Saturday, October 6, 2012

Taipei Eats - Heping East Road area (和平東路, Picture heavy!)

Disclaimer - another long post ahead of the shops along Heping East Road where I live!

I mentioned in my previous Shida Night Market Eats post that we don't have a functional kitchen in our Taipei apartment, so we eat out 2 meals a day, 7 days a week, which is why I'm gaining weight even though I walk 2+ miles every day to school T.T Anyway, in addition to the night market, we pretty much just randomly pick any stores, shops, carts, stands that looks good.

Zhang Mama Beef Noodles (張媽媽牛肉麵) is the very first shop we had lunch at the day after we landed in Taipei ^.^ We didn't know at the time, but this shop is actually a bit more expensive, about twice as much as most noodle shops and we paid around $6-7 (NT$180-200) for each of our bowl of noodles.

The red braised beef noodles (left) was decent, but not the best. The light broth beef noodles turned out to be disappointingly bland. I guess now I know that "light" really means "no taste" LOL! Won't make that mistake again :P

Braised beef noodle with tomatoes and Braised beef soup.

Big Brother Noodle Shop (大師兄麵館, how would you translate 大師兄?) is actually on Jinshan South Road. The noodles here are really yummy, though still not the best. May be we need to go back here a few more times to get a better taste ^.^

Beef vermicelli and wonton soup.

Dry beef noodles (with a side of broth, which I later poured into my noodles anyway). This was really well flavored and delicious!

There are a gazillion and one tea shops in Taipei, no really, so many brands and chains I've lost count. However, this GuDi Tea is my favorite so far. Out of all the unique brands/chains I've tried, probably 10 by now, GuDi's boba (pearl, 珍珠) is the freshest. In fact, it was hubby who pointed out that these bobas are the softest but not mushy and chewiest but not rubbery. My absolute favorite is the Okinawa Brown Sugar Milk Tea. Heavenly! And interestingly enough, I haven't seen any other branch of Gudi Tea, just this shop on my way to/from school, which makes me think it's not a chain. But I could be dead wrong ^.^

The GuDi Tea store front faces Heping East Road and their original Pearl Milk Tea was great!

But hubby and I liked the Grapefruit Green Tea better. Turns out adding fresh squeezed grapefruit juice to green tea is an ingenious idea! Who woulda thunk it? My favorite Okinawa Brown Sugar Milk Tea, so yummy you can taste the brown sugar in it, though is probably fatty as hell xD

Another shop hubby and I like to drop in every once in a while is Zhongguo (鐘國). Just over all yummy and very affordable, and a satisfying (and stuffing!) lunch for two costs a mere $10 (~NT$300)!

Beef fried rice and wonton noodle soup.

Homestyle noodles and another feast on a different day, which included shrimp wonton noodles (hubby just can't get enough of wonton noodles, he orders it everywhere we go ^.^), egg drop soup, and, hmm, forgot the name of this dish, but it was something Dry Noodles (as in without broth).

Dry Noodles in Oyster Sauce (left). Interestingly enough, this was the only dish I've encountered so far that use Cantonese style egg noodles, which I've been going crazy trying to find. Why? Because they are what I grew up with and I love them. Various dishes ordered on a recent visit.

Hubby and I often drop by this Four Seas Soy Milk (四海豆漿) at the intersection of Heping East Road and Jinshan South Road for our breakfast. Their hot soy milk and scalding hot, but has a tinge of sweetness.  I prefer my soy milk cold, so hot soy milk is a bit strange to me ^.^ 

My first breakfast there was a fare of hot soy milk (where upon I promptly burned my tongue, ouch!), a fried dough stick (油條) and a brown sugar steamed bun (饅頭). On most day though, I prefer just a steamed pork bun (肉包) and cold soy milk. Their rice ball (飯糰) is yummy too, although much heavier because they use sticky rice and stuff it with fluffed meat (肉鬆), pickled vegetables, and a couple pieces of chopped fried dough stick for the crispy texture, etc. And one rice ball is about half the size of my forearm - huge! It's more like a lunch or even a dinner portion rather than for breakfast.

