Restaurant #29: Jin Din Lou 京鼎樓, Taipei

I heard about Jin Din Lou Ebisu branch @ Tokyo with good review, but never heard about Taipei’s headquarter, so I went there to try. Jin Din Lou is a small chain Chinese restaurant, emphasizing steamed dumplings. The owners (brothers) were actually trained at Din Tai Fung before, and then they opened their own dumpling restaurant. So, their signature menu is, of course, steamed dumplings, and other items are similar to Din Tai Fung’s.

京鼎樓 that I went was located near Zhongshan MRT station. I asked my Taiwanese friend to join me. When we arrived at the restaurant, we saw some workers making dumplings lazily. One worker was reading the newspaper on the corner, and a few others were talking over dumplings without a mask. Their hygiene has some problems and it didn’t look great. Inside of the restaurant was alright, but it was not blight enough…

Once I entered the restaurant, a waitress guided us to the basement. The staircase was too steep and very dangerous. Awww… basement didn’t have any windows, and the air was not fresh. There are less than 10 big tables, and ALL customers were Japanese that night. Two waitresses smiled and welcomed us in Japanese. However, once my friend started speaking Chinese, their face literary changed annoyingly, and they took us to the smallest table in the corner.

Their unfriendly service made me uncomfortable, and I was upset to see all the Japanese customers that why they needed to go there and ruin their dinner with such an expensive price. Most of their faces were not happy… I felt that they were trying to enjoy the atmosphere. Oh well, I was one of them, so I can’t complain that much. We ordered 小籠包 (steamed dumpling) (10 pcs) (NT$170), 元盅土雞湯 (chicken soup) (NT$170), and雞肉蛋炒飯 (pork fried rice) (NT$110).

Chicken Soup

Now, foods were served. We got chicken soup first. Plates, menus, I mean everything reminded me of Din Tai Fung. Do they want us to compare with them? Or they try to beat them with their taste? I tried one, two sip of the soup. For me, it was oily. Chicken was kind of dry and not tender enough, and I didn’t feel it was fresh at all.

Pork Fried Rice

Pork friend rice was served next. It was… too shiny; they might be using animal oil. Egg was a bit overcooked, even though it was tasty. The only thing I didn’t like is that the rice was not tasty. Are they using California rice or what? If they use fresh, Taiwanese rice, I would have liked this item much more.

Steamed Dumpling

Their signature item was served, finally, at the end, but it seemed the chef forgot to serve in the beginning. After we complained to the waitress (because we waited for more than 30 minutes!!!) the chef himself served the item, and started arguing with two waitresses in Taiwanese. Oh Geez… I am not sure how many people understood what they were arguing about, but definitely my friend was embarrassed. Dumpling was actually pretty good. I liked it better than Din Tai Fung. Yet the fact that we have been waited for so long and caused the argument, I was not happy.

I brought a Japanese guidebook with 5% discount. I was so embarrassed to do so only for 5% discount. My friend was already unhappy, and he even felled down at the dangerous staircase. I wanted to get out of there as soon as possible.

I really hope that they will improve their service and hygiene, if they charge such a high price. So far, I’d rather go to small local restaurants which offer same items with a half price, or go to Din Tai Fung, similar price but better service.

Total: NT$ 428 (for 2 people, with 5% discount)

京鼎樓: Jin Din Lou
No.47, Changchun Rd. Zhongshan Dist.
Taipei City, TAIWAN


Restaurant #28: Quan An Viet Nam

It was a first time for five years that I ate Vietnamese food. I barely eat it, because they use a lot of MSG for the soup and I easily got headache back in the States. But since I saw many Vietnamese restaurants in Taipei, I wanted to try!

This small family restaurant is located near HOLA and B&Q (like Home Depot). You need to take a bus to get there. The décor is simple but organized. I think the hygiene is okay. There is a menu on the table, so you choose some items and give those to the chef/owner at the counter. My friend and I ordered猪排烤肉飯 (Com Suong Nuong: Grilled Pork Chop Rice) (NT$60) and 猪肉河粉 (Hu Tieu: Pork Noodle) (NT$65).

Grilled Pork Chop Rice

This was my friend’s choice. This was very good. The pork was marinated with a bit sweet sauce, but I could eat it. Slices of cucumber made the dish colorful. It came out with a cup of soup and sour and sweet sauce. Quantity was appropriate for one person.

Pork Noodle

I chose this, even though I know that I would get headache again. I really like all kinds of noodle. Their noodle was simple; rice noodle, pork, sprout, and garlic. The soup had a great taste, but a bit sweet and unfortunately MSG taste. After I finished a half of the bawl, I became thirsty… This item came with a cup of soup, but I rather have noodle only with NT$60. Am I too stingy?(^^;;;)

Since I barely eat Vietnamese food, I cannot tell their food was good or not. At least I enjoyed their decent hospitality and their food. I would like to go back there, and want to try their fresh spring rolls next time.

Total: NT$ 125 (for 2 people)

Quan An Viet Nam
No.693, Jingping Road
Zhonghe City, TAIWAN


Restaurant #27: World Soymilk King

世界豆漿大王 is a 24-hour-open Chinese restaurant located in my area. It seems that there are some branches. They offer breakfast items and lunch items. It seems that recently they remodeled their restaurant and now have more space for seating. Of course you can eat dinner, but you may want to eat more… It would be great place for night snacks.

