Apr 4, 2017

Taiwan Travelogue: A Visit to Huashan 1914 & Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall (12 Nov 2015)

Our breakfast for the day was simple and did not involve any walking. Literally breakfast in bed but nothing fancy, such as this bowl of instant noodle, which we bought the night before after dinner at Xiong Ben Ramen 熊本拉面 - 佐野拉面武昌店.

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Breakfast in Bed - Instant Noodle
The noodle texture was thick, chewy and more delightful than the usual instant noodle we have in Malaysia. Soup was normal but hey, it was pork based!

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Thick and Chewy Instant Noodles

After our breakfast-in-bed, we took a train from Ximen Station to Shandao Temple Station, before continued another 500m on foot to Huashan 1914 Creative Park.

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Huashan 1914 Creative Park
Huashan 1914 Creative Park is a remodelled early 20th-century wine factory which now houses live music performances, fancy souvenir shops, stylish restaurants, hipster cafes and bars.

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Exterior of Wine Factory @ Huashan 1914 Creative Park

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Theatre @ Huashan 1914 Creative Park

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One of the Fancy Souvenir Shops Huashan 1914 Creative Park
While dining in hipster cafe and bars was not in our agenda, we spent our time exploring the souvenir shops. Should you want to grab some souvenirs that aren't too mainstream, visit one of the souvenir shops in Huashan 1914 as they have eclectic local-designed products where one couldn't find elsewhere.

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Porcupines @ One of the Fancy Souvenir Shops

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Elevated "Tree" House @ Huashan 1914

The ambiance of whole Huashan 1914 was perfect for photoshoot, be it industrialised shots, creative shots etc. In fact, we came across some photographers taking model shoot during our leisure visit.

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Tall Chimney of Remodelled Wine Factory @ Huashan  1914
After an hour or so, we took a train from Shandao Temple Station to Zhongxiao Dunhua Station in hope to squeeze in a lunch session in Solo Pasta but luck wasn't on our side. We ended up in a nearby Hong Kong style cafe named 真好味茶餐廳.

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Cheese Baked Rice @ 真好味茶餐廳
It was an utter disappointment. To begin with, the "cheese" was too powdery, a sign of too much flour in a mixture. Fried rice under the coat of baked cheese was terrible, so much so that an amateur me could do better than 真好味茶餐廳.

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Pork Bone Soup
This free pork bone soup was no better. So diluted it was that it tasted like water with a hint of pork. I barely remembered what my mom ordered.

Total damage for 2 pax = TWD290

Our next stop was Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, which is located about 2km away from 真好味茶餐廳. Initial plan was to take a train from Zhongxiao Dunhua Station to Zhongxiao Xinsheng Station. However, the adventurous us decided to rent 2 YouBikes from a YouBike rental station along Taipei-Keelung main road.

Payment was relatively straight forward: tap your EasyCard on the card reader, select which bike you are taking, and off you go! For the first 30minute, it was TWD5 per bike.

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Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall
I must say it was an enjoyable experience to take a leisure 1.5km ride along with local cyclists on a chilly autumn weather. After we parked our bikes back to YouBike station opposite Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, we began our touristy visit with Chiang Kai-Shek Chinese garden in the 25-hectares Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Park.

Filled with various species of plants and flowers, the garden was a welcoming change to the cityscape. At different seasons of the year, one can witness the beauty of plum blossoms, cherry blossoms, and osmanthus bloom. Locals were seen spending their leisure afternoon in the garden, strolling and chatting the day away.

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Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall
The giant structure with while walls, blue tiles roofed corridors and pavilions, decorated with Chinese-style latticed windows featuring 26 different motifs, were the definitive characteristics of Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall. Standing tall and proud, it was beautiful.

We did not visit the interior of Chiang Kai-Shek. Instead, we sat at the Liberty Square, enjoying the cold breeze and admiring the beautiful architecture and weather. If you are interested for a visit, you can arrange for a guided tour.

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Smoked Duck Spaghetti @ Solo Pasta
Another 1.5km ride and 400m walk brought us back to Solo Pasta. Since my mom is a big fan of carbonara. and today was her birthday, I made Solo Pasta my choice for celebration. I opted for Spaghetti with Smoked Duck Breast in Balsamic Cream Sauce. That tender slices of duck breast was perfect, so was the balsamic cream sauce that enhanced the diversity of flavour. Even my mom sang praises of it.

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Carbonara @ Solo Pasta
As expected, my mom opted for Spaghetti Carbonara with Bacon, Egg, Grated Padano and Pecorino. The ingredient list sounded fantastic but its taste was pale in comparison. Despite being creamy and cheesy, the taste profile was flat and boring. A little dash of vinegar would have helped to spice things up.

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Tiramisu @ Solo Pasta
Since my mom isn't a big fan of tartness, we did not have any wine but little did she know her Tiramisu Mascarpone was infused with Marsala wine! Despite its "magnitude" in size, it was great in flavour. Though I personally prefer stronger liquor, this was more suited to my mom's taste bud.

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Montebianco @ Solo Pasta

Limited by the choices of dessert, I went for Montebianco. Mont Blanc chestnut puree topped with whipped cream was an unusual delight, especially the subtle nutty profile of the puree. Again, my mom stamped her approval on Montebianco.

Total damage for 2 pax = TWD836

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Scary Transparent Flooring @ Taipei 101
Post dinner, I brought the birthday lady to Taipei 101. We walked 750m to Xinyi Anhe Station, rode 1.2km to Taipei 101/World Trade Centre Station and headed up to Taipei 101 for Taipei's night view. The ticket to Taipei 101 Observatory costed TWD500.

Truth be told, I would have spent the TWD500 for drinks at rooftop bar with a view of Taipei 101. The night view was not spectacular. Moreover, we had to queue in line for half an hour for the ticket, another half an hour or so for our turn to board the fastest lift to Observatory and forced to tour around the jewellery counters. The only consolation was we did check off "Visit Taipei 101 Observatory" in the list of to-do.

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Signing Off from Hitomi & The Birthday Lady

IN SUMMARY,

My personal dining ranking (5 being the full score) based on following criteria are:
  • Ambiance
    • 真好味茶餐廳 - 1/5
    • Solo Pasta - 5/5
  • Price
    • 真好味茶餐廳 - 1/5
    • Solo Pasta - 3/5
  • Food
    • 真好味茶餐廳 - 1/5
    • Solo Pasta - 5/5
  • Verdict
    • 真好味茶餐廳 - It was a mistake
    • Solo Pasta - They do have some interesting dishes that warrant your visit

My personal hotel/attractions verdicts for:
  • King Lei-Lei Hotel - Strategic location, spacious room but looked draped and aged
  • Huashan 1914 Creative Park - Hipster place for the like-minded 
  • Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall - Beautiful architecture that was filled with histories 
  • Taipei 101 Observatory - Save your TWD500 and spend on dinners/drinks overlooking Taipei 101

DINING INFO:

真好味茶餐廳
No. 29, Lane 170, Section 4, Zhongxiao E Rd, Da’an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106
Operation Hours: N/A
Tel: +886 2 2752 3909
Credit Card: N/A (We paid cash)

Solo Pasta
No. 29-1, Section 1, Anhe Rd, Da’an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106
Operation Hours: 11.30am to 3pm, 5pm to 10pm (Mon to Thurs); 11.30am to 10pm (Fri to Sun)
Tel: +886 2 2775 3645
Credit Card: Yes

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