Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Din Tai Fung's Xiao Long Bao

We just ate a bit at IKEA (read post HERE) because we were saving our appetite for Din Tai Fung.

We had lunch in the original branch of Din Tai Fung to taste their world famous xiao long bao *slash* steamed pork dumplings *slash* soup dumplings. It is referred to as a soup dumpling because, yes, it is a dumpling with broth inside.
Technically, Din Tai Fung's xiaolongbao is a staple of Shanghainese cuisine, and not Taiwanese. Majority of the food that they actually serve are from Southern Mainland China. In the end, though, this does not matter. Din Tai Fung is proud to be born-and-bred in Taiwan and its rags-to-riches story all happened in Taiwan. source 
Din Tai Fung was among the Top 10 Gourmet Restaurants in the World in a 1993 article published by The New York Times the only Chinese-run restaurant included in the list. It is also a Michelin starred restaurant. It is the only Taiwanese restaurant who has won a Michelin Star. #saymo 

This authentic Taiwanese restaurant has branches in other countries as well including Singapore (18 asdfghjkl branches in Singapore), Thailand, Australia (4 branches), China (22 branches), Hong Kong (3 branches), Indonesia (12 branches), Japan (13 branches), Malaysia (4 branches), South Korea (6 branches), and USA (5 branches). 
Picture with ma while waiting. Din Tai Fung's xiao long bao character right there! Cutie!
The many people of different nationalities waiting.
Their original branch in Xinyi is always the busiest.
I think we waited for approximately 30 minutes before our number was called.
The queue was really long, but it's worth the wait just because. *read on*
First thing to do when you get there is to reserve a table thru the wired-up waitresses outside the restaurant.
The waitress will then give you an order sheet. You place your order while waiting. Thank God!
Outside Din Tai Fung. Do you see Taipei 101? ;-)
First thing you'll see upon entrance: Din Tai Fung's open kitchen.
photo source
3 floors... ata. I forgot. ;-p
photo source
How to Eat a XiaoLongBao
I have no photo of the sauce with ginger slices.
Din Tai Fung's xiao long bao's dough is folded 18 folds no more, no less.

We had:
Spicy Pickled Cucumber
Stir-Fried Spinach with Bean Curd sheets
Pork xiao long bao (the original. their bestseller) 
Truffle and pork xiao long bao -my FAVORITE! I suggest you order this too! 
Anything with truffle oil is really, really good! Lagyan mo ng truffle oil ang egg, oh my golly wow, sobrang sasarap na! ;p
Vegetarian Mushroom Buns
Vegetable and Ground Pork Wanton Noodle Soup
They say their Crispy Golden Prawn Cake is good too.

I loved their truffle and pork xiao long bao. I have only tried Lugang Cafe's xiao long bao and I'd choose Din Tai Fung's xiao long bao in a heartbeat.
The food, generally, did not sweep me off my feet, though. After we ate parang "oh, ok, at least we finally tried Din Tai Fung's food".
I'd still give my "best restaurant we've eaten to during our stay in Taiwan" award to Mala Yuanyang Hotpot (see post HERE).
As if my remarks are highly valued and regarded. LOL.

Dining at Din Tai Fung meant for me as though I had a taste of Taiwan. 
So, whatever faults and overrated remarks it may have, Din Tai Fung still remains an icon in & of Taiwan

Location No. 194, Sec. 2, Xinyi Road, Taipei City
Operating Hours Mon - Fri   : 10:00 am - 9:00 pm 
Sat & Holidays : 9:00 am - 9:00 pm

Din Tai Fung is in Taipei 101 as well. Visit their website to know the location of its other 7 branches in Taiwan. 

Taipei Trip: March 28 - April 1, 2013

Related Posts:
- about Ximending, Ximending Night Market, Beauty Hotels Taipei's Hotel B6, Red House Theater, Mala Yuanyang Hotpot, pineapple cake for pasalubong, Shinjuku Plaza, and Taipei 101.
✿ Fun Taiwan: IKEA 

IKEA Taipei

Mom insisted that we go to IKEA during our last day in Ximending, Wanhau District *slash* before we transfer to Shilin.
IKEA (Ingvar Kamprad Elmtaryd Agunnaryd) is a Swedish company that designs and sells ready-to-assemble furniture, appliances, and home accessories. As of January 2014, IKEA owns and operates 349 stores in 43 countries, hosting 410 million shoppers per year. Every IKEA store has a cafeteria serving traditional Swedish food and has Swedish Food Market. It is one of the world's largest furniture retail companies source
IKEA was founded in 1943 by 17-year-old (Gosh, I was slacking off when I was 17 years old!) Ingvar Kamprad, one of the wealthiest people in the world.  In March 2010, Forbes magazine estimated his fortune at US$23 billion, making him the 11th richest person in the world. A year later, he fell from 11th place to 162nd place. Reports say that Kamprad willingly lost the money after his lawyers produced documents which proved that the money in his Lichtenstein-based foundation −which owns IKEA −does not count to his personal wealth. Allegations say that 3% of all Ikea sales go to the secret foundation in tax free royalties, allowing it to build up funds upto US$15.4 billion. There are many allegations to this on whether it's an incredible act of charity or it's one of the greatest tax coup ever. #anyway In October 2012, Ingvar Kamprad was listed as the 5th wealthiest person in the world in the Bloomberg Billionares Index, with an estimated net worth of US$42.6 billion. Kampard was known to be a pro-Nazi; however, he realized this mistake and publicly apologized and wrote letters to his workers admitting his blunder. In June 2013, the 87-year-old Ingvar Kamprad resigned from the board of Inter IKEA Holding SA and his youngest son, Mathias Kamprad, replaced Per Ludvigsson as the chairman of the holding company. As of February 2014, Ingvar's net worth was reported by Forbes to be US$4.2 billion. source source source source
Urban Dictionary defines IKEA as:
"a large furniture store that sells everything in a million pieces". Placed this here 'coz medyo natawa ako dito, idkw. Hrhr #sabaw 
Please excuse my fascination and penchant in knowing people's biography and other related stories. Hrhr. Just wanted to share with all of you as well. ;-p Anyway, moving on...

There are five (5) IKEA branches in Taiwan namelyIKEA Taipei, IKEA Hsinchuang, IKEA Taichung, IKEA Taoyuan, and IKEA Kaohsiung. We went to IKEA Taipei branch which is located diagonally across Taipei Arena. We bought home stuff (of course) and ate a bit here.
Dad, Ben, and I went to the cafeteria first while mom went around the 1st floor.
We ordered:
Swedish Salmon (NT$109) -loved this!
The iconic Swedish Meatballs (NT$120) of IKEA
Vegetarian Moose Pasta (NT$60)

After we ate, we went inside to do good finds hunting.
We just took few photos (see below). We were too busy looking around. Hee
Those glass water bottles. 
We bought our cowhide in IKEA for a pretty good price of NT$8,990 ~ PHP 12,586.
From what I was told, it is more expensive here in the Philippines.
There's a mini food stall upon exit at the cashier on level 3 (not quite sure what floor was that, haha).
We bought ice cream and chocolates there. (no photo, though) 
Mom entered and went out happy.
Mission accomplished! ;-p

IKEA Locations in Taiwan: 
● Taipei City 
B1, No.100, Tun Hwa N. Road, Taipei
(02) 2716-8900
● Hsinchuang (New Taipei City) 
No.1, Jhong Jheng Rd., Hsinchuang, New Taipei City
(02) 2276-5388
● Taichung 
No.168, Sec. 2, Xiangshang Rd., Nantun Dist., Taichung City
(04) 2704-9699
● Taoyuan City 
No. 958, Jhongshan road, Taoyuan
(03) 379-7006
● Kaohsiung City 
No. 1201, Zhonghua 5th road, Kaohsiung
(07) 537-7688

Taipei Trip: March 28 - April 1, 2013

Related Posts:
- about Ximending, Ximending Night Market, Beauty Hotels Taipei's Hotel B6, Red House Theater, Mala Yuanyang Hotpot, pineapple cake for pasalubong, Shinjuku Plaza, and Taipei 101.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Fun Taiwan: Ximending

