Addicted to Dazzling – Dazzling Pink

Meimei once told me that a food blogger visited Dazzling Cafe more than 20 times, and counting. How can anyone visit a cafe that many times, even though there are now 8 locations throughout Taiwan? Is it that good? My first experience at Dazzling Mint was good, but my second time at Dazzling Pink (their first store) was even better. Dazzling Pink is also conveniently located near MRT Zhongxiao Dunhua station, and about a 3 minute walk from Dazzling Mint.

There’s a deal going on at all the Dazzling Cafe locations until the end of November, which is buy one honey toast or pasta and get the second one half off. How can I pass on a yummy deal like that?

We went for dinner that evening, and even though we didn’t make a reservation, we reserved on the wait list at 4:30pm for 6pm, and that’s how we got a table on a Saturday night. The service was really good, and the servers were all very attentive. The waiter who took our order had a very good memory too; we must have changed our order at least 10 times (changed mains, changed our mind about drinks, adjusted ice and sugar levels, and requested that our honey toast be on the crispier side), and he still got it spot on. Bravo!

The interior of Dazzling Pink is very pretty, with white and pink as their main colours: a girl’s paradise! They came out with a jewelry line as well, but I’m not too interested in their jewelry. I like food more.

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Peach fruit tea (3/5):

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This tea was sweet and peachy, and quite refreshing. All pastas come with a drink (from a small menu, and this was one of them. Not bad for a complimentary drink!).

Meimei’s hot black tea, also came with a pasta order:

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It’s just black tea, so it’s nothing new. However, it came with a side of fruit slices that can be added to the tea for a fruity twist to black tea.

I ordered the rose latte again, just like last time at Dazzling Mint. I thought this drink was so good that I didn’t mind ordering it a second time. Actually, that’s what usually happens when I like something. I end up ordering it again instead of trying something new. I’m trying to slowly change that though, because trying out new things can be really fun!

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Rose. Coffee. Lots of milk. It’s my perfect winter drink.

Scallop and shrimp pasta tossed in olive oil (4/5):

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Chicken pesto pasta (4.5/5):

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Smoked salmon fettuccini (4/5):

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Dazzling cafe serves good pasta. All of their pasta is cooked al dante, but there wasn’t much shrimp or scallop in the seafood pasta, nor a lot of salmon in the smoke salmon one. The portions were not large either, but it’s perfect for girls who want to save room for dessert: honey toast!

Hazelnut honey toast (4.5/5):

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Yum! We requested the toast to be on the crispier side. It was so divine, even our guy friends enjoyed it, and I thought honey toast was a girl’s thing!

I am addicted to Dazzling; now I know why it’s always full and reservations must be made weeks in advance. Taiwanese people are seriously good at decorating their cafes and restaurants! They are all so pretty and exquisite, and I think it’s something that North American restaurants still have a lot to learn from. But then again, it could be that North Americans don’t like the cute style that Asians prefer. So, each to their own.

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. :(

Dazzling Cafe – Mint

Yesterday I had afternoon tea with Hazelnut. It’s been awhile since I last saw her because she’s been busy with school in Taoyuan and hardly ever have time to visit Taipei. We decided to try Dazzling Cafe Mint and had a nice chat over some coffee and honey toast. Dazzling Cafe has quite a few stores, and their first store (pink) and the mint are both conveniently located near MRT Zhongxiao Dunhua station. Dazzling cafe is famous for their honey toast boxes, and each store has unique menu items.

The minimum order here is one drink per person, so in the end we each ordered a drink and ordered one honey toast box to share.

Caramel honey toast (3/5) $240NTD:

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The toast box was very pretty to look at. This wasn’t a special menu item, because all the special toasts at this location are Danish (and I don’t  particularly enjoy Danish toasts). The pretty swirls on the plate was honey, the little dish contained more  honey, and the yellow custard was also flavoured with honey. This toast came with a scoop of ice-cream (I think it might have been maple walnut), drizzled with caramel sauce on top. I want to try making honey toast myself next time. I saw them make it once at what8ver cafe in Richmond, Canada, and it didn’t look too difficult. I think 2 people sharing one toast box is perfect. I really wanted to try their Halloween special toast (they even cut the bread so it looks like a Jack-o-Lantern!!), but that one had to be ordered with a meal, which was only available during meal times. So boohoo. :(

I had a rose latte, and this was a store special (4/5) $150NTD:

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There’s a little bit of alcohol in this drink, which warms you up on a chilly afternoon, and it’s a good choice for those who enjoy floral drinks (like me~). The coffee didn’t taste sour or bitter, and it was sprinkled with rose buds.

It was nice to hear Hazelnut’s stories and share my stories with her as well. It’s so easy to talk to her. :) I think that’s what friends should be like. No pressure, carefree, and no need to worry about saying something that might offend someone because it was interpreted in a different way. I understand that everybody’s different and are entitled to their own feelings and emotions, but I personally dislike misunderstandings and unnecessary drama. Also, for whoever’s reading this, please don’t take it personally because I am not writing about anybody in particular, it’s just a general statement. Kthxbye!

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. :)

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.