Revisiting Taiwan, the Land of Smiles (PART 1)


Deciding upon our travel destination for our year-end holiday wasn’t an easy feat for boyfriend wanted to go to Japan while I wanted Hong Kong. We even resorted to playing Scissors, Paper, Stone (our way of making decisions coz we’re too cool for coin flipping) but boyfriend backed out when I won because he didn’t want to go to a Cantonese-speaking country due to his inability to speak/understand that dialect -_- Smelly.

So we settled on Taiwan! It would be our second time there which I didn’t mind at all as I absolutely loved that place. In addition, we could also experience their winter season since it was summer when we went there 2 years before.

I know Taiwan isn’t the “official” land of smiles (that’d be Thailand) but I personally feel that the friendliness and kindness of the Taiwanese beat the Thai’s hands down. No offence to Thai people and their supporters 😦

However because we were both financially broke, we only booked our flight tickets and hotel two weeks before our trip when we had saved enough LOL! Talk about super last minute. So obviously the rates weren’t very attractive, maybe except for the hotel which was on discount on Expedia. We actually took DAYS to finalise our lodging plans because all the hotels available were either too expensive (FX Hotel S$1000+ per night wtf) or too lok-kok (rundown). I’m super particular about hygiene and cleanliness so I wouldn’t want to stay in places where there isn’t daily room make up. But looking at the choices we had then, we could only stay in serviced apartments so bo bian we booked for one. Then days later, I found a better deal in a legit hotel located at a shopping district some more. So 还想什么?TAKE!

We spent about S$1700 each for transport and accommodation for a 9-day-8-night trip. Not too bad la hor? *self-comforting*

We flew with Jetstar this time because it offered the lowest rate among all the budget airlines. SCOOT Y U NO HAVE CHEAP TICKETS IN DECEMBER!? As it was our second time flying with that airline, we knew how miserably small the legroom is so we paid more for extra legroom seats on our flight to Taiwan especially since we were on an early morning flight (at 7-ish am) and we wanted a more spacious seat to sleep on. Even after adding in the extra charges, Jetstar’s tickets were still the cheapest. 5 hours in the air flew by very quickly because we were dog-tired.

We arrived at Taoyuan Airport close to noon and spent the next hour queueing up at the immigration counter and getting our SIM card. We spent NT$1000 on taxi to get to our hotel at Xi Men Ding (coz once again 梁少爷 a.k.a the boyfriend is too lazy to take public transport).

GoSleep Hotel Hankou

GoSleep Hotel (Hankou) – our home for the next 8 nights!

I actually did a search on the hotel before the trip and found some undesirable pictures of the lobby LOL. They got me very worried because they made the hotel seem very shady. I mentally prepared myself and boyfriend (kept telling him that the hotel looks la sam) so that we wouldn’t get a rude shock there.

Building directory

Building directory

Signpost by the road

Look out for this signpost if you’re going to this hotel for the first time!

Go Sleep shares the same building with other facilities not owned by the hotel, such as night club, bowling alley and ice skating rink on the first few levels. Hotel rooms are all on the 7th, 8th and 9th floors which you’d need to scan your hotel room card in the lift to access. However one of the lifts (there are 2) had a faulty scanner so anyone could access these levels without the card. The hotel also provides rooms at hourly rates…… Thus, this hotel is probably shady. LOL but my stay there throughout the trip was rather pleasant. Never did I once feel my safety threatened so okay I deem this hotel safe to stay in!

Hotel corridor

Hotel corridor. This photo doesn’t do the hotel justice.. It’s really not as bad as it seems upstairs 😛

Our room door

Our room door

Room toilet

Room toilet. Not that bad right? The bath tub is the biggest I’ve seen in a hotel so far. Toilet is also well-kept.

Our room

No cupboard/wardrobe but hangers are provided for your convenience! I don’t use hotel’s wardrobes anyway (cos they tend to have this rotten smell inside).

Near the exit of the room

Room door is magnetic. The door hanger was made of paper when we first checked into the hotel but they have since switched to using magnetic ones after the new year 😛 That’s my huge-ass luggage you see there, almost exploding. (Yup these pictures were taken on my final day in Taiwan)

Not bad, the room is very modern looking. It’s clean and well-maintained too!