I went there in lunch time, because I saw steam coming out from the dumpling containers outside. I ordered the lunch set, which came with 8 pieces of 小籠包 (steamed dumpling), 蔥餅 (Chinese Bread with Green Onion), 蔥花蛋 (Scrambled Egg with Green Onion), and 冰豆漿 (Iced Soymilk).

Please don’t expect for the décor. It is a stereo type Chinese restaurant, so the inside was simple; just some tables and chairs. Hygiene was alright. Self service corner for extra plates, shredded ginger and some sauces.

Scrambled Egg with Green Onion

Scrambled egg was with green onion. Nothing special but this is popular menu as Taiwanese breakfast menu. I didn’t like the sweet (!?) sauce, so next time I would tell them no sauce. Soymilk was homemade. Usually in Taipei, the milk is sweet, unless you tell them not to put the sugar. So if you like non-sweet soymilk, be careful!

Chinese Bread with Green Onion

I liked Chinese bread, again with green onion. They heated up for me, so it was pretty hot. I already tried this bread several times, but most of times I like it. I should try other breads next time…

Steamed Dumpling

I LOVE steamed dumplings. When I was in the States, I sometimes went to the famous dumpling restaurant, 鼎泰豐Din Tai Fung, which was originally from Taiwan. Please do not expect too much for their steamed dumplings at世界豆漿大王. Their specialty is not a dumpling. However, their dumplings were pretty good with this reasonable price. Their steamed dumpling (8 pcs) was only TWD 70! Good price! Yes, almost an half price of Din Tai Fung. I really enjoyed their dumpling.

I already tried some other items at this restaurant. Most of items are pretty good in reasonable prices. Yet, so far my favorite is steamed dumpling. I would like to try their breakfast menu next time!

Total: 80 TWD



Dessert #02: Tsumugi

I don’t eat dessert that much, because I prefer salty stuff than a sweet one. However, once in a while I am craving desserts. When I came to Taipei, I stopped by at some souvenir stores to buy some Hokkaido cookies, and I found this Baumkuchen. This is Ishiyaseika’s new item. Ishiyaseika’s signature item, 白い恋人 (Shiroi Koibito: it means “a white lover”), is still a huge hit as a popular souvenir of Hokkaido. Yet, I would like to recommend this baumkuchen, so called Tsumugi.

The package is professional. The color of the box is calm and sophisticated, and the font is not that bad. This box is also strong, so it is useful. Baumkuchen was in appropriate size (as a souvenir) and the taste pretty good. It was not that sweet, so it was my favorite taste. I also liked the fact that I can bring it back without an ice. Sometimes these souvenir need to be in cool place, but this one is easy to carry without an ice.

If you come to Hokkaido, please try this Tsumugi and see if you like it.

Tsumugi @ Ishiyaseika

Restaurant #26: Emperor Foods, Taipei

Sorry guys. I was away from my blog for a while… It was just because I had been busy for my struggling life in Taipei. Now I am on a New Year vacation and have more time, so let me tell you about 君悅排骨 (Emperor Foods), the fried pork restaurant near by my house. 排骨 (paigu) originally means pork ribs, but as I know, or at least in Japan, 排骨 is a Chinese style deep fried pork. I wrote an article about Ramen that I ate at Yokohama. That was paigu ramen. Paigu has a special taste; it comes from Chinese powder called 五香粉 (Wu3xiang1fen3). So if you are not familiar with Chinese food, you may feel strange in the beginning, but don’t worry, once you eat this delicious paigu, you would love it!

This restaurant, 君悅排骨, is a chain restaurant in Taiwan. There is one branch near by my house, so I tried back in November. (Oops! Sorry about my laziness.) Their menu is quite simple. Besides their signature menu, 排骨, they also have chicken, beef and fish as well. One menu, curry pork rice, was known as Japanese style in here, but their pork is not Japanese Katsu, so it is quite different. Most of rice items can be replaced with noodle. We tried their signature item, 排骨酸菜飯 (pork rib rice) (TWD 145) and 鶏腿酸菜飯 (fried chicken rice) (TWD 160).

The décor of the restaurant was very simple and boring, but at least it looked clean, which is rare in Taiwanese restaurant. Their service was decent, but I was expected a bit friendlier service since the items were not cheap.

Fried Pork Rib Rice

Items were served quickly, expect Paigu. It took some extra minutes to serve pork ribs. Rice with some veggies and small soup were served with pork/chicken. Veggies were cooked cabbage, sour cabbage, Chinese nappa, Chinese style tofu, and cooked grinded beef. I liked the veggies, but it was oily. Next time I may ask them to serve those separately. Paigu was served while we were tasting veggie rice. It is simple, but was quite tasty and fresh. The meat was tender enough, so that you don’t need to use knives.

Fried Chicken Rice

Chicken was my choice. To be honest, I liked this chicken better than the pork. In this picture, you may feel it was overcooked, but actually it was perfectly crispy, and fresh pepper was plus. Outside was deliciously browned, and inside was juicy and tender. This chicken was quite good.

Most of their branches are located in near by subway station. Therefore the price is pretty expensive. If they want to charge like this, then I expect more special menus and a little better service. However, overall I enjoyed their food. I would like to go back there one more time and try fried fish rice next time. (Report: Nov. 2009)

Total: 305 TWD (for 2 people)

君悅排骨: Emperor Foods
No.135, Section 5, ZhongXiao Rd. Xinyi Dist.
Taipei City, TAIWAN
02-8787-0918 or 02-2751-9783