Skating in Taiwan

It’s finally Friday today, and I spent my favourite evening of the week skating for the first time in Taiwan and having beef noodles with MM, her coworkers, a coworker’s husband, and his friend from work. I was so disappointed by the size of Taiwan’s rink! However, since it was an indoor rink located on the 8th floor of Eslite 116 in Ximending, I shouldn’t have expected so much in the first place. I’m sure the rink in the Taipei Sports Arena is probably much better. We didn’t skate for long as the rink was tiny (maybe half the size I’m used to seeing in Canada), and the skates really hurt my feet (they kept squishing my ankles).

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Afterwards, we had delicious beef noodles from a hole in the wall called 建宏 at the outskirts of Ximending. It’s open 24 hours and have unlimited refills for noodles and soup. MM and I shared a medium bowl (only NTD90) and it was plenty. We didn’t even have to get refills! Next time we’ll just go for a small.

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Last night QB was such a sleepyhead. He fell asleep on my bed and I just couldn’t bear to wake him up. Zzz…

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Yongkang (永康) Street – great eats

A famous mango ice store that tourists always visit when they’re in Taipei is “Ice Monster”. The original store used to be located on Yongkang street, just off of MRT Dongmen station, until the owners (then husband and wife, now divorced) got into a dispute and the husband ended up leaving Yongkang street and starting Ice Monster.

After hearing from quite a few people that Yongkang street has good food and good shopping, I visited the street on Monday evening because I wanted a change from the usual places I shop at. We ended up eating street food, with 0 clothes shopping because there was so much to see and eat in terms of good food! Yongkong street is located at Exit 5, and on a weekend is crowded with people. We still had to wait a bit on Monday evening, but it’s definitely not as bad, so if possible: come on a weekday!!

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My favourite food of the evening was green onion pancake stuffed with ham, basil, cheese, and egg:

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A stand selling Taiwanese chicken nuggets, as well as other fried goods (The eggplant was good!):

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Tainan (a city in Southern Taiwan) eats:

Rice cake:

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Steamed shrimp rice dumpling:

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Soft-serve at IOU (I thought their soft serve was alright; they were having a BOGO promotion, but at the original price of 95NTD per cone, it’s not really worth it IMO):

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Milk:

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Milk/matcha (the matcha tasted a bit icy):

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There is a small community park nearby as well (Yongkang park), so it gives people the option of having somewhere to sit down and eat.

Taiwan, you never cease to amaze me with your street foods.

Some things never change

I find that my tastes are changing as I age. I used to love the trick-or-treats candies I would get every Halloween (my favourite ones being Kit Kat and Coffee Crisp!), but now I think those candy bars are too sweet, and now I prefer dark chocolate as well as healthy food choices (chips aren’t the first snacks I grab from the store anymore).

However, some tastes never change, especially if they are linked to happy childhood memories. As a child growing up in Taiwan before immigrating to Canada, my grandma would always buy me breakfast, and it’s usually from the same place. One of my favourite breakfast items was rice ball made from glutinous rice, stuffed with Chinese fried donut (老油條 fried twice so it’s crispy), dried white radish (蘿蔔乾), and pork floss (肉鬆).

Every two summers when we went back to Taiwan to visit, my grandma would always buy it at least once. I even went with her once early in the morning to visit the rice ball stand and saw the old lady that makes them. However, one year she stopped because she said the old couple who owned the rice ball stand were getting old and didn’t have the strength to continue making them, and their kids aren’t willing to take over the business.

So for a few years we didn’t get rice balls from that stand, and other rice balls we tried just couldn’t match up to the flavour that we were used to!

This summer, the old couple started to sell their rice balls again. I felt extremely fortunate to be able to eat something so familiar to me, and I treasure it every time, because as time goes on, things you once knew or were familiar to you will start to slowly disappear, and soon all you’ll have left are memories. So treasure every moment, and be grateful of every day, because time flies and nothing gold can stay.

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

– Robert Frost. Nothing gold can stay

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More Ali Shan Restaurant

Find the blog post on my first visit to Ali Shan Restaurant here: Ali Shan Restaurant

Yesterday I blogged about the visit to Ali Shan Restaurant (from a few weeks back), and today Mochi decided to go there again for lunch. My guess is that he couldn’t resist the picture of the deep fried yam balls! I already had lunch, so I just ordered snacks (deep fried yam balls and shaved ice) while Mochi ordered an chicken filet and tomato sauce omelette.

