Bakery 49 (New Taipei)

April 25, 2014 in Food, Reviews, Taiwan, Travel

C1

My wife told me we should try this new cafe called Bakery 49 that looked fairly decent on the second floor of the Global Mall at Banqiao train station. As it turned out, it dawned on her after we sat down that she completely forgot she had been there before without me, which just means the place was not very memorable.

Nonetheless, the place was clean, new, and had a big TV against the wall. It’s apparently very popular for its all you can eat specials available only during dinner, but we were there for lunch. The cuisine is supposedly “San Franciscan” and known for the sourdough and clam chowder.

The menu, as you can see below, is quite simple. A couple of soups, a few salads, a handful of pastas, risottos, main courses and sandwiches. We were recommended the clam chowder, their specialty, but we didn’t go for the “bread bowl” because it looked a bit too much.

C6

The other recommendations we went with was the Shrimp with Lemon Mascarpone Risotto (which we turned into a set meal with soup of the day, a salad and dessert), and the Bakery 49 Ginger Roasted Chicken. Anything that has the restaurant’s name in it must be their best dish, right?

C8

Clam chowder

First up, the clam chowder. Can I just say I was it was kinda disappointing. It was their most marketed dish and it was just average. Too thick and too salty.

C9

Tomato basil soup

Next, the soup of the day, a tomato basil soup that was actually better than the clam chowder! It wasn’t spectacular, but it was pretty good, tangy and tomato-y, the way it’s meant to be.

 

C2

Set meal salad

This salad was OK, but it was extremely no frills. Just a few pieces of vegetables and a light oil dressing. Meh.

C5

Shrimp with Lemon Mascarpone Risotto

The first main, the Shrimp with Lemon Mascarpone Risotto, sounded really good, but it was more or less what I expected. A sour, lemony, creamy risotto with a couple of prawns. Not my style, but I suppose if you like lemon risottos this might be your thing.

C7

Bakery 49 Ginger Roasted Chicken

The second main, the Bakery 49 Ginger Roasted Chicken, was…sigh. As you can see in the photo, it’s pretty much a salad, and I doubt there was really half a chicken as advertised because I could hardly find any. And the pieces I did find were not exactly succulent. The little side of mash potato was good though.

C4

Chocolate brownie

Lastly, the dessert, a chocolate brownie with walnut and chocolate sauce. It was somewhat hard, but the flavour was excellent, so I had no complaints.

Overall, not the best experience, and not helped by the young waitress who had a face that said “I don’t want to be here.” Now, I was only there for the lunch, which has a different menu to the dinner, weekend brunch and afternoon tea, so I can’t say if it would have been different had I gone at another time. And I was tempted to try their Kobe Burger which sounded, at least on the menu, to be rather enticing. But I can’t see myself going back there again.

6/10

Details

Bakery 49

Website: http://www.bakery49.com/index.asp?AR=PROD&PK=6&CK=12 (all menus available)

Address: Level 2, Global Mall, Banqiao Station, No. 7, Section 2, Xianmin Blvd, New Taipei City

Phone: (02) 8969-2049

Hours: Mon-Thurs 11am-10pm; Fri-Sun 11am-10:30pm

Bite 2 Eat (New Taipei)

February 12, 2014 in Food, Reviews, Taiwan, Travel

16

Eslite is one of the only chain book stores in Taiwan that has managed to survive in recent years thanks to its world-famous 24-hour store and its diversification into more of a cultural department store. The Banqiao Eslite (the one closer to Fuzhong MRT station) recently re-opened after undergoing refurbishment, and it is now home to one of the most popular restaurants in the area, Bite 2 Eat. As far as I am aware, there is only one other store in Taipei in the Xinyi district, though there are two more in Kaohsiung and another in Tainan.

So is it worth the fuss? I went and found out.

Taiwanese people really know how to mould the image of a restaurant, and Bite 2 Eat is not different. It’s an Italian restaurant, strictly speaking, but it has the look and feel of a stylish cafe that young people in the city just love. The walls are packed with random decorations, clocks and signs, and all the waitresses are young and friendly.

The menu is in both Chinese and English and filled with a generous range of pizza and pasta (and risotto) selections that are roughly around NT$200 each, but if you order appetizers, additional beverages or meal sets it could work out to be NT$400-500 per head. Some of the choices are fairly standard, but they also have a lot of creative and wacky creations you might not have expected. Here are some shots of the menu.

17 18 20 19

 

So this is what we ordered: a pizza and a pasta, one of which we combined with a Fantasia Set Meal (NT$259) that includes an appetizer and a Frantalia side dish, plus a drink and dessert. Our selections were pretty much all recommended by the waitress.

First up, the fried squid (our Frantalia dish), which came with some salad and a line spinkle of mustard. I really enjoyed this as the batter was thick and crunchy, and they did not skimp on the squid. Perhaps a little on the salty side, but squid dishes often are.

22

Next up, the appetizer, which was a simple focaccia with a dip. Now, I don’t know what the dip was, but it was amazing, creamy and kind of garlicky, with a smooth texture and some herbs. The focaccia was also fluffy with a touch of sweetness. The two went together very well.

23

Our first main was the pizza, and we went for the spicy Seasoned Chicken Pizza. It wasn’t too spicy but it was spicy enough to give it a bit of a kick. The handmade base was fresh, but it was a little on the soft and floppy side, though the flavoursome and ample cheese made up for it. Not a bad pizza at all.

24

For the pasta, we went for the Spicy Spaghetti with Smoked Duck , and this one actually was quite hot. I also enjoyed this one — the spaghetti was al dente, the duck breast was tasty and the fried slices of garlic on top really hit the spot. It smelled really good too.

25

Lastly, we went with the Tiramisu for dessert. It was a reasonable slice that tasted fine, although it felt like they had just taken it out of the freezer as the bottom was still icy.

26

On the whole it was a solid meal, better than the majority of these types of cafes I’ve been to in Taiwan. Great ambience, good service, delicious food and reasonable prices. I can understand why there are always people lining up. The best part is that there are so many great selections on the menu that I’m sure I’ll be back to try some more.

8.5/10

Details

Bite 2 Eat  (薄多義)

Facebook page

Address: Level 5, Banqiao Eslite, No. 46, Section 1 Zhongshang Road, Banqiao District, New Taipei City (nearest MRT station Fuzhong)

Phone: +8862 2954 0410

Birkin Waffle Cafe (New Taipei)

February 11, 2014 in Food, Reviews, Taiwan, Travel

33

There are a lot of popular cafes in New Taipei city these days, especially near the Banqiao/Fuzhong/Xinpu area along the blue MRT line. One of these is Birkin Waffle Cafe, a short walk from the Xinpu MRT station and a slightly longer walk from Banqiao MRT station.

30

It’s a nicely fitted two-storey restaurant with a lot of comfortable sofas and slim young waitresses, which might explain why it is so popular with locals. And there is this big bear on the steps to the second floor, which people seem to like but freaked me out when I saw it.

29

Their menu is fairly extensive and offers all day breakfast, burgers, paninis, salads, fried stuff, steaks, ribs, and of course, waffles. Prices are fairly standard and depending on what you order you’re probably looking at around 300-500 per head. Minimum spend is a beverage, but if you order a meal that comes with a drink then it won’t be necessary. Here are the snaps I took of the menu. Interestingly, the breakfast section does not have English translations.

IMG_0009 IMG_0006 IMG_0007 IMG_0008

The first thing we ordered was one of the items on the breakfast menu which had eggs and ham on buns, bananas, salad and hash browns. I have to admit this was way too weird for my liking as the mix of flavours was completely off. From the photo I thought it was eggs benedict, but it was actually scrambled eggs, which is fine, but the buns beneath were sweet. And hash browns with bananas? It was just whacked.

27

With my expectations dampened, I didn’t expect much from the next item, the special sauce beef burger. But guess what? It was amazing! Nice bun, great beef patty and tangy sweet chili sauce. The fries were nice and crispy too. A standout burger.

28

For dessert, we were tossing between the chocolate and the strawberry but ended up going with the latter. Not a bad choice but the waffles weren’t anything spectacular.

31

On the whole, a pretty comfortable place to dine, especially for a nice brunch or get together. The food is a bit of a mixed bag and I don’t recommend the bizarre breakfast options, though the burger we tried was excellent. I was surprised that with “waffle” in its name the place didn’t offer more waffle options (there were 6 in total), but the one we tried, one of the recommended flavours, was fairly decent.

8/10

Details

Birkin Waffle Cafe

Address: No. 1, Jièshòu St, Banqiao District, New Taipei City

Phone: +886 2 2257 1777

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birkin-Waffle-cafe/371824229553388

Chamonix Teppanyaki (Taipei)

January 18, 2014 in Food, Reviews, Taiwan, Travel

chamonix

Taiwan’s Wowprime Group is just killing it with all their awesome restaurants. Chamonix is their attempt to tackle deluxe teppanyaki, and it’s a highly successful one with 15 stores across the country. We went to the store in Banqiao in New Taipei City, which is fitted beautifully with comfortable seats around the teppanyaki hotplate, where chefs make your meals on the spot. For dessert, there is a separate lounge section, which is also very comfortable.

