Taiwan | 36 Hours in Yilan

From the minute Joanne and her family picked me up in Taipei we ate…nonstop.

We started in the city at Hamamatsuya, an unagi restaurant where they eels are live and grilled to order…

…complete with fluffy eggs…

…and grilled fish.

Agedashi tofu…

…and simmered vegetables.

The fried chicken was so good we had to order a second round.

Then we went to xiaoq +g to look at ceramics and all sorts of marvelous housewares…

…and warm up with creamy black sugar lattes at the cafe across the street. 

We picked up warm bolo baos stuffed with a slip of butter. Notice how the buns are cut at an angle? That’s so the butter doesn’t slip out! How clever.

It was an hour drive to Yilan, just enough time to take a nap. And here we are at Joaane’s aunt’s home! With beer and her grandma’s homemade bacon…

…and then bubbles and innards simmered with goji berries. 

Then it was time for dinner. Hot pot, huzzah! 

We had individual burners and I went to town concocting sauces, a little of everything. So comforting, so delicious. 

We decided to walk off dinner at the night market, but wound up eating more ^_^

Early the next morning: scallion ice cream! Yilan is famous…

…for these gigantic scallions. 

It was time for breakfast…

…bowls of rice covered with ground pork and this crazy good sauce….

…followed by noodle soups with the tiniest fish balls and fried tofu. I was in heaven!

Hang on, Joanne said. There is more to eat.

And off we went to find sugar ice…

…and versions in lilikoi and black sesame. Like Waiola’s shave ice only 1000000x smoother.

But then we saw cabbage rolls!

And of course we had to eat that too. 

I mean, fresh out of the fryer. How could you not?

We then visited her in-law’s tea farm…

…that was actually the main purpose of the weekend ;)

Oolong cultivars!

Here we are, hard at work ^_^

We met up with the rest of the family for lunch.

A big lunch with steamed fish…

…killer veggies…

…braised tofu (I love tofu!)…

…steamed chicken…

…and fried freshwater shrimp.

Fried mochi stuffed with red bean paste for dessert.

We took a little stroll then went to the tea factory…

…for an afternoon cupping. 

We even steeped the fresh tea flowers to make a tisane.

It got nectar sweet by the third steep..

And then it was time to drive home.

We took a few detours along the way (all food-related) including a stop for these scallion bings. 

Pretty soon it was time for dinner. And how we ate!

Baby shark…

…pork on rice…

…chicken on rice!

Noodle soups, both with my favorite type of noodles…

ho funn. We went to the candy store after dinner (I’ll save that for another post).

After some nighttime shopping, we found fried chicken (and fried mushrooms) at Royal Honor Chicken Pie. AMAZING fried chicken. All crisp and wicked savory in just the right ways.

I swear I can taste it right now  ::drool::

Perfect to pair with beer…or chase with lemon and red bean ice.

Joanne made whisky sours after we got home, and topped each one off with a big scoop of the lemon ice!

We went to sleep just past midnight…and before I even had time to digest, it was time for breakfast.

First a pre-breakfast of steamed corn in yellow and white…

…followed by these handmade noodles in a broth that was halfway between soup and sauce.

So rich, and velvety.

Eat quick, the lines are long!

We followed that with scallion bings…

…because there is always room for more ^_^

Taiwan | Tearroir and Graci in the Kitchen

The first time I attend a tea dinner was in 2011. It was exquisite and I’ve wanted to attend (or host!) another since. 

Little did I know I was in for such a treat at Graci’s home in Taipei last month. David and Austin said we were having dinner at a friend’s place…with each course created to pair with one of their teas. How amazing is that?

We started with drinks of gin infused with Tearroir’s Classic Earl Grey, and sat down to hearty bowls of roasted squash and cauliflower soup. The soup was topped with coriander and fresh yogurt….

…and paired with Healthy Body Pu’erh. 

Next, a salad laced with honey-balsamic figs, roquefort, pancetta, and pine nuts…

…to go with Tearroir’s Gangnam Green.

Buttery pastry pockets stuffed with chicken and mushrooms…

…the rich, creamy flavors cut with Wild Assam tea.

For dessert, masala-infused custard tarts topped with a honeyed pistachio and date crumble. We devoured these with Tearroir’s Masala Chai Special Blend…

…and there was more! 

A cheese plate served with Majestic Darjeeling…

…and macadamia nut and dark chocolate crackers dusted with matcha. Graci put up a recipe video here…all crunchy and buttery with dark caramel, sweet and salty. Highly addictive.

Cheers to new friends and delicious adventures ^_^

Taiwan | Grand Hyatt Taipei

Want to take a peek inside the Grand Hyatt Taipei?

The hotel just got a brand new renovation…

…so the rooms are extra bright and cheery.

Do you have certain “hotel habits?” Here’s mine: walk in the room, outside shoes off, hotel slippers on. Then! Outside clothes off, hotel robe on (can never decide if I’m more in love with the weave or the fuzzy ones). And then. Hot water kettle on, time for tea.

And after that it’s pretty impossible to get me leave the room. Find me in the bathtub, bubbles to the top.

If you book on one of the Grand Club floors, you have access to the 22nd floor lounge.

On another note, why are all the hotel lounges in Asia so much better than the ones in US? o_O

The hotel has nine restaurants, but my favorite is Pearl Liang

…mainly because of the extensive tea menu. 

And don’t forget about the (two!) afternoon tea services.

Till next time ^_^

Taiwan | Fan Tuan

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Another super breakfast in Taipei

I woke up at 6am nearly every morning to explore the back streets, watch the city wake up and…eat breakfast. Someone should start a Taipei street breakfast blog! The eating options are endless. I found this woman in the Xinyi district, manning a giant steamer of sticky rice. What could she possibly be making?

Fan tuan, huzzah!! I queued up, number five behind three people on mopeds and another on foot. My Mandarin isn’t the best so when it came to ordering, I pointed said, I’ll have what she had

Luckily that girl knew how to order. A little of everything/ She pressed sticky rice flat on the plastic bag and crushed up a super crisp you tiao, covered it with yuk si/pork floss, smashed in a shoyu boiled egg, pickled this and preserved that. Then a quick twist of the hand and voilĂ  a giant sticky rice roll. It was glorious…

…and made even better with dou jiang from the guy around the corner. 

I found a bench somewhere nearby and ate and ate. I love Taipei!

Taiwan | YEN at W Taipei

Lunch for two at YEN inside the W Taipei ^_^

Most hotels keep the top floor of the property for penthouse suites, but W Taipei made it into a restaurant so that everyone can take advantage of the views…

…which are nothing short of spectacular. Half of the floor is devoted to YEN, and the other half to private dining and YEN Bar (where we did afternoon tea).

Shall we begin?

The first photo in this post is YEN’s signature dish, pumpkin bisque with black truffles and steamed crab-shrimp paste. The bisque is made with duck broth, so extra intense!

A little dim sum trio, clockwise from top: prawns with bamboo shoots, garoupa with water chestnuts, and prawns with amaranth greens.

Roast kurobuta pork belly and jellyfish followed by…

…braised cabbage with wild mushrooms and bamboo shoots.

Double boiled black chicken soup with fish stomach…

…and fried cod with snap peas and peppers.

And the final savory dish, fried rice with shrimp and black truffles. 

Fresh fruit and a shot of sour plum liquor…

….another pot of dong ding oolong.

Time for dessert!

One piping hot dan tat, super flaky and just the right size.

Lemongrass crystal jelly with aloe vera….remind me to try make this at home.

Next time, we’ll have to return for the roast duck ^-^