Monday, May 31, 2010

我家涼麵 (My Family's Cold Noodles)

我家涼麵 (My Family's Noodles) logo

Another gem I found near the main campus of NTU, on 汀洲路 (Ting Zhou Road) was a small shop called 我家涼麵 or roughly translated as 'My Family's Cold Noodles.' They're a small shop that has no more than 4 tables inside, and specializes in... as the name would suggest, cold noodles. Not to be confused with Korean 냉면 (naengmyun), Chinese cold noodles are almost always served with sesame paste sauce (sort of like tahini), sliced cucumbers, and most likely bean sprouts. I, however, haven't eaten 涼麵 made in a restaurant since, well... ever. My grandfather had always said that cold food prepared in Taiwan was unhygienic (probably true), and would most likely have me crying on the toilet bowl (definitely true). I walked in bravely, with absolute determination to finally try some cold sesame noodles.

炸醬麵 (bean paste noodles)

Naturally I chickened out. I know, I know, their 'thing' is cold noodles... how could I order anything else!? Dunno, I took a look at the menu and ultimately ordered a serving of Chinese style 炸醬麵 (black bean noodles) and also an order of 紅油抄手 (Sichuan style wontons). I don't remember the cost of all this, but I think the final bill was under 100 NT ($3). The black bean noodles, pictured above, were kind of weird to me since they had contained cabbage, and way more chunks of preserved tofu than I'm normally used to. The sauce was sweeter than I expected as well (I'm used to a flavor dominated by spicy and salty elements). Not to say that it was all that bad, it was just... different. To be honest, it was a nice change from most of the noodle places I frequent.

紅油抄手 (Sichuan style wontons)

As for the 紅油抄手, I enjoyed this dish quite a bit. Midtown people might think of Sichuan style wontons as those from 'Grand Sichuan,' which is to say, bathed in a pool of chili oil... inviting only a second of pleasure prior to a world of pain. The Taiwanese variants seem much milder, with the sauce being sweetened, and sesame oil based. With the heat of the chili oil taking a backseat to other flavors, the bite-sized dumplings get to shine. The skins probably aren't made in house, but they're adequately thin, and do just enough to hold in a fairly large chunk of pork. All in all, it's a wonderful blend of sauce, pork, and wonton skin. Sigh, if not for sheer embarrassment, I would've drank the remnant sauce at the bottom of the saucer... that's how good it was.

Oh yeah, the only reason I walked into such a crappy shop to begin with? I fell in love with the name on the sign from halfway down the street.


Saturday, May 29, 2010

新疆餅 (Xin Jiang Bread)

新疆餅 (Uyghur bread)

I didn't have anything creative to use for the title of this post. Honestly... my best alternative was 'Uyghur Bread!' Anyway, it's a weekend post, so I'll keep it short. On the back road behind 公館夜市 (Gong Guan Night Market), there's a small stand run by an old lady that specializes in 新疆餅 (xin jiang bing). It looks like hot dog cart filled with Hot Pockets, but don't be deceived, it's rather mundane looking, but it's genuinely special. Not completely unlike 燒餅 (shao bing), they're floury pockets of dough dotted with a generous helping of sesame seeds, and with filling sandwiched inside. Traditionally served salty (which is what I got), the bread pocket is lined with scallions and garlic, with an almost overwhelming spread of black pepper. The texture is hard to describe... not flaky, nor doughy, it sheers off in chunks, but is somewhat chewy. Hm, let's just say it's not a bad 30 NT ($1) investment. I'll probably wander back there for more eventually.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Egg tarts from KFC

KFC maple syrup egg tart

When I found out that 'Egg Tart King' in NYC had disappeared off the face of the earth, almost overnight, I was pretty depressed. It had been my go to place... a shop that I often visited prior to going to work in the mornings... a shop I'd visit on weekends when I was bored. To be frank, I went through something describable only as 'egg tart withdrawal.' Ha, okay, maybe that's not actually true... egg tarts aren't that important to my emotional well being, but I do like them a lot. Something about the piping hot custard (with a distinct temperature gradient from outside to center!) holding together a crumbly warm crust is comforting. When I eat a good egg tart, my frustrations melt away... with my only concern being how I want to approach the pastry to reduce crumblage (is that a word?). Obviously, I have a soft spot for KFC's egg tarts in Taiwan... so when I saw they had a special 'maple syrup' flavored one, I was kind of obligated to try it.

I know what you're thinking... "How in the world can a place specializing in mediocre fried chicken be good at desserts?" I'm not really sure, but I promise you they are. Their regular egg tarts aren't actually egg tarts in the traditional sense... they're actually closer to a puff pastry shell holding a gelatin based egg custard (this is so you can actually put them in your freezer to chill... also crazy good). Anyway, for 31 NT (~$1) you get an individual pastry, or for 158 NT you can get 6. These 'maple syrup' egg tarts are actually layered with a thick syrup base, covered by an egg custard top, graced with a little bit of whipped creme and maple syrup topping. The base is the same, which is to say... buttery and flaky, and the filling is strong with the taste of maple syrup. Consistency is where this shines, as it retains the 'QQ' feeling of a full custard, but with the gluey characteristics of the syrup.

Ahh, as for my impression? I thoroughly enjoyed the spin on an otherwise classic Asian dessert (or is it Portuguese?), and I did care more about dropping custard on the ground than anything else at the time. With that said... 31 NT is a bit high for something so small (yes I know I'm complaining about $1), but when you can readily get obanyaki for around 10 NT per... that seems a bit pricey. Still... it's worth a try. Plus there's something about getting dessert from KFC that I find overwhelmingly satisfying.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Pigs feet from 東東牛肉麵 (East East Beef Noodles)

pigs feet from 東東牛肉麵

Another one of those things that I don't really understand about Asian people. Their obsession with random limbs off animals (tongue, tail, feet, snout, and so on). Taiwanese people, and I guess Fuzhou people, love pigs feet. They braise it in soy sauce until it's fall apart tender, and the 'meat' is basically hanging off the bone. There's not all that much meat on the foot, and it's generally pretty expensive relative to most other meat in the supermarket. So on yet another errand run for the grandmother, I took a detour to a restaurant that I've passed by numerous times over the past few years... 東東牛肉麵 or 'East East Beef Noodles.' I feel like I don't have to say this (since most of you are already thinking it), but that's one of the dumbest names I've ever heard. Alternatively, if they aren't saying 'East East,' then they're calling it 'Dong Dong.' I'm not sure which is worse. What'd I think of their food?

I got their 招牌 or 'specialty,' pigs feet over rice (the picture above). First off, I want to say that this is probably one of the ugliest things I've ever taken a picture of (and there is no way of making it look more appealing). Also... it's no better in person. I actually had a certain description I was going to write on my visual impression of it, but I'll let your imagination take over. Anyway, for 95 NT ($3) you get 3 pigs feet over a giant bowl of rice, with pork sauce, half a tea egg, and some veggies on the side. As described above, the pigs feet are stewed in a soy sauce based broth until the 'meat,' which is actually more accurately described as hide, is soft enough to peel off with chopsticks. The meat takes on the flavor of the broth, and actually possesses a characteristic feel that's halfway in between that of pork belly, and pork hide. In truth, it's a pretty unique texture that I haven't found in any other dish. I guess I can sort of understand why it's a classic Taiwanese dish.

As for my impression? Obviously I wasn't in love with the dish, as I find pigs feet to be way too much work for way too little meat, as well as possessing a, perhaps mental, aftertaste of... well... foot. Basically, it's something I only got because it's what they're specialty is, and I would never buy it again. I should've considered the fact that they have beef noodles in their shop name and gotten that. Oh well.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Pizza cones (eZ's Pizza)

eZ's Pizza

As I perused the very same street fair where I found the durian ice cream, my eyes were instantly blinded by a giant chrome sign that had the word 'pizza' plastered on it. Okay, maybe that didn't happen, but I did take an extra glance at the stand it occupied. Pizza isn't overly popular in Taiwan, at least, not to the extent that it is in the United States, so when I come across places that serve pizza not named 'Pizza Hut' or 'Domino's,' I'm usually pretty fascinated by their offerings (when you consider the fact that they have abalone and mayo as standard toppings here, I usually expect a lot more from other places). Thus I present to you 'eZ's Pizza,' which stuffs cheese, sauce, and toppings into a cone for what they describe as a 'clean and on the go slice.' See Slice for more in depth details/for some background.