Every room is designed differently. I had seen the interior of other rooms on my way out as well and I must say those with windows are damn gorgeous. They totally do not look like what you’d expect in a hotel with a dubious-looking lobby Hahaha!!

My hotel booking comes with daily breakfast but we only had it once there because we’re not morning people. There wasn’t much variety anyway so I didn’t feel like I missed out a lot. The only nice thing there was probably the DIY braised pork rice.

We didn’t have to worry about food at Ximending because there were food vendors at every corner of the street. At night, there would be a pushcart near our hotel lobby selling sausages cooked on the spot at just NT$30 per piece. We had that for almost every night! The smell was just too tempting and irresistible.

The makeshift TW sausage pushcart

The makeshift TW sausage pushcart. NT$30 for either a normal sausage or rice sausage. NT$60 for a 2-in-1 sausage. The pushcart is manned by a mother and her daughter. They’d be there til about 4am everyday!

Close up!

Close up! 现烤现卖!Walao damn hungry now.

Happy me with TW sausage

Happy me with TW sausage. Ate it almost every night! 肥死我

Pigeon egg

And along Ximending at night (before 11pm), you can spot pushcarts selling pigeon eggs (as pictured above), pancakes and other stuff. ALL WERE SO YUMMY!

US

US! Deng deng deng, me without make-up cos we took an early morning flight and I was absolutely too lazy to do anything to my face! Look at my uneven brows hawhawhaw.

Artsy fartsy at XMD

Artsy fartsy at XMD

Honestly this Taiwan trip is rather impromptu. Our half-past-six 9-day itinerary lacked proper research (planned to go Taipei Zoo at 2pm when it closes at 4.30pm HAHA WIN!) and we also didn’t follow it very closely. It was really an own-time-own-target trip, going to places as and when we liked. Dusk fell more rapidly duing cold weather and it would be already be dark by 5pm! Moreover the coldness outside made us very lazy and on certain days we’d just bum around in our hotel room until late afternoon to have dinner. This, ladies and gentlemen, is what I call a holiday LOL. Hence I’ll just cover places I hadn’t been to during my first Taiwan trip, sorted by day.

* * DAY 1 * *

Cafe Wakuwaku (Xi Men Ding)

It was an hour too early to check into our hotel so we left our luggages at the reception and proceeded to have our lunch elsewhere. We walked around the area and found this cafe which served mainly western food. We went up (it was on the second storey) despite wanting to eat something truly Taiwanese because we were starving!

On the stairs up!

On the stairs up!

Posing with the menu..

Posing with the menu..

Boyfriend had Mexican Style Chicken Risotto while I ate their signature fried rice. Both dishes came with a set meal which included soup of the day, a drink and dessert.

Pumpkin soup

Pumpkin soup – surprisingly good!! Didn’t mind having another bowl.

Soup of the day was pumpkin soup. Yumtums!

Mexican Style Chicken Risotto

The Mexican Style Chicken Risotto that received two thumbs up from the boyfriend!

Fried rice

Fried Rice! Finish every single bit of it.

Calamari

Crispy fried calamari with mayo dip! I can’t remember if I liked it.. which isn’t a good sign. Haha oh wait maybe I did!

It was a great start to our trip because we enjoyed our food very much! They were pretty darn good! *kisses fingers* Each set comes in rather generous portions and most importantly, they are really affordable! Less than S$10 per set and you leave the cafe feeling like you ate at a buffet table. Hahaha! Free wifi (I believe it belongs to the building which houses a hotel called inHouse and apparently this cafe also belongs to the hotel) is also available.

Dessert

Dessert! I still have no idea what this was.

I’m not sure what was for dessert but it has a little coconut taste so it could be coconut cake.

Address
2nd floor
No. 107, Xining S. Rd.
Wanhua Dist.
Taipei City, Taiwan
Nearest MRT: Ximen

* * DAY 2 * *

Ah Zhong Mian Xian

Ah Zhong Mian Xian

Ah Zhong Mian Xian

To start off our 9-day authentic Taiwanese diet, we went hunting for Ah Zhong Mian Xian’s flagship store at Ximending which was just a stone’s throw away from our hotel. Boyfriend wanted to try it so badly so I just tagged along even though I wasn’t very eager to have it (I’m not even a mee sua fan at home.. they just smell and look so unappetising to me). With a vicinity map provided by our hotel, we managed to find the shop without breaking a sweat.

Cashier

Cashier

I had always thought that it would look like some traditional mee sua shop (it must be the “Ah Zhong”) with proper dining tables and chairs. But contrary to my assumption, the serving area and kitchen take up the entire unit. There are (very limited number of) chairs but no table so everyone either eat with the bowl in their hand standing up or sitting down.

A long queue had already formed when we arrived but it also moved very quickly. Our turn came within a few minutes of waiting and our mian xian was also ready for collection right after we ordered. So efficient man. There were also sauces (vinegar included) somewhere which you could add to your mian xian.

One bowl first to try!

One bowl first to try!

Boyfriend ordered a large bowl so that he could share it with me. I reluctantly took a spoonful and was surprised to find myself liking it as well. It tastes like some low-grade shark’s fin soup you find in pasar malams but better lah. But what spoilt the dish for me were the pig’s intestines. I’m not a fan of animal intestines as I think they taste as bad as they smell and their rubbery texture really gross me out.

The gravyyyyy

The gravyyyyy

Boyfriend loved it so much, he ate there four times throughout the trip. Dining in Ximending can be expensive so if you’re looking to satisfy your hunger pangs with something not-so-unhealthy (Hot Star is nearby also) yet filling, you should consider trying their mian xian! 🙂

Address
No.8-1, Emei St.
Wanhua District
Taipei City
Nearest MRT: Ximen, Exit 6

Some pictures of Ximending before we move on to the next destination:

Welcome to Ximen!

Welcome to Ximen!

First shot together in XMD

First shot together in XMD

Lots of hustle and bustle!

Lots of hustle and bustle!

A pictorial evidence that HotStar is indeed from Taiwan :P

A pictorial evidence that Hot-star is indeed from Taiwan 😛

More of XMD

More of XMD

One of the many cinemas in XMD

One of the many cinemas in XMD. Movie titles are all in mandarin and nobody would understand you if you mention the English title of a western movie at the box office 😦

Very tempted to dine at Watami (also available in Singapore) but then I told myself, "No Singaporean food in Taiwan for the next 8 days!"

Very tempted to dine at Watami (also available in Singapore) but then I told myself, “No Singapore food in Taiwan for the next 8 days!”

PANCAKE with cheese! Damn nice.

PANCAKE with cheese! Damn nice.

Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall

The entire building

The entire building

Entrance

Entrance

Prior to the trip, boyfriend kept reminding me not to plan a shopping itinerary and to include more sights and attractions so that we could stretch our dollars. Last Taiwan trip, we went near-broke on the third day of our seven-day trip because of my excessive shopping LOL. We had to rely on credit cards in the end. Hopefully history doesn’t repeat itself 😛 We’ll see..

So yup, we arrived at one of the well-known memorial halls in Taipei. The history of the memorial hall, which was built to honour the Republic of China’s National Father Dr Sun Yat-sen, can be seen all over in the building. If you’re a history junkie, this is the attraction for you. But I was too lazy to read so I surrendered after reading those few near the entrance.

If you think this is a museum of Sun Yat-sen, high five! That was what I thought too but .. it isn’t LOL. Bimbo moment. It is, somewhat like our Esplanade, a multi-purpose social, educational and cultural center for the public. We saw many youngsters having their dance practice near the entrance which revitalised the traditional-looking building.

Taipei 101 behind me!

Taipei 101 (which I never had the chance to go… thanks to my acrophobic boyfriend) backdropped my #ootd photo 😛

A compulsory shot for tourists!

A compulsory shot for tourists!

With a bed of PINK flowers whuttttt must camwhore!

With a bed of PINK flowers whuttttt must camwhore!

Made boyfriend camwhore with Dr Sun too!

Made boyfriend camwhore with Dr Sun too!

Dr Sun Yat-sen

Dr Sun Yat-sen

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FYI!

FYI!

The map.. if anyone's interested

The map.. if anyone’s interested

The main highlight of our trip there was, however, to watch the change of guards. If you plan to visit any memorial hall, be sure to stay until you see the guards change shifts. They happen every hour (e.g. 1pm, 2pm, etc.) and we were lucky to be able to catch it the moment we stepped into the main hall (second level I think. When in doubt, just follow the crowd HAHA).

Change of guards! So hard to get a good view.

Change of guards! So hard to get a good view.

Guards marching. Apologies for the poor quality!

Guards marching. Apologies for the poor quality!

Almost the end!

Almost the end!

The other memorial hall I know is the National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall which was on my itinerary but due to our laziness, we didn’t go in the end. LOL Maybe next time!

Raohe Night Market

In order to get to Raohe we had to cut through Wufenpu (what a perfect excuse to go there TEEHEE!!) so we spent some time rummaging the garment market for things to buy BUT because it’s the cold season there, majority of the stuff sold were not suitable for Singapore’s humid climate so we didn’t buy much. I accidentally bought a pair of army print flats at S$70 because I heard the price wrongly!!!! It’s pricey because the salesgirl claimed that it was imported from South Korea which brings me to my next question… (please ignore blockquote if you’re not in the mood to read my rant)

WHY ARE ITEMS IMPORTED FROM KOREA ALWAYS SO EXPENSIVE?

Etude House, The Face Shop, Laneige, Skinfood and the list goes on.. Things there are NEVER cheap outside of South Korea. It’s like shop owners capitalise on the k-craze and mark up the price of anything that comes from Korea. Please la, is Korea so dai sai (big whoop) until can be more expensive than European/American/Japanese products ah?! I’m sorry, NO! Having owned so many Korea-imported apparels in the past, I can vouch that the material is not as godly as people always claim to be lor please. Korean cosmetics are also not very fantastic leh!? I owned a Laneige palette, a Somang BB cream and used TFS face masks (which were ALL gifted to me thankfully) and I did not find anything so special about them that warrants the high price. Why are people so gaga over them when they’re so EXPENSIVE!?! Anyway, I swear that no matter how much I like a product, the moment the salesperson quotes me an exorbitant price and reasons it with “because it’s imported from Korea”, I’d leave the shop immediately. Period.

Whatever it is, that was my most regretful purchase from Taiwan. 😥

Ok back to Raohe, I mentioned about this place before on my previous Taiwan entry so I’m not gonna elaborate much on it. So allow me to indulge you with food pictures taken in Raohe. There were quite a number of new stalls there!

包雞蛋的雞蛋糕

包雞蛋的雞蛋糕

Bored while queueing up so we camwhored again!

Bored while queueing up so we camwhored again!

Egg on the left and cheese one the right combined to give you 雞蛋起司 (Egg-Cheese flavour)

Egg on the left and cheese one the right combined to give you 雞蛋起司 (Egg-Cheese flavour)

Preparing for the massive orders.

Preparing for the massive orders.

Got ours! YAY

Got ours! YAY

Couldn't resist the wild boar sausage! It's super yummy, nicer than the one at our hotel.

Couldn’t resist the wild boar sausage! It’s super yummy, nicer than the one at our hotel in fact.

Someone please bring these to Singapore..

Someone please bring these to Singapore..

Jelly popsicle

Jelly popsicle stall. Boyfriend literally went crazy went he saw this because he’s the ultimate 果冻 lover. You can see him at our local Chinatown every CNY lugging home a huge bag of 果冻 >_>

All the different flavours for you to choose from!

All the different flavours for you to choose from!

Boyfriend loved the jelly popsicle. He could eat 10 of them and not feel sick -_-

-_-

We went to this shop to get some steak...

We went to this shop to get some steak…

...on a stick. Steak on a stick! Innovative eh?

…on a stick. Steak on a stick! Innovative eh?

My new favourite stall at Raohe!

My new favourite stall at Raohe!

Going-to-be-grilled scallops! YUMMMMS. This made scallop lovers like me go bonkers!

Going-to-be-grilled scallops! YUMMMMS. This made scallop lovers like me go bonkers!

After it's grilled! I swear the seasoning was heavenly. Bought 10 sticks back to the hotel but I must say it's best when it's hot!

After it’s grilled! I swear the seasoning was heavenly. Bought 10 sticks back to the hotel but I must say it’s best when it’s hot!

Order chit or price list for your reference!

Order chit or price list for your reference! If you have no idea which flavour to go for, you can opt for “随便” or “anything” and the cook will decide for you! Hahaha gotta love the Taiwanese for coming up with such ideas for lazy thinkers!

Bought one of this sandwich-bun back and threw it away after 2 bites :(

Bought one of this sandwich-bun back and threw it away after 2 bites 😦

Saved a little stomach space for a cup of wintermelon drink!

Saved a little stomach space for a cup of wintermelon drink!

Their signboard. I'm serious!

Their signboard. I’m serious!

Saw this lion head backpack at almost every night market I went to!

Saw this lion head backpack at almost every night market I went to! I wanted to get one but it was so expensive.. at least S$90 -_-

This rubber ducky was all over Taiwan! Every product design would surely have one with the rubber ducky. It must be Hong Kong's influence.

This rubber ducky was all over Taiwan! Every product design would surely have one with the rubber ducky. It must be Hong Kong’s influence.

Address
Ráohé St, Songshan District
Taipei City, Taiwan 10567
Nearest MRT: Houshanpi, Exit 1
Nearest Railway station: Songshan

* * DAY 3 * *

Zhen Pin Yang Shen Fang (珍品養生坊)

We were craving for some hot desserts to keep ourselves warm in that chilly weather. As our hotel was situated towards the back of Ximending, we would have to walk past several food stores to get to the train station and this dessert shop was one of them (Yong He Dou Jiang is just beside it). Feeling famished and cold, we got ourselves a table and ordered a bowl of mini colourful glutinous rice balls with no filling to temporarily satisfy our hunger. But it was sooo good (maybe coz we were skipped breakfast and lunch lah, hungry like mad) so we ordered another bowl of glutinous rice balls with black sesame paste filling. It totally kept us warm for the next few hours!

First bowl we had we just plain glutinous rice balls with red bean soup

First bowl we had we just plain glutinous rice balls with red bean soup

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NT$80 for a bowl of sesame paste one

NT$80 for a bowl of sesame paste one

Sesame glutinous rice balls

Black sesame paste glutinous rice balls

Am I making you hungry yet?

Am I making you hungry yet?

Menu

Menu

More of the menu

More of the menu

The shop is manned by this auntie and another elderly man, probably her husband

The shop is manned by this auntie and another elderly man, probably her husband

Mandatory self-shot at every place we visited HAHA

Mandatory self-shot at every place we visited HAHA

On other days, we would also take away one or two bowls back to our hotel. Definitely a must-have if you’re there during the cold season!

Address
No. 46 Hankou Section 2
Wanhua District
Taipei City, Taiwan 108
Nearest MRT: Ximen

Dazzling Cafe

I planned to visit this cafe after Taipei 101 on day 2 since they are in close proximity. However boyfriend chickened out once again (we wanted to go there on our first trip -_-) due to his fear for heights and so the entire itinerary was changed. We wanted to try their highly-acclaimed honey toasts anyway so we rescheduled this to day 3.

Getting there is relatively easy as it’s just about 5 minutes walk away from its nearest metro station, Zhongxiao Dunhua. Hidden from the area with high human traffic, it’s tucked beside a rather narrow road. You’ll need to go behind the main shopping buildings to locate it. (When in doubt, use GPS) Once you’re there, you should be able to spot its huge sign display stand.

Zhongxiao Dunhua station

Zhongxiao Dunhua station

Hidden behind main buildings

Hidden behind main buildings

Entrance

Entrance

Operating hours, FYI

Operating hours, FYI

Like any other themed cafes in Taiwan, you’d need to make reservation prior to your visit because they are very popular with the locals and foreigners. Silly me didn’t do so so we had to wait for a few minutes (which was pretty fast actually) before we could get a table.

We shared one Dazzling Classic Honey Toast because we also read that a portion is able to feed 2! Very true indeed. One is just nice for our stomachs and we were probably one of those few who managed to clear our plate. Other patrons who ordered for each individual gave up after a few mouthfuls. On top of that, we also got ourselves each a drink as we also read about their one-drink-per-customer policy online. However when we were there, we weren’t advised so by the waitress so they probably changed it.

Ordered this because of the one-drink-per-customer policy. Not sure if this rule is still in place!

Ordered this because of the one-drink-per-customer policy. Not sure if this rule is still in place!

Boyfriend's drink

Boyfriend’s drink

What's inside my drink! Real strawberry :D

What’s inside my drink! Real strawberry 😀

Menu and price list (for the toasts only)

Menu and price list (for the toasts only)

After the honey toast is placed on your table, the waitress would give you time to take pictures of it before they proceed to cut down the “walls” for you. YAY INSTAGRAM TIME!! (no wifi there by the way *boo* so I had to tether internet from SIM card)

Our classic honey toast! I spent close to 5 minutes photographing this.. Ice cream melting already

Our classic honey toast! I spent close to 5 minutes photographing this.. Ice cream melting already

Pouring maple syrup over it

Pouring maple syrup over it. Walls had fallen by then LOL

The honey toast was really good in my opinion but overrated to boyfriend. Thus I conclude that it’s nice only to those who are suckers for sweet stuff HAHAHA. I thought the inner toast were really soft and they go really well with the ice cream! The “walls” are partly coated with sugar and I poured maple syrup over it. YUMMMMEH thinking about it makes me want to go back and try other flavours!

Honestly I think my appetite grew bigger since I arrived in Taiwan because I wasn’t very full after having the toast. I even wanted to order another one but I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish everything all on my own so I dropped the idea and got myself macarons instead!

Macarons! Lemon was sold out :(

Macarons! Lemon was sold out 😦

My rose macaron

My rose macaron

Can't remember what this is.. Perhaps vanilla

Can’t remember what this is.. Perhaps vanilla

They are not on the menu so you gotta go to the front counter to see their flavours! Too bad they ran out of lemon flavoured ones 😦 Macarons were nice and sweet but they crumbled really easily and messily unlike those I had at our Antoinette! Worth a try though if you’re dying to have something to chew on after eating so much bread.

Address
No. 11, Alley 7, Lane 205, Section 4
Zhōngxiào East Rd, Daan District
Taipei City, Taiwan 106
Nearest MRT: Zhongxiao Dunhua, Exit 3
Website: http://www.dazzlingdazzling.com/eng/#home.php
For reservation, call +886 02-8773-9229 or e-mail dazzling@dazzlingdazzling.com

Flagged down a cab to get to a mall to catch a movie!

Flagged down a cab to get to a mall to catch a movie!

After our carbo-loading meal, we took a cab to a mall to catch a movie. Thereafter, we went to Shilin Night Market to have our late dinner/supper.

Shilin Night Market

Another repeated destination so I’m not going to explain much about it. However I must add that Shilin recently got another makeover (not sure if it’s another one or a continuation of what I saw 2 years ago) and it’s now pretty organised and clean! Ok enough said, let the food pictures do the talking:

The cleaner and neater Shilin Night Market now

The cleaner and neater Shilin Night Market now

Braised pork with rice! Not bad :)

Braised pork with rice! Not bad 🙂

Smelly toufu.. preferred the one at Raohe!

Smelly toufu.. preferred the one at Raohe!

Boyfriend's favourite oyster omelette

Tanghulu a.k.a. candied fruit! Kept seeing this on Chinese shows but never had the appetite for it in real life.

Tanghulu a.k.a. candied fruit! Kept seeing this on Chinese shows but never had the appetite for it in real life.

BIG SAUSAGES. Don't think dirty yea. HAHA

BIG SAUSAGES. Don’t think dirty yea. HAHA

Hot-star Shilin Night Market branch! I first knew about Hot-star here 2 years ago :)

Hot-star Shilin Night Market branch! I first knew about Hot-star here 2 years ago 🙂

Hehe couple shot again

Hehe couple shot again

Shilin Night Market is notorious for having overpriced fruits! Stallholders can charge you more than S$10 for a mere packet of cut fruits. I'm glad the authorities did something!

Shilin Night Market is notorious for having overpriced fruits! Stallholders could charge you more than S$10 for a mere packet of cut fruits. I’m glad the authorities did something!

