Addiction Aquatic Development

Some of the freshest sashimi and seafood!

Took a taxi as it wasn’t within walking distance of any metro station. Luckily, it wasn’t very far from our hotel, and the cab fare was reasonable.

Must have been hundreds, if not thousands of crabs in there!

Turned a corner into something that resembled a supermarket with a standing sushi bar between aisles. It was insanely crowded in some parts…

… and practically deserted in others.

We took a queue number before heading back out to have lunch (Part I) at one of the stalls.

Radish soup

Seafood version of Taiwan’s famous 滷肉飯 (braised pork on rice)

Clams in sake broth

Lunch (Part II). Salmon skin salad, which was larger than expected.

Deluxe sashimi set~

Addiction Aquatic Development 上引水產
No. 18, Alley 2, Lane 410, Minzu East Road
Zhongshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 10491

Alice is Coming: Alice in Wonderland Themed Cafe in Taipei

While Taipei is world-famous for its night markets, there’s no shortage of kitschy themed cafes either. From Lego to Hello Kitty, this city seems to have it all! For our weekend trip, however, I had only one such cafe in mind – the Alice in Wonderland themed cafe.

First, a little music to set the mood.

After having brunch (second breakfast, really) at Smith & Hsu and shopping up a storm at Cosmed, we finally made it to Alice is Coming! I love the decor – there’s even teacups like the Disneyland ride – inspiration for my future dining room, perhaps?

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Lots of Alice-inspired artwork scattered around the cafe.

A cozy little corner just for photo-taking purposes.

Yes, I dressed up for the occasion! Sporting a Queen of Hearts ensemble, right down to my socks!

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Our table by the window.

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Even the place mats aren’t spared!

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“It’s always tea time.” – The Mad Hatter

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I’ve had this ring for years – don’t even remember where I bought it from.

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To truly appreciate the ambience of this place, you probably have to be a fan of Disney/Alice in Wonderland. Needless to say, I was reveling in it all. There was even a Disney soundtrack playing, and I was practically squealing with excitement when “Alice in Wonderland” came on.

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Even the food and drinks followed the theme as well. There were four beverages that were each inspired by a suit of cards: Coca-Cola float (spades), Sprite with rose syrup (hearts), Sprite with plum syrup (clubs), and apple tea (diamonds). I picked the Coca-Cola float, something which I’d been craving for ages. I don’t usually drink coke, but hey, exceptions can be made when on vacation!

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Edwin had the curry omurice, which was surprisingly good. We didn’t have high expectations for the food, since we were there mainly for the cute factor, so being able to tuck into a hot and tasty dish was definitely a bonus!

Confession: when I was ordering the chicken nuggets, I just wanted something savoury and somewhat filling to snack on, and “vacation mode” led me in the direction of fast food. That was all I wanted. So imagine my surprise when these arrived at the table, in the most adorable little shapes! Moreover, they tasted fairly good – crispy on the outside, piping hot on the inside. So satisfying!

One happy diner!

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More little details in the washroom.

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Be ambitious, courageous, and above all, be yourself.

More Alice goodies by the counter!

Note: we actually walked around the building once before we could find the entrance to Alice is Coming. The doorway was situated left of Family Mart, and was poorly lit, hence our initial confusion. Although, in a way, it’s like the rabbit hole that Alice fell through by accident, so it’s rather apt, isn’t it?

Alice is Coming 來自愛麗絲
No. 111, Yanping South Road
Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan 100 (Nearest Station: Ximen)
中正區延平南路111號2樓 · 台北市
Tel: +886 2 2311 0210

Maison Libanaise

Y’all know that I love Middle Eastern food, so when Edwin and I were in Soho during the lunch hour rush, the name and bright exterior of the place caught my eye immediately. The ground floor was dedicated to takeaways, while the dining area was located upstairs.

The interior was warm and cozy, and surprisingly quiet given that it’s lunch time in Central. I don’t have any pictures of the decor though – I’ll try to do better next time!

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Pita bread – always a comfort food in my books!

Grilled Kafta with Rice Pilaf

The lamb, while flavourful, was a little dry. Also, the rice was cold. I’m not sure whether it’s supposed to be cold, but we were expecting warm rice, so it was a little disappointing. The hummus really hit the spot though.

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Shish Taouk with Rice Pilaf

The chicken was much better – it was tender, juicy, and had just the right amount of mint. What’s worth noting is that although “chilli” was written on the menu for both items, I didn’t detect much spiciness, just the fragrance of chilli.

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For dessert, the available options were cake and baklava, and I obviously went for the latter. These were insanely sweet, as they usually are, so the tiny morsels were more than enough to satisfy my sweet tooth!

Given that we were there for lunch, we had a limited menu to choose from. I wouldn’t mind going back to Maison Libanaise for dinner in order to sample more Lebanese fare, and maybe even try their famous wines!

Maison Libanaise
10 Shelley Street, Soho, Hong Kong
Tel: 2111 2284
www.maisonlibanaise.com.hk

Scrumptious Scones at Smith & Hsu, Taipei

While I love a good scone and tea in the afternoon, this classic combination works for brunch as well. With that in mind, we arrived at Smith & Hsu (Hengyang store) at around 10.30am, only to find that we were the only ones there. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as we ended up spending a couple of hours there, savouring every moment. In fact, it felt a little like a private dining event!

The first thing the staff did was bring over a tray of tea leaves along with the menu. The variety of teas, from green to black to floral, was simply astounding! Picking our tea was definitely quite the experience, and for a while it seemed like we would never be able to narrow it down to just two! Finally, we managed to settle on No. 99 “Black Tea Golden Rush” and No. 102 “Falling in Love Again”. Pretty names to go with pretty scents!

Some of the most eye-catching tea leaves I’ve ever seen. This one was No. 100 “Philosopher’s Tea”.

Exploring the store while waiting for our food.

Gift sets.

The salted caramel coffee cake looked so good!

Just about everything was for sale.

As usual, the camera “eats” first.

For the scones, there were four flavours available: original, cranberry, rose petal, and Ore0. We picked original and rose petal. I had heard great reviews about Smith & Hsu, and these were indeed some of the best scones I had ever tasted. They were warm and fluffy on the inside while slightly crusty on the outside, which is how scones should be.

The scones were served with clotted cream and our choice of jam. The options were raspberry, strawberry, plum, and lemon curd. We went with classic strawberry jam. My only complaint is that there wasn’t enough to go around. We finished every last drop of the cream and jam, and maybe 20% or even just 10% more would’ve been prefect.

Unfortunately, the tiramisu was a little dry and bland. I definitely wished that I’d picked the salted caramel coffee cake instead.

Like I mentioned earlier, just about everything was for sale. If you liked the tea, the teapot, or even the jars that the samples came in, you could purchase them at the store. I adored the tea “Falling in Love Again” so much that I bought two boxes of them! (The 12% discount didn’t hurt either.)

Now on to do more shopping before our next meal!

Smith & Hsu
No. 35, Hengyang Road, Taipei
(Metro Ximen Station Exit 4 or NTU Hospital Station Exit 1)
Tel: +886 2 2370 0785

Shida Night Market, Taipei

You can’t go to Taipei and not visit at least one of their many night markets. Whether it’s for street food, shopping, or just people-watching, it’s a must-do. On our last trip to Taipei, we went to Shilin and Raohe, so naturally we wanted to go somewhere new this time. Shida Night Market was within walking distance from our hotel, so we headed there after checking in.

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Walked past a shop selling 蔥油餅 (scallion pancakes), and I had to have one because a) there was a queue of locals, which meant it must be good; and b) I was starving. It tasted quite nice, and was only 30TWD (~HK$7.70/~US$1.00/~S$1.40)! Gotta love Taiwan.

