Monday, August 29, 2011

Roast Garlic Lemon Chicken with Trumpet Mushrooms

Woosh woosh woosh... typhoon is incoming Taiwan. I doubt it'll hit Taipei, but one of my flatmates said the typhoon is going to be ultra strong like hitting a HADOUKEN on Taiwan. The winds are quite strong, and I heard the South is pretty bad. Hopefully, the winds don't cause buildings to vibrate at its resonance frequency!

I hope everyone is safe! Also on the other side of the world, hopefully things are alright with Irene!

Anyways, what did I make on this ultra not so windy day?
With myself limited to salt, pepper, lemon juice, garlic, chicken, and mushrooms (bought at Carrefour for 150 NT = around 5 USD that can last me three meals).

Well, you'll find out below...

Roast Garlic Lemon Chicken with Trumpet Mushrooms

Ingredients of woosh woosh.
1 whole Bulb of Garlic
2 Chicken breasts
10 Trumpet mushrooms (you can replace with whatever mushrooms you like)
2 tbs Lemon juice
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Prep work of lightning fast wind
1. Slice mushrooms in however you like fashion.

Roasting Garlic (Preheat oven 175 C or 350 F)
1. Take apart garlic and leave the skin of garlic on.
2. Chop tips of garlic off
3. Put garlic in aluminum foil.
4. Drizzle olive oil, salt and pepper over garlic
5. Wrap the garlic into a ball with the aluminum foil
6. Place in oven (middle rack) for 20-25 minutes. (Note: Your smoke alarm might go off)

Cooking and putting everything in place on this windy day. (Do this while the garlic has 5-10 minutes left in the oven)
1. Heat pan in oil.
2. Sear chicken breasts on both sides (nice and golden on each side about 30-45 seconds each side).
3. Season with salt and pepper
4. Place chicken on parchment paper and in the middle rack with the garlic.
5. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

While everything is cooking in the oven... and the garlic is done.
1. Carefully (it's HOT) peel the garlic cloves and place garlic in a bowl
2.Use a spoon, fork, grinding tool, and mash the garlic into a paste.
3. Add the lemon juice, salt, pepper, and generous amount of olive oil.
4. Mix well until the ingredients are incorporated.

Cooking the Mushrooms.
1. Cook the mushrooms until nice and brown (be about 5 minutes)
2. O look your chicken is done just in time!

Putting it all together
1. Plate by placing mushrooms first and add some garlic paste.
2. Add chicken on top of the mushrooms.
3. Spread garlic paste on top of the chicken.

Well... time to enjoy most of my day indoors.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Parents Restauran Dim Sum (朝桂餐廳)

Dim sum in Taipei has to be good right? Taiwan is only a two hour flight away, so it has to be way better than the places in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Tell you the truth ...
I haven't had good dim sum that is reasonably priced ($15-20 per person that would be 450-600 NT).

O well... I would not recommend the place next to San Wan Hotel (It's a place to the right of the entrance). Their tea looked like nuclear waste, and that nuclear waste probably mutated their seafood and meats = not fresh at all.

Back to today's topic... I would recommend Parents Restaurant.

Parents Restaurant (朝桂餐廳)

200 Dunhua S. Rd., Sec. 1
(Exit 9 of East Metro Mall)
Go out and it should be to your left
(02) 2772-8888
Hours: 11:30am - 9:30pm

Since I posted a lovely picture of egg tarts ...
My god! The picture! It's a trap!

I shall tell you that the size of these aren't as big as they seem on picture. About the size of a nanochip (a couple nanometers), just kidding. They aren't the usual sized egg tarts that you would find in Hong Kong or bakeries. These are about the size of mini oreos.

But in terms of taste, size doesn't matter. Each layer of the tart was flaky and the egg portion had a nice density that melted in my mouth.

Since I'm already on desserts. I proceed to a mango panna cotta. WTF... Isn't that what you get at an Italian restaurant? Let me tell you, some dim sum restaurants have some of the best panna cotta I've ever eaten. Weird huh?

I guess I can do a nice transition from desserts to savory stuff by talking about buns or bao zhi.

What is in this bao???
Guess ... keep guessing ... Well. I'll just have you hanging because I didn't take pictures of the inside.

I'll tell you what's inside because I'll save you the trouble of ordering this.
The insides of this protective shell is supposed to be egg custard filling that supposed to drip all over like the baos at NBC Seafood Restaurant back in LA. I was disappointed to find a thick and dense filling like red bean paste.

Onto the next item.

One of my favorite types of baos (char siu bao). I would only have to give this an average rating. They put an interesting twist to it by adding star anise to the char siu, but I don't think that worked well. In addition, there was not enough balance with the sauce and the meat (too much sauce, little meat).

Well... that's enough criticism of their baos. I guess they aren't too good at making bao zhi.
Now onto more delicious items that I could probably and you probably are afraid to eat.
What might you be afraid to eat?? I dunno... chicken feet? beef tripe?
In the food world, you must try everything! DO NOT say NO just cause it sounds disgusting. Close your eyes and just eat it because it is ABSOLUTELY delicious.

Here's some chicken feet with some delicious spicy-ish sauce. These are a pain to eat, but the pain is worth the taste.

Beef tripe above. This is also delicious. Nice and chewy and full I mean FULL of flavor!

The next items are food that I always order at dim sum.

This is siu mai, something you would usually find at every dim sum restaurant. The sui mai was unique and just average. Why just average? There was too much meatiness and not well balanced with the skin. I expect siu mai to be juicy and not be eating a meatball wrapped in skin.

The next item is something I enjoyed.

This is shrimp long noodles (chang fun)
My god the shrimp was SUPER fresh! Of course, Taiwan is an island and has plenty of live shrimp unlike America. Usually when I eat this, there is usually a strong bad fishy taste and smell associated with it. This time, I didn't have that experience. The chang fun was perfectly cooked and was not soggy. I would definitely recommend this dish/

So my verdict on dim sum restaurants in Taipei still stays the same, but if your craving dim sum, I would go to parents Restaurant.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Somebody Cafe

When I'm in Ximen, all I can think of is street performers, high school kids gossiping it up, and shopping for clothes (mostly girl clothes). The problem I have with Ximen is that almost every place you find is a chain restaurant or just mediocre food.

I seriously think the chances of finding good food can't be as slim as landing people on Mars. Once again, I proceeded to navigate around the little alleys and through some really really weird stores. In between all these weird stores, there was a place that stood out called: Sombody Cafe. I knew it was beckoning me to go inside as if it was saying "Sombody come to my cafe!".

Somebody Cafe

Address: 2F., No. 131, Xining S. Road, Wanhua District, Taipei City 108 (check out their blog for events or mini concerts)

As you see above, there's quite an interesting entrance. There's lots of funky designs all over the place, and apparently, there's a gallery on the second floor and dining area on the third. I found it is a great place to relax and think about things while enjoying a cup of tea and cake. To my discovery, there were a lot of manga artists and writers in the cafe that were brainstorming their ideas.

Art gallery on the second floor.

Funky couch design.

So... lets begin talking about the food!

I was really hungry that day. I mean STARVING because some people wanted to go to McDonalds, so I wandered off to find this cafe.

Above, I ordered a set consisting of smoked chicken sandwich, strawberry mousse cake, and white peach oolong tea.

Here's a closer picture of the chicken sandwich. I don't know if I was just really hungry, but this was a pretty delicious sandwich. The chicken was juicy and moist and had an herby flavor. In addition, there was a slight tartness and sweetness to the sandwich that was well balanced.

Every time I have a sandwich, I need something refreshing to cleanse the savory flavor. I think I ordered the perfect drink that went with both the sandwich and my cake. As I stated above, I got a white peach oolong tea. Now, I was expecting some fake ass dried peach tea. Wait ... I'm in Taiwan, they hate using artificial fake ass stuff like they do in the states. There was actually REAL white peach in the tea! The oolong made the tea the right amount of sweetness and refreshment.

Now... the grand finale is always saved for last. The cake, and this cake is not a lie.

As one would think, this cake looks sweet. The top layer looks like cream and there's probably enough sugar in there to make a little kid hyper for a whole week.

One bite into this cake... the texture was amazing. Light, airy, fluffy, and not too sweet. The chocolate and strawberries balanced out with each other, unlike the time I went to Starbucks and asked them to put strawberry syrup in my mocha frap.

If you ever need a place to chill, de-stress, hang out, think about brilliant ideas...
Come to Somebody Cafe because everyone is somebody there with great ideas.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

林東芳牛肉麵 (Lin Dong Fang Beef Noodle Soup)

Everywhere in Taipei, and I mean EVERYWHERE in Taipei, there is a beef noodle shop around every corner. The hard part is to find a unique and tasty one.

Usually, foreigners see a ghetto shack, not near the MRT stations, has a couple flies, guy in a jersey mixing soup would be like:

Well. For me. Ghetto looking = authentic =

This place is exactly that. One of the best beef noodles I've ever had in Taipei.
林東芳牛肉麵 (Lin Dong Fang Beef Noodle Soup)

104 Taiwan Taipei City Jhongshan District Section 2,
BāDé Road 274號

+886 2 2752 2556

(Something like that just plug it into Google Maps)

Let me show you a picture of epic noodles first before I explain how delicious it is.

Ok... See those noodles? Those are fresh made noodles and not dry. They were really chewy and as the Taiwanese would say: "VERY Q"

The meat was soooo tender that it melted like butter in my mouth.
The most important thing is the soup.
Unlike other beef noodle shops, this shop had a distinct Chinese herb flavor that made the soup super incredible. I don't think I can reproduce such a good soup. It seems like the soup has been stewed for several days. The beef flavor really punched me in the face.

Another thing that made this place soooo good was this:

It's basically solidified hot chili oil that has been infused with some herbs and spices. This really packs a spicy kick to the soup and gives the soup a nice aroma.

