Butcher’s Kitchen (Jinhua branch, Taipei)

November 7, 2013 in Food, Reviews

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Butcher’s Kitchen is known for its meat and is regarded as a steak joint, but it’s also not a bad choice if you’re after a lighter, cheaper meal of pastas and burgers. We visited the new Butcher’s Kitchen franchise that opened recently and is located just a short walk from the CKS Memorial Hall MRT station. (Their original store is near the Yuanshan MRT station.)

The location is not great (it’s tucked away a little bit) but inside is very warm and cosy but spacious at the same time. They also have some outside seating but it was raining on this day so we got a seat inside.

Their steaks are around NT$1000-$1800 each and I have heard mixed things about them, especially the Taiwanese beef. So instead we went with their “Light Meals” section, which features burgers, stew, pork chops, kebabs and seafood. They also had a couple of pasta specials on the board that weren’t on the menu — a cream-based and tomato-based one.

We ultimately decided on their BK Jumbo Hamburger (which I heard was better than the enticing mini burger sliders) and their fettuccine carbonara (with bacon). One of them was a set meal which came with a salad and a beverage and we also got a pumpkin soup plus a dessert. Check it out.

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No complaints about the pumpkin soup. Hot, thick and sweet. Not the best I’ve had but certainly serviceable for a soup of the day.

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The salad looks basic but it was surprisingly good. It was more of a Caesar-type salad and that’s right up my alley.

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The burger was not exactly a “jumbo” burger, but it was very nice. The beef patty was thick and juicy, and I loved the simplicity of the onions and lettuce, leaving you to decide how much ketchup and mustard you want to add yourself (everyone gets a bottle of each on their table). The fries were also excellent, very crispy and piping hot. The bun was toasted but nothing special, and I think that’s the only major improvement I could note with this option.

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The surprise of the meal was the carbonara. I am usually sceptical of non-menu items (because if it’s so good it would be on the regular menu), but this was one of the best carbonara’s I’ve had in Asia. Just really great pasta, a nice creamy sauce that isn’t too heavy and a solid blend of flavors with a fair sprinkle of tasty bacon. The table next to us got the tomato-based pasta and it looked awesome too.

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The dessert was just a chocolate mousse cake and standard vanilla ice cream. Nothing to write home about and I probably won’t get dessert from here again.

On the whole, a quick and satisfying meal that set us back about NT$1000 in total. Will be going back to try the steaks next time, but it’s a place I would recommend just for its burger and pastas.

8/10

Details

Butcher’s Kitchen (肉舖廚房) (Jinhua store)

Address: No. 1, Alley 30, Jinhua Street, Zhongzheng district, Taipei (CKS Memorial Hall Station)

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

Phone: (02) 2358-1822

Hours: 11am-10pm

butcher

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