Tuesday, March 11, 2008

So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye

Well, my friends, the siren call of America is singing to us and we can no longer resist. Our time in Taiwan is coming to an end soon and we're moving back to the States.

I'm sad to say that once we're back I probably won't be updating this blog anymore, but never say never, right? In any case, I'll still keep Hao Chr up and hopefully it can still be a resource for those of you who live here or those who you are visiting.

We're dedicating these last few weeks to going back and savoring our favorite meals before we go. But I was wondering, does anyone have any recommendations for foods or restaurants that we HAVE TO experience before we leave? Like, our Taiwan experience wouldn't be complete had we not had these foods? Post in the comments or drop me a line!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Pot Pie Cafe

Pot Pie Cafe has become our backup when we're not in the mood for hotpot, but still want some "soul warming food," as Luke likes to say. This homey little restaurant on Fuxing is indeed a great place to go when you're in the need for some comfort food, especially of the fresh from the oven, piping hot variety.

As evidenced by its name, Pot Pie Cafe dishes up a selection of pot pies, including favorites such as shepherd's pie and chicken with mushroom. For 280NT, these pot pies come with a bowl of clam chowder, a side salad, and coffee or tea. Or you can opt to skip the clam chowder and coffee/tea and just order the pot pie itself, with pies ranging from 150-180NT. Once you get your pie, dig into the fluffy mashed potato topping and meat filling. It's great.
(shephard's pie)

The menu also has other British fare like Fish and Chips (good, but too much for me to finish, as the portions are pretty hearty). They also serve breakfast all day, including the Full English Breakfast which comes with two eggs sunny side up, grilled sausages, baked beans, sauteed mushrooms, bacon, toast and a grilled tomato (for 380NT). While satisfying if one is dying of hunger, as far as breakfasts go, I'd say there are better deals elsewhere. Stick with the pot pies.

(full English breakfast)

Oh, and make sure you treat yourself to dessert. Here's the apple and walnut crumble (150NT) we ordered:

The only minor quibble I have the place is that the only CD Pot Pie Cafe seems to own is Dido. Don't get me wrong, I like Dido for those moments where I just want to stare out the window at the falling rain and think anguished thoughts about unrequited love, but perhaps not so much on an endless loop throughout my dining experience. But other than that, Pot Pie Cafe is two thumbs up.

Pot Pie Cafe
Fuxing South Road, Section 2, No. 325
(02) 2736-0905

Monday, February 25, 2008

Ali Baba

Due to a stomach bug that has been pestering me and Luke for the last week or so, we've been reduced to eating one tasteless meal a day, where we spend the majority of it updating each other on our health status, like we're 80 year old geriatrics. It's been a rather sad couple of weeks for us. We haven't been eating anything very exciting lately, hence the lack of posts. We are starting to feel better though, so hopefully I will have some new restaurants to report upon soon.

Before we got sick, we tried Ali Baba's. We were in the mood for Indian food, but we didn't want to go to Aleja again, so we decided to try something new. But actually, I ended up wishing that we had gone to Aleja instead. It's slightly cheaper, and in my opinion, the quality is better. To be honest, I don't know very much about Indian food at all, so it's hard for me to tell if something is authentic or not. I just know what tastes good and what doesn't. Here is what tasted good at Ali Baba's:


(garlic naan)

(kama matter)

For our appetizer, we ordered papadan (90NT), which was a nice snack to munch on before our main courses came out. It was light and crispy, and topped with chopped onions and tomatoes. The garlic naan (70NT) was also pretty good, light and chewy, not too dense. And of course, garlicky. And I thought the kama matter (280NT) that we ordered as one of our main courses was pretty decent as well - nicely spiced, fragrant.

But the mutter paneer (about 260NT), which is always one of my favorite dishes to order at Indian restaurants, was a disappointment. The sauce was way too salty, and the spinach and cheese had a weird, slightly bitter taste to it.

So in conclusion, I found Alibaba to be pretty much of a let-down. Anyone have any other recommendations for good Indian restaurants?

