Restaurant #34: 小樂天餃子館 Dumpling Restaurant, Taipei

Let me introduce one of my favorite restaurants in my area. I am the person who always wants to try new things. I tried some restaurants around my area, but unfortunately, I only found a few good restaurants. 小樂天餃子館 is one of good restaurants so far I know.

小樂天餃子館 is located near Taipei City Hall MRT station—easy to access. Workers wear the orange colored uniform. The manager, or an owner, is a friendly guy; he always welcomes customers. It is a typical Chinese restaurant, but I feel they organized the décor and furniture well.

Their signature menu is, as they named, dumplings! 水餃 (boiled dumpling) and 鍋貼 (fried dumpling) are their popular menu. I personally like fried dumpling, so everytime I go to this restaurant, I eat 鍋貼.

Pork Gelée

I usually do not order an appetizer (called 小菜 in Chinese) but this time I found interesting item, called 猪肉凍 (Pork Gelée) (TW$50). It was very delicious and amazing! Once you put the small piece into your mouth, it slowly melted and the taste of pork spread into your mouth. Amazing! The price is reasonable, so I would like to try this again.

Hot and Sour Soup

酸辣湯 (hot and sour soup) (TW$25) is always my favorite! For some reason, this restaurant does not offer 酸辣麺, but at least I could enjoy the soup. Actually, they use the same soup a 大滷麺, with vinegar and pepper. lol

The soup contains Tofu, carrot, Kikurage, Shitake mushroom, shredded bamboo shoots… And you see the green leave on the soup? It is called 香菜. I heard many Japanese people do not like it, so I was a bit scared. Well… I know this taste, it is cilantro! Yeah I love it! Oh now I miss Mexican food… The soup was pretty tasty.

Fried Dumpling

We ordered 10 pieces of 鍋貼 (TW$80). Their dumplings made of only grinded pork and Nira (韮: Chinese chives). I sometimes make dumpling by myself, but I use Chinese cabbage because it makes the dumpling so juicy. In Taiwan, it seems that cabbage is not used. I like both Japanese and Taiwanese style. Outside of the fried dumplings were very crispy! I always expect that inside would be juicy, but since two sides of dumpling were all opened, the juice from the pork and Nira comes out. Hmm… I really liked their fried dumpling, but I just hoped that the inside would have been a little more moisturized.

Da Lu Mian

Their noodle menu is pretty various, but I am not sure which one is the best. I usually order small-size 大滷麺 (Da Lu Mian) (TW$80), which is similar as 酸辣麺 but no spicy. The noodle is chewy and well-marinated with tasty soup. Ingredients were shredded pork, Shitake mushroom, tofu, egg, lettuce, shredded bamboo shoots, a few pieces of carrot (yes, it is true), and Kikurage. The soup is really like 酸辣麺… I hope they make it a little bit spicy… Da Lu Mian contains lots of vegetables, so it is healthy. So far I like this among their noodle menu.

Noodle with Zha Cai and Shredded Pork

榨菜 (Zha Cai: ザーサイ) is a type of pickled mustard stem, originating from Sichuan area of China. Some people are not fun of this, but I can eat anything! 榨菜肉絲麵 (Zha Cai Rou Si Mian) (TW$70, small size) was much simpler than 大滷麺. The soup broth was very tasty. Some slices of Chinese cabbage, green onion and Zha Cai, with roasted garlic (it is always used in Chinese dishes, but I don’t know what it is called.) It seems that they use the same-type noodle for all noodle dishes.

Overall, I liked their foods and service, and the price was reasonable.

Total: TW$ 305 (for 2 people)

小樂天餃子館: Dumpling Restaurant
1F, No. 151, Section 5, ZhongXiao East Rd. Xinyi Dist.,
Taipei, TAIWAN


Restaurant #33: Capricciosa, Taipei

Capricciosa is a popular Italian trattoria restaurant chain in Japan. The first restaurant was opened at Shibuya, Tokyo, in 1978. Since 1991, they started opening some branches in out of Japan, such as in Guam, Korea and Taiwan. I had never been there before, but I found this restaurant at SOGO in Taipei, and I missed Japanese style pasta. So why not?

First of all, I liked their service. They at least try to keep the service quality from Japan. So far what I saw, all waiters/waitresses kept smiling and being friendly. I just hope they walked around more often, so that we didn’t have to wave our hands and ask for a glass of water so many times. The kitchen was opened, so we could see how the chefs worked, which is, I believe, not common in Taipei so it would be fun to see. The décor was simple and neat.

Their pasta menu was various! We wanted to try everything! One plate of pasta is for 2-3 people, so we decided to order one pasta and one salad. As for the price, I thought it was okay. Pasta was between 380 and 460, and pizza menu was a bit cheaper. It is close to Japanese price, so it may be a bit expensive for Taiwanese people. It would be nice to go there for some special events.

Lemon-marinated Grilled Chicken Salad, Cooled with Tomato Salad

Lemon-marinated Grilled Chicken Salad (TW$220) was a simple Caesar salad covered by grilled chicken breast. I thought grilled chicken was well marinated and tasty, but it was small. Caesar salad was used too much dressing and it ruined the natural taste of lettuce. Well, the lettuce did not look fresh, so they needed to use more dressing, I guess. I recommend you the salad at Olive Garden, because it was much better.

Linguine with Smoked Salmon in Cream Sauce

I have told you already that it is difficult to find a good Italian restaurant in Taiwan. This restaurant is Japanese customized, so it is not a pure Italian. However, their pasta was delicious! This time, we tried Linguine with smoked salmon (TW$460), but I also tried several others before. Averagely, their pasta items are tasty and I can recommend it to you. Pieces of smoked salmon was cooked well but was tender.

I am wondering how to make cream sauce pasta in Taiwan, because I have never seen whipping cream in regular supermarket. I tried some cream pasta in other restaurant, but it always taste… different than I have eaten before. If I could buy whipping cream, it would make me much easier to cook Carbonara…

Overall, I liked visiting Capricciosa. Food was great, and the service was friendly. Thank you for reading. (Report: Feb. 21, 2010)

Total: TW$ 748 (for 2 people, including 10% service fee)

Capricciosa: Italian Restaurant


Restaurant #32: Hung Kan Restaurant 紅磡港式飲茶, Taipei

It was not difficult to find several great dim sum restaurants in Los Angeles. Here in Taipei, however, oh boy it is very difficult to find a good one with reasonable price! I am sure you will be able to eat delicious dim sum at a five star hotel, but I rather want to find a reasonable price. Hung Kan Restaurant is a chain dim sum restaurant in Taipei, and one is located in Ximen area, which my friend and I visited. I chose this place because they are open for 24 hours and it is near the subway station.

This restaurant is located near MRT Ximen station, so it is easy to access. The building is old, and the escalator was broken. Well, so-so impression so far… We were only two people, so the waitress led us to the window seats. The restaurant was huge; sometimes it is used for wedding banquet. I think their service was alright—nothing special. I hope they improve friendly service more since they charge 10% service fee.

We ordered five dim sum items and Oolong tea. My friend has a shrimp allergy, so we tried to find vegetarian menus. Unfortunately, most of dim sum items are included shrimp, even though the menu did not mention. Sorry my friend…

Baked Creamy Chinese Cabbage

奶油焗白菜 (Baked creamy Chinese cabbage) was an interesting item among five dishes. It was TW$120. Chinese cabbage (白菜: Nappa), Shitake, shrimp, crabmeat, and mushroom were marinated with cream sauce and baked. It was used two different kinds of shrimp; tiny Sakura shrimp and Sushi shrimp. I liked the taste of dish, but was a bit distracted by the strong taste from Sakura shrimp. I would like to order this again if they put less or no Sakura shrimp.

Pan-Fried Turnip Cake

腊味蘿蔔糕 (Pan-fried turnip cake) (TW$68) was my friend’s favorite. I like it when it is hot. Outside was crispy and tasty, but inside was a little bit dry. I felt it was not fresh enough… Disappointed. :(

Fried Spring Roll (left) and Deep Fried Leek Roll (right)

雞絲炸春捲 (Fried spring roll) (TW$88) was delicious! It was served right after they cooked. The skin was golden brown and crispy. A big piece of shrimp was sweet and tasty. I sometimes cook spring roll, but the one at the restaurant is always crispy. It would be great if they put more vegetables.

This deep fried leek roll (脆皮韮菜角) was the tastiest item among five for me. It was TW$88. Nira tastes might be a bit strong, but I loved it! Some pieces of shrimp were inside, although the menu didn’t mention. It would be great if they serve some veggie items. This leek roll would be good for veggie-only. Please try this leek roll if you have a chance.

Steamed Shrimp Dumpling

紅磡鮮蝦餃 (steamed shrimp dumpling) (TW$88) was many people’s all time favorite, and I am one of them. Unfortunately, the dumpling was served when it is cold~~~! NO~~~! It has to be warm~~~! It was not bad, but I ate better one before. I hope next time they serve better one.

This restaurant was, I think, so far okay. They serve various menus and the atmosphere was not bad at all. I was surprised, however, their price. For example, one item was TW$88, which is about US$2.75. Therefore it is almost same price as some restaurants in California. Compared to living expense in here, I believe it is a bit expensive…

However, my friend and I enjoyed the atmosphere and we had a good meeting. I would like to go there again with more friends. (Report: Jan. 31, 2010)

Total: TW$ 550 (for 2 people, including 10% service fee and extra)

紅磡港式飲茶: Hung Kan Restaurant


Yatai #01: Sichuan Noodle Stall 四川特色滷味麵攤, Taipei

Yatai (屋台) is a Japanese word meaning “a stall”. We, in Sapporo, enjoy eating in Ramen stalls at Susukino or ice cream stalls at Odori Park. Here in Taipei, many types of food/snack stalls do business and those are quite successful; they sometimes make much more money than the regular store/restaurants. Near my house, there are so many food stalls, but I found a quite popular noodle stall for Taipei native, called “Sichuan Noodle Stall” 四川特色滷味麵攤 (actually this noodle stall does not have a name, but I named it in English!)

This is one of popular restaurant/stall in this area. Every time I go there, there is a long line waiting for the food. I cannot recommend you if you hate waiting, but it only takes 15 min max to get a ball of noodle. Their menu is quite various. Besides about sixteen noodle/soup menus (they may have some secret menu), they also offer variety of 滷味 (luwei). 滷味, lu-wei, is a Taiwanese-style stewed food; different kinds of food and vegetables are stewed in soy sauce with Chinese medicine and seasoning, including Chinese’ favorite, Star anise (八角). 八角 (Hakkaku in Japanese) has a strong special taste, and some Japanese people cannot eat this. I think it is just because we do not use Hakkaku in our food and don’t get used to it. In the beginning, I couldn’t eat Hakkaku at all, but now I can eat it no problem!

Three workers constantly cook and serve the dishes. One cooks noodles, one takes care of order and serve Luwei, and the other one takes care of others, such as serving the food and bills. NEVER STOP! They are always busy, which is great for their business. I heard that a lady who takes care of Luwei came from Sichuan area of China. According to her, they use good and expensive ingredients, so that the taste of their sauce is fresh. I agree. When I ordered some luwei, I told her not to put any sauce because it might be sweet. She told me that their sauce is not sweet at all because they use good ingredients, but many restaurants use sugar to make this type of sauce, that is why I feel it is sweet… I believed her and tried their sauce. Wow… She was right. It was not sweet and was actually fresh.

You can eat besides this noodle stall, but there are only 2, 3 tables available, therefore I usually bring noodles back and eat in my house.

Tan Tan Noodle

Their specialty is Sichuan style, so I ordered 川味担担麺 (Tan Tan Mian) (NT$ 45). It was SOOO SPICY! I like spicy food, but it was different spiciness than Korean or Thailand’s. I like it, though. Thin noodle was used, and the soup was made of 麻醤 (Majiang), 辣油 (La-yu), and their original Sichuan pepper sauce. Crushed peanuts, fresh green onion added more delicious flavor. The smell of the sauce spread immediately after I opened the container. I think the quantity of noodle and sauce was appropriate. I also liked the thin noodle.

Yang Chun Noodle

陽春麺 (YangChun Mian) (NT$ 30) is the simplest noodle of their menu; it contains only thin noodle and green vegetable. The soup is simple but solid flavor, so this item is good for quick dinner or night snack. If you are a big eater, then I definitely recommend you to order some Luwei on the side.

Chao Shou Noodle

炒手麺 (Chao Shou Mian) (NT$ 60) is so far my favorite. You can choose spicy or non spicy. Chao Shou is a Sichuan style wonton, and it is delicious! They have Chao Shou only (紅油炒手) (NT$ 40), but the quantity is less for me, so I like it with noodle. This Chao Shou Mian contains six pieces of wonton over Majiang noodle. You can enjoy the taste of both popular menus!

Well, they serve more items, so I will update some info when I try new items. You go there and try some. I am sure you would fine some of your favorite!

Thank you for reading.

四川特色滷味麵攤: Sichuan Noodle Stall
Lane 30, Yong Ji Rd. Xinyi Dist.
(Intersection of Yong Ji Rd. and Song Long Rd)
Taipei, TAIWAN
18:00-01:00 (close: wed & thu)


Restaurant #31: Ramen Sanpachi ラーメンさんぱち, Taipei

I went to New York New York, the popular mall in Xinyi district, to have Dim sum. Unfortunately, the dim sum restaurant was used for two weddings and was not available for dinner that day. Oh well… I needed to change our plan. My friend and I went to downstairs to find some restaurants, and oh my… I found one ramen restaurant there… from… Hokkaido!

I know I already ate Ramen yesterday, but I couldn’t stop myself. I entered the restaurant unconsciously! This is called さんぱちラーメン (八八八拉麵), Ramen Sanpachi. The last time I ate at Ramen Sanpachi in Sapporo was about 15 years ago, therefore I could not compare the taste between original and Taiwanese-style. According to the menu at the store, all the sauces and ingredients were imported from Hokkaido. It sounded good! We ordered Shoyu Ramen and Shio Ramen (NT$ 160 each).

Workers were friendly and well trained, but they chatted loudly when they don’t have enough customers. I hope they talk a little quietly. The décor was organized and spacious.

Shio Ramen

Our item was served quickly. The soup looked good so far. They used curly, middle-size noodle (中太ちぢれ麺), and contained sprout (もやし), nappa (白菜), seaweed (わかめ), bamboo shoots (メンマ), a slice of Japanese fishcake (かまぼこ), Chashu (チャーシュー) and green onion. I sipped the soup. Hmmm not bad! Sesame seeds were floating happily in the soup. Chashu was also tasty! The only thing I want them to improve was the quality of seaweed. It was dry, and was not fresh at all. I hope they use better seaweed…

Shoyu Ramen

Shoyu Ramen came with same ingredients, except seaweed. Unfortunately, the soup was too salty to finish up. I don’t remember the original taste of the soup, but I thought this soup was too much. After we finished the dinner, we were very thirsty. Was that because of MSG or just soup was too salty? Also, both noodles of Shio and Shoyu were, in my opinion, overcooked. Most of my Taiwanese friends like well-cooked noodle, but I prefer less cooked noodle. I believe I can ask them to cook less…

Overall, I enjoyed the dinner with my friend. However, the soup was salty for me. (Report: Jan. 24, 2010)

Total: NT$ 320 (for 2 people)

八八八拉麵: Ramen Sanpachi
New York New York Department Store Restaurant Place
B1, No. 12, Song Sou Road, Xinyi Dist.,
Taipei, TAIWAN

Restaurant #30: Kurume Ramen 魁龍拉麵, Taipei

I often see Japanese Ramen restaurants in Taipei, but most of the restaurants look different than the actual Japanese style. I am not looking for a real Japanese ramen, because I don’t think Taiwan people like Japanese ramen, especially Hokkaido style. Hokkaido ramen use seafood, Miso and the soup is oily, rich flavor. I heard from my Taiwanese friends who went to Japan, especially Hokkaido, that they felt the Ramen soup in Hokkaido was very salty. So, here in Taipei, many Japanese-style Ramen restaurants use light, Tonkotsu soup, like Kyushu style.

魁龍拉麵, located in the basement of Caesar Park Hotel in Taipei Station area. Easy to access, and there are some other restaurants in the basement. I accidentally found this new Kyushu-style Ramen restaurant. My friend and I already ate dinner, but I really wanted to try… So I asked them if it was okay to order one dish and shared… They usually set a minimum charge, but this time they allowed us to order one dish. So I ordered simple Tonkotsu Ramen (NT$ 160).

Tonkotsu Ramen

Tonkotsu Ramen contained thin noodle, sprout, corn, Chashu, egg, seaweed, bamboo and green onion. Ingredients were all fresh, and I liked it especially chashu. It was so tender… You may want to add more slices of Chashu as an extra topping. The soup was white, pork based soup called Tonkotsu. To be honest, I am not a huge fun of white Tokotsu soup because the taste is too light. However, this soup was appropriate. I guess I got used to Taiwan flavor, or I eat too oily stuff everyday… The noodle was served with pretty noodle ball. I liked it!

I might come back here again to try some other items. I hope I would find an authentic Hokkaido Ramen restaurant in Taipei soon.

Thank you for reading! (Report: Jan. 23, 2010)

Total: NT$ 176 ($160 + 10% service charge)

魁龍拉麵: Kurume Ramen
Caesar Park Hotel B1
Jhongsiao W. Rd., Jhongjheng Dist.
Taipei, TAIWAN