Apr 142014
 

Gonna wrap up my Taiwan travel posts now with a couple more restaurants, and some miscellaneous photos of cutesy things…

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Chun Shui Tang (春水堂) is purportedly the originator of the now-famous bubble milk tea. Apparently this is a topic of hot debate in Taiwan, so I’ll try to stay out of the controversy, haha. But the story goes, the product development manager, Ms. Xiu-Hui Lin, created the combination of adding tapioca pearls to iced assam tea just on a whim at a corporate meeting, and it has become the ever-popular bubble tea drink that we know and love today.

Actually, I don’t really like the tapioca pearls. Haha. I just like milk tea.

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The milk tea from Chun Shui Tang is actually better than most others – with the price to reflect its quality. The thick layer of foam that you see at the top is a result of the tea being vigorously shaken, and the foam provides a pleasantly airy texture to the tea.

We also had some dinner here…

Kung-Fu Noodles

Kung-Fu Noodles

Kung-Fu noodles is basically noodles with minced pork sauce. As you can see, portion sizes in Taiwan area quite small compared with U.S. – but that was great for me because I could try more things, haha.

Oolong-Flavored Tofu Curd and Pork Blood

Oolong-Marinated Tofu Curd and Pork Blood

Turnip Cake

Turnip Cake

Taiwanese-style turnip cake is a little different from the Cantonese-style – there’s usually very little filling in the Taiwanese turnip cakes, whereas the Cantonese ones have Chinese sausage, mushrooms, etc.

Taiwanese Sausage

Taiwanese Sausage

Mmm… grilled Taiwanese sausage is so yummy. Continue reading »

Apr 112014
 

Matcha Love is a Japanese café that opened up in the Mitsuwa grocery store. I first saw the signs for the store about a week before the grand opening, which took place on March 28. Well, I couldn’t pass up anything matcha, so on the second day, I gathered up a few friends to check it out.

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Erm, sorry for that ginormous glare spot… Here’s a better photo of the menu prices:

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The offerings here are quite simple: ice cream, hot tea, hot latte, shakes, and boba tea.

Matcha Shake [$3] and Matcha Ice Cream [$3]

Matcha Shake [$2.80] and Matcha Ice Cream [$3]

The Matcha Shake was actually not a milkshake, like we all thought it would be. Continue reading »

Jan 242014
 

Half & Half Tea House has pretty much become a sensation, thanks to its “Original Hot Honey Boba and Iced Milk Drinks.” The famous Iced Milk Drink is basically sweetened milk blended with ice and flavored with honey syrup from the boba, or whatever toppings that you choose.

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S and I have visited several Half & Half locations, including the original San Gabriel location, but pictured here is the Pasadena location (called an “Express” store).

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I chose the Iced Milk Drink with coffee jelly and pudding as my toppings, since I like those more than boba.

Iced Milk Drink with Coffee Jelly & Pudding

Iced Milk Drink with Coffee Jelly & Pudding [$3.85]

The pudding here is really special – I think it has an extra “eggy” taste, if that makes sense – and for me, that’s what makes this drink really great and stand out among some of its imitators, including San Diego’s Infini Tea.

Continue reading »

Dec 112013
 

Combining two restaurants in the same Irvine plaza in one post… seems acceptable, doesn’t it? Actually, these were from two separate visits to the Diamond Jamboree plaza (featuring my favorite 85°C Bakery), on our way home from LA, and I insisted both times that we swing by Irvine for dinner/dessert. Haha.

I originally read about Bon Epi Patisserie on CC’s blog, Pink Candles at Ridgemont High (link at end of the post). Before that, I didn’t even notice Bon Epi in the same plaza! Haha. But I definitely had to go and try some of the macarons, after reading about them. I’ve sort of been a macaron fiend lately…

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Bon Epi actually features all sorts of pastries and desserts, but I had already gotten my fill of breads & pastries from both 85°C and a cafe in LA (post coming soon!). So, this would be a macarons-only visit…

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White Chocolate Macadamia, Vanilla, Salted Caramel, Chocolate, Pistachio, Earl Grey,White Chocolate Green Tea

Continue reading »

Nov 202013
 

Sorry to keep flooding you with posts from my L.A. trip, but I haven’t eaten out much in San Diego since we spent so much money and time eating out in L.A. instead. Haha. I’ll consider this my guide for L.A. for now. Also, I’m going to combine some of the posts since we visited quite a few cafés and dessert shops during our short time there (another reason we’re trying to eat out less… har har).

