Thursday, September 30, 2010

Hotel Eclat, Taipei

The other day, some friends from Hong Kong came over to Taiwan for a holiday, and while in Taipei, they stayed at Hotel Eclat, a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World. After meeting up for a drink, Hubby & I decided to have lunch at Ming Yuen, their Cantonese restaurant in the basement ...

Check out their interesting decor ... (excuse the poor quality pics - they were taken with my hp, and I fear my hand wasn't as steady as I'd liked ...)

Each dining area/table was set up very differently ...

Our appetizers ...

We decided to have some dim sum, and first to arrive was "fu pei quin" ... my favourite! It's essentially chopped up prawns and minced pork wrapped in beancurd skin and deep fried ... in some restaurants, it's served steamed with some broth or gravy ... I love all versions as long as they are well executed :)

Next up - steamed soup dumplings ... minced pork dumplings with a sumptious soup contained within the dumplings ... delish!

Another steamed pork dumpling with chives ...

Followed by ... char siew sou ... or BBQ pork pastry ...

Incidentally, our friends were travelling with family, and they booked a suite, and 2 other rooms, so we were able to check out the various rooms, and they were certainly fascinating! At first glance, the rooms looked like ordinary hotel rooms, but then our friends started pointing out all the gadgets in the rooms! They apparently were pretty challenging to figure out - like electronic matches and candles, electronic screens that turned opaque at the touch of a button, electronic touch-activated curtains, electronically activated TVs (hidden at the foot of the bed) etc ... One basically need not budge from the bed, and need only have all the necessary remote controls at the bedside!

In addition to the technologically advanced gadgets, the pieces of art that were displayed throughout the entire hotel - from the lobby to the passages to the rooms - made walking around the hotel feel rather like an art museum. One of the pieces of art that caught my eye was this ...

by Chinese painter Lu Jianjun

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Salon de the de Joel Robuchon, Taipei

A couple of weekends ago, we decided to try the afternoon tea at the Salon opened by the famous Michelin-starred chef, Joel Robuchon, at Bellavita, in Taipei.

Let your eyes feast on the beautiful pastries and confections at this dessert counter ...
(never fear ... see below for more pics of the ones we chose ...)

Staub teapots ...

A delicious bread basket!
(The brioche was truly fabulous!)

Our afternoon tea set for 2 ...
(We chose a chicken salad sandwich, a raspberry mille feuille [their mille feuille is one of their signature pastries], and a tarte au citron. The rest - financiers and macaroons - come with the set.)

Our chicken salad sandwich/baguette ...

Tarte au Citron ....

Gosh ... just look at all that lovely lemony juices flowing from the supremely deliciously tart Tarte au Citron! I'm amazed how they managed to contain all these juices and still keep the tart shell nice and crisp! Delicious!!!

Beautiful raspberry mille feuille ....

Lovely macaroons (the chocolate one was my fav!) and financier ...

It's amazing how much goodness is packed into that little confection - the macaroon!

I'm now hoping that my friends will come visit me just so that I'll have excuses to revisit the Salon de the de Joel Robuchon!

(For those who are curious, Joel Robuchon is famous for having trained world-renown chefs like Gordon Ramsay. He is also apparently the only chef in the world who has received a total of 25 Michelin Guide stars for his various restaurants around the world!)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Misc Sightings in Tokyo ...

A special tribute to one of man's basic necessities ....

Yes! It is indeed a restroom!
(Marui 0101 Shinjuku)
Doesn't it look absolutely beautiful?
I could spend loads of time in here!
Now if only all restrooms could look like this!

I practically chased this guy down trying to snap this pic!
Isn't his mohawk so cool?
And check out his super cool tool belt!

It happened to be the start of school when we left Tsujiki,
so we had the privilege of seeing the little children being sent to school in their adorable straw hats!
How charming!

Back to Tokyo ... Around Tsujiki Fish Market, Tokyo

Our Tsujiki Fish Market meal was the main highlight of our trip as Hubby had not been to this particular eatery before. For once, I took the lead and brought him to the sashimi don or kaisendon place I had patronised during my last visit to Tokyo, as can be seen here.

After our meal, we walked around the market, and came across these:



Special mushrooms that seemed to be in season then ...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Mid-Autumn Festival or Mooncake Festival

In view that today is the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival or Mooncake Festival or Lantern Festival, I thought I'd do a special post to commemorate the occasion.

This festival is a holiday in Taiwan, and is celebrated by the Chinese on the 15th day of the eighth month of the Chinese calendar. It is believed that on this day, the moon is at its fullest. In Taiwan, a common practice is for families to gather round and enjoy each other's company over a BBQ. So, it's no surprise that shops that serve BBQ are all fully booked today. And it's also not surprising to find everyone BBQ-ing outside their homes/shops.

Another common practice in Taiwan is gift-giving of mooncakes (amongst other things) during this period. We too participated in this, and I decided to buy some from Wang's Bakery - someone had given us these Taiwanese style mooncakes several years ago, and I remembered them being very good, so off I went .... and look at what I found when I got to the shop!!!!

It was only 9.30am (I was told the shop would open at 9.30am) and there were already a good 50 people in the queue!!!! And actually, I had gone there the day before where I was told the stock was completely sold out, and it would be at least a 2-hour wait before the next batch arrived!!! Amazing! I later found out that Wang's Bakery is one of the better known Taiwanese mooncake bakeries in Taipei, hence its popularity.

Here's a pic (fm their website) of what the Taiwanese style mooncakes look like...

I really like Taiwanese mooncakes cos of the unusual fillings - red bean paste with mochi and pinenuts/hazelnuts ... some also have yam and salted egg. And they aren't too sweet .... plus the different tastes and textures complement each other so well! Delish!

We also were given some Cantonese style mooncakes from The Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong.

Beautifully elegant packaging ...

This is a traditional Cantonese style mooncake, with lotus paste and salted egg yolk ...

This was a custardy-salted egg yolk mooncake ... the first time I've ever tried this kind of mooncake ... interesting!

For those who are interested, mooncakes came about due to the legend of this lady Chang E who was married to an immortal. Story has it that Chang E took half of a pill (causing immortality) that allowed her to float up to the moon, where it is believed she still lives, together with a rabbit, who is supposedly helping her to pound the other half of the pill so that she can be reunited with her husband who lives on earth. So, to commemorate this event, mooncakes were made to worship the moon and the lady who lives on it.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Izakaya, Tokyo

Finally, after so many posts calling them "those Japanese Tapas places", I have learnt their proper Japanese names: Izakaya!

K took us to an Izakaya for dinner, and I'm sure it must've been her wonderful company and ordering skills, not to mention her incredible knowledge of fabulous eateries, that always create such fond memories of dining and shopping with her whenever we are in Tokyo!

A snapshot of the Izakaya fm our little charming booth ...

K informed us that this complimentary dish was a traditional Japanese appetiser ... she was afraid it might not suit our palettes, but we found it most delicious!

Beer served in a Japanese ceramic cup!

Deliciously refreshing Japanese green tea!

Delicious seafood salad ...

Deep fried breaded oysters .... yum yum yum yum ...

My eternal favourite: grilled chicken with leek .... this particular izakaya did this so well!

Another favorite dish of mine - mixed mushrooms in an aromatic broth ...

Grilled chicken drumsticks ...

Minced chicken patty with a poached egg on top ... this was GOOD!

Mentaiko rice with a delicious broth ....

A Fabulous Fabulous Meal! Thanks K!!!

Anniversaire Cafe, Omotesando, Tokyo

Our very kind Japanese friend, K, knowing my love for pastries, brought us here for afternoon tea - Anniversaire Cafe ... doesn't it look like somewhere in Paris?

Ohhhhhhh .... this citron tart was simply to die for! The balance of all the flavours of the meringue, the lemon cream and crisp pastry shell was wonderful!

Heart-shaped chocolate cake ... the top was made of bitter-chocolate and it balanced the sweeter chocolate filling perfectly! A perfect chocolate fix!

This was K's choice, and my my, what a fabulous choice! Delicious slightly tart berries went perfectly with the cheese mousse and between these layers was a surprise - champagne(?) jelly! That really added a wonderful kick to this beautiful dessert!

(Incidentally, it was also K who took us to Quil Fait Bon, a long time ago.)