Saturday, December 20, 2014

Taipei Part II: Night Markets



Back here to update Part II of my Taipei trip which will be all about the NIGHT MARKETS (more commonly known as 观光夜市) to the locals there.

I don't think anyone ever visits Taipei without making a trip to their night markets there! Night markets are soooo iconic of Taipei tourism and even among the locals, known and popular for the cheap and yummy food!

1. Shida Night Market 师大夜市
A popular night market amongst students studying at 师范大学 (smth like our NIE back here), this night market is greatly targeted for the youths. It is a lot more organized and clean as compared to Shihlin, and sells a lot more clothes suitable for young adults at affordable prices. However, do take note that while prices are affordable, the really nicer clothes can be quite expensive as compared to other night markets! (Just think shopping at Bugis Street vs Far East Plaza, same same but price different)

Also, what is night market without food? On my previous trip here (not the most recent one, will explain why later), tonnes of braised meat stalls can be spotted almost at EVERY turn we make in the street LOL.

Do bear in mind that the night market life only starts bustling from 6pm onwards, if you go too early, you're gonna walk off empty handed like me and Lunz this time because we went around 430pm and the streets were so empty compared to the previous time I went! But I'd say this night market is really worth a visit for the fashion!!

Sorry no photos for this because we went too early and there was nth there lol

Nearest MRT station: Taipower Building
It's around a 5 minutes walk from taipower building. Just walk towards Shida Road!

2. Ningxia Night Market 宁夏夜市
If you're not someone into shopping and are purely looking for food in night markets, this is the place to go. EVERYWHERE IS FOOD. Left, Right, In front, behind. And not just food. IT IS PACKED WITH PEOPLE TOO. (Read: ahemprcahemtouristsahem)




Might be because I was there on a Friday night hence the entire place was sooooo packed with tourists. But this place has tonnes of yummy food man. Here are some of what we had:

Fried Cuttlefish (NT$100) Damn juicy, chewy and full of flavour. We ordered the garlic flavoured one and it was so good.
Oyster Omelette!!! (NT$60) This is the place and generally Ningxia Night Market is the place for oyster omelette imo. Not Shihlin. Shihlin sells overrated and overpriced oyster omelette! I forgot the shop name but this shop actl has a queue for its oyster omelette and there are a lot of locals eating this too. 
Papaya Milkshake (NT$60) 
My favourite drink there!! Not because it helps in bust growth ok!! I dislike papayas since young but this tastes sooo yummy! 
Advised to be consumed within 20min of purchase
Grilled cuttlefish (NT$100)
Evidently, I love cuttlefish


However, despite all the food being extremely yummy, this place is overly tourist-fied in my opinion and hence explains the higher prices in food. Like, a grilled squid for NT100? I could get the same at Danshui for NT80! And the drinks that we got that were priced at NT60, we could readily get them at NT40 elsewhere, even in more "developed" places like Ximending. But it's still worth a try if you want to soak into the local atmosphere and enjoy some yummy food.

Also, please appear strong when you're walking through the crowd. If not you'll just get pushed around and get your queues cut by barbaric tourists (ahem) whom the stall owners even gets pissed off with. Or maybe I just look THAT weak and easily pushed around by them. Tbh, that's the only thing I disliked about Ningxia, so I guess if I had gone on a less crowded night, I'd fall in love with this place very much (:

Nearest MRT station: Zhongshan

3. Tong Hua Street Night Market 通化街夜市
This was the most quiet night market that we visited and could walk around with like the whole road to ourselves. While it is a relatively shorter street as compared to other night markets, this place seems to be quite popular with the Taiwanese students because we saw so many of them there! You know a place is good when you see more locals than tourists.

We went there right after we checked into our hotel upon arrival, and were soooo dead hungry. So this was what we got:

Hot plate sirloin steak that is bigger than your face (directly translated) LOL.
Freakinggggg huge steak that we shared, with spaghetti, sunny side up and free flow of soup.
NT$199.
Flavoured sausages, quite nice. But never a fan of sausages.
My fav. Peanut Ice Cream wrap!
I first had this at Danshui in my previous trip and loved it, and back then not many stores sold this. Now it is everywhere you go due to its popularity. But this stall looks the most old school and authentic and the uncle gave me a damn big scoop of ice cream! My wrap was bursting. hehe

Also, we bought this really yummy bubble tea that was damn nice!!! Nicer than the famous 50嵐 (the KOI of taiwan) but I can't remember what was its name. I can only rmb that to get there, you turn right when you see the sausage stall and it's the last stall of the stretch, with its logo in green! Lots of youngsters were buying from there :)

A very simple stretch of road filled with road stalls that are not overly tourist-fied, with some shops selling collectibles, toys and stationery. Worth a visit if you're nearby but you would want to give it a miss if you're looking to shop.