Chamonix is considered little on the dearer end at NT$980 per person, plus 10% service charge, but it’s about right for high quality teppanyaki. In any case, what you get is, in my opinion, is well worth it.

The set courses come with a seasonal appetizer, bread, soup, salad, lemon sorbet, a main course, a fried rice, a dessert and beverage. Apart from the appetizer, bread, sorbet and sakura shrimp fried rice, there are several options to choose from for all other courses, and don’t forget the menu also changes regularly. The current full range of English menu options can be found here.

This is what we had.

9

Seasonal appetizer

10

House bread

12

Salmon and fruit salad

7

Green salad

4

French shrimp bisque

5

Truffle-infused onion soup

1

Lemon sorbet

13

Grilled beef tenderloin

1

Chicken and seafood combo

3

Sakura shrimp fried rice

2

Panna cotta & fruit juice

6

Pudding and tea

In all, it was a very satisfying meal that was very Wowprime, which means great variety, excellent average quality and service, and different to the type of food you would get at other teppanyaki places. Highly recommended.

8.5/10

Details

Chamonix (夏慕尼)

Website (English): http://www.chamonix.com.tw/en/index.htm

Locations and contacts: http://www.chamonix.com.tw/en/locat.htm

Hours: 11am-2:30pm, 5:30pm-10pm

Fresh Japanese at Nomenu (Taipei)

December 27, 2013 in Food, Reviews, Taiwan, Travel

IMG_2557

Tucked away in a small alley in New Taipei’s Banqiao district, just across the road from the city hall, lies Nomenu, a new Japanese sushi and sashimi bar that offers delicate and fresh cuisine prepared by chefs right in front of you.

It’s called Nomenu, but having absolutely no guidance would pose a bit of a problem for customers, so…there actually is a menu — albeit one that just lays out some basic parameters of meal sets and prices and some grilled ala carte options. This contradiction aside, Nomenu turned out to be a surprisingly enjoyable experience, an intriguing joint I would recommend to people who like their fresh fish and don’t mind leaving the fate of their meal to the chefs. Of course, you can tell them in advance what you like and don’t like, and they will try their best to accommodate, though I have to admit it made me a little nervous because the Japanese are known to be quite adventurous in their choice of ingredients.

For our visit, we were presented with several set options, two of which were NT$280, one for NT$380, and two special “no menu” sets valued at NT$800 and NT$1600. The cheapest sets, to be honest, probably don’t offer enough for most average people, as they only include an appetizer, six sushi pieces or sashimi don, a soup and panna cotta dessert. The NT$380 set is a little better with both the sushi and sashimi don (with less suishi pieces), but you’ll probably have to order some side dishes to feel completely satisfied.

I have no idea what the NT$800 and NT$1600 sets provide, but I’m assuming it’s high quality produce. All prices are subject to a 10% service fee.

IMG_2566

The chilled appetizer that day was a three-pronged attack, with potato mash and fish roe, that slimy green thing I don’t really like with sesame sauce, and a skinned tomato with a vinaigrette dressing. They were not exactly the type of things I like, but then again it tasted pretty good for stuff I don’t like.

IMG_2559

IMG_2561

The sushi set was the highlight for me. It came with an assortment of fresh fish, some lightly seared and others completely raw. You can tell it’s fresh and the wasabi is also freshly made, not like the packeted stuff you get at sushi trains. The sashimi don was good too, though I felt there was not enough sashimi pieces for the amount of rice you get. We also ordered a chicken with sea urchin sauce from the ala carte menu (mostly skewers and grilled items), which was wonderful and went well with the leftover rice.

IMG_2562

The soup was not miso as expected, but a light seafood broth, and the panna cotta dessert was fairly good, creamy but not too heavy, with a dash of sugary syrup on top. On the whole it was a very light but tasty meal, which I was happy with but unfamiliar with as most Taiwan restaurants like to stuff you to the brim with low-quality food so you feel like you go value for money.

IMG_2563

 

IMG_2565

 

The best part about it, however, is that you are likely to be presented with a slightly different experience every time you go there given the chef-designed sets and depending on the produce available. From other food blogs I have visited it seems the food I had — or at least the appetizer and soup — was different to theirs. If the opportunity presents itself I will be back.

8/10

Details

Nomenu (旬鮮/鮨)

Address: No. 160-11, Section 1 Zhongshan Road, Banqiao District, New Taipei City (it’s actually on Min-an Street which is perpendicular to Zhongshan Road, across the road from the front entrance of New Taipei City Hall)

Phone: 0930 300 616

Hours: 11am-3pm, 5pm-9pm; closed Mondays

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/alwaysnigiri

nomenu

 
%d bloggers like this: