Liang Ban Jia Korean BBQ (Taipei)

August 16, 2015 in Food, Reviews, Taiwan, Travel

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We were itching for some Korean food, and one of the recommendations from the internets is Liang Ban Jia (兩班家), a Korean BBQ restaurant situated on Level 6 of the A9 Shin Kong Mitsukoshi department store in Taipei’s Xinyi District.

The place is apparently packed during peak hours, but we went early for Friday lunch and managed to snag a seat.

As with most department store restaurants in Taipei, the decor is top notch and the atmosphere very comfortable. The service is of course also excellent. They apparently have this special ventilation system that absorbs all the smoke and fumes from the BBQ plates so your clothes won’t get all stinky.

They have a couple of lunch sets, one at NT$980 per head and one at NT$780 per head. The annoying thing is that if you have only two people both of you have to get the same set, so you can’t say have one person order a set and the other order a la carte.

The good thing about getting a set is that you get more value for your money, especially since you get unlimited side dishes (such as kimchi and other pickled vegetables), but the bad thing is that your selection is set and you can’t order the things you like. You can, however, order one set of sides for NT$80.

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The a la carte menu

In hindsight we probably should have gotten the set, but because we wanted specific things the sets didn’t have, like bibimbap and seafood pancake, we ended up ordering a la carte.

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No stinky clothes with this grill

We couldn’t come to a Korean BBQ without getting some BBQ, so we ordered the TORO pork, the cheapest item on the menu at NT$240 for eight slices.

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The waiters help you cook the meat, and they even use scissors to trim off the darkened edges. Apparently they don’t always do that if the restaurant is super busy, but they did so on this day.

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See the sauces at the bottom of the above photo? The one on the left is the Korean chili bean sauce, which is not that spicy but fantastic with just about anything. The one on the right is a lemony soy sauce which gives the meat a nice kick.

That said, the TORO meat was not great. Kinda tasted very porky and chewy. No wonder it was so cheap.

The other meat we got was spicy chicken.

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This took ages to cook. Needed a lot of patience. And the finished product was rather spicy. Unexpectedly spicy. Also not the greatest of choices (NT$280) but the beef was so expensive it would have made getting a la carte a rip off.

Next up, a spicy kimchi seafood soup.

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Lots of stuff inside and they cook it right in front of you on a separate portable gas stove. The soup was nice but it was super spicy. Like numbingly spicy.

They also cook the bibimbap in front of you too, and ask how spicy you want it and how well-done you prefer it.

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I have to say I really liked the bibimbap. I had to add some of that extra chili bean sauce but once I did it was excellent. Cooked to perfection and lots of great flavours. I wish I could have had more.

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Last, but not least, the good old seafood pancake.


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I also really liked this as it was thick and fluffy (some seafood pancakes are thin and crispy) and had solid fillings. The sauce was also sour and tangy, which went really well with it.

It was too much and we couldn’t finish everything, so we ended up taking a few pieces of seafood pancake back. We were also not close to finishing the soup. In hindsight, it probably would have been sufficient to skip the soup and the TORO pork, and perhaps upgrade the chicken to a better beef.

In sum, Liang Ban Jia is a perfectly solid Korean restaurant, but at NT$800-1000 per head it is a lot more expensive than similar quality restaurants elsewhere.

HOWEVER, I recently went back and tried out a different branch, at Shin Kong’s Tiemu store, and tried out one of the sets. It was a lot better, mostly because the quality of the meats were on a completely different level. So I’m revising my rating to give it a bump up.

8/10

Details

Liang Ban Jia (兩班家)

Address:  Level 6, Shin Kong Mitsukoshi A9, No. 9, Song Shou Road, Xinyi District, Taipei (nearest MRT Taipei City Hall/Taipei 101)

Phone: (02) 2720-1980

Hours: 11am-2:30pm, 5pm-9:30pm

Legendary Pierre Marcolini desserts in Taipei!

August 7, 2013 in Food, Reviews, Taiwan, Travel

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The Pierre Marcolini inside building A4 of the Shin Kong Mitsukoshi in the Xinyi district

Once upon a time, there was a terrifying old madwoman who raved on about “the best chocolate in the world”, Pierre Marcolini, the legendary Belgian chocolatier. I couldn’t quite afford the expensive chocolates during my one and only visit to Brussels as a student in December 2009, but one day, after a business trip to the Belgian capital, the madwoman brought back some small packs of Pierre Marcolini chocolates for me and my colleagues (her minions) as gifts. They were exquisitely packaged and tasted heavenly. It didn’t make up for the daily abuse we suffered at her hands, but it was, begrudgingly, an act of kindness I have never forgotten.

That is a memory I have tried to repress for years, though this has not stopped the name Pierre Marcolini from being carved into my subconscious forever. And so I was shocked when I ventured into the Shin Kong Mitsukoshi department store in Taipei’s busy Xinyi district and spotted a Pierre Marcolini‘s cafe. Marketed as the “god of chocolate” (who comes up with this stuff?), this cafe served not only sublime chocolates but also beautifully crafted desserts.

Despite the bank-breaking prices, I just had to try. (And I’m serious about the prices. We’re talking around NT$500 (AU$18-19) for each dessert, which is nearly double what some other already-considered-very-nice patisseries in Taiwan charge).

It wasn’t, however, a great afternoon because it seemed the air conditioning in that section of the department store was down, and it was like a freaking furnace in there. Nonetheless, our group of four perused the menus and, after getting over the shock of the prices, ordered one each (which comes with a complimentary beverage included in the price).

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Options from the menu

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More options from the menu

 

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This is a super special menu for two that we passed on — includes savoury dishes as well as desserts for NT$1,200 + 10% surcharge

Below are some pretty average photos of our desserts taken on a smartphone.

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The L’Envol, essentially a chocolate cake with chocolate ribbon, a tiny macaron and ice cream — apparently THE highlight that turned Pierre Marcolini into a “god”

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Le Macaron Sablon, a big berry macaron with a chocolate ribbon and crushed pistachios — great for those looking for something lighter and more sour

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Speaking of sour, this was one excellent lemon tart (Tarte Citron à l’ ancienne) with meringue on top and caramelized lemon pieces below

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And last but not lease, my favourite, which happens to not be on the menu. I don’t know what it is, but it has ice cream, chocolate sauce, fresh bananas, mascapone, crushed nuts and that crispy chocolate thing you see in the back (the best)

The final verdict on Pierre Marcolini? Mmm…very nice, highly quality desserts — but for that price? I don’t think so. Taiwan has plenty of places that sell cakes and desserts that, in my humble opinion, at least rival that of Pierre Marcolini, but at a fraction of the price. So while it’s an experience I enjoyed, I don’t think I will be going back any time soon.

Details

Pierre Marcolini

Address: Shin Kong Mitsukoshi A4, 2nd Floor, No. 19, Song Gao Rd, Xinyi district, Taipei City

Phone: (02) 2722 0660

Facebook page (Chinese)

Department Store Shopping in Taipei!

January 17, 2010 in Taiwan, Travel

I’ve been wanting to post this one for a while.

Taipei is a bit of a shopping paradise for a few reasons: (1) they have lots of huge department stores which multiple levels; (2) a lot of them are in close proximity to each other; (3) Taiwanese people love to import or rip off foreign stuff, especially from Japan (and now Korea); and (4) the prices are generally a fraction of their overseas counterparts (more so Western countries than Asian ones).

As far as I understand it, there are two big chains which dominate the market: SOGO and Shinkong Mitsukoshi.  I believe they have relatively similar things, but have a slightly different feel to each other.  Official websites here and here.

If you have limited time and you would like to visit some (or several) of these department stores, I would recommend visiting two areas in Taipei: the Zhongxiao Fuxing district and the Xinyi District.

(Read on about the shopping districts by clicking on ‘More…’!)

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