Wanderlust Taiwan- Fresh Gourmet Eating for $20 USD 藏月日式豬排專賣店

So here is the deal. One can easily get a high quality and delicious meal for two at a decent local neighborhood restaurant with high western standards in Taipei, Taiwan, for about $20 USD. This restaurant below is one of the examples. 藏月 is in the Daan district in Taipei. The decor, service, and food rival those in the NYC metropolitan area. Is it any wonder why I prefer to eat in Asia, live in Europe for the majestic architecture and enriched culture and raise my daughter in the suburbs of NY for the education?A box filled with goodies: from left to right- eggs sweetened, pickled vegetables, and sea cucumber seasoned with vinegar.Tonkatsu腰內肉豬排咖哩套餐: crispy and meaty with sesame sauce and cabbage.  Charcoal grilled fish. I believe this was the milk fish.mmexport1438856613880One of my favorite desserts: panna cotta or the caramelized pudding焦糖布丁as the Taiwanese calls it.

Yes, visit Taiwan for the gourmet food that doesn’t shrink your wallet. Visit Taiwan for the variety and freshness of food that satisfy your stomach. Come with me this December for the warm climate and the sunshine. 🙂

This experience takes place at

藏月日式豬排專賣店

No. 58, Section 3, Heping E Rd,
Da’an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106
地址:106台北市大安區和平東路三段58號
電話:(02)2733-8720
+886 2 2733 8720

Wanderlust – Java Surf Cafe in Virginia Beach, VA. Omnivore Male Dinning Companions Needed!

My #Wanderlust weekend continues onto the food part.  Insert food and running then I am willing. Running: check! Food: here we go!

After the 12 miles in the morning and early afternoon, I came upon Java Surf Cafe on 25th Street in Virginia Beach.  I was famished.  It was almost three o’clock.


I ordered a decaf latte with soy. Hmmm. It was just about the same as what I could do at home with a Nespresso espresso and soy ($1.20) vs. here is $3.80. I had two cups.


This is the Big Kahuna: two scrambled eggs, ham, avocado, tomatoes, swiss cheese, house pico,with sriracha sauce. It felt very big and I only ate half. It was average.

Although I am really digging this traveling solo and solitude thing (#Wanderlust), there is a huge disadvantage that I did not account for. I don’t eat very much and without a companion, I don’t get to experience the range of food that is preferrable for a meal. I have got nothing to write about when it’s only a cup of coffee and half a sandwich!

Because the sandwich was so big, I ended up eating the other half for dinner, hence, squandering another opportunity for a great meal.

I am calling for all omnivore male dinning companions in the North Carolina Outer Banks for tomorrow. I need someone who can eat a lot, has a great taste in food, has a great range in cuisines, and will not talk to me during the meal. Oh, you must be willing to share your food even if we have just met. If you are a female but you eat like a man and can be speechless like a man, call me. Sister, you have a special place in my heart.

This experience took place at

Java Surf Cafe
301 25th St
Ste 4
Virginia Beach, VA 23451
(757) 963-6600

Weird Farmer’s Market Food

What is the definition of weird?  It’s all relative, right? See for yourself.

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Small clams in garlic, soy sauce and chili peppers

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Snails with wood ears

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Tripes

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Pig’s feet

Bad Restaurant Report @ Sogo Department Store, Taipei

It’s inevitable that I am bound to have bad experiences eating in Taiwan. I went against my own advice on food court/restaurant eating. I went to a no-wait restaurant in the Sogo Department store at the Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT stop. Yes, I should have just sucked this up.

Here is a quick note of what happened.

My favorite restaurant in Sogo was completed packed at 3:30pm on a Saturday afternoon. I went around the corner and figured I would try this Hong Kong style restaurant with a very friendly hostess.

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Singapore Rice Noodles, my go to, when I don’t know the restaurant. This was NT$300 or about $10US.

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Fried rice with chicken and salted fish. What can go wrong with fried rice? This was about NT$280 or almost $10NT.

Guess what? This was worse than my local Chinese take out in NY. Bland and just simply unappetizing. Yuck.

Here is the link to this restaurant and location.
http://www.shinpuyuan-group.com/ch/shinpu/Location.aspx?L_sk=12
新葡苑 @ 台北市忠孝東路三段300號10樓(太平洋SOGO百貨復興店)

Don’t go there.

The Essential Skills for Food Court Eating in Taiwan

Taiwan is hot. Although there are many cheap places for food, most likely eating in those stores/stands are not as comfortable (think not AC’ed enough) as eating in an upscale mall, airport, tourist attraction sites, or the movie theaters. Therefore, it’s essential to figure out what to eat when presented with numerous choices, each seems better than the last, while fighting against the crowd to get to your preferred option.

Here is what I do.

First, I assess the mall and figure out its clientele. Usually, if the mall caters to international travelers, the price point is higher and the food is not necessarily better. If the mall caters to the local population, the food may be great but it will be hell to find a spot to sit.

Second, I queue at the store that sells more authentic Taiwanese food and has the longest line of customers. When the line is long, the food is usually good.

Third, I avoid any Western cuisines. They tend to be horrible for someone who lives in the US because they are Asianized. Somehow the taste is changed to suit the Asian palates.