Pizza roll billboard

Actually, the real reason I stopped was because of the billboard. I won't lie, those pictures make the product look pretty sick. The flavor combos in Taiwan didn't fail to impress, as they stepped up toppings to include shrimp, corn, pineapple, and the full assortment of ice cream flavors you'd expect to find at 'Chinatown Ice Cream Factory.' They get bonus points for not using grilled chicken, but rather teriyaki chicken... I guess they cater to the clientele on each continent individually. Anyway, I was pretty hungry, and nothing else there really looked all that appealing. I figured that it only cost 50 NT ($1.50) so it was cheap enough to waste money on.

Pizza wrap thinger

Hrm, how did it taste...? Well, unlike Adam's cone that he got in NYC, the outer crust wasn't like a pastry at all. It was actually a decent representation of the pan pizza crust at 'Pizza Hut,' straight down to the fact that it made the inner layer of my napkin translucent. I ordered the salami cone, just so that I'd have something a bit more familiar to compare with normal slices, but was greeted by several layers of cheese, sauce, thinly sliced salami, and... corn? Yeah, Chinese people love corn. That doesn't mean I want it in my pizza cone thinger. Minor gripe, get over it, I know. Anyway, if you read the SE article, it's basically true... it's not as good as a regular slice (although mine didn't cost $4.90), it's layers of pizza topping that get baked repeatedly in a convection oven, then stuffed inside a breadlike crust. Was it good? Meh, not really. Was it awful? Wouldn't go that far either. Let's just say I basically paid 50 NT to take pictures of it, and that I would never buy it again. One last complaint... my cone does not look anything like those on that billboard, hrmph.


Monday, May 24, 2010

Durian ice cream

Durian icecream + rum raisin (from Sentia)

Because I'm unemployed, and otherwise without responsibilities for the Summer, I tend to spend a lot of my time wandering and going to random events that 'catch my fancy.' Case in point, the street fair in front of Taipei City Hall this past Saturday. I don't actually know what the premise of the whole fair was, but I knew I had nothing to do, and there were food stands there, so that's where I went. When I got there, I realized that the food options weren't all that interesting (although I did come across a lazy man's version of pizza in a cone), so when I came across an ice cream stand, I figured I could at least cool off a little with a couple scoops.

The stand belonged to a company called 'Sentia,' marketed as exotic tropic fruit ice cream (jacked straight from their website!). Nothing overly exciting imho... jackfruit, mango, durian, and blueberry seemed to be the not so commonly seen flavors. Anyhoo, I ultimately settled on a scoop of durian (just for tastes) and rum raisin, as a more familiar flavor in case I found the durian unpalatable. Now I've had durian ice cream before, but most of the NYC shops that make it either find a way to mute the flavor, or up the sweetness. Not Sentia... their flavor was... much more distinct. As far as what I thought? I wouldn't say I enjoyed it per se, but for 50 NT ($1.50) it wasn't a total loss. Honestly, I'm not entirely sure why Asian people like durian so much, it's just gym sock mixed with onion under the guise of a fruit.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

南陽哨子麵 (Nan Yang... er, noodles)

乾麵 (dry noodles)

Let me preface this entire post with... "if you're expecting something awesome or new, prepare to be disappointed." I didn't set out to look for this place... actually, I wasn't even trying to find a place to eat actually. I was supposed to be running an errand or something for my grandmother, but I'm easily distracted by lots of things that other people would consider pretty dumb. When I saw a sign that said there was some sort of dish called 乾麵 (gan mian), which loosely translates to 'dry noodles,' for 15 NT (that's less than 50 cents!), the allure of endless bowls of cheap noodles called to me. I scoped out the place to make sure that there were enough people inside, and surely it was packed, then I walked in to order (I've always been told if enough Chinese people collect in 1 place, then there's probably something worth waiting for). Anyway, onto the food!

牛肉湯麵 (南陽哨子麵)

I felt really silly (and cheap) for ordering a bunch of orders of dry noodles, so I also added a 牛肉湯麵 or basically an order of beef noodle soup without beef. This shop is apparently somewhat famous for their different varieties of noodles, so I asked for the 版條 (ban tiao), which is basically really wide and thin rice noodles. The large bowl, which is seriously big costs 60 NT (just a shade under $2), and is a value driven dish. The broth is nothing special, and kind of watered down. The noodles are made in house, but could easily be confused with the prepackaged variety. All in all, there's nothing incredible about it aside from the size of the bowl. Have I mentioned it's insanely huge? For the price though, I could see the appeal to college and HS kids. This place is located right next to a bunch of tutoring places after all.

As for the dry noodles, that's the picture at the very top. For 15 NT you get a small dish of 油麵 (you mian) mixed with a combination of 魯肉汁, otherwise known as minced pork sauce, bean sprouts, and a dash of what is most likely sesame oil. This was definitely better than the beef noodle soup dish, and if I could go back in time and redo my order, I would just get like... 4 orders of this. Again, nothing to write home about (wait... what's this post about then?), but it's 50 cents! I don't think that'd get you a side order of bean sprouts in NYC.


Friday, May 21, 2010

Lamb cake (Asian bakery love)

Lamb cake

If you were hoping for some messed up concoction of a cake consisting of lamb meat, I'm sorry to disappoint you (no, I'm actually not. That sounds disgusting, and I hope it doesn't exist anywhere in this world). Nope, I just figured I'd brighten everyone's day at the end of the week with a cake shaped like a lamb that I thought was just toooooo kyoot to pass up a chance to take a photo of (my inner 8 year old girl demanded I do so). I didn't buy it, so I can't comment on how it tasted (it was only 200 NT which is like $6... maybe I should've bought it), but I have to say the craftsmanship was exquisite. If you remember, they also make panda's shaped like cakes. This is slightly less awesome. I like pandas way more than sheep. Anyhoo, hope everyone else enjoyed this as much as I did... which is unlikely because I'm childish.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

永康刀削麵 (Yong Kang Knife Cut Noodles)

Chopstick holder (@永康刀削麵)

Ignore the post title, what I really meant to call it was 'place where they pull funky ass knife stunts like whoa.' Having just gotten off the plane 4 hours before, I did what any sensible person fighting jet lag would do. I went and got a haircut. Oh, and I went to get food. Actually, I was told that I looked homeless, and forced to get a haircut, but anyway, I spent my time musing what I'd get for lunch. Realizing that I was sitting on 永康街 (Yong Kang Street), I thought about what there was... soup dumplings, meh, not today. Beef noodles... soup was probably a bit silly given the temperature. Ultimately, I decided on the little shop in the corner that specialized in knife cut noodles, appropriately named 永康刀削麵 (Yong Kang Knife Cut Noodles).

炸醬麵 (bean paste noodles)

Why? I'm not really sure. I didn't really want plan on getting noodles at all. I had actually planned on getting small burgers, and a side of shaved ice. When I saw these 2 dudes slicing the hell out of giant balls of dough though, I was completely mesmerized. Now, I tried to take a picture, I swear, but when said men with knives turned and gazed at me with eyes of fury, I decided it was probably a poor course of action. In any case, I ordered a small 炸醬麵 (bean paste noodle) which was 55 NT ($1.50) and a small 牛肉麵 (beef noodle) which was 110 NT ($3) to sample. Yes I realize I completely contradicted my previous statement of soup being too hot, but I wanted to try it. Let me summarize this meal quickly. Noodles, out of this world. Cut to the perfect thickness despite the rapidity of the cuts made by said crazy men with knives. Texture was spot on, with just enough resistance to make you question whether or not the center would be cooked through (which it always was). The bean paste sauce was pretty generic, nothing awful to detract from the noodles, but nothing spectacular either. The beef noodles were more of the same, mediocre broth, overly tough and rather tasteless beef. Have I mentioned the noodles are out of this world though? Okay, so obviously that seems like a mixed bag in terms of my opinion, but here's a shocker... the noodles are good enough to outweigh all the negatives of the complementary pieces. Do yourself a favor and just get the beef noodle soup sans the beef. It's way cheaper, and you still get those sensual strands of carbohydrates... mmm~.

Oh yeah, why is the a picture of a cup at the top you might ask? I dunno. I just liked the fact that it had the characters that represented something akin to 'peace' on it. It seemed appropriate in a noodle shop.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Veselka (home of the burger porns)

Burger deluxe

On the same day that I went to Momofuku, I told my sister that I would very much like to go to Veselka. I'd heard incredible things about their burger (and while I had eaten it before, it delivered to me... cold and soggy from condensation), their desserts, and about the quaintness of the shop itself. So over we trekked (along with one of her classmates who happens to love cheesecake) for lunch. Unsurprisingly it was somewhat packed given the time, but goddamnit, I had never been before... and I was leaving in less than a week! I WANTED MY UKRAINIAN BURGER. So we waited the 20 or so minutes for a table, and after many names being called that had given up on waiting, we were finally seated.

Salmon omelet

While I had a firm plan on what I wanted to order, my sister and her friend Victoria grazed over the menu, ultimately deciding on the salmon omelet, with some sort of potato pancake side. I guess they enjoyed it, I had no part of it, so I can't pass and judgment on how good it was (the idea of soft fish flesh being cooked into eggs just doesn't appeal to me... sorry!). Photo credits here don't even belong to me. Despite taking 4 or 5, I ended up using the singular photo that Victoria snapped. I guess I should work on the whole photography thing haha.

Burger cross section

Burger innards! Like I said, I knew what I wanted. Cheeseburger. American cheese. Deluxe. I didn't want my last impression of Veselka to be that limp burger I had sophomore year. In any case, I asked for it medium (what? I don't like bloody burgers), and they obliged perfectly. The center was just barely cooked through, and the outside had a delightfully smokey aftertaste. There was an ever so slight crunch on patty from the charring, and the cheese was melted homogeneously across the bias of the top. I really like this burger. If I had to find fault with it, it would only be that the bread is slightly dry... and that they don't assemble it for you, but that's nitpicking. At $12 (I think), it's certainly a pretty good value given the size and quality.

Meh... fries

There were fries too. Given the choice between chips, fries, and sweet potato fries, I went with the default. They were okay, slightly thicker than I prefer (I love McDonald's fries), and well textured with a crunchy greeting yielding to soft innards. They accidentally snuck some sweet potato fries onto my plate, and that is my major regret. Those are pure egg whites. If I could reorder, I would go with that next time.


I would've been content with that for a meal, I mean... I did have a slice of crack pie prior to, but upon some goading by Victoria, more dessert was ordered. She got the cheesecake (which I thought about ordering, but figured I could take more pictures if I got something different). I did try this, and it's a very heavy cheesecake, with a filling that's very dense and satisfying to cut through. A very subtle tartness is pierced by a sweetness short of overwhelming, it was a pretty good balance, and a suitable follow up to greasy burger goodness. It's also not a wallet killer, although I'm not sure it's great for the heart.

Triple chocolate mousse

After some debate, I settled on the triple chocolate mousse. I thought about getting the Kutia(?), but some quick research yielded that it was a dessert that was also served at funerals... which was a turn off. Anyway, this was the polar opposite of the cheesecake. It was light and airy, and the chocolate flavor was strong in scent, but mild in taste. What can I say, I like most desserts, and this is no different (I'm not very good at discerning what are good and bad sweets... they're all good to me haha). The chocolate thingy on the side was a nice complement to the mousse, as it was definitely on the sweet side. Oh yeah, the crème fraiche on the side... not ice cream. Duly noted.

