peeptoe suede shoe