Miss Delicious #96 : Exploring the not so conventional food offerings of Ximending, Taipei!
Dear Steemit Friends:
I can't wait to share with you today an exploration of some of the many exciting restaurants of Ximending, in the heart of Taipei in Taiwan. Last time we explored the sights and shops of the area so now this time we venture inside the many different food retailers to do one of my favourite activities - eating!
The diversity of food found in Ximending is huge and you'd never have enough time in your entire life to try all of the different restaurants and food stalls that it has to offer. Frequented mostly by the younger generation of Taipei the area is well renowned for being cutting edge, fashionable and a great place to hang out.
Having Afternoon tea— in Machi Doggie
Machi Doggie is a fashion shop and cafe owned by the famous Taiwanese pop star Jay Chou, a long with his wife Hannah Quinlivan. The whole place is themed around Hannah's pet dog, a Pomeranian who is called Machi!
You can see Machi's little face features both on the clothing shop and on the cafe. The design is absolutely adorable and I do really love Pomeranian dogs so I just had to go and check it out.
I had already shopped myself silly around Ximending so I decided to mostly skip the clothing range and fashion store in favour of a nice sit down afternoon tea in the coffee shop.
The place was really busy, especially for an afternoon, with dozens of local young people taking their time to relax and enjoy each others company in this most cool of surroundings. The style is absolutely amazing, with big glowing lights everywhere. From SMILE signs, to hearts, to the important Machi, everything was lit up and the atmosphere was buzzing.
There's clearly a lot of inspiration here from America with signs for Route 66 and old fashioned American signs and cars scattered above the open kitchen. You know that I always love this kitchen set up - it feels so special to be able to see the chef's at work and appreciate a well run kitchen, while your food is being prepared.
I absolutely love Machi, I wish that I could have met him at the shop! But I imagine he is too busy jet setting around the world with Hannah and Jay. Jay Chou is famous for his music, singing, record producing, acting and directing. His first album was released in 2000 and was a massive hit. He is now a household name thorough much of Asia and has sold more than 30 million albums! He was even on the cover of Asia's TIME magazine being called the New King of Asian Pop.
He has since launched an extremely successful movie career, even breaking into the western movie market with his co-starring role in Now You See Me 2, alongside Mr. Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) himself back in 2016. He also starred in The Green Hornet, a movie that was hugely successful world wide, playing the character of Kato, a role made famous by Bruce Lee in the TV series!
I was very excited to eat here at Machi Doggie because the food and drinks are also themed around Machi! I love dogs and now I get to have cute dog shaped food too! Perhaps that's a bit weird actually but it was all so cute - you'll see!
Look at all this amazing Machi themed food and drink. The coffee mugs are shaped in a Pomeranian shape, the little marshmallows have faces, and the coffee art does too! On top of all of that, you can get Machi shaped waffles and other food too. Needless to say, I was in heaven - good food, cute dogs and beautiful modern arty-ness keeps me very happy,
They also have some crazy drinks on the menu, from Butterly Pea Juice with Lychee to Cotton Candy Soda. These are all served with an interesting modern twist - mine came in a lightbulb! Though probably not a real lightbulb. It felt like a bit of a magicians laboratory actually.
Bye Machi! I had a wonderful afternoon tea, one that was truly unique. Jay Chou and Hannah Quinlivan have created something really special in this cafe, and their design influence and passion for art, modern culture and of course, the Pomeranian Machi, really make this place a cool place to hang out.
The 'Modern Toilet' restaurant... you'll have to see to believe
OK next stop, the Modern Toilet restaurant for dinner. Now... I'm going to have to let the pictures do a lot of the talking on this one. You'll see soon what I mean. But first, a little history...
Modern Toilet was first established in 2004 after the idea came about to have a toilet themed restaurant. It was a bit of a joke at first, but the idea seemed too funny not to try! The first restaurants served chocolate ice cream in toilet shaped cones and it caused such a stir and became so popular that there are now three different restaurants, all serving a variety of different foods.
The theme of the restaurants are in the name - toilets. Most of the foods are served in a toilet and even the seating in the restaurants are toilets, with crazy toilet seats to sit on! Could I really not visit such a crazy place? Of course not, so enjoy with me now - Modern Toilet.
OK I expected toilets, but I didn't expect this many toilets. Each seat was a toilet, the lighting was in... certain shapes, the tables had wash basins in them and even the art on the walls was more... shapes.
As you can see from the art behind me, toilets can of course be used for many different things and in many different ways. I don't know what I expected but every single inch of the restaurant had a toilet theme. I was getting a bit nervous for my food actually!
What would a themed restaurant be without some merchandise? Everything from little edible chocolate toilets to cushions in the shape of... I didn't think you could make so much stuff related to toilets!
At least they had real toilets too! Though I imagine they'd be quite hard to find because of all of the other toilet signs - which one do you follow to the real toilets! Also check out this gold bling toilet - so crazy.
When the food came... well I don't know what I was expecting really. It was served in a nearly full sized toilet bowl! This was the Modern Toilet Chicken Curry and I have to say it was absolutely amazing. I can understand trying to bring in customers with a gimmick, but I really felt that Modern Toilet backed up their gimmick with genuinely nice food. I suppose you can imagine that this experience was extremely weird, however.
Thai Tom Yum Hot Pot beef
Luckily the side dishes weren't served in toilets as well. I don't think there would have been enough space on the table! It must have been extremely strange for the waiters to be serving in this environment all day.
This is the dish that made Modern Toilet famous - the classic chocolate ice cream in a toilet. The attention to detail on shape was almost too much for me, especially how they'd managed to make it shiny. As much as I'm posing for the photo here, I was quite weirded out by this point! I did eat the icecream, which was some of the best chocolate icecream I've ever had, but I think that's probably enough of the toilet restaurant for now!
Meat Warehouse, Korean BBQ with an English Tea Time Twist
Time for something a little more serious I think! Next stop on my exploration of Ximending's restaurant scene was Korean BBQ Meat Warehouse which I had heard amazing reviews of. Also Korean BBQ is one of my favourite styles of food so I was really excited.
One of the unique features of Korean BBQ is that the dishes are usually prepared on grills that are built straight into the table itself or on portable stoves that are used at the table. Sometimes you might sit in front of the chef and he will char grill the meat in front of you! At Meat Warehouse it was the first kind, with the grill built straight into the table as you can see here.
Korean BBQ is most famous for its meats. In Korea, this style of eating is called gogi-gui which means, "meat roast". There are usually many different types of meats to choose from, including the obvious beef, pork or chicken. They come in varieties, some beautifully marinated and some left simply prepared so you can enjoy their simple traditional flavours.
Meat Warehouse makes a fun little twist on the Korean BBQ concept by serving the food as if you were out for an English Afternoon Tea. I could almost imagine little finger sandwiches stacked up on the plates and perhaps some scones!
Once you've received your selection of meats and vegetables, then it's time to get grilling! Simply place the meat you want to eat on the hot charcoal in front of you and start to char grill that tasty meat. You can cook it to whatever level you want and it's always a great sharing experience. It feels very enjoyable to sit around the able with friends, sharing the grill, and taking your time over your food, to cook and talk.
This was one of the most beautiful Korean BBQ restaurants that I have been to, and I think the little English Afternoon Tea twist was a lovely touch. The side dishes were also amazing and the variety of different foods, from sea food to marinated meats was really delicious.
A final meal in Universal Tonkotsu Ramen Nagi
Universal Tonkotsu Ramen Nagi is famous in Tokyo, Japan and Taiwan for serving the most amazing ramen. First opened in 2004 in Tokyo, the restaurant has now expanded with seven locations in Tokyo and five in Taiwan. They've won awards for their ramen, being voted best ramen and Tokyo Ramen of the Year - so I had to go get me some.
Ramen is a Japanese noodle soup that usually has meat or fish based broth, with noodles and various toppings such as meats, seaweed, onions and egg. It has become famous around the world for its taste and frequent appearances in anime making it a world wide staple.
One of the really unique things about Universal Tonkotsu Ramen Nagi is the ability to customise. You can choose from the menu which soup base you want as well as loads of other customisation so you can get the ramen that YOU want.
Bright, bold and quite traditional, Universal Tonkotsu Ramen Nagi is a great place to eat and not just for the food. A really lovely atmosphere where you can socialise with friends and enjoy some of the best ramen that the world has to offer.
The chefs cook so fast. You submit your order by circling the different options you want from the menu, with the broth, meat options and other extras, and then watch them assemble it in front of your eyes. A really easy and quick dish if you're on the run because the cooking time is so short. I got the best seat in the house (I thought) because I got to watch the skilled chefs cooking up a storm and serving the dozens of hungry customers.
It's been a while since I did a Miss Delicious blog and it was a real treat to be able to share such a diverse range of different eateries with you. I had a great time at the first two themed cafes, enjoying both the food and the design. What did you think of Machi Doggie and Modern Toilet? Do you like themed restaurants or would you prefer a more traditional experience? I must know what you thought about the design of Modern Toilet...
Could I choose a favourite out of the four restaurants we visited today? Probably not because they were all so different, though I do really love Korean BBQ so perhaps Korean BBQ Meat Warehouse takes my vote! Do you have a preference between Korean BBQ and ramen? Both such favourites - I wonder which would win?
If you've enjoyed the blog today, and want to see more from me, then make sure you hit that follow button. I always appreciate an upvote, of course, and I love to chat with you all in the comments, especially when I've been away and busy for a while - it will be nice to catch up with all of you!
Check out my video of the food tour!
这里的食物真的超级可爱，3D立体的咖啡猫咪拉花新奇的让我挪不开眼，上面的立体猫咪竟然由甜蜜的棉花糖做成，一股幸福的味道油然而生呢，还有Machi logo的拉花图案咖啡，醇香袭人。最让我惊艳的是这个由周董《星晴》歌名命名的饮料，我知道玩魔术一直是周杰伦最大的爱好，这次把魔术玩到饮料里啦，而且还可以让你自己尝试其中的魔幻，太有意思啦，当我把魔术小灯泡里的紫色bling bling液体倒入饮料里，就会呈现出星空一般的迷幻涌动，这种荔枝汁和星空酒的碰撞，酸酸甜甜非常可口，同时还附赠一杯小冰糖水，饮料的浓稠度都可以依照自己的喜好调节，喝起来有一股清爽的冻茶汽水的味道，其中还放了一块Machi爪子形状的紫色冰块，真是非常细心的小设计。还有这个Machi样子的松饼，就像个超大的棒棒糖，造型独特，味道松软可口。