Curry: easy to make, takes a long time to prepare

I made curry today because there’s a pack of expired curry cubes in the fridge (expired 3 months ago so it’s probably still edible). Curry is super easy to make, but the prep work takes awhile. Lots of washing and peeling and cutting… The result is worth it though! :) I made a huge gigantic pot!

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Off for cheap brunch with grandma now. There’s a cheap and yummy brunch place at Ximen MRT station. I’ll post pictures later!

聚 – A Gathering

I went out for lunch with my uncle and aunt-in-law today because they’ll be flying back to Beijing on Tuesday. We had hot pot at 聚, another company owned by 王品集團. So far I have been to 4 of 王品集團’s restaurants (王品, 原燒, 陶板屋, 聚), and they have all been great! My favourite part is that it’s one price for the meal and you get the whole set: appetizer, main, drink, side dish, dessert, another drink at the end…

聚is a hot pot restaurant that uses Japanese kelp soup base. I chose the milky kelp broth and it was so good!

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It was really nice to hang out so much with uncle this time, because in previous years, I hardly ever got to see him seeing that he was always working in Beijing and I was studying in Vancouver. Having family feels awesome. :)

On a side note, I have to attend an awkward lunch tomorrow. Dad thought that it’d be hilarious to play matchmaker, and arranged for our family to go have lunch with a family that he met through a lady that sells sweet potatoes downstairs. Anyway, they have a son who’s not married. Dad likes him because he has a PhD. It’s going to be an interesting lunch… I can’t wait.

Bo Duo (博多) Ramen

It’s chilly in Taiwan these days, and what better food to have on a cold day than a bowl of delicious Japanese ramen? So for dinner yesterday, I tried Bo Duo Ramen, and it was delicious! I still like Santouka ramen the best, but this place serves ramen at half the price, and the server was even considerate enough to offer me a hair band to tie up my hair so it won’t get singed by the flames (they keep the ramen heated on top of a small flame at this restaurant… also quite different from other places!).

Get ready for lots of food photos… *Warning: Not recommended for viewing at 2 in the morning.

Egg (with half-cooked yolk! Yum):

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Agedashi tofu (small order):

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Curry croquette:

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Deep-fried chicken pieces:

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Original Bo Duo ramen with cha siu:

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Their broth is really rich and creamy, and the serving size was perfect (with lots of delicious cha siu), but because we ordered all those side dishes, I barely finished my noodles!

Now that it’s winter, it’s cold outside so I don’t get to move around as much, and feeling cold leads to more eating… I have to take care to watch my weight!

Konayuki – Round 2

Sunday afternoon was beautiful and sunny, so I decided it would be a good day to go shopping. It was a bit chilly outdoors, and after wandering around Shinkong Mitsukoshi square (there are always interesting street performers there and things to look at), and taking photos of a cute golden retriever all decked out in his Christmas attire:

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I decided to head over to Zhongshan station street mall, where it would be warmer because it would be indoors. Plus, there are a lot of book stores there. By that time it was already 5pm, and I was getting hungry. I ended up taking V to Konayuki for afternoon tea.

Latte:

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I originally ordered the macchiato without realizing that it was an espresso shot, but the server was kind enough to inform me of this, and I switched to a latte. I don’t drink coffee often, so when I do, I have trouble falling asleep. The latte at 5pm that evening kept me awake until 1 in the morning..

Sandwiches (smoked salmon and shrimp croquette):

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I really enjoyed the smoked salmon last time, that’s why I wanted to get it again. And I like the shrimp croquette sandwich better than the cheese croquette one, but the shrimp pattie inside was so tiny! The rest was all shredded cabbage.

Double fromage cheesecake (original and chocolate) with Hokkaido milk soft serve:

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As I had expected, the original cheesecake was better than the chocolate. The milk soft serve was good, but the one served at 711 was better.

Our total came to ~800NTD. V ordered a peach earl grey tea (cold) as well, but it wasn’t great, so I didn’t bother taking a picture of it. Surprisingly, the tea didn’t come sweetened. That’s quite interesting as most cold teas are usually sweetened before being served.

Their matcha drinks (both hot and cold) seem really popular as I saw a lot of people ordering them.

A cool and sunny Sunday afternoon strolling in Shinkong Mitsukoshi square, doing some light reading at a bookstore, and ending off the afternoon with afternoon tea at Konayuki. I enjoy Taiwan winters.

Konayuki – Taipei

When I visited Hokkaido this summer, I passed by the cake store LeTao, and mentioned that there’s a place selling their famous double fromage cheesecake right here in Taipei. (For the post, see here: Day 4 afternoon: Otaru Canal)

The cafe in Taipei is called “Konayuki”, and it’s located close to MRT Zhongshan station, in one of the little alleys that’s packed full of cute cafes and restaurants, including Coffee Alley and Melange Cafe.