All in all, I really like Veselka. Which is kind of an appropriate farewell for me from NYC food for a while, since it left a good taste in my mouth. Uh, my suggestion... go here?


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Momofuku Milk Bar (I can't haz cake?!)

Momofuku crack pie

I've heard great things of Momofuku Milk Bar. I've never been before (although I did manage to convince someone to bring me soft serve... graham cracker I think, it was pretty good). As part of my leaving NYC campaign, I made sure to add the milk bar to my hit list of places to go to prior to graduation. I took visiting my sister as an excuse to go there, as well as Veselka in a post to come (don't blame me for not condensing! I ran out of Flickr quota!). So on a lazy Sunday, I biked downtown for dessert and lunch, in that order, and set out to Momofuku. When I got there, I spent a solid 10 minutes trying to pick what I wanted. Did I want more soft serve? Nah, not really in the mood for liquid based sweets. Pie? Maybe, but I was hoping for something a bit larger than a slice of pie. Cake... yep, I had settled on chocolate malt cake.

Wait, why does the photo not match? Oh yeah, because Momofuku Milk Bar apparently implemented a policy of 'no individual slices of cake.' What? If I want cake I have to buy the whole thing? Crazies. With my wallet growing thin and Veselka on the horizon, I begrudgingly made the sensible choice and chose something smaller/lighter. So I went with crack pie! Basically a pie filled with butter, sugar, heavy cream, and some more sugar (of the brown variety), it's just a gummy, over the top sweet tart of a slice of pie. Don't be deceived by the relatively thin cross section, it's heavy. At $5 and change, it's kind of pricey, but with all the hype, it's kind of deserved. Their sweets are definitely good. About the cake though... that's kind of annoying. I would very much like to try their chocolate malt cake. I would very much not like to buy a full cake. See my dilemma?


Monday, May 10, 2010

Gray's Papaya at 4 am

Gray's Papaya storefront

Like I said before, I have really good friends. They tend to accept my habits of wanting to go to random restaurants with 0 reviews, and my tendencies to make them wait as I photograph not only my food, but theirs as well. With that said, they're also sometimes morons. Case in point, the clown who walked into my photo of the storefront up top. Now, I like really like hot dogs (the fact that back to back posts are of wieners is just coincidence though). When I was a kid, my parents would always cook 2 packs of them, just because I'd always complain that there wasn't enough for 4 people. Hm, maybe I can blame my parents for being overweight through college. In any case, when my friend asked if I wanted to go to Gray's Papaya at 4 am (which in retrospect was an incredibly stupid proposal), I reluctantly folded and said yes. Now for the food...

Recession (not)special

Backstory, freshman year I went to Gray's once. I walked there from 116th with someone I lived with at the time. The recession special was $2.75 and got you 2 franks with a special house drink. Fast forward to 2010, and all of a sudden, the recession special is $4. Plus tax. That's not even a special! Anyway, I couldn't not get food just because I was slightly irked at the price change, so I went with the default order, with a banana daiquiri as my drink of choice. The hot dogs themselves were okay, certainly not "the best in NYC" or whatever slogan they use. They had appropriate snap from the skin, and were just salty enough to make me glad I had a drink. The toppings of sauerkraut and onions kind of destroyed it though. Mainly the onions. The additional amount of sauce slathered over top made the thing taste more like mustard and tabasco than meat, and if I were to ever order again in the future, I would pass on the onions. Eh, what can I say, I wasn't all that impressed. Then again I know many Papaya dog loyalists who will inevitably hate this post, I just don't see why.


Friday, May 7, 2010

Crif Dogs and why I love my friends


I base 95% of my friendships on food. No, actually that's probably phrasing it incorrectly, but 95% of my friends accommodate to my quirks when it comes to food, whether it be going to new restaurants to try random things, or walking 20 blocks to get fried chicken with me at 3 am. Needless to say, I'm going to be sad that I'm moving away from such a great group of people next year. Why is the intro to this post so uber depressing? Well, on one occasion where I didn't go downtown with them, Wayne remembered that I had wanted to go to Crif Dog for more than a while, so I got a surprise phone call, and a delivery back to the dorm. About an hour later, my Tsunami dog (above) and an order of cheese tater tots arrived.

Chili dog

First off, I'd like to apologize for the photography. The 45 minute train ride back probably doesn't do anything to make the dogs look any more appetizing, and I'm pretty sure the sogginess that I portrayed is doing just wonders for their image. In any case, The Tsunami is described as "a house dog, bacon wrapped, with teriyaki, pineapple & green onions." While it truly looks nothing like the image on the website, it was as described. A nice and semi-crispy wiener wrapped in bacon, with a thick pineapple and teriyaki sauce. The combination of sweet and savory was balanced pretty well, with nothing coming through as overwhelming. A pleasant surprise, and something I'd definitely order again. Which... was not true for the chili dog. It wasn't mine, but I ended up with a bite of it anyway. Maybe it was a single hit or miss thing, but the chili was relatively pasty, with an overwhelming textural consistency equivalent to that of canned beans (at least to me). I'm not in love with beans (unless they're on top of ice and covered with condensed milk), so I didn't really enjoy this one. To each their own, I know for a fact that other people name this as their favorite. Meh.

Cheese tater tots

Argh! Tater tots... with cheese. Disclaimer, I'm sure these are absolutely phenomenal when they first come out of the fryer. The time in transit however, didn't treat these kindly. The cheese ended up being a solid chunk of gelatinous blob, and the tots themselves were kind of mushy from the humidity. If I were at Crif Dog in person, I would probably complement my hot dog with a side order of these, but pass if you're not going to eat immediately.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Love-hate relationship with Checkers

2x Big Buford

Yeah yeah, why the hell would I write about fast food in the US. Normal fast food. First off, there's nothing exciting that goes down around Columbia (although I was recently informed that there's an IHOP around here, and that I've been missing out on those all you can eat pancake deals), so when I realized Checkers opened here, I was like a kid in a candy store, I was ecstatic. Which brings me to point two, which is the superiority of Checkers to other food options around campus. I mean, sure I love M2M and Hamdel, and I probably would be much sadder if I didn't have Silvermoon or even Pinnacle around, but where else is there a double menu that features 2 apple pies for $1?

The above picture is actually 2x 'Big Buford' burgers ,which is really just a normal burger with 2 patties and 2 slices of American cheese. So that'd be 4 slices of cheese and 4 patties... all for $6. Did I mention they make a decent shake (in which they offer a banana flavor too!)? The shake is super thick, and the straws are ultra bendy, so there's some failure when you try to drink it, but minor gripe for something so cheap. Sorry, there's no real point to this post, except to make future students at Columbia realize they have a hidden gem of a fast food establishment on 125th. Oh, btw... they have Mr. Pibb. You know... crazy delicious?


Saturday, May 1, 2010

Random photos of food

Chicken katsu

Chalk this one up to poor documentation, or irresponsibility, but I don't actually remember the name of this place. I know an approximate location for this restaurant, it's near a relatively uninhabited section of 愛國東路 (Ai Guo East Road), and I can even picture the storefront. I can't for the life of me remember the name though... ugh. It's okay. I've been told by numerous people that they only visit to look at the pictures so it's no big loss (plus the people that gripe about not being able to visit any of these places anyway...). In any case, these dishes were cheap as sin... I think something like 70 NT (about $2). The only reason I walked in was because there was a sign outside saying that the daily special was chicken katsu. Go figure.

Yakiniku beef

Let's see, the food came out ridiculously fast since I was the only customer there. It was... adequate? I mean, it was certainly better than I could do even with hours of preparation in the kitchen, so I guess it was better than that. The katsu was appropriately crispy on the outside, and piping hot on the inside, so it wasn't prepared earlier and simply reheated (which is incredible considering the amount of time I was waiting), and the beef yakiniku was excellently tender, although drowned by a cloyingly sweet sauce. All in all, it was good for the money spent, but let's just say I won't make an effort of it to figure out the specifics. To be honest, I'm just kind of OCD about having pictures that've been skipped over and not posted. Plus I really like pictures of fried chicken.