Nearest MRT Station: Liuzhangli

4. Shihlin Night Market 士林观光夜市
Okay, if this night market doesn't appear here, I probably can't call myself a tourist. HAHAHA. This place is just horrifyingly filled with 1000000000000 people, if there are that much people in this world.

If you hate crowds, don't come here on weekends. Packed like sardines is how I'd describe the place to be on weekends. There're actually 2 main areas in this night market -- one for eating and one for shopping. To get to the eating district (where the gigantic underground mall is), you turn left after crossing the road (facing NET) You'll walk past stalls and stalls of game stalls and some food stalls till you see tonnes of tourists being dropped off. And that's where the underground eating area is. To be honest, I wouldn't recommend much from their underground eating mall because the food are really quite average and you know, they all kinda survive only because of the hype over the place. But there are 2 stalls I would recommend and it's my must eat every time I am there:

My ultimate love. Coffin Bread. 
Sounds inauspicious but this is THE BOMB. Soup/porridge filled in fried bread.
I've tried other coffin breads before but only this was to my liking. 
And I crave for this everytime... T.T


大饼包小饼
This is the original store and there are many other stalls selling this in the same mall. I love the chicken floss flavoured one, really savory!


Also, right before you go underground for the food, you can alr spot the big store of 豪大大鸡排 with tonnes of tourists. From here, walk straight into the alley and you'll find the treasured gem of......





FANCIFUL COTTON CANDY!!!
So cute, and I loved cotton candy since young it's like my fav ever. I was actl trying to hunt this down this trip because we all have this childhood dream we wish to fulfill one day right? HAhahaha and thankfully Zuyou told me there's one in Shihlin and told me how to get there and I found this!!!!

To be honest, damn overpriced la. The duckling is for NT80 (around SGD3.50) and the flower is for NT60 I think. But yeah, you can't find this in Singapore at all and if you love cotton candy this is like ~WONDERLAND~ ok!! so just take my money!! HAHAHA Strictly no photography allowed during the process of how they make duckling though, so sorry can't share w you guys how this was born! The duckling can be kept up to 1 day, but really, I don't think it would survive the crowd even if it survived the hours so just, down my tummy it went!

There are also more food along the street where the temple is, but we didn't buy any food cos we were sooooo full from a day of eating at Danshui already. hahaha.

Moving on to shopping: if you don't wanna eat, and just wanna shop, turn right once you cross the road from the mrt station (facing NET) and there you go, get lost in that crowd!

I didn't buy much this trip because it was winter, but I sure did buy a lot of shoes! There is this shop that seem to be perpetually having clearance sale (so when is the company ever gonna close, we don't know LOL) and all the shoes were like going for NT120 - NT200. Yeap you heard me right. Like ALL the shoes -- boots, sandals, loafers. You can't miss that shop because the whole shop front is plastered with the sale boards and all. Just open your eyes big big won't miss already!

Also, here's a tip if you're shopping there. The deeper into the street you go, the cheaper it gets. This is quite a universal rule for shopping even back in Singapore like Bugis Street. LOL. What may appear cheap to you (because SG is ridiculously expensive) may actl be damn expensive in their currency. For instance, I was on a hunt for a checkered shirt in Shihlin and the first shop I saw, it was for NT$390, I was already going to buy it but I told myself no, sure can find cheaper somewhere here! (btw that's like SGD$17 only). 10 min later, walked into a shop and saw it for NT$290! NT$100 cheaper!!! Did I buy??? NOPE I DIDN'T because it was a SHOP and not a roadside stall, so I decided to be even more aunty and continue hunting. Finally, saw a stall selling it for NT$200! (that's like SGD$7.50?!!) so BUY.

In Shihlin, NT$200 is quite like the cheapest price for nice clothes, as per my past experiences. Don't be impulsive, be patient, and you'll ultimately be at advantage in the end! (:

Nearest MRT Station: Jiantan 
You can't miss it, just follow the crowd

5. Raohe Night Market 饶河夜市
I would suggest this to be paired together with a shopping trip at Wufenpu wholesale market for shopping earlier, and then visiting the night market at night since they kinda are in close approximity.