Let me start by saying downright that I LOVED TAIWAN SO MUCH!
Let me count the ways:
(1) Taiwan's Spring (March to May) cool weather's perfect. The temperature was 16°C to 20°C (when we went) –variation in temperature due to changes in locations. So, if you want to escape the hot summer weather in the Philippines, you may (must) want to consider Taiwan. But going to Taiwan during summer (June to August) can be a bad idea as it is hot and humid. 
Click here to know the Weather and Seasons in Taipei and know when to go. 
*Note: We went to Taiwan on March 28-April 1, 2013.
(2) It is relatively cheap considering with what this country has to offer. 1 NT = 1.4 PHP. 
(3) I absolutely enjoyed the shopping (night markets) and the food (street food to restaurant food). *insert many exclamation points and many hearts*
(4) I loved Family Mart (!!!!), 7-11, and other convenience stores situated on nearly every corner due to the availability of beauty drinks and supplements haha and myriad of healthy / alternative choices.
(5) People who are sucker for healthy and pa-healthy hrhr food will enjoy. *raises hand* Fruit juices, fruits, and healthy snacks are rampant in Taiwan. They sell it even on the streets. 
(6) Travelling around is easy and pleasant with its MRT system. Public transport is well-organised and paths and stations going to tourist attractions and national parks are well-marked.
(7) The people. When we rode the MRT and when some locals saw us standing, they offered us their seats just rare cases since their MRT's not really congested
(8) It has this touristy vibe which I dig always. Feel na feel ko na nasa ibang bansa talaga ako. ;-p  
*Just an additional reference, if you are an Anthony Bourdain fan *I am* and you're planning your Taiwan trip, you might want to check his Taiwan travel guide here. We went to some places on his list. 
(9) I just came back *from Seoul, South Korea two weeks ago and I must say, if you want a cheaper Korean vibe experience, Taipei, Taiwan is your best bet. I think there's also a part in Taiwan where cherry blossoms bloom. And oh, you need to have a visa if you wish to visit Taiwan. It's easy to apply for a Tourist Visa anyway. :-)
(10) There are still a lot to explore, to eat (those fried mushrooms are the best), to try (we haven't tried stinky tofu and oyster omelette), to enjoy, and worth to come back to! 

I will tell you more about our trip in Taiwan and what I have to say through captioned photos as I go on.

We stayed in two different districts: (1)Ximending, Wanhua District then (2) Shilin.

First half was spent in Ximending which this post will be about. I will not include some irrelevant information specifically meals that we had that we really did not enjoy much. 
I will blog about Shilin on a separate post.
Ximending is dubbed as the "Harajuku of Taipei" and the "Shibuya of Taipei". There are many department stores and shops here.
The stores here are modern. Ximending, in general, is very hip, quirky, vibrant, and modern.
I wasn't ready for the cool weather, hence me wearing a shirt. *It was cold!* 
I went to Taiwan without any idea what I'll see here and what it'll be like.
I thought it's just an ordinary Asian country, boy, was I wrong. 
No one told me Taiwan is very charming. I haven't heard anyone tell me/us to visit Taiwan. I always hear people rave about Thailand, Hongkong, Singapore, and the like, but never Taiwan. So, I wasn't really expecting anything.
But I'll say it once again... I loved Taiwan so much.
When I was in Myeongdong, Seoul, Korea, I was actually reminded of Ximending.
The sweet potato, waffles, and of course we had and tried different milk teas #milkteacapitaloftheworld, and other street food at Ximending Night Market.
Our mouths and our eyes had a lot to feast on. Most food carts are too cute and inviting. ~.~
Lively Ximending Night Market. 
We pass by random performers and street performances every night. People would always circle in it.
We booked directly on their website. It is strategically located. I remember we're near the cinema, and in front of our hotel are shops already. Can you imagine how excited I was to leave our bags in our room and explore the place immediately?! ;p
Ximending is a good place to shop if you're looking for branded stuff. It is known as the go-to place for limited edition shoes. My brother bought his boots here. He got what he had in mind to get for himself and he still wears them until now. :)
I was not able to buy anything in Ximending, though. It’s not really that cheap here. I knew I can score the items I see around at lesser cost, and I did not really love LOVE anything -na tipong di ko kayang pakawalan o hanggang pagtulog iniisip ko kung kukunin ko ba o hindi.
But despite not getting anything, going to Ximending made me appreciate Taiwan in a modern level. It is worth to experience Ximending and of course, Ximending Night Market. I don't think I'll say I loved Taiwan SO MUCH if we did not visit Ximending. It was a nice introduction to Taiwan. :-)
Do you like designer bags and stuff yet you want to get them at lesser cost? Then, Ximending is the place for you. I will show you where to head on when buying designer bags and items... Read on. *wink wink*
Day 2 started with a hearty breakfast.
Overdosed myself with Cactus Pear (first time to try this), sprouts, and Alfalfa during our entire stay here.
 My brother and I went out at about 8 AM the following day, we were astounded to see closed shops and almost empty streets. We decided to walk further. We were hopeful. We failed. We just took photos. ;-p We were able to reach Red House Theater which is a historic site. It was a prominent building in the Japanese era. My photo with the red brick wall behind was taken from there.
We had a very good walk in a captivating city. :-) 
All shops are open till wee hours, but they open 11 freaking AM. #ifmymemoryservesmeright Same also in Shilin.
After walking around, we went back to our hotel to meet our parents. We decided to have buffet lunch at Mala Yuanyang Hotpot.
It's worth the wait for a table! It’s the BEST eat-all-you-can hot pot buffet I've eaten to!
Grabe, I can't stress enough how much we loved the (quality, premium, good selection of) food here!
And now I am craving for it! ~.~
Price: NT$488 for lunch (11:30 AM - 4:00 PM); NT$588 for dinner (4:00 PM - 5:00 AM)
Time Limit: 2 hours
You choose what hot pot soup base you like. You can have 2 different stew at a time.
They have extensive selection of shrimps, crabs, shellfish, mushrooms, noodles, vegetables, and meatballs.
They boast of serving certified Angus Beef meat, Short Loin, Australian Lamb Tendon, New Zealand Lamb, Black Pig Bacon (Kurobuta), Black Pig Pork Shoulder (Kurobuta), New Zealand Loin, Australian Prime Beef, and other more premium meat cuts.
We stuffed ourselves with lamb meat.
You also get to create your own concoction of dipping sauce.
Everything was soooo good!!
We enjoyed the great selection of drinks as well. 
Ben and I tried and mixed different herbal flower and berry teas.
We enjoyed almost all the Movenpick and Haagen-Dazs ice cream flavors. Loved Movenpick. ~Heaven~
They enjoyed the fruits too. I had so much that I wasn't able to taste the cakes and other desserts.
We went out very VERY satisfied!
Mala Yuanyang Hot Pot (Ximen Branch)
2F, No. 62, Xining South Road, Taipei City
After the winner hot pot lunch, they bought snacks and pineapple cakes for personal consumption and pasalubongs.
I think I bought tea here as well.
 And now here it goes. *dun dun dun dun* I'll tell you this piece of heaven for those looking for designer bags and limited edition shoes too they say...
Shinjuku Plaza
The place to be.
There are many stores inside. They sell both 2nd hand and brand new designer bags, etc. They carry and have all the brands, the colors, the sizes, and so on. Ma and dad purchased bags here. Naki-feel at naki-try lang ako sa mga bags doon. Gaganda! :'p
There are also other shops here selling clothes, etc. We were too engulfed with designer bags that I only remember just that. 
Then, we went to Taipei 101 late in the afternoon. It was super cold in this area! We should've worn thicker clothes. *brrrr*
Taipei 101 is a landmark skyscraper located in Xinyi DistrictTaipeiTaiwan. The building ranked officially as the world's tallest from 2004 until the opening of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai in 2010. The tower has served as an icon of modern Taiwan ever since its opening.Taipei 101 comprises 101 floors above ground and 5 floors underground. The tower is designed to withstand typhoons and gale winds and to withstand the strongest earthquake tremors likely to occur in a 2,500 year cycleA multi-level shopping mall adjoining the tower houses hundreds of stores, restaurants, and clubs. source
Taipei's 101 mascot which is named Damper Baby at the Gift Store. This one is Lucky Red. 
There are 5 Damper Babies of different colors. Each one has its own unique personality, dream, and catchphrase. Cute, no?
Others are:
Rich Gold, Cool Black, Smart Silver, and Happy Green who is the Environmental Little Protector of Taipei 101.
The mascot is inspired by Taipei 101's wind damper / Tuned Mass Damper (TMD). I'll tell you what the wind damper is for below. 
Gemstone Coral
Taipei 101 Observatory 
Observation decks are on the 88th and 89th floor. There is an outdoor deck on the 91st floor which they open when weather permits.
You need not miss the massive gold-colored iron wind damper weighing 660 metric tons.
The Wind Damper / Tuned Mass Damper (TMD) stabilizes the tower amidst strong winds, earthquakes, and typhoons.
It is the World's Largest Wind Damper.
Before you actually reach the observatory, you'll be initially greeted by and you will pass by high-end stores of the most expensive fashion brands. 
We, then, ate at Taipei 101's food court.
It was dark already when we came out and it was very windy and colder!! But, 'twas so beautiful at night too.
You'll pretty much guess where we went after. We spent the remaining cold evening walking around and tried some more street food at Ximending Night Market. heee

As much as I want to publish just one post about our stay in Ximending and the neighboring spots that we went to, this post is very heavy and very long already. So, I will just blog about our 3rd day: our trip to Ikea and about our xiao long bao lunch at Din Tai Fung in a separate post.

Related Posts:
✿ Fun Taiwan: IKEA 

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