Lastly, be decisive. Once you take a quick survey of the food court, it’s time to queue at a store while you send your friends to find a spot to sit. The food in general will be good, if not pretty good, if you follow my advice.

Here is one successful outing at The Mall, located at No. 203, Sec. 2, Dunhua S. Rd., Taipei. The Mall caters to the international crowd but the food was very decent and the ambience refreshing and pleasant.

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Pot stickers, 黃金鍋貼

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Breaded, fried pork chops with noodles, 排骨細麵

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Pickled vegetable with pork noodles, 榨菜肉絲麵

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Beef noodle soup with hand cut noodles, 清燉牛肉麵

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Here are the menu and prices for 朱記

Bon Appétit! May your tummy be filled with yummy food.

“If it is difficult to fish, let’s open up a noodle stand.” Things I have dreamed about.

This is the Taiwanese entrepreneurial spirit. The fisherman from Tainan decided to open up a noodle stand during the typhoon months of August and September in 1895 when fishing was challenging.  This is to weather the storm; the literal translation from Chinese is to pass the small months in fishing, 度小月。 The restaurant is famous for its authentically Taiwanese noodle stand at the entrance of the store where the chef makes the noodles to order.

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What the noodle stand would have been like in 1895.

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Sauces, meatballs, and stewed soup.

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The full view of the noodle stand

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A small bowl of the Tainan danzai noodles, 擔仔麵。

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Tainan’s famous pork rice tamale, 肉粽。I would like to say that this is the best pork rice tamale in Taiwan.  I grew up with this delicacy in Kaohsiung. My second aunt from my mother’s side would make them by hand for 端午節, for the celebration of the famous poet, 屈原。 This is the same holiday where we do dragon boat racing. This is so authentically Southern Taiwanese and brought back so many memories. Can you tell that I am Southern Taiwanese?  To my regret, all the Asian grocery stores in NY do not make them as delicious as this!

 

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Oh my my my! This is mullet’s roes, grilled and served with daikon and green scallion.  This is one of my most favorite foods in the world.  The mullet’s roes are usually in season during the Chinese New Years.  Chinese New Year celebrations are on par to those for Christmas. For New Year’s Eve, my family would grill some of the roes and I would binge on them.  It was one of my happiest memories of Taiwan.

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This is how you put it together and eat it in one bite.  This is something I dream about… That connection made long ago is still there! This was extremely satisfying!

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Milkfish’s belly, pan-fried.  It was good but not my cup of tea.

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Believe it or not, for a girl who does not like alcohol, I finally found my vice. This is good beer.  Beer with Taiwanese oranges. But I guess this is a sissy drink with only 2.8% alcohol content and 5.5% juice.

This experience brought back some happy childhood memories and satisfied a part of me that I have forgotten.  What great eating!  I highly recommend it.  The restaurant is

Du Xiao Yue (度小月), Taipei, Taiwan

Address: No. 12號, Alley 8, Lane 216, Section 4, Zhōngxiào East Rd, Daan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106

Bon appétit!

What Taiwan is known for: Night Markets. Visit to Linjiang Street Night Market 臨江街觀光夜市

If you are in Taiwan, a visit to a night market is a must see. It’s part of the culture. It’s Asian. It’s great bargains and fantastic food.

I finally made it to a night market with a camera and some patience on a not so steamy night. This is my neighborhood night market, Linjiang Street.

In full disclosure, I am a bad night market shopper. I am easily irritated by the crowds, the heat and the noise. I pay the asking price and don’t haggle much. I am also too shy to stick the camera in people’s face! So really the pictures do not do the night market justice. The market is so much more than just food! I hope you will enjoy them as I did – with much love to you!

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Grilled stick food. Anything on a stick.

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Mysterious stewed food. Looks like chicken feet, gizzards and tripes.

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Steamed egg cups. Steamed fish cakes, tofu, seafood.

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Stinky tofu. Did not try it though. Still being cautious with my system.

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More grilled stick food. They labeled the food for those “Americans” like me: chicken necks, gizzards, hearts, legs, blood sausages, tofu, German sausages, Taiwanese sausages, bacon wrapped sausages, and shiitake mushrooms. Do you notice a theme here?

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Cake made using animals-shaped and apparently gun-shaped molds. This is hugely popular with the kids.

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Grilled corn, a childhood and adulthood favorite of mine. Yum!!

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Sashimi at the night market! It’s fresh and it’s cheap. Didn’t I blog about how cheap sashimi is here in Taiwan? Heaven!

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Fresh cut up fruits: wax apples, passion fruits, Taiwanese melons, guavas, cherry tomatoes with plum, sapodilla, white meat dragon fruits, watermelons, and pineapples. I LOVE this. I HEART these fruits.

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Bigger than your face steak! At 14 ounces for $199NT or less than $7US.

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Red bean cake

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Taiwanese sausages

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This is grilled pork sold by folks from one of the Taiwanese aboriginal tribes

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Another stinky tofu stand where they serve the mala, 麻辣,version of it. This is from Szechuan 四川, China. Oh, they also sell duck blood.

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One of the many arcades

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People browsing

The night market is located on Linjiang Street and Tonghua Street in the Daan District of Taipei City.