Omelette Rice, Deep Fried Chicken & Tomato Sauce – $8.20
3/5

This was Mochi’s omelette in tomato sauce, completed with a deep fried chicken filet. I must admit: I stole more bites than I should have. :P The potato salad tasted great, and the chicken was tender on the inside, and crispy on the outside. Yum! The omelette itself was filled with rice that had been tossed in ketchup so nothing too special there, and I didn’t like the way that the egg was prepared today. This tomato sauce omelette paled in comparison to the curry omelette I had last time, both in terms of appearance and taste. I also didn’t like the yellow vegetable. Mochi and I were both unsure as to what it was.. probably some sort of candied vegetable.. Possibly candied sweet potato??

Deep Fried Yam Balls – $3.50
5/5

[For my complete review on this snack, please see my blog post from my first visit: Ali Shan Restaurant]

It was a hot day today, so I decided to give Ali Shan’s shaved ice a try. Their shaved ice actually had a separate menu. You pick toppings and the price reflects that: it was $4.50 for 3 toppings, and $0.50 for each additional topping. I picked the taro cubes (芋圓), red beans, and taro. It also came with a sauce; I went with the condensed milk.

Shaved Ice (3 toppings) – $4.50
2/5

It took awhile for this order to come, because the taro cubes took a long time to prepare. The first thing I noticed was that the whole thing was melting very quickly. The taro cubes were chewy and tasty and it was the best topping out of the three. Red beans were what you would expect, but the  taro tasted horrible. They had a sour taste and did not blend well with the rest of the shaved ice. You can’t really go wrong with condensed milk, but as the ice melted too quickly, the condensed milk all gathered at the bottom and made this dessert too sweet to finish. I probably won’t be coming back again for their shaved ice. ><“

Ali Shan Restaurant

During the school year, Mochi and I had taken a course together which ended quite late in the evening (at around 7:15pm). We usually have dinner together after, and one night we weren’t sure we should go for dinner. Then Mochi remembered this restaurant that was located beside Crystal Mall and suggested that we go there. I didn’t have any objections of course, since they served Taiwanese food and I always enjoy trying out new restaurants.

Ali Shan Restaurant - Exterior

I have often passed by Ali Shan Restaurant when I go to Crystal Mall (which is not often since I find the mall to be too messy and disorganized) but have never ventured inside before since I have never heard anyone mention the place.

It was busy when we arrived, even though it was already past 8pm. We were promptly seated. The interior of the restaurant had nice decor and lighting, with some flat-screen TV’s. Mochi advised me not to order bubble tea, because they don’t make good drinks here.

I looked through the menu and decided immediately that I wanted to get the curry pork omelette. Mochi settled for the braised beef noodle. We also got Taiwanese chicken nuggets and something called “deep fried yam balls”.

For drinks, we could either choose red tea, or their soup of the day (radish soup). We both settled for red tea.

Red Tea – Complimentary
5/5

This red tea tasted just like the kind that I would get back in Taiwan. It had just the right level of sweetness, and a hint of wheat taste.

The first dish to arrive was Mochi’s braised beef noodles.

Braised Beef Noodle – $6.90
4/5

This beef noodle is like the kind that you would find in Taiwan. They gave a generous portion of beef and vegetables, and the noodles were not over-cooked. The soup base tasted flavourful, albeit a little too salty.

Next up were the Taiwanese chicken nuggets:

Chicken Nuggets – $4.20
3/5

These chicken nuggets tasted alright, but I think that they didn’t add enough basil. “The One” still has the best Taiwanese chicken nuggets in Burnaby.

Curry Pork Omelette – $8.20
4/5

The pork cutlet was nice and crispy, without being too dry, and the omelette was filled with curry rice. The curry was different than the usual curry that I’m used to (I’m used to the Japanese kind; this curry was a bit saltier), but it still tasted good. I enjoyed the potato salad as it helped to balance out the meal.

Deep fried yam balls – $3.50
5/5

This was my favourite dish of the night. It was sweet because of the yam, and had a chewy texture. It was kind of like a mix between bubble waffles and mochi. It reminded me of pon de ring donuts from Mister Donuts (see link here: Mister Donut). For some reason, they don’t offer this kind of donut here in Canada.. Which is a shame, because they are my favourite. >_<

All in all, I found the food at Ali Shan Restaurant to be cheap and yummy. Mochi and I were both stuffed by the end of the meal and still had leftovers to take home. Their service didn’t leave much of an impression on me so it must have been okay. :P

The Good
– Cheap price
– Authentic Taiwanese food
– Comfortable restaurant

The Bad
–  Some food were a bit on the salty side
Ali Shan Restaurant 阿里山品味餐廳 on Urbanspoon