TJB Dim Sum (Taipei)

April 10, 2014 in Food, Reviews, Taiwan, Travel

photo 5

I tell you what, the Breeze food level on top of Taipei Main Station is a foodies paradise. There are must-haves such as Anzu and Ippudo, and very-nice-to-haves such as Ootoya. The whole floor is full of delights, not just popular restaurants but also themed food courts (eg, traditional Taiwanese cuisine, curry, beef noodles, etc). I’ve been trying them, one by one, and a couple of weeks ago I tried TJB Dim Sum, the dim sum franchise of the TJB (TheJeansBar) chain that also includes the brunch joint TJB Cafe.

We had an opportunity to go for a lunch set, which I would not have minded, but since it doesn’t really you that much money we decided to order a la carte. They serve various stir-fry and soup noodles, rice, BBQ meats, congee, vegetables, bread toasts/buns/sandwiches and dim sims which include spring rolls, turnip cakes, BBQ pork buns, shumai, etc. Set meals that include drinks and buns are available for a bit extra. Here is the full menu.  Price wise you’re looking at a minimum of about NT$150 to NT$300, depending on whether you get a beverage or other snacks.

Plenty of options, but we went with a simple oyster sauce stir-fried noodle with shallots and ginger, a TJB pork chop, BBQ pork and fried egg rice, a TJB pineapple bun with butter, plus a milk tea. We also ordered a BBQ pork bun but they stuffed up the order and took more than half an hour to get it to us, so they took it off the bill in the end.

Here’s what we go in photos.

photo 2

photo 3

 

photo 4

photo 1
How was it? Good! I didn’t expect anything exceptional, so the food was probably better than I expected. The noodles were plain but delicious, and rice was great. The bun was slightly better than average and I’ve had better milk teas. Still, given the other enticing options available on the menu (such as the stir-fried turnip cake) I wouldn’t mind heading back to try the place again.

8/10

Details

TJB Dim Sum (TJB 茶餐室)

Website: http://www.thejeansbar.com.tw/tjbdimsum/  (Facebook page)

Hong Kong Hsin Hua Tea House (Taipei)

August 31, 2013 in Food, Reviews, Taiwan, Travel

283

Another popular dining option in Taiwan are Hong Kong tea cafes, or tea houses, which serve traditional Hongkie grub ranging from rice and noodle stir fries to soup noodles, pineapple buns, toasts, and milk tea and lemon tea beverages. If you’ve been to one of these places in Hong Kong you’ll know what I mean.

Many of these places in Taiwan are average, expensive, or inauthentic, or all of the above. Hsin Hua Tea House (香港鑫華茶餐廳) on Jinhua Street in Taipei’s Da’an district is one of the few really authentic ones. On top of the dishes and atmosphere, the prices are also very reasonable (each person can expect to spend around NT$100-200) and the service is expedient. That’s why you can almost always expect to see the place full of people, though the wait is never as long as it seems because the turnover is so rapid.

260

I have been to this joint a few times but the variety is so great that there are still many dishes that I am desperate to try. Unfortunately, the menus are entirely in Chinese, so you will need some local help if you don’t understand the language.

258

The Menu

From a quick look at the menu I can see that there are around 15 types of stir fried noodles alone, plus around 15 or so rice dishes. They have a special recommended pork chop rice with egg (a Hongkie favourite), as well as a selection of soups served with instant-style noodles. On top of that there are small dishes such as pineapple buns, turnip cakes, sandwiches, toasts, and of course, Chinese desserts. They also have daily specials on the whiteboard which are a little cheaper than the menu prices. I’d normally say choose wisely, except everything looks so appetizing.

On this occasion we chose a traditional HK fried pork chop bun with lettuce and mustard (sublime), a pan-fried rice noodle rolls with hoisin and peanut sauce (awesome), a steamed pork with black bean sauce on rice (authentic) and a classic pineapple bun (excellent). For a beverage we got their traditional milk tea. Here are the pics.

265

Pork Chop Bun

273

Pan-fried Rice Noodle Rolls

275

Steamed Pork Rice with Black Bean Sauce

278

Pickled side dish

280

Pineapple Bun

268

Milk Tea

I’ve actually had a lot more stuff from this place but I always tend to forget to take photos. Their HK-style French toast is pretty good and I’ve also had their stir-fried beef with dry instant noodles. It’s all good stuff. Maybe I’ll add some photos if I remember take some next time.

Overall, Hsin Hua Tea House is definitely a place I would recommend. The food is authentic and tasty, the selection is vast, the service is efficient and the prices are fair. It’s one of those restaurants you can go to regularly and still keep wanting to go back for more.

8.5/10

Details

Hsin Hua Tea House (香港鑫華茶餐廳)

Address: 126-1 Jinhua St, Da’an district, Taipei — across the road from National Chengchi University’s Center for Public and Business Administration Education (nearest MRT: Guting or Dongmen)

Phone: (02) 2391-2002

Hours: 11am-9pm

Note: cash only

Hsinhua

Ramen Kagetsu Arashi (Taipei)

November 24, 2011 in Best Of, Food, Reviews, Taiwan, Travel

Be prepared to line up!

I love ramen.  Did I mention I love ramen?

Unfortunately, having lived in Japan before, I have tasted the best this magnificent invention has to offer, and accordingly, everything else I have tasted outside of Japan pales in comparison.

However, I have heard good things about ramen in Taiwan, especially because a lot of the ramen restaurants are popular Japanese franchises.  One of the best, apparently, is Ramen Kagetsu Arashi (らあめん花月嵐).

One busy evening, we went to the new Ramen Kagetsu Arashi store in the B2 food court of the new Hankyu Department Store in Taipei.  The Hankyu Department Store is THE place to be right now because it’s connected directly with the Taipei City Hall MRT Station as well as the Eslite bookstore building, my favourite bookstore on the planet.  And the food court there is one of the most amazing I have ever set foot in.  I’ll be damned if I don’t get to try every single restaurant and piece of cake in that place!

The problem with Hankyu is that it is almost always guaranteed to be jam packed.  We started lining up at around 5pm and got in at 5:30pm, and if you go after 6 chances are the wait will be an hour or more.  You might have better luck at the foodcourt of the Vieshow cinemas nearby.

Anyway, the Arashi menu has four main types of ramen, all of which feature the “genkotsu” (pork fist bone) soup base, loads and loads of garlic and lard!  Healthy!  There is the regular type, which utilises soy; the spicy type, which of course has lots of chilli; the miso type, which uses miso instead of soy; and the white type, which uses natural salt for flavour.  There are always some seasonal specials but I assumed if the specials were that good they’d be on the regular menu, so I passed.

The condiments, and the additions menu behind them

We went with the regular type ramen, which is supposedly the most popular.  There are lots of additions you can pay for, such as extra spring onions, corn, egg, cabbage, sesame seeds and so fort.  You can also get additional chashu (meat) because all ramen only come with two slices of pork, but that was enough for me.  We also didn’t get the meal set, which is essentially a beverage and a small bowl of rice with fried garlic sauce for an additional charge.

Look at that soup!

The aroma from the garlic in the soup was so strong that it made me drool.  On top of that they can also give you extra cloves of fresh garlic which you can crush and toss into the soup, if you want to stink even more.  The size of the bowl is decent — big enough to fill you up but not too big so as to make you get sick of it.

Want more garlic? You got it!

On every table is a range of condiments you can add to enhance the flavour if you so desire — chilli oil, chilli powder, vinegar, soy, special sauce and spices, etc.  For me, the flavour of the soup was strong enough.

So was the ramen good?  Yes.  Very good.  The ramen soup is the key, and Arashi’s is sublime.  The soup is so thick that it is opaque, and you can see the tiny blobs of fat floating in there, but I tell myself it’s just the garlic (some of it is).  The meat is also quite good, soft but not quite to the extent where it melts in your mouth.  The noodles are average because they are not hand made, but then again, most ramen stores don’t make their own noodles.  In all, good enough to rival some of the ramen places I visited in Japan, but not quite in my “pantheon”.  That said, it’s definitely good enough to warrant return visits, once you get the garlic smell out of your system.

But hang on, we didn’t just have the ramen.  We also got a hot plate rice.  This dish is much like the stuff they serve at Pepper Lunch”, another Japanese franchise.  Essentially, they give you a hot plate with fried rice and butter on it, which keeps cooking as you eat.  We got, you guessed it, the garlic flavoured one.  We figured if we were going to stink we might as well go all the way.

Garlic and butter -- an unbeatable combo

The rice was pretty nice — but then again, any time you mix garlic and butter it’s not going to taste too bad.  It was, as expected, a little on the oily side, but still a nice complement to the ramen.

I have to try more ramen places in Taipei, but at the end of the day, I would be very surprised if Ramen Kagetsu Arashi is not one of the better ramen places in all of Taiwan.

8.5 out of 10!

Details

Ramen Kagetsu Arashi (らあめん花月嵐)

Price: around NT$160-250 per person, depending on whether you get sets, additions or sides

Websites: Official – http://www.gone-grp.com/main.php; Japanese – http://www.gbj-tw.com/; Chinese blog – http://www.wretch.cc/blog/kagetsu

Stores (Taipei only):

Taipei Main Station
2nd Floor of Breeze food court at Taipei Main Station (closest MRT: Taipei Main Station)
(02) 2389-1998

Xinyi Vieshow
2nd Floor of Vieshow Cinemas food court at Xinyi district (closest MRT: Taipei City Hall)
(02) 2729-2128

Eslite (Dunhua)
B1 Floor food court of Eslite at 245 Dunhua South Road (closest MRT: Zhongxiao Dunhua)
(02) 2778-5777

Hankyu Department Store
B2 Floor food court of Hankyu Department Store (closest MRT: Taipei City Hall)
(02) 8789-3030

Nanxi Shin Kong Mitsukoshi
B1 Floor of Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Department Store Hall 2 at 14 Nanjing West Road (closest MRT: Zhongshan)
(02) 2562-0011

Indian Journey Part VII: Why Indians Rarely Divorce

July 1, 2010 in India, Travel

I don’t want to paint with a broad brush, but statistics (of which I have none at hand) show that Indians rarely divorce.  There are probably many cultural reasons for this, but having just been to an Indian wedding, my guess is it’s because they never want to go through another wedding ever again.  It’s a lot of hard work.  And it’s exhausting for everyone involved, especially the bride and groom.

I can only tell you what I experienced as an outsider who witnessed bits and pieces of the three days that I attended.  I am from the groom’s side, but I assume other things happened separately on the bride’s side too.  Hindu weddings are conducted using Sanskrit, an old language which most Indians cannot understand, so it must have been equally tedious for all the Indians in attendance as it was for us.  Nevertheless, let me assure you — as grand and merry as it was, no sane person will want to go through it twice!

(to read on click on “More…”)

Read the rest of this entry →

 
%d bloggers like this: