Wednesday, December 30, 2015

News: LES BEBES CUPCAKES closing



Farewell @lesbebescake

Farewell my favorite red velvet and peanut butter chocolate cupcakes in Taipei

Farewell my favorite grilled veggie salad and prawn risotto

Hopefully we'll see you again someday... (or maybe you can just keep the cupcake shop near Yong Kang open!!!!? Let's petition them here!!!!) If you've ever been a fan of Les Bebes' cupcakes or cafe, it's time to hurry and get your last bite ever at one of their two shops. They will CLOSE DOWN their stores after 12/31 (tomorrow!)!!!

So these are my last cupcakes of 2015 and my last bite of Les Bebes' wonderful flavors, textures and cuteness for awhile. I was waiting for them to announce it on their social media before sharing the news, but I can't put off letting you guys know any longer. I usually find out about these closings too late, and I think they should feel the love and sadness their closing is going cause all of us hungry in taipei! Thanks for being one of the best cupcake shops in Taipei for the past few years, your cupcakes have been a part of many celebrations in my life and we'll miss you!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

pizza: i recommend BIG BOYZ PIZZA


BIG BOYZ PIZZA
No. 38, Lane 256, Nanjing E. Road, Sec. 3, Songshan District
南京東路三段256巷38號
(02) 2721-9797

MRT: Nanjing/Fuxing

website: Big Boyz Pizza's FB page

hours: 11:30 AM – 2:00 PM,5:30 – 8:30 PM; closed Mondays

$$ (NT$300-400 a person)

Kid friendliness: room for strollers. NY style as well as deep dish pizzas available. no high chairs spotted.

Visit reviewed: 12/3/2015




For some strange reason, two new deep dish pizza places opened in Taipei within the six past months. Either it was just a matter of time or the universe is telling us something- Taipei NEEDS deep dish pizza. After trying Love at First Bite a few weeks ago, a number of instagram readers suggested trying Big Boyz Pizza as well (in the alleys down the street from Breeze Center). 


So a few weeks ago, I headed to the three month old Big Boyz with a few friends who also hold Zachary's (from Oakland/Berkeley CA)as the benchmark standard for our deep dish pizza cravings. I was a bit surprised to see it completely empty, but it is only a few months old. (There's also an NCIS express down the street)
Big Boyz's Taiwanese chef trained at the Scuola Italiana Pizzaioli in SF, as demonstrated by the diplomas that hang on the wall.



The menu's focus is on pizza- deep dish and NY style pizza, with a few fried appetizers and drinks to add to the meal. No salads or desserts (which Love at First Bite has both, as well as some tasty ribs). But if you're there to enjoy the pizza, then you should save your stomach space for pizza! If you've never had deep dish pizza, it's like a stuffed pizza you eat with a knife and fork- the crust is taller like a pie and there's usually a mound of toppings underneath the cheese and sauce. Part of the reason I love Zachary's Pizza is the layer of crushed tomatoes atop so it feels a bit more fresh. Would love to see that in Taipei as an option!

 

Because we ordered the pizza when I made the reservation in advance (as suggested), the pizza was made already. So when we were about 20 minutes late in arriving and sitting down, the pizza was kept warm in the oven and a bit past its optimal state. I would have preferred the satisfaction of eating it hot out of the oven with stringy cheese. But the pizza was still tasty- the cornmeal crust was buttery and the toppings aplenty and flavorful. I got the recommended Pizza No. 1 with mozzarella, provolone, homemade italian mild sausage, bacon, pepperoni, mushroom, bell pepper and caramelized onions. The pizza was slightly smaller than I expected NT$799 for 8 inches, but still very filling for three people. 

Also on the menu for deep dish pizzas are the Chicago Classic (mushroom and pepperoni), Hot Summer (with chorizo, mushrooms, jalepenos, onions, olives), Bacon and Mushroom, and Veg Barrel (vegetarian).  Twelve inch pizzas are available for NT$1299-1499. NY Pizzas are available in 12 inch and 18 inch in NT$300+ and NT$560-790 range. There's more variation to the NY Pizzas with garlic shrimp or bbq chicken options along with the more traditional margherita and pepperoni toppings.



You can see the cheese has cooled off and is not stringy anymore. 






When you go to Big Boyz, I would recommend that you ask them to let them know when you want the pizza ready (right at your time of reservation, 20 minutes after, etc?) and not to precut it until it's served. Personally I would ask they bake the pizza to be ready 15-20 minutes after my res to let everyone settle in. They deliver to neighboring area, but they are closed Mondays. Between the two deep dish spots in Taipei (Big Boyz vs Love at First Bite), I would come to Big Boyz again to try the pizza hot as I liked their crust better and try their NY pizza, but if you have some people who want to eat other things then you're better off at Love at First Bite. Who would have ever thought that Taipei would have not just one, but two deep dish pizza places!

