Mia Cucina

Yesterday I had a very lovely dinner at Tianmu (天母), a very lovely area in Taipei City. Tianmu has pretty restaurants and nice residential areas. It’s a bit like Neihu, and I like Tianmu and Neihu better than downtown Taipei because they remind me of Vancouver; not too overly populated and there’s a lot of open space.

The dinner was at Mia Cucina, a vegetarian Italian restaurant behind Tianmu Sogo, a mere 2 minute walk from exit 2 of MRT Zhishan Station. When I first heard that we were having vegetarian for dinner, I was a bit skeptical… I really like my meat. But Mia Cucina was THAT good! Meimei and I are already talking about coming back again next time.

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They have cool drinking glasses here. They look like jam jars!

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Interior of the restaurant:

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A pretty chalkboard menu near the kitchen.

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This restaurant puts an emphasis on healthy eating with fresh ingredients, and portions are large as well. Expect to spend ~300 to 400NTD per person here; I think it’s really good for what you get.

Pumpkin soup (this one has a limited quantity everyday) (4/5):

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Pumpkin lovers rejoyce! Rich and creamy pumpkin soup with a couple of pieces of toasted ciabatta bread on the side for dipping.

Strawberry pecan salad (3.5/5):

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This strawberry pecan salad is a must-order at Mia Cucina. Our friends thought it was a bit on the sour side because of the vinegrette and pineapples. But Meimei and I loved it! The lettuce was crunchy, and it was tossed with apple slices, pecans, strawberries, cherry tomatoes, and pineapples.

Wild mushroom panini (4.5/5):

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Paninis are my favourite kind of sandwiches, even if it’s vegetarian. Inside there was mozzarella, eggplant, mushrooms, and pesto sauce, with a few thick-cut fries on the side. Crispy ciabatta bread, and warm cheesy goodness inside. I want to try their three cheese panini next time. I’m still looking for a cheese sandwich that can match or be better than the grilled cheese sandwiches at Burgoo in Vancouver.

Jalapeno and Jack cheese flatbread (4/5):

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Jack cheese and Jalapeno atop a crispy flatbread. The Jalapeno wasn’t too spicy (probably because the seeds were removed, and that’s always the spiciest part).

Mushroom pasta (5/5):

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Everybody loved this dish! The pasta was cooked al dente, and the sauce wasn’t too heavy or salty. The mushrooms at this restaurant taste delicious!

And last but not least, dessert. Maple pecan waffles (5/5):

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They were really generous with the pecans, and used real maple syrup. This waffle reminded me of Canada because of the maple syrup. I love maple. Nectar of the Gods.

The total for our meal was ~1800NTD (~60CAD) for 5 people. Not bad at all!

The place changed my mind about vegetarian food. Vegetarian food can actually be delicious if the food’s prepared well, and it’s not vegan, so there’s cheese! :) The only downside about this place is that the tables are too large, so even though it’s spacious, it’s difficult to talk to the person sitting across from you without screaming. My throat hurt after the meal. :(

Casa Della Pasta

CindTee is leaving Taipei tonight to return to Vancouver, so we went out for one last lunch today. V hung out with us today as well, and we went to Casa Della Pasta (a mere 2 minute walk from MRT Zhongxiao Dunhua station) for Italian food. It’s been months since I’ve last stepped foot into an Italian restaurant, so I was glad for the change. I haven’t had good Italian food since arriving in Taiwan! V said that there’s usually a line-up, and as it was Sunday noon, we expected to line-up for a table, but the restaurant was surprisingly empty so we were seated right away.

We ordered 2 appetizers and 3 mains to share:

Deep- fried Calamari with tomato sauce 4/5

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This dish was CindTee’s favourite because she loves squid. The squid wasn’t too chewy (which is what I’m afraid of whenever I have squid), and the tomato sauce was actual tomato sauce, not ketchup.

Deep fried chicken filets with sour plum sauce 4/5

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The chicken was tender and combined with sour plum sauce, it was a delicious salty and sour combination!

Seafood Pizza 3/5

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This is a thin crust pizza topped with scallops, squid, shrimp, and cheese. The pizza was pretty good, but I prefer pasta over pizza.

Pasta with olive oil, garlic, white wine and clams 3/5

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The pasta portions here are quite big compared to other places, but not so big that you can’t finish it. CindTee enjoyed this pasta dish because it wasn’t too heavy and it was simple, and not too creamy. I preferred the next pasta dish precisely because I like my pasta creamy.

Pasta with pesto sauce and chicken 5/5

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I love my pasta creamy, and this place makes really creamy pasta! I prefer pesto sauce over tomato-based or Alfredo sauce. Maybe because the basil helps to balance out the heavy cream, and because it smells so good.

The total bill came out to be under 1000NTD (~33CAD). Not bad for a meal of 3! I’d definitely come back again.

Italian Tomato Restaurant

Yesterday I attended a friend’s birthday party. She decided on Italian Tomato, her favourite restaurant, for dinner. I was very excited because I really enjoy Italian cuisine and I haven’t had pasta in a while!

