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Just as we walked into Imadake, a large group was leaving. Sent off with surprisingly loud yells of “arigotou gozaimashita” – thank you in Japanese – we were immediately made aware that this was a real, as authentic as it gets kind of Japanese pub. All around us, groups of laughing, tipsy diners were egged on to do shots and chug their drinks by waitresses dressed in school-girl type kilts and thigh highs. The atmosphere is loud and convivial, definitely a good spot to check out if you’re in the mood to be around a lot of people, drink some good Japanese beer and eat tapas style typical to the izakaya way.
I first really took notice of My Cup of Tea when I went to Oysterfest earlier last month. MCOT had a booth during the event and were handing out free trial cups of tea that were absolutely delicious! I traded in my last two tickets for eight tea packets and since then, I’ve been hooked.
Overwhelmingly cute, Hello Kitty Sweets is known for its Hello Kitty themed everything – that includes furniture, decoration, staff uniforms and of course, the food. I don’t have a particular affinity for Hello Kitty but I did think that going to this restaurant would be an interesting experience worthy of blogging about.
Walking into 313 – the newest mall on Orchard Road – we stumbled upon Honeymoon Dessert on the fourth floor just below the Food Republic. Attracted by the beautiful photo slideshow of traditional Chinese desserts with a modern twist, we decided to give the place a shot.
Boîte de Bijou is a small bakery cum patisserie located just off the side of the National Taiwan Normal University. With a sign as discrete as theirs, it would be easy to miss the small place – I was totally oblivious of it the first few times I walked by. The air conditioning inside blasts customers, giving them a much needed relief from the sweltering outdoors (usually at least 35C and humid), so that’s a nice plus. The matcha green tea cake was recommended by the lady inside and it didn’t disappoint though surprisingly the matcha flavor wasn’t as intense as I was expecting. It was quite subtle and not overwhelming at all, nicely balanced with the thicker, harder crust on the bottom. This is a sweet little spot anyone can hit, especially convenient for those studying at the university.
An hour and half away from Taipei city by bus, Shen Yen is located in the suburb of Yilan. It is a quaint little restaurant across from an elevated bike path with a gorgeous view of the lush green mountains. The owners of Shen Yen are dedicated to bringing their customers the freshest ingredients and the best food – this becomes quite obvious from the moment you even get a glimpse of the front of the restaurant as they have dozens of large pots full of fermenting soya beans so that they can make their own soya sauce. The garden out back is full of home grown fruits, vegetables and herbs.
Mitsui is elegant, sophisticated and chic. With slick black granite floors and tables, stylish wood/glass partitions and an understated, minimalistic decor, the restaurant is known to cater to celebrities, mobsters and famous politicians as well as the local elite. The service is impeccable here. The ratio of the wait staff to the clientele is almost one to one – that is how well taken care of each individual at the restaurant is. Or at least that’s how it feels, and that’s what counts. The minute we sat down, we got bowls of tea, wet towels to clean our hands with and additional cutlery to match what we ordered. Our bags and jackets, leaning on the backs of our seats, had black bags put over them so as to ensure nothing would get dirty.
Downstairs of the Hankyu department store, there is a food lover’s paradise. One of the most famous sweet stands there is called Tsujiri – well known for their Japanese matcha green tea flavored products. Underneath the mountain of matcha flavored shaved ice, there is a mix of red bean paste and moji balls. On top is a dollop of soft serve green tea ice cream.
I don’t suggest eating this alone. Enjoy!