Ever since the Singapore F1 started a few years ago, we started planning September vacations. However, this year was the first time ambition matched action. As the roads around the shop were closed and road traffic promised to be horrible, we decided to close shop for a few days over the F1 period and take a short trip to Taipei. We left on Thursday, just in time to holiday with Typhoon Usagi, and returned the following Monday when the typhoon moved on to mess with Hong Kong.
This was also our first time using Airbnb. We took an apartment (The Sixth Apartment) on Dunhua South Road. The location was fantastic. The subway was just two streets away, at least four convenience shops were within walking distance, and there were plenty of restaurants around. However, what we felt the happiest and most grateful for was that we were a 2-minute walk away from the best dessert shop.
Eastern Ice Store (東區粉圓)
Address: No. 38, Lane 216, Section 4, Zhōngxiào East Rd, Daan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106 / 106台北市大安區忠孝東路四段216巷38號 Access: 11am – 1130pm daily, take the train to ZhongXiao Dunhua station and then take exit 3
Our nightly desserts were from this stall every night. For NT60, you get to choose four different ingredients. If you want it iced, they give you a takeaway bag of ice. We had almost the same bowl every time – sweet potato balls, yam balls, tapioca balls. The only variation we allowed ourselves was the base ingredient. You get to choose between grass jelly, ai-yu jelly, bean curd or red bean soup. Go for grass jelly!
KiKi Restaurant, 延吉店
Address: 台北市光復南路280巷47號1樓, Fuxing South Road Lane 280 No. 47
Despite the fact that the cat in KiKi Restaurant’s logo looks exactly like the one in (Studio Ghibli’s) Kiki’s Delivery Service, there seems to be no relation between this KiKi Restaurant and the classic animated film. This restaurant chain, which mainly specialises in Sichuan cuisine, has several locations in Taipei. There are also two KiKi Thai cafés. We first came across its Xinyi restaurant within the Eslite building, but it was only that night when this aimless pair decided on having dinner in its Yanji restaurant.
Tofu and seafood in crab egg gravy. This wasn’t the best dish of the night, but our other photos turned out blurry.
Judging from online reviews, the restaurants are pretty popular and it’s best to make reservations, if possible. We were lucky, I guess, to have arrived during a lull period in the dinner service. For some reason, we were also given seats in the VIP section, haha! Food was good. We had the four season beans with minced meat and Chinese spices (干扁四季豆), the grilled salted pork slices (盐猪肉) and tofu and seafood in crab egg gravy (蟹黄海鲜豆腐煲). The grilled salted pork slices was easily the standout for us; the serving was too generous but we had little trouble finishing the dish.
Dawan Yakiniku (大腕燒肉) / Facebook
Address: Daan District Dunhua South Road, Section 1 Lane 177 No. 22 / 台北市大安區敦化南路一段177巷22號1樓
We were recommended this Japanese yakiniku restaurant by a friend. We didn’t make any reservations and thought we would just arrive early enough (it opens at 6pm for dinner). Unfortunately, all seats were reserved that evening. The kind wait staff asked for us to wait a bit while he called to see if there were any cancellations (it was a typhoon day after all). No one cancelled though, and when we tried to make reservations for the following evening, we were politely told that there were only vacancies for the 10pm slot. :(
La Leona Pasta (里昂尼義麵坊)
We then made the sad mistake of settling for La Leone Pasta. It was such a tragic Italian affair. Our dishes looked dull and tasted that way too. The bread was soggy. I had a seafood pasta and the squid rings were rubbery, the scallops dreadfully tasteless, and the crab meat ohgoshno. Prices were reasonable for a restaurant setting, but the food was way below par. The only consolation was that we escaped the harshest winds and rains of that evening while we dined on stale pasta.
Café Megane (眼鏡咖啡)
Address: 5 Lane 52 Si Wei Rd, Taipei 台北市大安區四維路52巷6號
Taipei has no lack of quaint cafés, but I really liked Café Megane. The food and drinks were excellent! We had the onigiri set and a slice of the so-damn-awesome fried apple earl grey pound cake (what a fancy name, but it truly, truly rocked). It is perhaps a little hard to get to, but the cabs in Taipei are very easy to come by (and affordable).
T.Loafer (閑隅) / Closed
This café was on my must-go places and we stopped by here for a drink on a Sunday afternoon (raining? Check. Windy? Check. Just another typhoon day). Drinks were a bit too average and pretty expensive too. We loved the exterior façade of the café as well as the little knick-knacks littered around the café. They had some friends over that afternoon and we felt we were intruding a bit. I just found out that the café has closed permanently last week so it was good that we managed to visit.
We had a nice meal at Pinknic in the new Eslite Spectrum Songyan Store (誠品生活松菸店), but what really caught our interest was the queue snaking outside Wu Pao Chun bakery. The bread-fan Sarah didn’t fancy joining the queue, so we skipped it in the end. But it’s supposed to be really good, so if you’re ever there and like bread (a lot), you can try your luck.
Tu Hsiao Yueh (度小月), 忠孝店
Address: Daan District, Zhongxiao East Road, Section 4 Lane 216 Alley 8 No. 12 / 台北市大安區忠孝東路四段216巷8弄12號
Our last dinner was at this Taiwanese restaurant. We ordered the 2/3 pax set dinner and proceed to stuff ourselves silly. The appetizer was this plate of lovely, lovely passionfruit slices. Then it was a blur of noodles (their speciality dish was the Dan Zai noodles 擔仔麵), meat, vegetable and seafood dishes before we ended with a longan jelly dessert. Food was very, very serviceable and affordable. We spent the equivalent of S$35 for both of us.
I started out with the intention of writing a short entry of the different food places we went on our trip and that intention ballooned to this. Oops.
And oh, Foursquare is awesome for keeping track of where you’ve been when you’re on a vacation because they will email you a list of places you’ve checked in while abroad! We first realised this when we returned from Japan and received an email from Foursquare with all our check-ins. Reminiscing about a holiday always makes us feel warm and fuzzy inside. I suppose a good memory and some conscientiousness probably work just as well too, but well…