Italian Tomato - Exterior

Entrance

This restaurant is situated in Richmond and from outside it didn’t look like much. It wasn’t too hard to find by car, so Mochi drove us there right on time. It is also located near the Canada Line (Bridgeport station).

The inside of the restaurant looks very lovely, with a nice Italian look to it. The kitchen was clearly visible, and there was also a bar to serve up alcoholic drinks.

Interior of the restaurant

The menu contained soups, salads, pasta, specialty dishes (such as lasagna), pizza, and calzones. I have never had a calzone but it’s basically a rolled-up pizza. Someone ordered one and it was shaped like a football (around the same size too!) with pizza filling inside.

Menu

After we ordered, we received complimentary bread. It was just white crusty bread (similar to the loaves sold at Superstore but with less crust). The bread would’ve tasted a lot better if it was warm, but it was quite cold. The butter was cold too, which makes it hard to spread the bread with. However, the bread was soft and I was starving since I waited for an hour for everyone to arrive, it really helped to satiate my hunger.

Complimentary bread and butter

For pasta, you have to first choose what kind of pasta you would like, and then choose the sauce. I selected penne for my pasta and funghi for my sauce (a cream sauce with mushrooms). Mico ordered the polpette bolognese (basically just spaghetti with meatballs). I wish I had shared the dish with Mochi because the plate was huge!! Too bad there had to be a minimum order of $14.95 per person.

Penne with creamy mushroom sauce $16.95

Polpette Bolognese (spaghetti) $20.95 - see the meatballs in the next image

Meatballs that go with the Polpette Bolognese

I ended up only finishing half and I had to pack up the rest. Out of the 15+ people who were there, only one person managed to finish everything on the plate.

Frankly speaking, the quality of the pasta wasn’t the best. It tasted good (until I was stuffed and felt a bit nauseous). I felt like it was more quantity over quality. For the same price you can get good quality pasta with just the right portion. I still prefer Frankie’s Italian Kitchen and I wouldn’t recommend Italian Tomato to anyone who’s looking for good quality pasta.

My complaint for Italian Tomato is that if they know that almost no one can finish their dishes, why not let two people share a dish? However, they require a minimum order of $15.95 per person. To be honest, I find that to be quite unnecessary. Also, after I took my food home and microwaved it for lunch the next day, the cream sauce completely melted into a pool of greasy oil. I don’t know if that’s supposed to be normal or not but it was a bit gross.

Italian Tomato on Urbanspoon

Frankie’s Italian Kitchen

Last night I went out for dinner with Mochi. We decided on Frankie’s Italian Kitchen since I had to use up the coupon that I bought from TravelZoo (expiring October 14th).

We made a reservation but got there pretty late because we couldn’t find a place to park! There was a BC Lion’s game going on at the same time so parking space was very limited and most of them were very expensive (over $20!).

The restaurant itself was very pretty and modern. The ambiance was very nice as well.

Entrance of Frankie's Italian Kitchen

Interior of the restaurant

The restaurant was relatively empty when we got there since it was close to 9pm and most people were probably at the game. We were seated promptly at a nice and comfy corner table. The server was really nice and explained how we can use the TravelZoo voucher. Basically, the voucher came with one appetizer, two entrees and one dessert.

To start, we were served complimentary bread with olive oil and vinegar to dip.

Complimentary bread

Olive oil and vinegar to dip

The bread itself was a bit hard and chewy. I have never ate bread dipped in olive oil before so that was quite new to me! It was not my favorite bread and dip but it was interesting nonetheless!

For the entree, we ordered the beef carpaccio:

Beef Carpaccio $15

The slices were thin and the beef tasted very savory! The greens served on top were also very fresh and tasty.

Next, the entrees:

Spaghetti and Meatballs $14

This one is Mochi’s entree. The pasta was cooked al dente and it tasted chewy and not too soft and soggy. It was tossed in tomato sauce and topped with a piece of aged ricotta cheese (Mochi doesn’t like cheese so he gave the cheese to me). The meatballs tasted handmade and were extremely delicious. Mochi’s only complaint was that the portion was a bit too small but other than that he loved it.

Conchiglioni Frutti di Mare $16

I ordered the conchiglioni because I like baked pasta. These were large pasta shells stuffed with dungeness crab, cod, swiss chard au gratin in a rose sauce. The pasta shells were also cooked al dente and the melted cheese on top suited my taste as well (yes, I really like cheese)!

For dessert, we had the ice cream cassata:

Ice Cream Cassata $7

Rich chocolate ice cream with a thin layer of sponge cake wrapped around it, topped with hot fudge sauce and pistachio nuts. This dessert was the most interesting one on the dessert menu. The chocolate ice cream tasted very rich and tasted more like gelato than regular ice cream.

Everything in this restaurant seems so authentic and Italian! The service was impeccable and the food was delicious.

I am so glad that OmNom told me about this voucher. This restaurant did not disappoint!

Rating

Food 5/5
Ambiance 5/5
Service 5/5
Overall 5/5
Frankie's Italian Kitchen & Bar on Urbanspoon