Anyway, we stumbled upon Beard Papa’s in Little Tokyo Shopping Center by accident. Our destination was a sushi restaurant for lunch, and Beard Papa’s happened to be at the entrance of the same shopping center in Little Tokyo. Normally when S and I visit L.A., we eat in the San Gabriel Valley area (for Taiwanese and/or Cantonese food), so this was my first time in Little Tokyo. I actually really liked the large shopping center, which reminded me a bit of Asian department stores – a food court floor, arcade, grocery store, boutiques… Should have taken some photos. Oops. I was too busy window shopping with my friends.

My friend saw the Beard Papa’s and got super excited. Haha. It’s a Japanese franchise that specializes in selling cream puffs – soft and puffy choux pastry filled with pastry cream. I’ve made my own version at home, but Beard Papa’s makes some of the best cream puffs I’ve had. (Keep in mind, I haven’t been to France. Haha.)

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Filling the choux pastry with fresh pastry cream

You order the type of cream puff you want (see next pic for the menu), then it gets filled – this way, the choux pastry stays crisp instead of getting soggy from the cream.

Beard Papa's Menu

Beard Papa’s Menu

I was really tempted to get multiple puffs, but they don’t taste good if they’re not fresh, so I just ordered a regular vanilla cream puff for S, and one vanilla E’clair for myself. The E’clair is just the cream puff dipped in chocolate.

P1030857-3 Continue reading »

Sep 282013
 

S and I are always on the lookout for new bubble tea shops in San Diego. He has a milk tea obsession – as in, must have at least one cup per day. I used to joke that we should install a milk tea IV drip for him, but he might actually consider that seriously so I stopped talking about this idea…

Anyway, I heard from a friend that a new tea shop opened next to Zion Market, called M.I. Tea Express – so S and I went to try it out. Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo of the storefront. It’s located at the very left side of Zion (if you’re facing the store), next to Taegukgi Korean BBQ. M.I. Tea apparently stands for “Made in Taiwan,” so I was hoping that it would be on par with the good milk tea that I’ve had in Taiwan.

The menu is pretty simple, although the list of “Top 10″ drinks didn’t make any sense to me since there were no descriptions.

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S and I opted to try the classic milk tea and green milk tea, which are each $2.98. It costs an extra 48 cents to upgrade to large and also 48 cents to get the drinks hot. I’m always confused by the upcharge for hot drinks since I always assumed that the drinks are first made hot, and then chilled. Oh well.

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Classic & Green Milk Tea

S took several gulps of his tea before putting it on the table for a photograph. Haha. We really enjoyed the drinks here – the tea flavor is quite prominent. I especially liked the green milk tea – the green tea was so refreshing.

P1030596-5 Continue reading »

Jul 242013
 

I’ve seen many of my fellow bloggers post about E & Drink, but I personally had not gotten a chance to visit for a long time – mostly because some of my Taiwanese friends told me that the food there isn’t very good, especially compared with other “individual hot pot” restaurants such as Boiling Point (which we have visited a while ago). But lately, I’ve been hearing mixed reviews, and one of my friends decided to host a group dinner there, so S and I went along to check it out.

I didn’t get photos of the indoors and stuff, but there are plenty of posts from other bloggers (see end of post), who took good pictures! Haha.

There were about 10 different hot pots available. S chose the “Spicy Beef Mini Pot”, which most of our friends recommended. I didn’t want to get the same thing, though, so I picked the “Hong Kong Curry Fish Ball Mini Pot.”

Spicy Beef Mini Pot 家鄉香辣牛肉鍋 [$10.99]

Spicy Beef Mini Pot 家鄉香辣牛肉鍋 [$10.99]

Hong Kong Curry Fish Ball Mini Pot 港式咖哩魚丸鍋 [$10.99]

Hong Kong Curry Fish Ball Mini Pot 港式咖哩魚丸鍋 [$10.99]

I definitely preferred the spicy beef to the curry hot pot. The beef broth was much more flavorful, surprisingly, than the curry-based broth… the curry actually felt somewhat watered down and bland! I did enjoy all of my toppings, though, and they were quite generous with their portions – although some of my friends feel that there wasn’t enough meat in their hot pots compared with Boiling Point. (However, E & Drink is several dollars cheaper than BP.)

Appetizer & condiments

Appetizer & condiments

Pickled cabbage, soy sauce, and hot sauce were served as accompaniments. Continue reading »

Jun 262013
 

S and I visited Infini Tea soon after it had first opened, and at that time they only had drinks. We weren’t too impressed with their milk tea, but many of our friends really like the place, so we’ve returned a couple of times to try out the food and drinks.

First off, we had heard that the most famous drink here is their milk slush – many claim that it’s similar to the one at Half & Half, a very popular milk tea shop in LA. So of course we had to try it out.

Iced Milk Drink with Pudding & Honey Boba ($3.85)

Iced Milk Drink with Pudding & Honey Boba ($3.85)

I’ve actually had a similar milk slush drink at Tea Station. But I liked Infini Tea’s much, much more. It’s basically ice and milk blended together, with boba and pudding at the bottom. Much of the sweet syrup comes with the boba, so it’s actually very sweet at the very bottom. The waiter suggested for us to stir it well before drinking so that the sweetness is more evenly distributed. Overall, both of us really enjoyed this drink, and when we tried Tea Station’s version again after this, we realized just how much better Infini Tea’s version was.

We also tried the new-ish food menu. Actually, we had already tried it once before, but I didn’t have my camera with me so I couldn’t take photos. S tried his favorite dish, red-braised pork belly:

Red-Cooked Pork Belly with Rice ($6.95)

Red-Cooked Pork Belly with Rice ($6.95)

As you can see, the meal is accompanied by some side dishes – they’re different each time, and that day it was a seaweed salad and egg drop soup. (The sides actually really remind me of Tea Station, and that’s because the owners here were originally employees at Tea Station.)

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Continue reading »

Jun 252013
 

Shortly after I left Berkeley, I saw posts about Asha Tea House popping up on my friends’ Facebook posts. I couldn’t believe that a popular tea shop had opened – right after I had left, and a two-minute walk away from where I had lived. So when I returned to Berkeley for a school thing last weekend, I stopped by for a quick visit.

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I loved the decor of the place, even though it was really, really hipster. Haha.

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They sold lots of different “teaware” – most of which were quite expensive but very elegant. I always wished that I knew more about tea… I had actually visited a tea shop in Shanghai, where I was educated about different types of tea and their origins and characteristics. Looking back, I wish I had paid more attention. Haha.

Their menu features regular tea and special drinks such as fruit tea and milk tea. I went with Hong Kong milk tea, which has a stronger tea flavor than regular milk tea.

Hong Kong Milk Tea ($3.75)

Hong Kong Milk Tea ($3.75)

Continue reading »

Jun 132013
 

S and I always lament the lack of good Taiwanese food in San Diego. There’s of course our go-to Tea Garden, and various other places such as Infini Tea (post about their food coming soon!), Tea Station, and Liang’s Kitchen. Sadly, the food at these places have not been too impressive, especially after we visited some really good Taiwanese restaurants in L.A. and the Bay Area. So, when we heard that there’s a new eatery opening up on Convoy St with a focus on Taiwanese street food, I was excited but tried not to be too excited – just in case of disappointment.

Kirbie from Kirbie’s Cravings already blogged about her visit, and I agree with her that their delayed openings were a bit annoying and worrisome. I remember it was originally supposed to open on May 4th (and I even tried to go that day, only to be turned away by a “Delayed Opening” sign on the door), and it kept getting pushed back until May 30th. Then, when we did visit on the 30th, the place was so crowded – even at almost 9pm – that the staff told us the wait would be at least 30-40 minutes for food, and 10-15 minutes just for drinks. (That was when we decided to run across the street to Yakyudori Yakitori instead.)

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Anyway, things seem to have be running more smoothly there now, so S and I ventured out for another attempt last weekend. The place is quite spacious, with a row of booth seating along one wall and tables scattered throughout. I thought they could have arranged the space a bit better to accommodate more tables, but maybe this way it will be less crowded.

We started out with some drinks, of course. S always goes for the milk tea – the drink by which he judges the restaurant – and I opted to try the tea latte, which is black or green tea with a layer of sweetened cream on top.

Milk Tea [$3.75] and Black Tea Latte [$4.25]

Milk Tea [$3.75] and Black Tea Latte [$4.25]

Tea Latte

Tea Latte

I tried S’s milk tea and actually really liked it. The tea flavor was very strong – he ranked it as good as Tea Station’s, which has been his favorite by far. The Tea Latte, on the other hand, wasn’t as good as Tea Garden’s – the layer of cream was too thick, and it was hard to mix it into the tea without getting some clumps. Also, the tea drinks here are more expensive than any other place around here.

Cold Cut Platter (simmered pig ear, seaweed, bean curd, & egg) 黑白切 (豬耳朵,海帶,豆干,滷蛋) [$6.25/lg, $5.75/sm]

Cold Cut Platter 黑白切 [$6.25/lg, $5.75/sm]

Continue reading »

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