Restaurant #43: California Grill, Taipei

California Grill serves, as you can tell, California-style big fat burgers! There were two branches in Taipei, but it seems one at Dun Hua (敦化) just closed. I hope Yong Kang street (永康街) branch is still okay. Anyway, near by National Taiwan Normal University have several burger stores. I already went to 1885 Burger Store, which was great. This California Grill is another one in this area.

I went to Dun Hua branch. Unfortunately, this branch was already closed, but you might try Yong Kang Jie branch. The décor was simple, but it gave the feeling of California. Some old Hollywood movie posters were displayed, and some chairs were American-style diner. They have open kitchen, so you can see how the workers take care of your food.

Their special menu is Tofu burger! It looked very healthy, but I wanted to eat something to make my stomach full! So I ordered Chicken Sandwich with French fries, and my friend ordered Western Burger with salad.

Hidden Valley Chicken

My choice was Hidden Valley Chicken (NT$ 195), and added Fries and drink (NT$ 50). Grilled breast, ranch, bacon, pepperjack cheese, sprouts, red onion… All on wheat bun! Their buns were a bit dry, but sprouts made me so happy! Chicken was juicy enough and extra accent with bacon. This was a great combination. A few things which I didn’t like were the freshness of tomatoes and French fries. Slices of tomatoes were too tiny, and French fries were ordinary. Yet, overall, I liked it!

Western Bacon Burger

My friend’s choice was Western Bacon Burger (NT$ 205), added salad and drink (NT$ 50). You can choose the meet among beef, breaded chicken, teriyaki chicken or tofu. She chose beef. Onion rings, BBQ sauce, bacon & cheese on white bun. It looked very tasty! It reminded me of western burger at Carl’s Jr., actually. Ha ha. She said the taste was okay, but I guess the quantity of salad was a bit less.

Overall, I liked the atmosphere and food was so far so good. I was surprised that all the waiters could speak American English perfectly! They told me that they’ve never been to America. It seems that the owner of this restaurant was from California, and he taught them English very well. Well done, owner! I definitely want to go back there, next time at Yong Kang Jie branch. Oh, let me note that they use USDA beef.

Total: NT$ 500 (for 2 people)

California Grill
YongKang St. #53-1, Taipei City


Restaurant #42: Gino Pasta 吉諾義麵屋

It is good to be in Taipei if you love B級グルメ. B級グルメ means a cheap, casual but delicious food. Many food stalls and family-owned restaurants on the street of Taipei have tasty, tasty items, and when I find a new one, it feels that I finally find a treasure. This restaurant, Gino Pasta, was one of the restaurants which made me feel that way. It is a little bit far from MRT YongChun station, but this price and the atmosphere, it worth to go there.

Several things I liked about this restaurant. First, their signature menu was tasty with reasonable price. Second, the owner (I believe) was a single, handsome guy. J I went there twice so far, and tried different menus. I believe all the items are in good price and tasty.

The only thing I concern was the hygiene, which is the most important issue when I go to Taiwan’s restaurant. They cook the food in front of the restaurant, but they put the big refrigerator in a dining area. When you get into the store, you see some tables and chairs, and on the side, there is a big refrigerator and a big table. The workers sometimes organize pasta and ingredients on this table. All kinds of customers come to this store, and some might cough, some might have a cold… Those directly hit the food. Plus, some remains of the veggies and foods may attract small bugs...

We ordered a cup of pumpkin soup and a variety of pasta. Sorry I forgot to take a picture of pumpkin soup (NT$ 30), but it was delicious.

Vongole Bianco

A lot of crams and quarter bunch of broccoli demonstrate the healthy color combination. Crams were fresh enough, but the taste of white wine was a bit strange. I don’t know how to describe… I am not sure it was white wine or their original sauce. If it was original, I guess I prefer a simple garlic white wine sauce. (NT$ 100)

Spicy Chicken Pasta

I believe this is their signature menu; Spicy Chicken Pasta (NT$ 90). This creamy pasta was special, I really liked it. Without red peppers, I believe the taste is a bit heavy. So spicy taste help us to keep eating and eating… Fresh broccoli and slices of mushroom give light accent in my mouth.

Spaghetti aglio olio e peperoncino

Aww… I simply chose their cheapest menu, Spaghetti Aglio Olio e Peperoncino (NT$ 70). Peperoncino is my favorite, but it is difficult to find a good one. I only found it at one small pasta restaurant in Japan before. Here, this, unfortunately, was not my taste. They used the mixed herb powder with MSG. Well, the garlic was not fresh, so of course I don’t taste anything but MSG. I don’t recommend this item.

Cheese & Bacon Penne Gratin

A gratin is the most delicious food in the world! Most of gratins make me disappointed, but their gratin was not bad at all, and it costs only NT$ 100 (US$3 or so). As mentioned as menu, the ingredient was only bacon, which was a bit boring. If they put broccoli, mushroom and onion besides bacon, I don’t mind to pay NT$ 120. I definitely want to try their Tomato Gratin next time.

I would like to go back there again if they improve the hygiene issue. I recommend you to visit there before 8pm, because the dining area is still clean and all free drinks are still available.

Total: NT$ 390 (for 4 people)

Gino Pasta 吉諾義麵屋
1 F, No.1-1, 540 Lane, Song-Shan Rd.
Xingyi Dist., Taipei City