Lots of people, locals and tourists alike.

Shi Yun a.k.a. the “deep-fried everything” stall.

Got my fried chicken with salt and pepper!

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We bought a few other things here and there, including this chocolate crepe. We were a little tired, so we didn’t stay long, and headed back to the hotel soon after.

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Bought some 麵線 (meesua/noodles) to enjoy in comfort of our room.

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I absolutely adore Tienren tea, and knowing its Taiwanese origin, I had to try it while in Taipei. However, I was sorely disappointed as it tasted nothing like the one in Hong Kong. There was no sweetness whatsoever, and reminded me of the Chinese tea that’s the “default” tea in restaurants here.

Next post will most likely be about the sights and sounds of Taipei, and it’ll be a fairly short one as well. After all, we were only there for a weekend, but fret not, there’ll be other exciting stuff coming along, so stay tuned!

Springtime in Disneyland (Part Two)

Took an unexpected trip to Disneyland last month, this time with my friend and co-worker Sonia, who recently purchased an Annual Pass to Hong Kong Disneyland. Woohoo, looks like there’ll be more trips to come!

During the previous visit, I’d managed to capture 54 of the Easter eggs on camera, and this time I was on a mission to find the rest of them. Gotta catch ’em all! (Different franchise, but the analogy still works.)

Duffy, Shellie May, and Gelatoni on Main Street.

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More of those gorgeous spring flowers.

Feels good to be home.

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Heihei and Pua in Adventureland, across the “river” from Tarzan’s Treehouse, which is currently closed for refurbishment. I suppose even the King of the Jungle has to keep up with the times.

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Baloo, King Louie, and Kaa the python in some corner of Adventureland.

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Two bears (do they have names?) by the entrance of the Mine Cars ride in Grizzly Gulch.

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Another bear chilling out close by. Are these THE three bears by any chance?

Albert the monkey in Mystic Point, flanked by what look more like Faberge eggs than Easter eggs.

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Little green aliens in Toy Story Land.

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A grumpy Lotso, also in Toy Story Land.

Howdy!

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It’s ALICE!!! Why oh why didn’t you show up while I was DisneyBounding as Alice?

Sigh, I’ll just have to make do with these photos.

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As much as I love Disney mugs (and Disney everything in general), I don’t buy them as there’s no need, not to mention no space. I’ve got a Stitch mug for home use, a Chip & Dale mug for work, and a Winnie the Pooh mug for guests. Any more than that would be excessive, but gosh, is this Scrump mug adorable or what?

Yes, another Disney afternoon tea set, this time at Corner Cafe on Main Street! The “Duffy & Friends Springtime Afternoon Tea Set” included mango and lobster salad cones, mini sandwiches (salmon and cream cheese, egg salad and cucumber), salmon spinach quiche tarts, chicken puff pastry, grilled Cajun beef skewers, tomato and parmesan tarts, a Mickey-shaped scone, Duffy and Shellie May cakes, macarons, and a tropical fruit platter.

The set cost HK$318 (~US$40.90/~S$57.10) for two persons. We didn’t want the beef skewers, and they were nice enough to replace them with more chicken puff pastries without additional charges.

Two drinks were also included. The available choices were the usual coffee, tea, soft drinks, and this seasonal special, which both of us picked. I couldn’t tell what flavour it was, only that it was way too sweet. Cute sticker though.

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While waiting in line for the Jungle Cruise.

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Stumbled upon the Mad Hatter in his sad little corner somewhere in Fantasyland. So this time I managed to find 25 more Easter eggs, bringing the grand total to 79. Not bad, I guess?

~It’s a Small World after all~

That’s it for now! Given that it’s the start of the month, I’ll probably have more energy/motivation to do a new post soon. Hoping to cover the various bits of the Taipei trip before going away again. Wish me luck!

Two Nights in Taipei: Chaiin Hotel Review

Starting the Taipei travelogue series with our stay at Chaiin Hotel, and yes, it’s spelled with two “i”s.

During our last visit to Taipei, we stayed at the Ark Hotel, and we would’ve considered staying there again, but unfortunately it was already fully booked for the Easter weekend. Given that Taipei is incredibly tourist-friendly, there were plenty of other options available regarding accommodation, and finally we decided on Chaiin Hotel.

We stayed in a Superior Room with a double bed. A Standard Room would’ve been cheaper, but I didn’t want to stay in a windowless room. Having natural light in the mornings is a necessity for me, and I wouldn’t mind paying a bit more for that.

Also, you can’t really tell, but there’s a mini-fridge under the writing desk. In it were two complimentary bottles of water.

Note: the glass walls for the bathroom are translucent, and there’s no additional curtain or cover, so hopefully you’ll be staying with a significant other, or someone whom you’re really comfortable with.

Slippers and hairdryer provided.

The sink was located right next to the door. All the basics were provided, and then some. These included:

  • towels
  • mugs
  • bar soap
  • shower cap
  • razor and shaving cream
  • toothbrushes and toothpaste
  • shampoo, conditioner, body wash, body lotion, and facial cleanser
  • comb
  • cotton buds and cotton pads

It’s the first time I’ve ever seen a hotel provide facial cleanser, so I’m really impressed. I didn’t use it (as my skin is sensitive), but the fact that it’s there is much appreciated.

In my hurry I actually forgot to take a picture of the bathroom – d’oh! It’s simply a WC and a shower with a glass door. The shower area itself was fairly spacious, with a little cubby hole of sorts to hold your toiletries.

Electric kettle, coffee and tea. And my favourite Lotus biscuits!

View from our room. We stayed on the 12th floor, which was the highest.

One of the best things about Chaiin Hotel was its location. Dongmen MRT station was literally steps away, and the famous Yongkang Street was within walking distance. There was also a HSBC ATM located nearby, which was quite the lifesaver for us as we had to withdraw more cash!

I was also really stoked about staying across the street from Tienren Tea, until I tried the tea and it tasted nothing like the one in Hong Kong. The green tea just tasted like regular Chinese tea, whereas the HK version has a subtle sweetness.

Complimentary breakfast buffet. Aside from the usual scrambled eggs and sausages, there was also soup, congee, fried noodles, and strangely, nuggets and french fries.

Bread and cereal station.

Did a bit of a food hack and created my version of toast with butter and condensed milk.

The “orange juice” was really fruit punch, and it was so bad I almost spat it out. Luckily, the mocha from the coffee machine was tolerable.

I don’t have high expectations for a hotel breakfast, especially since this isn’t a five-star resort. Aside from the punch, the rest of it was fine. I’m the kind of person who wakes up famished and must have breakfast within minutes, so being able to fill my belly without having to walk too far is a definite plus.

The one negative about the hotel was the elevator. It was painfully slow, and given that we were staying on the 12th floor, walking up and down the stairs wasn’t exactly feasible, especially with luggage. Some genius decided to give people some incentive to take the stairs by installing some artwork and calling it a vertical gallery.

We did walk two flights of stairs from the lobby to the ground floor. If you’re travelling light and don’t mind walking, the art is worth checking out.

The total cost of our stay was HK$1272, which works out to HK$636 (~US$81.80/~S$114.30) a night. Like I mentioned earlier, the location was great, probably the best thing about the hotel. The room was alright, and service was impeccable (I can’t praise Taiwanese hospitality enough!). The downside was the elevator that travelled at a snail’s pace. Aside from that, we had a pleasant stay.

However, I should mention that we probably won’t stay at Chaiin Hotel again, but there are other factors at play here. It’s the second time we’ve stayed at the Dongmen area, and we’ll probably choose another area the next time we visit Taipei so as to experience more of the city.

http://www.chaiinhotel.com.tw/