I would definitely go back here for seconds, thirds, and heck a whole month!!

Friday, August 12, 2011

雙連圓仔湯 (Sweet rice ball shop) Taiwanese Dessert

I loveeeeee Italian food. I really do. You can see all the blog posts I make about Italian food.

Why am I talking about Italian food and there is "sweet rice ball shop" in the title?
BTW, that is not the translation of the shop's name.

Anyways, I've been eating Italian food almost every day in Taipei from people wanting to go out with us or just roaming around.

Things I've learned:
1. Their cream sauce is weird. (probably due to lack of dairy in Taiwan)
2. Get their tomato sauce based pasta.
3. They put seafood in EVERYTHING!
4. I really should start talking about sweet rice balls.

雙連圓仔湯 (Sweet rice ball shop) , not the literal translation [English Friendly]

Open since 1951.

Once again, I decided to take a different back alley home and I saw some man making deep fried rice balls. My god I've been eating Italian food! I should have some Taiwanese dessert!

Dude making the rice balls.

For 100 NT, you can get super delicious, not too sweet rice balls and some form of soup (I'll explain later).

What are rice balls?
Here is one:

They are these chewy dough-like ball made out of rice flour. What you see on top is peanut powder with sugar and sesame seeds. Somehow I can not describe how good this Taiwanese dessert is. I can definitely not find anything like it in America.

How do you eat it?
You take your chopstick and cut it into tiny bite size pieces and then rub the peanuts all over the pieces.

Throw it in your mouth and you'll see how good it is.

Now onto the soup.
Typically a when someone thinks of soup, they think of french onion soup, clam chowder, vegetable soup etc.

Here's a Taiwanese soup:

WTF is that? Peanuts in the soup, beans, more rice balls?

In Taiwan, you also have sweet dessert soups like red bean soup, green bean soup, peanut soup. Beans may sound nasty, but in Asia, they know how to make beans right. These soups extract the sweetness from these beans and is probably one of the best desserts in the world. You can have it hot or cold.

They also sell noodles and other stuff, but I would recommend getting rice balls.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Chicken and Assorted Mushroom Alfredo

You know those days that you just don't want to eat out and just eat your own food.
Well ... Sunday was just one of those days.
I decided to try to cook in Taipei.
You guys must think I'm crazy. There is like a million great places to eat in Taipei, and I decided to cook in my ghetto, bug infested apartment.

Yes, I was crazy to cook, but I think it was worth the experience.
I decided to venture and mingle with the locals at the market near my apartment.
Here is what I bought:
Chicken breast - freshest chicken ever! (literally, they killed it in the morning)
Shiitake mushrooms
King trumpet mushrooms

The rest of the ingredients that I bought at Carrefour:
Parmesan cheese (MY GOD IT IS EXPENSIVE!)
Spaghetti noodles (cheap)

Chicken and Assorted Mushroom Alfredo (4 servings)

2 Large chicken breasts
3 Large Shiitake Mushrooms
3 Large King Trumpet Mushrooms
125 g Spaghetti
10 Garlic Cloves
2 cup Heavy Cream
125 grams Parmesan Cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Diced up parsley to garnish

Prep Work in super clean Taiwanese kitchen (not really ...)
I had to prep in the dining room cause the kitchen was dirty.
1. Heat up water for boil
2. Slice shittake mushrooms into strips
3. Slice the king mushrooms lengthwise
4. Finely dice garlic
5. Grate the cheese into a bowl
6. Dry chicken with paper towel or cloth
7. Salt and pepper chicken
Note: (Stir milk occasionally so it does not burn).
8. Heat up milk until it is simmering (once it starts simmering turn the heat to the lowest setting )
9. Cook pasta while doing other cooking (take pasta out and pour a little oil and mix and set aside)

Cooking the Chicken
Preheat oven to 350 F or around 175 C (They use celcius in taiwan)
1. Heat up pan
2. Heat up the oil
3. Toss chicken in and sear for about 45 seconds or until one side gets tan crispy like.
4. Flip the chicken and do the same as step 3.
5. Toss chicken in the middle rack of the oven for 17-20 minutes.
6. Let chicken rest on a plate

Making the Alfredo Sauce

1. Under no heat or super reduced heat, quickly stir in the cheese a little bit at a time until the sauce gets thick like alfredo sauce.
2. Taste the sauce if it is good enough.
3. Add salt and pepper to taste.
4. Add in parsley
5. Let the sauce sit there.

Putting everything together
1. Heat oil in a pan.
2. Throw in garlic and cook until aroma comes out.
3. Toss mushrooms in and cook until soft.
4. Throw noodles and sauce in the pan.
5. Coat the noodles with the sauce and toss around.
6. Plate and enjoy.

I got to say. Italian food costs a lot to cook in Taipei, but it was well worth it. The ingredients were soooo fresh. I almost wanted to make fresh pasta that day, but I think that would have took way longer to manually roll out the dough and cut noodles with a knife xD.