I love the oriental looking signboard, and right behind the entrance board, is the famous pepper bun stall. Rumour has it that it is this pepper bun that got Raohe night market famous, but on my previous trips here I've never had it. But since Lunz loves anything with spring onions and this bun has tonnes in it (also explains why I never ate them cos I hate it HAHAHA), we decided to queue for it.

Sadly, Lunz didn't really like it, maybe because earlier on he already had the BESTEST 葱抓饼 from Yong Kang street that even I LIKED IT. And worse still, Lunz kinda had indigestion that night after eating the pepper bun! :( Ok... it may be famous but not smth I would recommend.

Also filled with lots of food stall inside, Raohe seem to have liven up a bit with more shops catered for shopping. In particular, they had shops selling bags and these are not ugly pasar malam bags but the shop front of famous online bag stores like 天蓝小铺 (also in Shihlin night market) & PGmall! They actl have some other "blogshops" store fronts there including those of shoes which were pretty and cheap BUT RAN OUT OF MY SIZE SOBBBBS.

A little insight into the two online bag stores aforementioned... I used to really like 天蓝小铺 and would get my bags there everytime I'm in Taiwan but sadly this season all their bags are inspired from the bigger brands. I mean it's ok to be inspired like Singapore sells tonnes of chio inspired bags too but their inspired bags don't even look that nice... So sadly I didn't buy any bags this time round. For PGmall, their designs were very pretty and the material was good too! But prices were like NT$600 kinda so I didn't buy 'cos I didn't have enough cash left cos we went there on our last day.

We stopped by for some Braised Meat Rice (luroufan), watched some tv in the shop before heading back to rest. It was a rainy night so not much tourists! YAYYY

Nearest MRT Station: Songshan (Exit 5)
if you're coming from wufenpu, you'd have to walk a distance

With this, I sum up my list of night markets and whether they're mostly for food or for shopping. But here's a tip: if you're going to Taichung, please make sure you visit Fengjia Night Market because in general, stuff there are NT$100 cheaper than the same stuff in Taipei!!! And they have the best sweet potato fries (Cia Cia Fu sweet potato fries) EVER.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Taipei Part I: Cafes & Eateries (Drama, movie scenes)

It's been a week since I've returned from my short 5-day trip to Taipei and I'm finally down to blogging about it! Although it's my 4th visit to Taiwan this time round but it's my first trip with my boyfriend hehehe

Will be breaking down my trip into different parts as the following:
Part I will consist of cafes and eateries I went i.e this post
Part II will consist of my review on the night markets I visited
Part III will be a short review on COSMETIC SHOPPING (!!), misc reviews like transport & accommodation and my itinerary which I have received some emails about them! (:

I'm quite an avid fan of watching Taiwanese idol dramas (would give up sleep for it) and thus, I kinda made it a point to be visiting the locations of some of the more known drama scenes! Also, these cafes/eateries tend to be less crowded and in a less populated area so, NO/LESS CROWD YAY.

1. Cafe, Waiting, Love 《等一个人, 咖啡》
Anyone who has watched the movie will know this cafe, because the cafe name IS the movie name itself! Even though Cafe, Waiting, Love isn't as nice a movie nor as big a hit as 那些年, 我们一起追的女孩 (both are by the same author), the quaint and humble set up of the cafe in the movie was definitely what I remembered most clearly from the movie itself!





The set up, furnishing and interior design is entirely the same as the movie itself, and even the barista spots the same hairstyle as Abusi, the barista (acted by Megan Lai) in the movie.




Part of the menu

Interestingly too, there is only one cup of 老板娘特调 per day!!! I tried to order it but was told I can only order the Iced version of it LOL but I went ahead with it and was so pleasantly surprised with its taste!

My Iced 老板娘特调. Was expecting it to be bitter but it was sweet and fruity!!! Loved it, so refreshing!


Anyway, I brought this chio serviette back to SG with me as a memorabilia LOL don't judge thanks

For a table of 4, this was what we had:



Swan and her friend Michelle had Apple & Cinnamon waffles while Lunz and I had the standard waffle (topped w nuts, honey and whipped cream) I forgot the price but it should hover around NT200-NT250!

Lunz and I had a meal at another cafe prior to meeting Swan and her friend hence we only ordered desserts on top of our drinks.

The names of the dishes were a replica of everything "ordered" in the movie! Found it really amusing when the waiter served this dish called 告白需要勇气 (he said it out) to a couple dining there LOLLL.


