Monday, February 27, 2017

Julien Ice Cream 朱里昂冰淇淋

Green tea, pistachio, and strawberry on the left, and chocolate and tiramisu on the right and all with a crisp fresh cone
It's my tradition to eat ice cream on my day off, because ice cream makes me happy. I'm very excited to have discovered a boutique ice cream shop a few blocks south to Da'an Park called 朱里昂冰淇淋 Julien Ice Cream that agrees 100%.

Ice cream makes you happy
Ice cream scoop stucco
Ice cream cone lamps
The shop has a clever modern design tucked away on a lazy, shady section of WenZhou St. They offer gelato, made in house in fresh waffle cones made a few feet away from the counter. They aren't taking any shortcuts here. The ice cream is rich, creamy and natural. The best part, 3 flavors for $100 or about $3.25 USD. They offer savory food and other desserts too, but I'm currently hooked on the cold stuff. Pistachio and vanilla are my flavors of choice. There isn't an English menu, but each time I've visited the staff have all spoken great English.

Julien Ice Cream朱里昂冰淇淋

Friday, February 24, 2017

Tonchin Ramen 屯京拉麵台灣

There are so many culinary advantages to living in Taiwan. One of which is the abundance of high-quality Japanese cuisine from both Japanese trained-Taiwanese chefs and authentic Japanese chains. Ramen nerds rejoice! There are plenty of chains and local stores to stand in line. I have been trying to educate myself on the nuances of ramen. What I can tell you so far is that ramen is good. Ramen is really good in the winter. I am beginning to understand why the Japanese needed to create a new word to define all the goodness. Ramen is umami, umami is ramen. 

Menu, pictured here poorly in poorly pieced together photos....

Tonchin ramen usually has a line. When my friend and arrived on Wednesday night there were only 5-7 people ahead of us, and we waited for less than 10 minutes. Tonchin offers a fairly conservative menu of 4 flavors with different variations (with the egg, with seaweed, corn, or everything). The menu is full of photos so pointing and grinning when ordering will get you what you want. The only hiccup I encountered was when the server asked if I wanted a medium or large bowl. Because both are the same price, this option is not listed on the menu. I misunderstood and thought he was asking how we wanted our noodles cooked (soft or normal). You eat and you learn. You can also get noodles and soup separately. There is a handful of sides, fries, chicken, pork chop, salad, and drinks.

I got the house special ($260 NTD / $8.50 USD): pork bone ramen, with all the stuff egg, seaweed and pork. The soup was substantial. The pork flavor is deep and rich, without tasting greasy. The light slicites of pork offer a nice break from the carb-fest that is noodles. Has anyone bowl of ramen ever been made less tasty by the addition of an egg? Not in my opinion. We also ordered fried chicken, because why not? In retrospect, it wasn't necessary, but delicious. I also appreciate any food that comes on a pile of crunchy sliced cabbage. According to this site, customers can request hair clamps and bibs for those who really like to get up close and personal with their ramen.

I can't say if this is the best in town, but it is a solid choice. Here's another helpful review from a more educated ramen eater if you need more encouragement.

屯京拉麵 Tonchin Taiwan
No. 36, Lane 187, Sec.1 Dunhua South Rd, Da'An Dist, Taipei

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Thinking Bar Parfaits 思考吧

I like to keep up with Taiwan's food-spotting app, 愛食記, or in English, ifoodie. It's a feed of photo-centric food blogs reviewing the newest and oldest spots around Taiwan. It is usually overwhelmingly cute. Ifoodie is driven by waffles covered in hearts, strawberries, cookies, marshmallows and pastel two-toned smoothies. Every now and then I give into cute.

思考吧 Thinking Bar appears to be nothing but cute, offering parfaits topped with dolls, flowers, and butterflies. I was delighted to discover that the ingredients in their parfaits are nothing but high-quality. The pineapple mango parfait I ordered ($190 NTD/$6US) was layered with raspberries, mangoes, crushed cookies, panna cotta, sorbet, and a very creamy and tart plain flavored frozen yogurt, topped with a slice of dried pineapple. It looks like an adorable sugar bomb, but it's a very thoughtfully crafted dessert with balanced flavor and texture. The parfaits are huge, maybe around 600-800 grams and about 40 cm high. This is a great spot for sharing, and I believe in sharing sweets.

They also offer some coffees and smoothies which are worth giving a shot. The service was friendly. The design is small cafe-style with bar seating inside and a few tables outside. Thinking Bar definitely blew away all my expectations and the next hot day that roles around I will be back to order the butterfly parfait.

Thinking Bar 思考吧