Ali Baba
Nanking East Road, Section 2, No. 56-58, 2F
(02) 2567-7163

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Heng Ji Hotpot

I find myself wondering quite a bit these days if I'm ever going to see the sun again. It's been what, three weeks now? of straight rain? And I can't believe that it's actually cold - we were in denial for a long time, sitting around our house wearing three sweaters, hats, scarves, etc. until finally our friend who was here from the East Coast informed us that is was in fact legitimately cold. Now we have a space heater that I spend my days parked squarely in front of.

But the upside of all this cold, drizzly weather is that it's great for hotpot! Growing up, we never had hotpot very often because my dad said it was like drinking water with some meats and vegetables thrown in, which I believe is actually something called "soup." But in any case, my dad didn't like hotpot, so it was a pretty rare occurrence in our house. But now we're
here in Taiwan, and I'm prepared to take full advantage of being here to eat all the hotpot my stomach desires.

Tonight we hit up Heng Ji (亨記), located behind the old Sogo on Zhongxiao. I like this kind of hotpot - the kind that allows you just to choose what kinds of broth you want, and then you decide what you want to put in it and it's all you can eat - as opposed to hotpot places that come
with set platters. I thought the selection here was pretty good also - there were the different kinds of sliced meats, seafood such as shrimp, oysters, and crabs, veggies, meatballs, noodles, different tofus, different fishballs. Oh! And they had ice-cream, which was better than I thought it would be. I was expecting it to be that icy, fake tasting ice-cream they often serve at places with free ice-cream, but the ice-cream here was not bad at all.
(our hotpot "liao")

We picked the pork based broth and the "ma la," which translates loosely to something like, "numbingly spicy." Oddly enough, even though I know what "ma la" means in Chinese, I didn't think it was going to be that spicy and so I foolishly took a big sip of it. Then I paid dearly for my mistake and spent the next several minutes gulping down many glasses of plum juice, which supposedly cuts down on the heat, but really didn't help that much. I seriously thought about just stuffing some tissues in my mouth to try to absorb some of the spiciness. So yeah, that "ma la" is indeed very spicy, to say the least.

I just looked at the weather forecast and all I see are little boxes filled with clouds for the rest of this week. Sigh. But in the meantime, go enjoy some hotpot!

EDIT: I just wrote this whole thing and I realized that I forgot to mention how much this costs! It's 389NT plus 10% service charge (cheaper on weekdays during lunch and late night).

Heng Ji (亨記) - Ding Hao branch (頂好店)

Fuxing South Road, Section 1, Lane 107, No. 40
(02) 8771 - 8960

Monday, February 11, 2008


Hello friends. Sorry about the lack of updates lately - a good friend of mine has been here visiting, and I've been busy showing her the best Taipei has to offer. And of course a big part of that has been introducing her to the fine cuisine here. On her last night here, my friend generously took us out to dinner and let us pick the restaurant. She said to pick something that we normally might not go to, so we decided on Dozo.

Dozo is a pretty upscale, trendy restaurant that offers a variety of Japanese food, from sushi to hotpot, at surprisingly decent prices. We ordered kimchi stuffed with chopped sushi tuna (180NT), a sashimi platter (420NT), okonomiyaki (like a cabbage/cheese/meat pancake for 160NT), skewers of different types of grilled meat (400NT), and deep fried soft shell crab (200NT). By the way, these prices are all approximates, as my friend was paying and it seemed a little rude to write down the price of everything in front of her. But if memory serves me right, everything we ordered was give or take 10NT from the above prices.

My favorites were the sashimi platter, and the deep fried crab. The sushi was fresh and had that melt-in-your mouth tender quality that I love in sushi. And the crab was very well done as well, and came with a tasty, a little sweet, a little spicy dipping sauce. The pancake was good, but only in small quantities, as the cheese got to be overwhelming for me after awhile. The skewers were a bit of a hit-or-miss - I thought some of the meats, like the leeks wrapped in beef, were a bit tough, but other meats, like the chicken and chicken butts(!) were grilled to perfection and nice and juicy. Oh, and I didn't particularly like the kimchi. My friend (who is Korean), said that it was very authentic, which I didn't doubt, but I couldn't taste the fish at all in it - the kimchi was just too overpowering.

(kimchi ball with chopped sushi tuna)


(sashimi platter)

(deep fried soft shell crab)

(grilled meats on skewers)

For dessert we ordered fried mochi with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream (180NT), which was a hit with everyone. The mochi was only very lightly fried, so it wasn't oily at all, and went perfectly with the vanilla ice-cream. Yum.

Oh, and another plus of Dozo is that it's open until 3am. But you know what I liked the most about this place? It's that you know if this restaurant were in New York City, the prices would be triple of what it costs here, not to mention that all the waiters would be looking down at us because we were wearing jeans and sneakers. (Luke, in fact, walked in wearing one of those furry hats with the ear flaps and a green jacket, making him look like he was fresh from a hunting expedition.) I've really grown to appreciate just how refreshing the dining experience is in Taiwan, at least compared to the States. Even at the fanciest restaurants that I've been to, people don't have to be worried about being looked down upon if they aren't dressed to the nines. Don't get me wrong, I'm not against dressing up, but I am against waiters snickering at you behind their hands just because you're not wearing Armani during your meal. In Taipei, I've yet to encounter a snobby waiter. I love how you can just walk in to a restaurant with casual clothes, pay decent prices, and enjoy a nice meal. Isn't that what the dining experience is supposed to be all about?

And that's what we had at Dozo.

Guangfu South Road, No. 102 (close to the Sun Yet-Sun Memorial)
(02) 2778-1135

Monday, January 28, 2008

Alleycat's Pizza

This weather just makes me sluggish. All I want to do is lay on my couch (huddled under several thick blankets - it's cold!), drink hot tea and watch crappy TV. I also want to tell you about the pizza at Alleycats, but my brain can't form very long sentences right now. Blah.

Anyway, Alleycats. It's pizza, it's good, it's pretty cheap (a basic Margherita pizza is 80NT, and then it's 15 or 25NT depending on the topping you get; there are also several pre-set pizzas for 150NT), it's piping hot out of the oven, what more do I have to say?

Oh, and if you really can't get off your couch, they even deliver - well, at least the the Zhongxiao branch does (not sure about the other branches). Unfortunately, though, their radius seems to be fairly small, as we live pretty close to the Zhongxiao branch, but we're still outside their delivery zone.

various locations at:

Nei Hu
Cheng Gong Road, Section 5, No. 67-1
(02) 2630 - 6278

Tien Mu
Chung Shan North Road, Section 6, Lane 35, No. 31
(02) 2835 - 6491

Li Shui Street, No. 6 B1
(02) 2321 - 8949

Zhongxiao East Road, Section 4, Lane 248, No. 2
(02) 2731 - 5225

Song Ren Road, No. 285
(02) 8780 - 5421

Sunday, January 27, 2008


I know that in my last post it made it seem like I'm miserable here, but the truth of the matter is that I'm not. Sometimes I just get grouchy, I guess. In fact, there are a lot of things I appreciate about Taiwan, such as how easy and convenient it is here. Like, let's say I get a craving for a good hamburger. Then I can just hop onto the MRT, take it to Zhongxiao Dunhua on the blue line, and right around the corner is a fantastic new hamburger joint named Forkers where I can stuff my face to my heart's delight. It's ironic because back in the States, if I were to get this same craving, the only choices I'd have would be between McDonald's, Burger King, or TGIFridays. Funny how I had to move all the way across the world to get a good burger.

Forkers has been open for about a couple months now, though by the way their business is doing you'd think they've been around for longer. But it's not surprising that they're doing well. Just take a look at this hamburger here:

That's the Australian burger (260NT), which comes topped with bacon, cheese, a fried egg, beets, grilled onions, and a special barbecue sauce, as well as the usual lettuce and tomato. Yeah, it's a lot, but as Luke says, "Delicious!" I've also had their mushroom cheeseburger (good) and their fajita burger (good, but spicy). All their burgers come with fries (which if you add an extra 40NT or 50NT depending on what you order, you can get poutine, tex-mex or chili cheese fries). You also get a choice of salad with your meal (I like the Hawaiian Pasta Salad) and a drink.

If you're not in the mood for a burger, Forkers also offers other non-burger fare, like the grilled chicken quesadillas (260NT) that I ordered last time we went. It wasn't bad, but I do think that their burgers are definitely their strong point.

So if you're ever craving a hamburger with all the works, head on over to Forkers!

Zhongxiao East Road, Section 4, Lane 223, Alley 10, No. 8
(02) 2771-9285