Really nice meeting up with friends overseas!(:

Trying to act like the lao ban niang in the movie LOL #mybfsuggestedthis

Nobody leaves the cafe without taking tonnes of photos anyway. There were so many people lining up outside the cafe to take a photo with the signboard in the middle of the road that I wouldn't find it surprising why in the movie an accident really did happen on the road there LOL!!! Like, nobody actually cared about the traffic! Then again, the location was really quite ulu and about 1 hour journey away from Taipei City.







But I'd still say, it's quite worth a visit but make sure you make reservations beforehand! They're always fully reserved. It might be quite expensive to call from Singapore to the cafe so maybe you can reserve after you've bought a SIM card when you've reached Taipei. For us, Swan's cousin made the reservations for us prior, yayyyy!!! hehehe

Cafe, Waiting, Love 《等一个人, 咖啡》
No 1 Lane 44 Yi Shou Street, Wen Shan district, Taipei City
台北市 文山区 一壽街44巷1号1楼
Tel: +886 2 2936 0596
Minimum spending: One drink per person, max dining hours: 2 hours
How to get there: Take the Taipei metro to Wanfang Hospital station, (you may choose to take a cab once you're here, it costs about NT$120 (around SGD$5) ) otherwise you can choose to take a bus (I think it's 671, you can google!) and alight 12 stops later at 景美女中, turn into the street and you'll see it!

2. Longtimeago Cafe 文创互动咖啡馆
Filming location for an upcoming movie 极光之爱, acted by Rainie Yang. (Can't wait to watch!) Trailer here:

I first found out about this cafe while I was doing my research for nice cafes to visit in Taipei when I chanced upon a review HERE and that must have been the biggest gem of a find!!!







This cafe is well known for its latte art and what really drew me towards this cafe was I saw a photo of a Winnie the Pooh latte art on their facebook....!!! Some research into their location showed that it wasn't inaccessible, in fact the area it is located in is filled with several other cafes!



Lunz and I went there on the very following day that we were in Taipei and we were the first customers for the day! Super Singaporean you may think HAHAHA like go so early for what.... because I didn't want to go when the cafe is crowded because you can only request for your customizations during off-peak periods!!! (The cafe was almost full when we left)


Lunz ordered a hot vanilla latte

Kope his latte while waiting for mine hehe

Excitedly told the barista I wanted a pooh coffee art heheheheeeee (still beaming with excitement even though this is more than a week ago)

AND THIS WAS PRESENTED TO ME

SO CUTE HOW DO I EVEN DRINK IT?
Unlike most coffee arts, some of their drawings (like pooh) can only be done on Iced Lattes! and it was my first time seeing coffee art being done on Iced Lattes too. (Oh, I ordered Vanilla Latte and it costs NT$150)

Admiring my cup of pooh. It was a tough moment having to destroy his cute fat silly face... :'(


We ordered a brunch dish (Smoked Salmon, super long dish name in chinese I can't rmb) to share and for NT$270 (around SGD$11.50), we really ate till our fill!!

That salmon.
There were Honey French Toasts, Smoked Salmon, Greens, Tofu (loved it!!), homemade seaweed jelly. It would fill a tummy of one if you haven't had anything prior to visiting the cafe hahaha. Oh, it came along with Salad and Yogurt too! So worth the money!

Even more pros about this cafe? Beautiful design (see below photos), free wifi, NO service charge, NO minimum spending!


So we were just happily taking photos on self timer mode since nobody was sitting outdoors (it was really cold that day) and then 2 ladies walked in... hence that awkward laugh/smile HEHE but it turned out to be one of my fav photos of us ^^


Our total bill came out to be NT$570 (SGD$25) for 1 main and 2 coffee. Worth it.

Longtimeago Cafe
No 9 Lane 21 An He Road Section 1
安和路1段21巷9号
Nearest MRT: Zhongxiao Dunhua Exit 6 (10min walk)

3. La Vie Revee Des Anges 天使热爱的生活咖啡馆 (name is so long I had to google LOL)
Located in Danshui, this was a surprise find for me to discover there are actually sooooo many cafes at the end of Danshui Old Street! Met up with Zuyou in Danshui and he brought us there because he frequents this cafe (:



The words to describe this cafe would be: vintage, nautical, PETITE
HAHAHA I put petite because the stairway up to the dining area was so small and the ceiling was very low.. I wondered how Lunz managed to climb up without hitting his head LOL. Furnished with lotsa vintage articles neatly littered around the 2-storey cafe (with bench seats overlooking the river and a perfect sunset view!) and painted in nautical colours, I can totally picture myself spending hours there with a cup of coffee reading a storybook (which was what many were seen doing)



We had Mocha, Vanilla Latte and Caramel Latte (if I'm not wrong, NT150 each)

No fanciful latte art but the foam was a true indication of the skills of a good barista. 


