Monday, 30 April 2012

Restaurant Review -- Mushroom Noodles (Danshui)

To survive in the restaurant business with only one item on the menu is awesome; to persuade the author of this column to eat mianxian (麵線; a.k.a. "thin, slimy noodles") is barely less impressive.

These two feats have been achieved for 12 and 2 years respectively by Su Xianggu Mianxian (素香菇麵線; “Vegetarian Mushroom Noodles”) on Zhongshan N. Road, a short distance north of the Qingshui Zushi Temple (清水祖師廟) in Danshui (淡水).
One product; three prices: small NT$30, medium NT$40, large NT$50.

What more is there to say?

Well, only one. Last year the restaurant’s founder sold up, and the new owner, while continuing to sell the noodles, has added half a dozen other dishes to the menu. These include yam-flavored tofu and mung bean noodles (山藥阿給), which NOMM will return to sample soon.  

Address: No. 251, Zhongshan North Road Sec. 1, Danshui District, New Taipei City (台北縣淡水鎮中山北路一段251)
Telephone: 0935620261
Hours: Tues~Sun; 06:00~14:00 (plus Mondays if 1st or 15th of lunar calendar month)
 NOMM fake-meat/processed-food index: 2 (low)

Text and photos © Jiyue Publications 2012
[photos temporarily unavailable]

Friday, 27 April 2012

News Brief: $39 food to cost $49

[apologies for failing to track food news lately]

Among all the recent stories of food price hikes comes one in today's Liberty Times (Chinese-language article here) saying that food items in Daiso stores (大創百貨)--where everything costs a flat rate of NT$39--will now be priced at NT$49.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Restaurant Review:-- Pizza and good view, Taipei City

So Wild Free Pizza and Cheese outlet in the back alleys near NTU at Gongguan (公館) has just four seats—which cannot be reserved—so most customers end up eating take-away pizzas in the tiny park opposite.

For a more conducive atmosphere, diners can try the Ximen (西門) branch.

So Wild specializes in small (8-inch) pizzas with somewhat unusual flavours. These include apple/cinnamon, banana/almond and ginger superman, as well as more regular mushroom/asparagus, rosemary/potato and Korean kimchi all at NT$169. Drinks cost NT$25~60.
Don’t expect fine dining, but the upstairs open-air views across a more trendy part of this fashion-conscious area of Taipei City is enjoyable if one is already in this neighbourhood.

Address: No.1, Lane 50, Xining S. Road, Wanhua District, Taipei City
Hours: 12:00~22:00

Monday, 16 April 2012

Restaurant Review:-- Noodles from a noodle maker (Taipei)

Many items sold in restaurants are bought in rather than made on site, and this is particularly true when it comes to noodles.

One exception is ZhongYuan Su Mian Shi (中原 素麵食; "Central Plains Vegetarian Noodle Foods" [no English name]), located on Qingdao Road that runs parallel to Zhongxiao East Road.

Only open on weekday lunchtimes and with only eight items on its menu, ZhongYuan has the confidence of a specialist provider.

These eight noodle dishes range from NT$35 to NT$60 per bowl, and include "dry" noodles such as sesame paste and "mixed" paste, as well as "soupy" noodles such as hongshao (紅燒; soy flavoured) noodles.

"Dry noodles" come with a free bowl of soup, and side dishes such as the cucumbers and tofu eaten by NOMM cost NT$25. Dumplings are available if the boss has time to cook them.

 Text and photos copyright Jiyue Publications

Sunday, 15 April 2012

If President Ma has his way

,,, expect to see a lot more signs like this ("not US beef")
because Ma called on the country to allow imports of tainted US meat and then for customers to boycott it on a person by person basis

Monday, 9 April 2012

Restaurant Review:-- tea farm restaurant, Pinglin (New Taipei City)

 Pinglin (坪林) makes a nice destination for a half-day cycle from Taipei.

Those with extra energy can explore the hilly tea fields that surround the riverside township, or head on over to Yilan County to the southeast.

Those without can refuel for the return trip at Wenshan Cha Yuan (文山茶園; "Wenshan Tea Garden" [no English]), which offers a range of vegetarian noodle and rice dishes (NT$25-45), greens (NT$50), tofus (NT$30-50) and, of course, tea..
 NOMM had  tea seed-oil thread noodles (茶油麵線), greens and tofu, which certainly hit the spot after the 1,000+ K cal cycle from the city.

As the only person in the restaurant on a weekday afternoon, i was then treated to a free pot of baozhong tea (包種茶). Perfect.

 Wenshan is at 169 ShuiLiuJiao (水柳腳), which is near the 37.5-kilometre marker on the Taipei-Yilan road (北宜路), which is just before the 7-Eleven as one enters the town from the Taipei side.

Copyright Jiyue Publications

Sunday, 8 April 2012

News Brief: maximum levels for aluminium-containing foodstuffs should be set -- Consumers' Foundation

Food products using raising agents were found to contain excessively high levels of aluminium, the Consumers’ Foundation said Friday, the Taipei Times reports yesterday (full article here).

Two-thirds of 24 samples of doughnuts, fried dough sticks (油條), steamed buns (饅頭), kelp and silk noodles (粉絲) tested by the foundation in February were found to contain high levels of aluminium, which, it claimed, could affect memory.

Unlike the FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives and European Food Safety Authority both set maximum levels for such products, Taiwan has no legal limits on raising agents added to processed food, the CF said, making it difficult for consumers to know how much aluminium they have consumed.

Many of the food products tested had probably used alum (aluminium potassium sulphate) as raising agents to make the texture of the food more appealing.
 Excessive intake of aluminium has a suspected correlation with Alzheimer’s disease, as well as raising concerns about its effects on children’s growth and development, and on people with weaker metabolic function.

That some of the samples tested did not contain aluminium food additives, proves that these products can be produced without the substance, the CF said.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Restaurant Review:-- Biandang (lunchbox), Taipei City

 Before very long in Taiwan, you'll probably be asked to do overtime. Out goes your social engagement, your home-cooked dinner, or glass-of-wine-with-movie-and-feet-up evening.

More pertinently, your boss will probably hint that the case is so pressing, you cannot even pop out of the office to grab some food. "Don't worry," (s)he'll say, "I'm getting bian-dang (便當; lunchboxes) for everyone." You say that you're vegetarian, but (s)he saw this coming: "Don't worry, they do vegetarian bian-dang."

So you're landed with a so-called vegetarian lunchbox produced by a meat-selling establishment. Even if you dare eat it, it's probably almost inedible and barely nourishing.

UNLESS of course, you are one step ahead of your boss, an whipping out a business card you say "That's ok, please pick me up a bian-dang from here."

One such place is ChongHui Vegetarain ( 崇慧素食; no English name) at 54 Anju Steet (安居街) near Liuzhangli MRT (Tel: 02-27398323).

In sells lunchboxes at midday and evenings, as well as hotpots in the evenings.
Diners can choose either white or "purple" rice, three side vegetables (out of more than a dozen -- NOMM had peas in pods, tofu and bamboo shoots), and a "main" dish of fake meat (NOMM had fish).

All choices are NT$50, and the restaurant will send to your office for orders of NT$500 or more.

Text and photos copyright Jiyue.Publications 2012