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Located immediately next to Le Panthere Verte, Crudessence is in tied in tough competition with its neighbor, pulling vegans and vegetarians and those who have a craving for something a little healthier for lunch this way and that. Just by rough comparison, Crudessence seems to be a bit more trendy in style – walking in you’ve got a long row of wooden banquettes and stained glass windows in the back bouncing beautiful rays of color all over the wooden floors, giving the whole place an organic feel. Flipping through the menu, I was surprised and delighted to find so many interesting sandwiches, salads and cakes that used unconventional ingredients to spice up standard dishes. Places like these are bound to arouse curiosity and shock – how can something so healthy taste so good? It’s almost an oxymoron.
About an hour away from Taipei, the Sunrise Villa is tucked away off a back country road – to a foreigner (yeah, me), maybe a little difficult to find. Popular in its own right, people travel from all around the country to taste their authentic Hakka style food. With an enviable feng shui arrangement, the natural space around the buildings are in perfect harmony – the mountains behind the restaurant serves as a strong support, the body of water in the front promotes fluidity and the green space in the middle of the lot for new life.
Shin Yeh seems to be a popular name for restaurants around here! It means “Vivid Leaves” in Chinese. This particular restaurant serves popular Taiwanese food that you should be able to find almost anywhere, at any food stand around the city. The difference is likely in the degree of cleanliness, the atmosphere (a hotspot for business meetings – every table around us was definitely at the restaurant in a work context) – the speed of the service though, is probably the same. Less than five minutes after we ordered, every dish was on the table, hot and ready to eat.
For lunch, we went to the Yamato restaurant for some Japanese cuisine. Whetting our appetites with a plate of crunchy marinated burdock roots, we eagerly waited for the the deluxe sashimi assortment. It was a nice mix of different elements that are harder to find as fresh in places like Montreal. The squid was very tender and chewy, the tuna and salmon melted in your mouth. As for the tempura shrimp, mushrooms, sweet potatoes and asparagus, each item was deep fried to perfection. The tea kettle soup was one of my favorites of the entire meal – it was tasty and full of nutrients, being composed of the juices of clams and mushrooms and a hint of lemon. Served piping hot, the tea kettle is served with a miniature cup that rests on top – you flip it down and use it to drink the broth out of. I thought it was a compact way to serve the dish and an aesthetically pleasing one too.