Archive for December, 2009

09-12-29 老四川

Posted: December 29, 2009 in Food and drink, Taiwan

Taiwanese people really love their hotpots… including me…
台灣人真的超級愛吃火鍋… 包括我也是…

This is one of the most popular hotpot restaurants in Taipei right now.  Jay told me about this place a while ago, but we never got around to it. Anyway, so we went there for lunch today, just Jay, my mom and I, cuz no one else is around…
這家大概是台北市目前最紅的幾家火鍋店之ㄧ, 一直想去, 不過一直沒有機會去. 今天咧我跟我媽還有Jay去吃中餐, 因為沒有別人在台北了啦~

There are a couple of differences between this place and all the other restaurants. First, it’s their dipping sauce. Instead of the usual condiments, they give each person a bowl with some green stuff, red stuff, and yellow stuff… Green being cilantro and green onions, the red, I think is red bell pepper, and the yellow stuff is crushed peanuts. Then, after the soup boils, you add a bit of the spicy soup to mix it up and use it as dipping sauce. If you can’t handle too much heat, add some white soup instead, or mix and match. It’s actually quite good I have to say…
這家跟其他麻辣鍋不一樣的地方是, 他的沾醬是預先幫你裝好的, 裡面有蔥末, 香菜末, 甜椒末, 還有花生粉, 你之後再加入一些麻辣湯, 怕辣的就混一點白湯進去, 很特別, 也很好吃~

Second, the spicy soup base is kinda like the Mongolian style hotpot, it’s got spices and herbs in it, but not as strong. It is very oily though, and heavy on the flavors, I guess that why the dipping sauce is the way it is, cuz there really is no need for soy sauce or salt or whatever we used to put in the dipping sauce.
還有一個不太一樣的地方是他們是比較類似蒙古火鍋那種很多香料的, 不過他們的味道又沒有天香回味鍋/鍋大爺那麼重口味, 比較偏麻, 不會很辣, 但是重口味, 也就是你東西煮過後其實不太需要沾醬, 就有味道了. 所以難怪他們的沾醬裡面不需要擺什麼醬油香油的, 味道已經很夠了~

Alright, pictures…

This is not an All-You-Can-Eat place, which is cool with me. If you are not a big eater, I doubt you’ll be paying more than the other all you can eat places.
這家是單點的, 我是覺得如果食量不大, 吃單點跟吃到飽其實差不了多少錢.
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This is a free appetizer, it’s clear flat noodles with a spicy sauce, it’s a chilled dish, not too bad.
The spicy soup comes with tofu and duck blood, both were pretty good. I can eat just that all day~
小菜是招待的, 麻辣涼粉, 滿好吃的~ 尤其又因為它是免費, 更好吃~ 哈哈~ 鍋底的鴨血還有豆腐都有入味, 我光吃這個就夠了~~
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The white soup, it tasted like chicken soup, with lots of Chinese stuff in it, and lots of garlic. I had a sip before we started eating, and it was good~ Gets better later~
The blood rice cake is also very good, even after you cook it for a while, it still holds it shape and texture, unlike some other ones that will be too soft and mushy.
白湯喝起來很濃郁, 應該是雞骨頭湯吧… 裡面還有一些紅棗, 枸杞, 還有很多大蒜, 很好喝的湯頭, 之後加湯的時候, 還是一樣的湯, 所以不會越煮越淡. 米血很好吃, 煮了很久都還是保持他的Q軟的口感~
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The balls, it’s nothing spectacular, can live without it, but what’s a hotpot without some balls floating on it?! hahaha~
The “crab egg” fish paste is up to par, but, I really doubt if there’re any crab eggs in it… Can’t really taste it…
The shaved ice dessert was complimentary. Free is always good~ Has a few flavors to choose from, raspberry, sour plum, passion fruit, and um… two more I can’t remember…
這些丸子, 我個人覺得還好, 不點不會死, 不過.. 吃火鍋好像總要有幾顆丸子浮在那邊才是吃火鍋嘛~ 手工的蟹黃漿, 這個, 我沒有感覺到裡面有蟹黃, 只有吃到類似魚子/蝦卵的東西… 也是一個不吃也不會錯過什麼的東西…  飯後甜點有送刨冰, 有烏梅, 百香果, 蔓越莓, 還有… 忘了…. 還不錯, 免費的東西都是好的~
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Of course we ordered more than this, we also had beef, lamb, veggies, tofu skin, squid, and plum drinks. Total came out to 2500, for 3 people, I think it’s not too bad, we ate a lot, and I was really stuffed… (I didn’t even eat dinner tonight~) The service was not bad, but there’re only 3 waiters/waitresses, all were friendly and “tries” to take care of all your needs… They do forget a little here and there, but eventually they’ll bring you whatever you asked for.
我們還有點牛肉, 羊肉, 筒篙, 腐皮, 花枝, 烏梅汁. 3個人, 吃到撐, 2500, 我覺得還算滿合理的, 尤其我飽到連晚餐都沒有吃~ 服務還OK, 服務生很客氣, 會主動幫你加鍋底加湯, 不過因為只有三個人, 所以客滿的時候, 有點忙不過來, 請他拿個東西會很久才來… 不過這個也不能怪他們… 只能怪老闆小氣…

Overall, I’d go back again, it’s now on my list of hotpot restaurants I’d recommend to others.
總結, 這是一家我會再次光顧的火鍋店. (知道我的人應該就知道我的意思了)

09-12-10 Bellavita and Anchorage

Posted: December 9, 2009 in Travel

Went to Bellavita the other day… It’s nice to have a rich dad…

Most of the shops have not yet opened with a big “coming soon” on the walls. But it don’t matter, cuz I can’t afford anything they sell in this joint…
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This was taken today… or last night depends on where you are… It’s outside of the Anchorage International Airport. Pretty ain’t it? It was foggy, snow stopped a long time ago I think, but there were lots of ice crystals in the air, very very pretty. But since I didn’t turn on the flash, you’ll just have to trust me on the ice crystals~
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Afternoon tea in Taiwan. You don’t really drink tea with scones and jam…

This is my second time at 欣葉 for an afternoon feast. I personally love and hate buffets. I love the fact that there are many many things to choose from, which is also a bad thing cuz some restaurants tend to give you too many choices but none are good… I’d rather have 10 delicious dishes over 100 dishes of crap… Oh, and people usually overstuff themselves… well, at least I do… it’s bad…

So anyway, 欣葉 don’t really offer a lot of choices compare to some other hotel buffets, but they do most of their dishes well, so that’s a good thing. Sashimi are sliced right in front of you while you wait for it, and most of the hot dishes are pretty decent. Desserts are not as good as the ones at the Regent, according to my family members, but I’m ok with that, I don’t really do desserts anyway… Alright, let see some pictures~

Beer and Coke. Most places will have coke, but beer, not too many… There are also calpis, juices, and iced teas, as well as coffee and tea bags.
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Onsen egg is pretty good, since I like pretty much any kind of egg…  Udon, veggies and teriyaki chicken were all pretty good.
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Sashimi is fresh, my favorite is still salmon, there are also sushi rolls and nigiri sushi. Hand rolls comes in 4 selections, asparagus, shrimp, shrimp eggs, and combination all three.
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The appetizers, the tarts is potato salad with a chunk of crab meat on it. I like the seaweed salad, the marinated tomatoes were also pretty good, I think it was marinated in some kind of a vinaigrette. The yellow thing is green papaya marinated in passion fruit sauce, and the red flower is pickled hibiscus. They were all good to work up your appetite.
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The left is from the sukiyaki station. Pork, cabbage, tofu, wild mushrooms, and konnyaku. I think they probably diluted the sauce so it’s more “suitable” for our countrymen… it’s still not too bad though. The fried gobo (burdock root) and shrimp tempura looks good, but as with most all you can eat places, the batter over the shrimp is too thick… but the shrimp is actually pretty nice and fresh though~ I like the fried gobo a lot, it’s nice and crispy with just enough seasoning (salt & pepper with seaweed powder) to go with your beer~
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OK, this plate, all the chilled seafood stuff with edamame and black beans. The chilled seafood were not bad, shrimp was a bit over cooked in my opinion, other than that, it’s fine~ that little shot glass is a vinegar drink with a chunk of aloe in it. I like it. There are a couple more different vinegar shots if that’s your thing.
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Desserts, well, they were not very exciting… But there are many selections though. Other than cakes and pies and tarts and mochi, there’re also crème brulee, and a few different pudding/custards. Ice creams is from Meiji, with only bowls, no cones. One thing I have to say about the fruits is, get what you want early, cuz once it’s gone, it’s gone… So I didn’t get to have star fruit nor dragon fruit that day… actually, that goes for the desserts also…
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For 450 plus 10% service charge, which is like the standard for most places, you get endless sashimi with beer, what more can you ask for? Hahaha~

So I bought a new camera to play with, it’s the Sony TX1. My first Sony camera.

Even though I am a Sony fan, and I have bought Sony computers, stereos, TV, walkman, laptops, home phones, mobile phones, playstation, playstaion 2, playstation 3, psp, and even batteries from them, but I never bought a Sony camera… Part of the reason was because, as much as I like the compact little cameras they make, the picture quality is, well, bad.  Actually, that goes for all the slim compact cameras… So when Sony came out with this new TX1 model, I wasn’t really paying too much attention, until I saw sample pictures from other users… It’s still not as good as my Panasonic LX3, but it’s good enough for most everyday situations~

Anyway, after 2 weeks of playing with it, here are some pictures to show what it can do. I used auto mode for all these pictures, letting the camera to choose what it think is the best aperture and shutter speed and iso and what not, really using it as a “point and shoot” camera.

This is at Man-Tang-Hong spicy hot pot.
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This was at Kiki’s.
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Took a trip to HK, again. Took the now infamous B-18211… and bet on horses at Happy Valley for the first time.
Do check out the panorama picture of the race track, there’s no need to take shots after shots while aligning them, it’s more like press the shutter and move to the direction you want as if you were shooting a video, and the camera will do the rest. Quite easy to use with excellent results.
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Went to San-Wei-Shi-Tang again, cuz Kevin never been, and went to Da-An Park as well as the Jian-Guo Flower market.
I am not sure… but I don’t really think it’s a sand pit/box where those kids are playing in… They kinda just dug with their little shovels and played with dirt… while their parents watched on and took pictures and videos…
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Found this new fruit, cross between orange and tangerine, pretty good~
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The orange thing is suppose to be the world’s hottest pepper~
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Also tried Ginger Duck for the very first time in my life. It’s pretty good, especially on a breezy night~
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OK, that’s it. I think the TX1 is a good camera to carry around every day for random stuff you see, it’s not going to replace my LX3, nor your DSLR, but there’s no way in hell I would be able to fit the LX3 in the back pocket of my jeans…