Address
No. 101
Jīhé Rd, Shilin District
Taipei City, Taiwan 111
Nearest MRT: Jiantan

* * DAY 4 * *

Hello Kitty Cafe

I know I had blogged about this before already but I.. just cannot exclude my second time there on this entry hehe. Hello Kitty cafe is probably the most popular themed cafe in Taiwan and you can almost never get a table if you haven’t made prior reservation. I did through e-mail about one week before the scheduled date and I received a confirmation from them within the next hour. SO EFFICIENT!

Anyway, the reservation was voided because I overslept (disadvantage of a free-and-easy trip lol). They had already given my table to another walk-in customer by the time I arrived (about 20 minutes later) 😦 But luckily they were kind enough to offer me a table albeit only available an hour later. In the meantime, boyfriend and I went to SOGO just across the street to get some Beard Papa snacks.

Taiwan's version of Takashimaya

Taiwan’s version of Takashimaya

SOGO! So got the Takashimaya feel

Even the logo is rather similar 😛

Pretty clock at the entrance of SOGO

Pretty clock at the entrance of SOGO

Panoramic view of the streets

Panoramic view of the streets

Panoramic view of the mall exterior

Panoramic view of the mall exterior (ignore the purple figure hahaha)

Beard Papa

Beard Papa

This combination is pretty obscene if you ask me. LOL BUT ANYWAY THEY WERE GOOD.

This combination is pretty obscene if you ask me. LOL BUT ANYWAY THEY WERE GOOD.

Custard inside! Beard papa's fillings never fail!

Custard inside! Beard papa’s fillings never fail!

Hellooo it's us again!

Hellooo it’s us again!

SOGO in Taiwan kinda reminds me of our Takashimaya (many departments, usually for branded stuff, and a mega mart) but they have many branches across the country.

We walked around the area after getting a quick bite and found our homegrown brand, Bee Cheng Hiang! Judging from the small crowd in the shop, I reckon that 肉干 (dried pork jerky charqui) or BCH is quite popular with the Taiwanese. Here in Singapore, you can hardly see anybody in the Bee Cheng Hiang stores here unless it’s the lunar new year, right!? Boyfriend wanted to see if the taste of the charqui differed in another country so he bought 100g of it to try.

Home grown brand in Taiwan!

Home grown brand in Taiwan!

Someone's so happy to buy bak kwa in Taiwan -_-

Someone’s so happy to buy bak kwa in Taiwan -_-

Conclusion: no difference at all. Hahaha!

We headed back to Hello Kitty Cafe and was given the same table as our first visit. The interior and menu seemed to have changed quite a bit. They removed smoked salmon from their appetizer menu but that’s fine with me because I could have it at Ikea any time. Hehe.

Operating hours fyi again!

Operating hours fyi again!

Menu cover

Menu cover

Same table as 2 years back

Same table as 2 years back

Deco has changed a bit since the last time I came. They used to hang a small Hello Kitty plushie from the ceiling light

Deco has changed a bit since the last time I came. They used to hang a small Hello Kitty plushie from the ceiling light

Huge Hello Kitty light on the ceiling

Huge Hello Kitty light on the ceiling

Panoramic view of the restaurant (tried my best!)

Panoramic view of the restaurant (tried my best!)

Price list for the set meal! You're welcome :)

Price list for the set meal! You’re welcome 🙂

Price list for the burger set meal!

Price list for the burger set meal!

Chicken wings.. tasted like the ones Pizza Hut

Chicken wings.. tasted like the ones at Pizza Hut

Cup and utensils

Cup and utensils

Our shared passionfruit juice

Our shared passionfruit juice

My hot tea

My hot tea

Anyway, we remembered going crazy over their smoked duck breast so we ordered 2 plates of it a la carte (at NT$100 each) and also opted for it for our appetisers as part of our set meal. Thus we had 4 plates in total! Actually it wasn’t a lot at all cos they only gave us 2-3 miserably thin slices of it 😦

Smoked duck breast

Smoked duck breast

Salad

Salad

Creme of mushroom

Creme of mushroom

I vividly remembered Boyfriend savouring his cheese bacon beef burger during our first visit so I wanted to try it this time! Boyfriend ordered Kitty Boston Steak Burger.

My cheese bacon beef burger

My cheese bacon beef burger

Boyfriend's Boston steak burger which steak was served cold.. I probably know why now. Coz it flew from Boston

Boyfriend’s Boston steak burger which steak was served cold.. I probably know why now. Coz it flew from Boston

Boyfriend didn’t enjoy his meal at all because the steak was strangely served COLD! We feedback about this to the waitress but she gave us the lamest excuse that it turned cold while on its way to our table. Like whutttttt… I normally have no complaints about customer service in Taiwan but it’s rather obvious how poor theirs is from this encounter. The cafe looked understaffed and the service crew was running around frantically attending to customers and it took quite awhile for them to take our orders.

Their food was their saving grace.

Hello Kitty soft bun

Hello Kitty soft bun

Pudding for dessert

Pudding for dessert

I felt my bowel movements (lol) once I was done with my food so I went to the ladies! No one was in there so I had the entire toilet to myself to camwhore LOL. The toilet is so pink and pretty! I felt bad smearing their toilet bowl with my faeces. HEHEHE JUST KIDDING.

Notice on toilet paper wastage

Notice on sanitary napkin disposal

Tap! This is cute yo.

Tap! This is cute yo.

A pink (omg) sofa for ladies who wish to wait for their friends!

A pink (omg) sofa for ladies who wish to wait for their friends!

PINK TOILET BOWL!!

PINK TOILET BOWL!!

The bill came up to NT$1529 which is equivalent to about S$65 (probably more than that since I paid by card and you know, the exchange rates offered by banks are crazy). Not very reasonable considering that they served cold boston steak. Pfftttt. Most likely won’t be returning again :\

Address
No. 90, Section 1
Da’an Road, Da’an District
Taipei City, Taiwan 106
Nearest MRT: Zhongxiao Fuxing, Exit 3
Website: http://www.hellokittysweets.com/
For reservation, call +886 2 2711 1132 or e-mail kittysweets@transgroup.com.tw

Topping up our card

Topping up our card

Zhu Ji Beef Steak Wonton (朱記牛排餛飩專賣)

At night, boyfriend was already on the hunt for another beef steak to make up for the awful cold one he had at Hello Kitty cafe. I searched online for recommendations in Ximending but they were all rather expensive and we wanted to preserve our funds for the next few remaining days in Taiwan. Then boyfriend recalled seeing an eating place beside our hotel building which served all kinds of steak! Fish steak, chicken steak, beef steak.. you name it, they have it. Hahaha!

I kept reading it as 牛猪鱼排排排..

I kept reading it as 牛猪鱼排排排..

Order chit / price list

Order chit / price list

Plum juice :)

Plum juice 🙂

The place was rather vacant when we went there. Being a Singaporean who associates queues/crowd with popularity for eateries, I have to admit that I was quite sceptical about the taste of their food at first. Boyfriend and I ordered beef steaks on hot plate. We expected them to just serve us just that because there wasn’t any indication on the order chit that it came with something else. Furthermore the price was also very reasonable for an a la carte menu.

Then the food came…

Corn soup!

Corn soup!

Break on top a bowl of soup

It came with a pastry on top

Let's eat!

Let’s eat!

Beef steak with spaghetti gravy

Beef steak with spaghetti gravy

Beef steak with mushroom sauce

Beef steak with mushroom sauce

We were pleasantly surprised! Placed on top of the soup bowl was what we’d call the Taiwanese roti prata. The meal also came with a cup of plum drink and the beef portion was huge for a meal which costed only S$6!?! OMG MAN. If you’re broke and hungry in Ximending, I’d totally recommend this place for its very value-for-money food!

Address
No. 54-14, Section 2
Hankou St, Wanhua District
Taipei City, Taiwan 108
Nearest MRT: Ximen, Exit 3 or 6

* * *

GoSleep Hotel (Hankou)
No. 54, Section 2
Hankou Street, Wanhua District,
Taipei City, Taiwan 108
Nearest MRT: Ximen

* * *

That’s all for days 1-4! I’ve decided to split the entire trip into 2 parts because there are just too many pictures to blog about! Stay tuned for the next instalment 🙂

Read part 2 of “Revisiting Taiwan, the Land of Smiles” here.

 

Read also:
Taiwan, the Heart of Asia 2012

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