Sato Seinikuten Tokyo 佐藤精肉店

"Meat and rice" is the "meat and potatoes" of the East. Sato Seinikuten Tokyo 佐藤精肉店 does a great BBQ meat rice bowl with a delicious and conservative menu of 6 rice bowls all chicken or pork. There is also some zippy home made ginger or ginger and lemon soda on the menu. Sides include a poached egg, soup, and vegetables. I ordered the poached egg which had an extremely soft white, but a luxurious thick egg yolk and made sauced up all the ingredients of my rice bowl nicely. The soup is vegetables in miso broth. Its satisfying, but awkward to eat with a long wooden spoon. All of the food comes with free pickled bean sprouts which are covered in sesame oil and sit in a jar at tables.

All of the bowls come in 2 sizes, large and small. The menu is in Chinese and Japanese, which you may think should be the same, but they are not always. The Chinese menu is written with a thick white marker on colored popsicle sticks and is really hard to read, so just stick with the pho…

Julien Ice Cream 朱里昂冰淇淋

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%.

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
No. 48, WenZhou St, Da’an District, Taipei 

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. 

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 a…

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. …

Old Kiln Scallion Pancake 舊漫窯烤蔥油餅

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 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 tast…

Safranbolu Turkish Restaurant 番紅花城土耳其餐廳

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.
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 …

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.

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 …