Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Old Kiln Scallion Pancake 舊漫窯烤蔥油餅

The Old Kiln Scallion Pancake or 蔥油餅 (cong1you2bing3)
My expectations are usually pretty high, especially if my boyfriend (a Taipei local of 30 years and a chef) point out food to me. I bike to Yonghe 6 days a week for week, and it seems that every day I pass a "well-known" scallion pancake stand in Gongguan, next to the 福和橋 Fuhe Bridge called Old Kiln Scallion Pancake 舊漫窯烤蔥油餅. Biking makes me snacky, and scallion pancake is a great snack.

The kiln. What is it for exactly?
Condiments: chili sauce, white pepper, and soy
The Old Kiln Scallion Pancake 舊漫窯烤蔥油餅 is not good. I was served a tepid, greasy fried scallion pancake. I ordered my pancake with an egg, which in my past experience has meant a fried egg. At Old Kiln Scallion Pancake 舊漫窯烤蔥油餅 cool scrambled eggs are spooned inside the pancake. A time-saving trick that seems invalidated by a poor menu.

So, did I go on the wrong day? Was going at 11:30 am the wrong time? Did they pawn out the day-old pancake on the foreigner? Is the boss on vacation? Did the new guy forget how to clean the oil? If fried food is your bread and butter then your oil needs to taste good. I will give it a second shot considering I pass by Old Kiln Scallion Pancake 舊漫窯烤蔥油餅 about 12 times a week. The moral here is: for each wonderful street stand in Taipei City there are 10 who can't get the equation right.

Old Kiln Scallion Pancake 舊漫窯烤蔥油餅

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Safranbolu Turkish Restaurant 番紅花城土耳其餐廳

Generous plates of perfect food
Hello, you want this guy making your kabobs.
This cooking is better than mine, but not quite as good as Grandma's. Living in Taiwan for the last 4 years I thought I would never taste most of the Armenian/Lebanese food I grew up eating again. Even when I return to America family and friends enthusiastically try to feed me sliced cabbage, canned orange and condensed milk salad instead of my childhood sarma, lamb, kabobs, pilaf, yogurt, and lahmacun. Taiwan has a few Middle Eastern restaurants (Sabbaba, meh) that mostly seem to cut corners or compromise true taste for the local preferences. It is not a good scene.
Beyti Kabob wrapped in lavash with Turkish red pepper sauce, rice, and yogurt
Vegetable Pida scallions and mushrooms on a flaky and crispy crust
That has all changed. No more moping and longing from me! Safranbolu Turkish Restaurant is putting out excellent, high-quality food with authentic flavor. There is thoughtfulness and hard work in all of their food. The menu is thorough and full of options for everyone. Their pidas (flatbreads with toppings) are all hand-fired in an oven on premises. The dough is light and crispy, and can easily compete with the best pizza makers in all of East Asia. The lamb is flavorful, well seasoned and perfectly grilled. All the plates of food come with a rainbow of grilled vegetables with the satisfying smoky flavor that only comes from charcoal. There is silky yogurt, savory pilaf, Turkish-style flan, rice pudding, lemonade, thick black coffee, and piles and piles of tender kabobs.
Sanfranbolu confidently takes up two floors in a busy business area of Taipei 
Doner Action, the pida/lavash flatbread oven is just to the left
Dining area upstairs
Safranbolu has an excellent business plan. It is located in a section of Taipei know for business that sees a lot of different international faces. Convenient for locals and travelers. The restaurant is two stories, and taking up a whole corner. The bottom floor offers take out and a glimpse at the kitchen action as kabobs rotate, and breads fire. The top floor is offers beautifully designed modern seating with Turkish glass globe lamp, silver and woven wall coverings. When I visited on a Wednesday evening the restaurant was more than half full and with people from nations all across Asia, East to West, including a few monks. Service was polite and attentive, which is to say in Tawian, wonderful.

I'm repeating myself, but the food was good! So good! I can eat this food every day! I will come back again and again.

Safranbolu Turkish Restaurant 番紅花城土耳其餐廳 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

South East Asia Ice Shop東南亞冰店

New life goals, order the 40 kg shaved ice that is served in Taiwan-shaped bowl. I'm thinking birthday, next year, for myself and 50 of my closest. It's only $5999 NTD,  or less than $200 USD The South East Asia Ice Shop東南亞冰店 in Gongguan isn't the most famous shaved ice shop in Taipei, but it is reliable and generous. They offer unflavored shave ice, topped with condensed milk and the fruits (strawberry, mango, kiwi) of your choice, and a selection of fruit sorbets if that isn't enough. It's light, sweet, and more refreshing than a chilly dip in a waterfall on a hot and humid Taiwan day.

Advertisement for 40 kg of shaved ice in a Taiwan-shaped bowl
Photo menu
I like this place not only because it has good desserts, and even some savory snacks too, but mostly because it is yellow. The yellow tables, walls and chairs just make mango taste a little more mango-y, mango-ish, mango-riffic. They also offer a photo menu of each version of shaved ice. 

The shaved ice machine is a drill press with a blade at the bottom on which cylinders of ice are shaved into light, fluffy shavings that create any icy base for fruit and condensed milk.