Mar 22, 2017

Taiwan Travelogue: Ximending, Here I Come (11 Nov 2015)

After two days in Keelung, we had pretty much eat all that we can. My mom simply couldn't wait to move on to our next destination. A quick shower, a final shove of luggages, and a simple hotel breakfast ploughed our way to Ximen. From TRA Keelung Station, we took a train to MRT Taipei Main Station, before switching to MRT Ximen Station.

By the time we arrived at Ximen Station, it was drizzling. My mom and I were lugging our luggage around while looking for King Lei-Lei Hotel, which some of the locals were clueless where it was. To look for King Lei-Lei Hotel in Chinese among the sea of Chinese billboards was the first challenge. To look for a store front (which is inexistent) was another. What we should have looked at was an entrance to lift/reception, a lift to the 5th floor of the building.

King Lei-Lei Hotel's homely operator was quick to respond upon our arrival and even kind enough to show us a few rooms for us to choose. The room we had was poorly lit (by way of design), the bed was decent, the TV was the ancient 24-inch box, the fridge was barely functioning but toilet was freshly renovated with bathtub.

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Ay-Chung Mee Sua 阿宗豬腸麵線 @ Ximending
On the good side, within few hundred metre walking distance, we would immediately find ourselves in the hustle bustle of Ximending. Better still, found the famous Ay-Chung mee sua 阿宗豬腸麵線 for lunch!

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Ay-Chung Mee Sua 阿宗豬腸麵線 @ Ximending
Fine threads of noodles swam in the smooth golden concoction hinted a little more vinegar than we used to and maybe a dash of Chinese wine - the moment we passed by, we knew we had to try. This bowl of mee sua was the second best thing we had in Taiwan. The mee sua was so smooth and silky that you could easily slurped it down if it were not of heat. The soup was well balanced so you could go without any condiment if you should choose not to.

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Condiments to add @ Ay-Chung Mee Sua 阿宗豬腸麵線
For us, we went on a little with chilli and garlic. Best thing about chilli and hot soup, it accentuated both flavours to the next level which both of us found extra intoxicating.

Total damage = TWD65

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Bubble Milk Tea @ Ochado Bubble Tea
It was not until Day 5 we had a proper bubble milk tea in Taiwan, which we so happened to grab from Ochado Bubble Tea while walking around looking for more good food. Flavour and texture were similar to Chatime in Malaysia, so we did not loose much back home.

Total damage = TWD45

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Taiwanese Sausage Stall @ Ximending
Half way through Ximending, my mom pointed to me this Taiwanese sausage stall. Immediately I saw what made her so excited - her favorite Big Sausage Wrap Small Sausage 大腸包小腸

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Big Sausage Wrap Small Sausage 大腸包小腸
If you read about my previous post about big sausage wrap small sausage adventure in Jiufen, you would have understood the happiness of finding your number one Taiwanese delicacies. Personally I still think the mobile truck at Golden Waterfall served the best but this came close second. The only improvement I would have made was the ripeness of the pickles as this was too raw to provide the complex flavour it needed.

Total damage = TWD65

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Onion Cake 抓葱饼 Stall @ Ximending
Around Ximending area, you would see plenty of these push cart style vendors selling street foods. We ordered an onion cake 抓葱饼 from this stall for takeaway. Half way cooking, polices came ambushing. All these vendors (apparently they did not have proper operating licenses) fled all over the places but the moment polices went to chase others, this stall lady continued her cooking at another corner of the street. That was how our onion cake 抓葱饼 was saved.

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Onion Cake 抓葱饼
Though named the onion cake 抓葱饼, the only onion part was the leaves used in this dish. The texture of the bread was akin to roti canai in Malaysia but thicker and dense.

Total damage = TWD45

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Ximen Red House Taipei
Around Ximending, you would surely come across this signature two storey high building laid with red bricks called Red House Taipei. This front facade you are seeing were based on octagonal structure, which was joined with a cruciform building. Concerts, theatre, creative events could all be found here in Red House Taipei.

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Skyline of Ximending

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Night View at Ximending

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Xiong Ben Ramen 熊本拉面 - 佐野拉面武昌店 @ Ximending
Come night time, my mom and I headed out to look for food. Plenty of options were available but nothing strike the fancy of my mom than this Xiong Ben Ramen 熊本拉面 - 佐野拉面武昌店. Yes, she loves her ramen.

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Ramen @ Xiong Ben Ramen 熊本拉面 - 佐野拉面武昌店
I barely remembered what I ordered or how it tasted like. All I knew it did not suck big time. I would have gone other places given any chance.

Total damage for 2 pax = TWD220

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Beihui Papaya Milk 北回木瓜牛奶
To compensate the lack of my dinner, I ordered one of this unusual Beihui papaya milk 北回木瓜牛奶 to try. I was skeptical at first but it was really out of the world. Given another chance, I would surely order again!

Total damage = TWD65


IN SUMMARY,

My personal dining ranking (5 being the full score) based on following criteria are:
  • Ambiance
    • Ay-Chung Mee Sua 阿宗豬腸麵線 - 5/5
    • Ochado Bubble Milk Tea - 5/5
    • Taiwanese Sausage Stall - 4/5
    • Onion Cake 抓葱饼 Stall - 3/5
    • Xiong Ben Ramen 熊本拉面 - 佐野拉面武昌店 - 4/5
    • Beihui papaya milk 北回木瓜牛奶 - 5/5
  • Price
    • Ay-Chung Mee Sua 阿宗豬腸麵線 - 5/5
    • Ochado Bubble Milk Tea - 3/5
    • Taiwanese Sausage Stall - 4/5
    • Onion Cake 抓葱饼 Stall - 4/5
    • Xiong Ben Ramen 熊本拉面 - 佐野拉面武昌店 - 2/5
    • Beihui papaya milk 北回木瓜牛奶 - 3/5
  • Food
    • Ay-Chung Mee Sua 阿宗豬腸麵線 - 5/5
    • Ochado Bubble Milk Tea - 4/5
    • Taiwanese Sausage Stall - 4/5
    • Onion Cake 抓葱饼 Stall - 2/5
    • Xiong Ben Ramen 熊本拉面 - 佐野拉面武昌店 - 2/5
    • Beihui papaya milk 北回木瓜牛奶 - 5/5
  • Verdict
    • Ay-Chung Mee Sua 阿宗豬腸麵線 - Best mee sua I had in Taiwan!
    • Ochado Bubble Milk Tea - Not a big fan of bubble but milk tea was great
    • Taiwanese Sausage Stall - Could be better but considered one of the better ones
    • Onion Cake 抓葱饼 Stall - Not too bad for first timer
    • Xiong Ben Ramen 熊本拉面 - 佐野拉面武昌店 - Definitely not something I would have picked for the price
    • Beihui papaya milk 北回木瓜牛奶 - So awesome that I wanted to have more!

My personal hotel/attractions verdicts for:
  • King Lei-Lei Hotel: Strategic location, spacious room but looked draped and aged
  • Ximending: Happening place where food and shopping are interchangeable
  • Red House Taipei: Signature building that you just couldn't miss

DINING INFO:

Ay-Chung Mee Sua 阿宗豬腸麵線
No. 8-1號, Emei St, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan 108
Operation Hours: 9am - 10.30pm (Mon to Thurs), 9am - 11pm (Fri to Sun)
Tel: +886 2 2388 8808
Credit Card: N/A (We paid cash)

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