Hubby favors their soup dumplings, which are totally delectable, especially with some spicy sauce on it. And he likes their egg pancakes too.

Fuzhou Dry Banmian (福州乾拌麵, "banmian" is the Mandarin term for the noodles we all know and love - the ubiquitous Lomein) is literally around the corner from my apartment. Unfortunately, with our last few visits we've been ordering noodle soups instead of their specialty dish, which is the Dry Banmian. The thing is, Fuzhou style noodle soup is very light (see definition of light above) and that's how they like it. But of course this is totally lost on us and after some further reading on the internet, we are determined to go back and order the Dry Banmian to see what the fuss is all about. Will update again.

Wonton noodle soup and fish ball noodle soup.

Another round-the-corner dine-in/take-out place, right across the alley from Fuzhou Dry Banmian above is Fortune Garden Simple Dining (福園簡餐, haphazard translation of the shop's name here). If you were to ask me, their food is no simple food. It's actually quite delicious and is my favorite lazy-day destination when I don't have enough energy to walk to Shida Night Market or Yongkang Street (post coming soon!).

My most favorite thing to order there is this bento-style dish with simmer pork and a variety of stir fried vegetable sides that changes every time. I've had this dish several times now and has not had a side repeat yet. See for yourself! This dish is a tad on the heavy side, so I can't eat it as often as I'd like and whenever I have it for lunch, I skip dinner because don't have any appetite left. Yes, it's that filling!

Another excellent item on the menu is this Pork Rib Noodles, which is a bowl of piping hot noodle soup with a side of fried pork rib. The pork rib is very well flavored and delicious!

We've tried the Fried Chicken Noodles too, which is similar to the Pork Rib Noodles above, only with a fried chicken thigh. The pork is actually better, because the chicken is juicy but is also greasier and not as well flavored as the pork. Hubby's favorite is the wonton soup ^.^

The best beef noodles hubby and I have had so far is actually right at the mouth of our alley, a stone's throw from Fortune Garden Simple Dining above. We just love these little alley shops, because not only their food is delicious, they're also super affordable and right within reach (more like an arm's length!). Can't get any better than that!

Thin Beef Noodles, as in Beef Noodles with thin noodles, and Thick Beef Noodles with a side. I love to add in a dollop of chilly sauce to spice things up. Soooooo good. 

Beef Wonton Soup and Beef Soup, which is really just the broth and several pieces of beef thrown in. You wouldn't think it's so special but damn it's good.

The down side is that the ordering slip confused the hell out of us the first time we ate there. Apparently there's a difference between Beef Noodles and Beef Soup Noodles, with the Beef Soup Noodles having just the broth and no beef. Yep, will not make that mistake again.

This Coco tea shop is a chain with one branch right outside our alley. In addition to the usual milk teas and fruity teas, they also have smoothies.

Mango is in season right now, and their mango smoothie is yummy, though I do think it still needs a touch of tartness.

Another beauty of living in Taipei is the spontaneous fruit cart that can appear at any time and any place. Here's a guava cart.

Fresh guavas and passion fruits makes a delicious afternoon tea snack. I made fresh passion fruit tea, steeping Lady Grey tea and scoop fresh passion fruit into it. Delicious, unlike any artificial or natural flavoring you've ever tasted!

And fresh sugar-apples too! I have to say I like the ones in Vietnam better, as they were smaller, sweeter, had thicker meat and smaller seeds. What you do is to buy these when they are firm, keep for a few days until the fruit is soft (not mushy!) to the touch, about 3-5 days, then it's ready to eat. If you want to ripen it faster, bury it in a rice container and it'll be ready to eat in a day or two. Not sure why this works but it does, cutting the ripening process in half!

The meat and seeds of the sugar-apple fruit.

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