Friday, December 04, 2015

dessert/froyo: LLAO LLAO


LLAO LLAO
at XinYi Vieshow
No. 20 SongShou Road
松壽路20號

MRT: Taipei 101

Kid friendliness: Yes kids will love to choose their own sugary toppings

Visit reviewed: 


Newly opened Llao Llao frozen yogurt at Xinyi Vieshow sits across from the newly opened Jamba Juice giving us more options for icy snacks during this very cold Taipei winter. Can Llao Llao succeed where other froyo shops in Taipei have not? 


It all looks familiar- the Pinkberry-esque glossy white and green signage, an array of fruit, candy, berries and nut toppings to choose from, as well as fruit and chocolate sauces too. But the taste of the frozen yogurt here tastes quite different than the tarter Pinkberry/Yogurtland flavor that I'm used to- maybe more milky and sweet and less tart? Can't put my finger on exactly what it is.

Because of the grand opening they are handing out bitesized samples as well as coupons with trivia questions on them to win a free topping. Multiple choice questions like how do you pronounce the companies name, Llao Llao, to help initiate customers into familiarity to the Spanish froyo chain. (The answer by the way is that it's pronounced Yao Yao with the double Ll making a Y sound)

Available are mini (NT$69), small (NT$89 +one topping), medium (NT$119 +3 toppings), large (NT$139 +3toppings) and sanum, which has fruit and topping options buried in the center kind of like McDonald's berry parfait, as well as smoothies. I had a free coupon thanks to my friend P so I decided to give it a try with some friends.


Toppings include oreo cookies, white chocolates, muesli, candied pecans, chocolate smarties, dried cranberries and chocolate covered peanuts. 





I was happy to see strawberries and blueberries included in the fruit toppings. There were also cantaloupe, kiwi, grapes, watermelon, pineapple and (ewwww) tomatoes?!!! Hopefully the berries don't disappear after a few months as I've seen that happen at other froyo places here. 



The sanum (NT$139) is the largest of the options with three fruits, two toppings and one sauce. I probably wouldn't order it again, (I'd get a small instead) but it was the only option for my free coupon. I tend to stick to berries for frozen yogurt- so it was blueberries and strawberries for us. I only had a couple bites, but my friends enjoyed it a lot. For those of us used to the tart version of frozen yogurt might have a harder time getting used to the different flavor of Llao Llao. But maybe that is preferable to locals who like their desserts sweet instead of sour. If frozen yogurt and smoothies aren't your thing, you can run across Vieshow to Krispy Kreme and Ireland Potatoes for donuts and french fries. 







Friday, November 27, 2015

my kitchen: Thanksgiving leftovers turkey soup



I looked up a bunch of recipes on how to make turkey soup with my thanksgiving leftovers and everyone single one described the first step being that you make stock from the bones. I was too impatient to simmer for hours and make a stock and then make the soup, so I just made it one pot soup, adding carrots, onions, garlic, tomatoes, broccoli, green beans, potatoes, salt, pepper to the turkey carcass and water, then some pasta, alternated boiling and simmering, and it was ready in an hour. The secret is adding one can of tomato paste to give it that depth quickly. I also cooked some quinoa separately and added that in whenever I made a bowl for myself. Winter has finally hit Taipei this week, so this is the perfect meal.

One pot thanksgiving soup


Scooped in the quinoa before stirring it in 






Thursday, November 19, 2015

revisited/korean: I recommend HONEY PIG


HONEY PIG
No. 415-3 XinYi Road, Sec. 4
台北市信義區信義路四段415號-3
(02) 2725-5757

MRT: Taipei 101

website: Honey Pig Taiwan's FB page

hours: 24 hours! (although I feel like sometimes when I drive by it doesn't look open 24 hours)

$$ (about NT$600/person)

Kid friendliness: high chairs available, as well as scissors to cut meat for kids

Visit reviewed:  11/12/2015
Last Visit reviewed: 1/9/2015


Round 1- kalbi, beef brisket, sliced pork belly, fresh pork belly


Round 2-spicy pork belly, spicy sliced pork belly, bulgogi, fresh pork belly, kimchi 


Revisited Honey Pig with some friends last week and was happy to find that I could make reservations over the phone fairly easily. The only thing is that they told me that the 12noon reservations for that day were full, so I had to choose 11AM or 12PM. It seems they stagger their seating so that the servers can cook for the tables at different times, as when we sat down there were only a couple other tables seated at 11AM.

The menu is slightly expanded from my last visit, with more soups and cooked foods available, as well as fresh romaine lettuce to wrap your bbq'd meats in.




There are also combos now that they didn't have at my last visit, during their opening weeks. They are a good deal if you have more people, but I wanted more kalbi and less thick cut pork belly slices. So if you're choosier about what you want, you should stick to ordering ala carte. We ended up with the Pork and Beef combo NT$2332 which saves you a few hundred NT and was two rounds on the grill and enough for 6 people. 


Fresh romaine (NT$100) 


Japchae Korean Stir fried noodles (NT$219)
This was good, with sizeable strips of meat and vegetables with the noodles. We wanted to get the kimchi fried rice, but they make it on the grill and the servers insist on making it after they cook your meat, so of course by the end of the meal we were too full to order it.


The servers are still a bit hard to wave down and the music was a bit too loud for some of my friends (especially if you sit near the speakers), but they are not as crazed and chaotic and overwhelmed as my previous visits when they first opened. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

modern/gastronomy: i strongly recommend MUME



MUME
No. 28, Siwei Rd
四維路28號
(02) 2700-0901

MRT: DaAn or XinYi/AnHe

website: Mume's FB page

Hours: 6PM -12AM (last order at 10PM). Closed Mondays

Visit reviewed: 8/2015



Seeing that I am playing a never ending game of catch up on my blog, I'm going to work backwards with Mume. By the time I've posted this, Mume already has a bevy of new menu items to drool over and try, but I still would like to post the previous meals to compare and contrast. For those of you who haven't heard of Mume yet, it's a "modern European restaurant" for casual fine dining, founded by Hong Kong born chef Richie Lin, Australian chef Kai Ward and Asian American chef Long Xiong, opened almost a year ago in December 2014. They bring to Taipei their experiences from Noma in Denmark, Per Se in New York and Quay in Sydney, and sometimes their colleagues, such as when they let Per Se's Chef Frederico Ribeiro take over the kitchen and do essentially a pop up menu of collaborative creations. 


I luckily got some last minute seats at Mume for Chinese Valentine's Day back in August (yes, that's a thing), and you can't have a Valentines day without a "special menu" (translation- more expensive than usual. Half joking!). It's kind of cool that each of my visits has been quite different- my first visit was in the first few opening months when they still did a set menu (memorably with duck hearts and beets). My second visit was when they first started doing their a la carte menu. My third visit was during Per Se's Chef Frederico's take over, and now hearts and champagne and delicious oysters and shrimp brains and chocolate cookies.


The Valentines day tasting menu started off with Gillardeau oyster, cauliflower couscous, Taiwanese bacon and celery. Yum.



Shrimp toast using fresh prawns, baby avocado, pickled peppers and salsa verde. 




I liked this a lot, but wished the toast was more like toasted bread rather than a crouton (if I had to nitpick that would be one of the only things I could say about the meal). Despite the description it wasn't spicy at all so you could taste the sweetness of the prawn. Got a sneak peek at the baby seedless Taiwan avocado which was long like an small eggplant, but cut into miniature circular slices, perfect for finger food. It was creamy and not stringy like typical Taiwan avocados and so it made for a perfect pairing. So fascinating! Will have to look for it at the market Chefs Richie Lin and Kai Ward found it. Served with the prawn heads so we ate the shrimp brains.




Mume's delicious hot out of the oven country bread served with beer butter, sea salt and smoked beef fat butter


Drunken chicken - zucchini / chicken consomme gelee / ginger cream. Delicious. 




Loved this next dish, could have licked the bowl clean. Instead used my last bite of seared scallop to mop up all the sweet caramelized carrot purée underneath. With crispy kale, crunchy watermelonradish and edamame



Hard to pick a favorite dish of the night but might have been this one- crispy amadai / charred cucumber and brussel sprouts / smoked ricotta. Wanted more of everything, especially the brussel sprouts. This version was for last night's special set menu, but thankfully they have amadai on their regular a la carte menu.





Short rib with black garlic sauce, lily bulb stem and Tokyo turnip. 

I've had variations of this short rib before and the sauce was a bit oily for me for the already marbled short rib. I liked the black garlic sauce though that had a smoky sweetness.



Refreshing dessert with jasmine ganache, fig leaves ice cream and apple granita. Gently tap the shell to reveal the ice cream inside.




Ended the amazing dinner with brownie like warm triple chocolate freshly baked cookies. The perfect ending to an awesome dinner.



This was my fourth visit to Mume and definitely not my last. Mume is a worthy replacement for the space on Siwei Road which previously housed one of my favorite restaurants Abu, who was doing French techniques with local ingredients before the craze of RAW and Mume. Mume's dining area is not large, so if you have a bigger group you might have to sit in the private room in the basement or make early arrangements. They are also only open for dinner, so sometimes it can be hard to get reservations.

I often get asked, where should I go RAW vs. Mume? And the answer is, Taipei is lucky to have both and you should go to whichever one you can get seats at. I like going to places that are under the radar and while RAW got a lot of the attention early on, Mume has been building equal footing. I think being able to order dishes ala carte and sharing them with friends helps since you are able to try more dishes, while RAW has been continually a set menu. Mume's menu isn't overwhelming long, so with a few friends (or one hungry one) you could potentially try everything on the menu. Mume's desserts are also consistently wayyy better than RAW's. RAW is notoriously difficult to get reservations for, but their menu lasts a few months before changing to the next one.

Mume was recently voted as one of the top 101 restaurants in Asia by dailymeal.com panelists (including me), but as with any review, you should try the restaurants for yourselves to see if it's your thing. And with a wave of new restaurants like Achoi, Savor, Ephernite, and Roots Creative, doing modern casual fine dining and "bistronomy" in Taipei (and Le Mout in Taichung), you don't have to choose between just RAW and Mume for your gastronomic dinner date. Pretty soon, I'm thinking Taipei might have some Michelin stars of its own. 


LinkWithin

Blog Widget by LinkWithin