That day, CF had invited Meimei and me to listen to the Danjiang University alumni orchestra’s performance (their theme this year was “Love, present tense”, and in the middle of the performance, love letters were read and flowers were given; it was very sweet. <3). The plan was to go for double fromage cheesecake after, but when the performance ended, it was already dinner time. I think Konayuki is better to go for dessert than for dinner because of their minimum order rule. The rule there is that everyone must order either a drink or a parfait, so if you’re hungry and expecting to get full from eating Konayuki’s sandwiches, it can be a bit pricey.

Meimei’s cappuccino:

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We ordered a sandwich to share, and decided on the cheese croquette/smoked salmon combo (2 cheese croquette sandwiches, and 2 smoked salmon sandwiches):

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The cheese croquette sandwich is Konayuki’s most well-known sandwich. I thought the sandwiches were very simple and quite tasty, but to be honest, the price was a bit steep since they were tiny and we finished them in about 2 minutes. You’ll find a much better deal for sandwiches at “Shark Bites Toast”.

Lastly, CF and I each ordered a parfait (fresh fruit parfait, with a piece of double fromage cheesecake on top):

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Their cheesecake was amazing, as expected. It’s actually flown in from Hokkaido, and Konayuki is the only place that you can get the double fromage cheesecake in Taiwan.

There are so many options for good eats in Taipei, and because I have a budget, Konayuki is unfortunately not a place I can visit often. However, with that being said, I’m glad that the option exists in Taipei for those who love LeTao’s double fromage cheesecake; if you’re craving it, it’s conveniently just a few MRT stations (instead of a plane ride) away!

三本味 Japanese Restaurant

Last night I had dinner at 三本味, a Japanese restaurant that is located between MRT Sun Yet-Sen Memorial Hall station and Zhongxiao Dunhua MRT station (I’m very thankful to be living so close to Dunhua station.. there are so many good eats in the area!). 三本味 is in a small alleyway, off of the main streets, and if it wasn’t for Meimei, I would never even think about venturing in here. She loves to read up on food blogs and searching for new places to go on food adventures, so going out to eat with her is always fun!

On our way to 三本味 we also came across quite a few hidden gems. The area nearby is full of Japanese restaurants. I haven’t had sushi or been to an izakaya in a while, but I know where to look now!

Now for some brief introduction of 三本味 before I talk about the food: this place is found through word of mouth or through online searches because of its location. However, also because of its location, rent is probably cheaper and therefore it’s not as pricey as most places in 東區 (this area of Taipei, known for its expensive things because rent is so high). This is also a family-run business and what really brings customers back time and time again is the exceptionally friendly service. They really love what they do, and that makes a big difference between good and GREAT. Oh right, I should also mention that if you’re thinking of paying this place a visit to make a reservation! It can get quite packed. I wasn’t able to make a reservation because I called in 3 days ahead, but they put me down on a special list because I called ahead, so we didn’t wait too long for a seat (~10 minutes). The place isn’t big and can fit about 30 people at one time. The spacing between tables is perfect in that it does not feel overly crowded, and there is a lot of room to move around comfortably. When we were seated, the owner introduced himself to the customers and listed off the secret menu items for the day. He is a really warm and welcoming person, and very approachable. He came by our table a couple of times to ask how we were doing, and personally seared the sushi for us.

This one was on the secret menu – seared sea bream nigiri sushi (4/5):

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I love seared sushi, and I’ve never had seared sea bream before so it was interesting. The texture was a bit on the chewy side, but it was very flavourful and doesn’t need soy sauce for extra flavouring.

Next is another secret menu item – beef fried rice (4/5):

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This dish was big, and I don’t recommend it if you don’t have four people or if you’re planning to try out more dishes (because it’s filling!) The rice was delicious though, and the rice that they use here is a high quality rice.

Next up, the best dish at this restaurant – Seared salmon and cheese nigiri (5/5):

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The owner personally seared this in front of us. First, he seared the salmon, then he placed a slice of cheese on top and seared the cheese until it bubbled. It was absolute umami. To top it off, it was sprinkled with rose salt. Yum! I must have this again! This was Meimei’s favourite dish of the night. The fish that they use in this restaurant are all very fresh as well.

Next up, the assorted sashimi (4/5):

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This sashimi platter originally came with hamachi, but as none of us liked hamachi, we asked them to switch it. I’m not exactly sure what fish it was switched for, but it was good. Fresh fish (including  on a huge bowl of ice to make sure it stays fresh. Delicious and also very pleasing to look it. I like this restaurant’s attention to details.

The steak dish (3.5/5):

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The steak was stir-fried with onions, mushrooms, and yellow and red bell peppers. The meat was not too tough, and had just the right amount of chewiness to it.

Chicken wings topped with a fish roe dressing (3/5):

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I usually don’t enjoy eating wings because I don’t like to get my hands dirty, but I’ve never had fish roe dressing with wings before so we decided to give them a try. Yep, they made my hands dirty, but they were pretty tasty! The fish roe/mayo dressing wasn’t my favourite though (I think the wing itself was marinated well) as I found it to be a bit too heavy.