Love the laid back layout of the cafe, perfect for a great catch up as well as a breather from the bustling old street filled with tourists. Thank you Zuyou for bringing us there!!! (:

La Vie Revee Des Anges
No. 233-1 Zhongzheng Road, Tamsui District, New Taipei City, Taiwan 251
Opening Hours: 2pm-1am
(Not sure of minimum spending because we all bought a drink each)

4. 竹村居酒屋
Filming location for 《我可能不会爱你》
This Japanese restaurant is definitely not unknown, because one look from far I spotted tonnes of photos with actors/singers who've dined there plastered on the walls! I remember I first "saw" this Jap eatery while watching the drama and thought to myself "why I go Taipei so many times but I've never seen such places?!" so I decided to haunt it down!


This place feels extremely Japanese!!! (looks really eerie in the photo too LOL) But before you excitedly include this eatery into your to-go list, you might want to familiarise yourself with their menu first:

When we were first passed this, Lunz immediately shoved the menu to me and said "This one only you can read" LOLLLL



We ordered a few beef skewers because Lunz loves beef! As well as mutton HAHA. These skewers (yakitori) were NT50 each (SGD$2.20) and they were so juicy and yummy... plus they are grilled to order so this is not like ToriQ ok LOL


Also ordered a Unagi roll (something like an onigiri, upsized). Looks puny but it was actually quite filling, not to mention savoury!


Japanese omelette (NT100, SGD $4.40) which was SO YUMMY. The omelette was topped w the fish flakes thingy too and it was so good. So so good.

We saw the table next to us eating thick, fat slabs of sashimi but we didn't give in to temptation to order because Standing Sushi Bar back here has it cheaper.

竹村居酒屋
No 2 Alley 1 Songren Road Lane 253
松仁路253巷1弄2号
Nearest MRT: Xiang Shan station (10 minutes walk)
Opening Hours: 5pm-1am

5. Mala Yuan Yang Hotpot (BUFFET)
This is my MUST visit every single time I'm in Taipei!!! Like, every visit, I make sure I have a meal here because it's just soooo worth it. At NT$399 for a weekday lunch (NT500 after service charges etc), you get free flow of meat (think Angus Beef, Short Ribs, Mutton), seafood, drinks (including Taiwan beer), desserts, Haagen Dazs and Movenpick Ice Cream!!!






Love this squid paste thingy

Took it for the bottle only LOL

~It's getting steamy in here~


Condiments section

Drinks section

Dessert and fruits

SEAFOOD, GLORIOUS SEAFOOD

Ice-cream is spelt with an "I" because it is irresistible. (So am I LOL kidding)


I believe I have briefly mentioned about this place before in my previous blog post a few years back when I went Taipei too. Hehe but this is just too good not to share again! They have more outlets now, but I always go back to the one in Ximending because I guess I kinda feel attached to that place HAHA Be sure to make reservations too! It's always fully packed. (Of course it wasn't when I first found this place in 2009 lol)


Mala Yuan Yang Hotpot
No 62 Xining South Road
(above Holiday KTV, look for red signboard)
Nearest MRT: Ximen
Opening Hours: 1130am- (I forgot what time)
Feel free to ask for an English menu if you have difficulty ordering your ala carte items (the meat). Payment in cash only.

6. Honey Creme

Beat all the long queues in Singapore and went to its Taipei outlet to try on a cold, rainy weather. Tbh  there's nothing special much... I tried it only 'cause I didn't want to queue in Singapore. LOL there are definitely wayyyy more yummy soft serve in Taipei!

Honey Creme
No 8 Lane 169 Section 1 Dunhua South Road
Nearest MRT: Zhongxiao Dunhua (should be Exit 8)

That was about all the cafes and eateries we visited, there were so many more cafes I've jotted down in my notebook but we only have 1 stomach man.... can't eat that much in a day and also, it can cost quite a bit to be cafe-hopping too much! Would have loved to visit Dazzling Cafe (coming to Singapore soon, known for their Shibuya Toasts), Mr J Italian Restaurant (Jay Chou's cafe), Drama Cafe (many dramas were filmed here!) and Touched cafe (for the mille crepes). So if you guys have more time, stomach space and money to spend in Taipei and wanna cafe-hop, you may consider these options as well and let me know how it was!!!

But of course, eating at night market is wayyyy cheaper, yummier, filling though unhealthy. I visited 4 night markets this time round and it will be up in the next post!! (: