Shengyuan Shigua Steamed Dumplings

March 11, 2012 in Food, Reviews, Taiwan, Travel

 

Hard to get a clear shot at night

My food posts are back, baby!  I’m a little backed up, so hopefully I can catch up in the next couple of months.

Anyway, here’s a place I visited a few months ago.  If you like steamed dumplings (ala Din Tai Fung) like me, then a street near Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall might be your thing.  Hangzhou South Road, which borders one of the sides of the memorial, has several steamed dumpling (xialongbao) joints. But most of them are street vendors, so that may turn a lot of tourists off.

There is one proper restaurant, however, that is both clean and has awesome food. It’s called Shengyuan Shigua Steamed Dumpling and it’s on one of the side lanes off Section 2 of Hangzhou South Road (lane 25, to be exact).

The restaurant isn't spectacular, but at least it's a restaurant

On most nights, expect to line up, so it doesn’t hurt to book ahead.  The restaurant itself is quite big, with wooden tables and chairs like what you would see in those kung fu movies.  The kitchen is out near the front behind glass, so you can kind of see the cooks working away. A lot of the stuff is self-serve, like the mini cold side dishes on the display shelf, hot tea, napkins and utensils, as well as my favourite — the sauces.  In the corner of the restaurant there is a sauce stand where you can add your own soy and vinegar, shredded ginger, garlic paste, chilli and even a special thick pot-sticker sauce. Awesome.

Awesome self serve dishes

Self serve sauces

The variety is pretty good too, with an assortment of steamed dumplings, pot-stickers, wontons, meats, vegetables, soups, noodles and savoury snacks. You can also order traditional dishes but only large groups tend to order those. You would think the “must order” is the shigua (luffa) steamed dumplings (after all, that’s what the restaurant has in its name), but for us it was the beef pancake roll. My god it was the best I’ve ever had, so crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside…

Let me allow the photos to do most of the talking.

Hot and sour soup -- pretty good, but not super

Shigua steamed dumplings, the signature dish -- not quite as good as Din Tai Fung's but it's still very good and just a fraction of the price

Wontons with chilli oil -- a little different to what I am ordinarily used to but it was very nice

The beef pancake roll -- sliced beef with cucumber and shallots rolled up in a pan fried pastry topped off with hoisin sauce -- the best I've ever had

Pan fried pastry with pork filling -- mmmmmm.....

On the whole, the prices are extremely reasonable. You’re looking at about NT$100 for 8 steamed dumplings, NT$70 for the wontons and 30 for each mini cold side dish. Incredible value.

The service is virtually non-existent, but for the price and quality of the food, not to mention the sensational beef rolled pancake, I’d definitely recommend giving Shengyuan Shigua Steamed Dumplings a try.

8 out of 10!

Directions: Take the MRT to Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall. The nearest Exit is no. 3 but if you want to walk through the memorial you can take no. 5.

 

San Kwai Tang Cafe (Taipei)

December 15, 2011 in Food, Reviews, Taiwan, Travel

One afternoon we went to this tiny little cafe near the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall MRT station called ‘San Kwai Tang’ (三槐堂).  It’s tucked away in an alley on Roosevelt Road, so inconspicuous that you’d never notice it unless you knew it was one of the most popular places for coffee and cheese cake in all of Taipei.

San Kwai Tang is in this little alley

The cafe itself is neatly decorated with only a few tables for guests.  There is a cool bar with jars and jars of cookies, walls adorned with clippings and chic decorations and artworks.

San Kwai Tang boasts a very comfortable interior

I love their bar

For afternoon tea we ordered their famous cheesecake (NT$70), an assortment of cookies (NT$50) and a tea or two (their coffees are very popular but we’ll have to try them another time).

The cheesecakes are freshly made on premises and very eater-friendly — creamy but not too creamy, a little sweet, a little sour, and the base is a perfect biscuit.  The blueberry jam on top is a wonderful complement.

The four cookies we got (in a set) were also excellent — crispy and flavoursome without being too sweet.  No wonder people often come in to order them by the dozens.

In all, a very satisfying and enjoyable afternoon tea.  I’d definitely recommend it to those in search of a good cheese cake or gourmet coffee.  Check it out if you are in the area or need to rest your legs after a long walk around Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall.

Details:

San Kwai Tang (三槐堂)

Phone:   (02) 2321 3429

Address: No. 2, Lane 72, Section 1, Roosevelt Road, Taipei

Nearest MRT Station: Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall (Exit 2 — just walk straight along Roosevelt Road and it’s one of the small lanes on the right about 5 minutes away)

Opening Hours: 12pm-10pm

Cheap and Tasty Noodles Near CKS Memorial Hall

January 5, 2010 in Food, Taiwan, Travel

Restaurant: Zhang Wu Ji
Food: Chinese noodles, wontons, soup and savoury pastries
Address: Corner of Ning Bo (Po) East Street and Section 1 Roosevelt Road
Opening: Early morning till roughly noon
Prices: Expect to spend around TWD 50-100 per head

There are lots of cheap and tasty (or cheap and dirty) little restaurants in Taipei, usually run as long-standing family businesses.  Most of these rely on the business of local residents and workers, but some are good enough to attract visitors from other districts.

The tiny noodle and pastry breakfast joint called Zhang Wu Ji on Ning Bo (Po) East Street, near the corner of Section 1 Roosevelt Road (Luo Si Fu Road), is unfortunately not one of these places.  However, if you are going to see Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall in the morning, it doesn’t hurt to check this place out if you aren’t afraid of the local food spots.  They are usually only open up to about noon, so you need to get in early.

Zhang Wu Ji looks dodgy from the outside but the food is great

(Don’t be put off by the exterior, click on ‘More…’ to see the declious food pics!)

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Taipei Adventure – An Overview

January 2, 2010 in Food, Taiwan, Travel

The sensational Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall in Taipei...for the record this photo was too nice to have been taken by me

I’ve been in Taipei for a whole week now, but have yet to put up any posts about it yet.

Too busy – too much to do, too much to buy, too much to eat!

I thought I would kick things off with a quick overview.  Taipei is the capital of Taiwan (otherwise known as the Republic of China).  Taipei has a metropolitan population of over 10 million, despite it being a pretty small place.

Walking around the streets of Taipei, it’s hard not to recognise what an amazing place it is.  The skies appear to be perpetually grey.  There is literally food and shops along every narrow street and at every corner.  People, cars and scooters everywhere, at all hours of the day.  The public transport system is phenomenal, with buses, trains, a convenient metro system (some of which are linked by underground walkways lined with shops), and when all else fails, a plethora of yellow taxis.  Various shopping districts, department stores and night markets littered throughout make Taipei a difficult city to stand still in.

There’s also an uglier side to Taipei.  The people are emotionally charged when it comes to politics (yes, those videos you’ve seen of politicians pulling hair and scratching each other in parliament).  There are amputated and disabled people begging on the streets while others pass them by without batting an eyelid.  The back streets are filled with dog crap landmines and homeless animals.  And worst of all, bizarre, putrid odours seem to pop out of nowhere when you least expect it (eg when taking deep breaths!).

Anyway, I’m going to start diligently preparing some posts on Taipei very shortly – mainly on the delicious food, but also a few on the wonderful shopping.  I’m going to create a special ‘Taiwan’ sub-category under ‘Travel’ for these posts.  If there are enough posts (and I think there are), I’ll create a special page with an index.  Keep your eyes peeled!