And our last dish of the day was grilled mackerel (5/5):

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This fish was absolutely amazing!! It was one of the best fish I have ever had. The meat was soft, and the fat under the skin melted into the oil and flavoured the meat deliciously.

I plan to take grandma to this restaurant next time. She loves Japanese food as well, and I think she’ll enjoy this place just as much as I did. I have a feeling that the fish will be her favourite dish. :)

Tenya (Ten屋) – Okonomiyaki

Today I finally got to try Tenya, a famous restaurant in Taiwan that specializes in okonomiyaki, monjayaki, and modanyaki. I have been eyeing this place since last summer, but there was always a long line-up whenever I wanted to go, and the Taipei Main Station location does not take reservations. I thought that going on a Thursday at noon would make a difference, but I still had to wait 20 minutes for a table.

Entrance to Tenya

Entrance to Tenya

For those who didn’t want to wait, Tenya also offers a takeout counter, but they only do takoyaki and taiyaki takeouts. Takoyaki flavours are all savory and range from the original octopus flavour to fish roe with mayo. Taiyaki flavours are all sweet and include interesting flavours such as red bean mochi and banana custard.

Tenya Takeout Counter - Takoyaki's and Taiyaki's sold here

Tenya Takeout Counter – Takoyaki’s and Taiyaki’s sold here

The menu was a bit overwhelming at first because there are so many options to choose from. I didn’t really understand the difference between an okonomiyaki and a modanyaki, but the server was nice enough to explain the difference to me. She explained that the modanyaki has noodles and has 2 eggs, whereas the okonomiyaki has no noodles and only has 1 egg. In the end I went for the pork and cheese modanyaki, MilkTea went for a “rice-yaki” (rice version of okonomiyaki), and SC ordered a corn/kelp salad and a banana crepe.

The corn and kelp salad was the first to arrive:

Corn and Kelp Salad - 2/5

Corn and Kelp Salad – 1/5 ($120NTD)

This salad consisted of shredded cabbage, kelp, canned corn, and some mayo. It wasn’t too exciting and I would definitely not recommend it to those who are thinking to visiting tenya. There are much better things here than this salad.

Next up, my pork and cheese modanyaki. Now I know why this place always has a line-up; they make almost all of their hot orders on the spot, right in front of your eyes. Here’s how they made my modanyaki:

Ingredients for the pork and cheese modanyaki

Ingredients for the pork and cheese modanyaki

The pork and batter (containing an egg, shredded cabbage, and flour) get placed onto the grill.

The pork and batter (containing an egg, shredded cabbage, and flour) get placed onto the grill.

The batter gets shaped into a pancake and the pork is placed on top.

The batter gets shaped into a pancake and the pork is placed on top.

Next, yakisoba gets cooked with yakisoba sauce and placed onto the pancake.

Next, yakisoba gets cooked with yakisoba sauce and placed onto the pancake.

After some waiting, the modanyaki gets flipped...

After some waiting, the modanyaki gets flipped…

... Mozzarella cheese and egg gets cooked underneath, then the modanyaki gets flipped again. Finally, it's drizzled with okonomiyaki sauce, 2 kinds of mayo (I picked original and wasabi mayo), seaweed, and bonito flakes. Ta-da! A pork and cheese modanyaki!

… Mozzarella cheese and egg gets cooked underneath, then the modanyaki gets flipped again. Finally, it’s drizzled with okonomiyaki sauce, 2 kinds of mayo (I picked original and wasabi mayo), seaweed, and bonito flakes. Ta-da! A pork and cheese modanyaki! 5/5 ($250NTD)

The size of this modanyaki can serve one if that person wasn’t ordering anything else. The noodles and the cheese were what made me really love this modanyaki. It was crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and extremely flavourful. I couldn’t really taste the pork because there wasn’t much to begin with, and the okonomiyaki sauce and mayo tasted really strong, so it may not be a good choice for you if you need your meat. However, it was a delightful experience watching them make this modanyaki and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Ingredients for the Kimchi and Beef "Rice-yaki"

Ingredients for the Kimchi and Beef “Rice-yaki”

Kimchi and Beef Rice Okonomiyaki - 4/5 ($210)

Kimchi and Beef Rice Okonomiyaki – 4/5 ($210)

MilkTea’s Okonomiyaki was made with rice instead of the traditional shredded cabbage, and after being heated on the grill, it was nice and crispy. This rice okonomiyaki tasted kind of like the Korean Bibimbap. Just don’t forget to remove it from the heat shortly after it’s made – otherwise the rice at the bottom will get burned!

Last but not least is the banana crepe:

Ingredients for banana crepe

Ingredients for banana crepe

Banana Crepe ($180NTD)

Banana Crepe ($180NTD)

The banana crepe was also made fresh! I’m not sure how this one tasted but SC enjoyed it, and the table next to us also ordered this.

At first I thought Tenya was DIY okonomiyaki, but I’m glad they made it for us in the end because it saved time and it was very professionally done. I would definitely go back for more, maybe try the monjayaki?