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Dining guide to Taipei and Orange County (CA)

Discuss culture, living, traveling, relocating, dating or anything related to the Asian countries - China, The Philippines, Thailand, etc.

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Dining guide to Taipei and Orange County (CA)

Postby momopi » Fri Sep 14, 2007 9:50 pm

My father once told me that the best era of dining in Taiwan was the 1960s-1970s, when Taiwan's economy was just taking off. Back then Taiwan had a great mix of different foods due to its recent history. Besides traditional Taiwanese and Hakka dishes, Taiwan had been under Japanese colonial rule for 50 years, and the remaining Japanese restaurants were manned by cooks trained the old way, when apprentices took 3 years to learn how to cut fish. The retreating KMT from Mainland China had brought with them many Chinese cooks from all regions of China, some even bringing their original sauce pots from back home.

The combination of these factors resulted in many fine restaurants. Although decor in those days were minimal and you sit on simple benches, the food was simple and original. If you ordered miso soup the soup stock was made with dried/smoked bonito flakes and not from instant soup packages.

Unfortunately, with time and economic progress, few young people today care to pursue a career in cooking the "old day". Many traditional restaurants only lasted 1-2 generations, before the owner or his son got too old and closed the restaurant. During my recent visits to Taiwan, I've found that many restaurants in Taipei served inferior quality dishes, even when compared to some Chinese restaurants in Los Angeles. I went to what was supposed to be one of the best peking duck restaurants in Taipei to attend a school reunion party, and the duck... let's just say that the Cantonese place down the street from my house in Orange County does it better.

After consulting with friends and relatives, I was able to find a few better dining places. As weird as this might sound, some of the small eateries across the street from NTU (National Taiwan University, aka "Tai Da") was actually pretty good!

I found a nice blog on the internet with many restaurant reviews for Taipei. If you're flying to the Philippines, your flight will often transit in Taipei. Consider stopping by the city for a weekend and enjoy the sights and sounds. Read this blog beforehand for good restaurant reviews:
http://hungryintaipei.blogspot.com/

Taipei has an extensive MRT light rail system, it's very easy to get around the city. Just buy a "yo yo card" at any MRT station, deposit some $$, and you're good to go. The MRT signs are all bilingual so you should be able to read it. However be warned that the MRT shuts down around midnight, so don't get stuck after midnight where you can't find a taxi.

---------------

If you're visiting Disneyland in Anaheim, California with your family, I highly recommend Edwin's blog:
http://elmomonster.blogspot.com/

He has a good collection of local restaurant reviews across OC. Remember to read the comments as not everyone agree with his optimistic views. :) And no, you should NOT dine at the $1.99 Vietnamese restaurant in Westminster or Garden Grove.
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Postby The_Adventurer » Fri Sep 14, 2007 10:48 pm

I've found that many restaurants in Taipei served inferior quality dishes, even when compared to some Chinese restaurants in Los Angeles.

Wow. That's amazing. The first time I went to China, I was amazed to find that Chinese and Sichuan cuisine was so different from how it is done in America/Los Angeles. They don't even use the same kind of rice.

I'm sure the people I was with only took me to the best of the best placed they knew, but I was blown away at the quality, and even moreso at the prices.
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Postby momopi » Fri Sep 14, 2007 11:20 pm

Terrence wrote:I've found that many restaurants in Taipei served inferior quality dishes, even when compared to some Chinese restaurants in Los Angeles.

Wow. That's amazing. The first time I went to China, I was amazed to find that Chinese and Sichuan cuisine was so different from how it is done in America/Los Angeles. They don't even use the same kind of rice.

I'm sure the people I was with only took me to the best of the best placed they knew, but I was blown away at the quality, and even more so at the prices.


I'll give you one example... was up at Mao Kong having tea and ordered a couple of dishes. The stir fried veggies were half cooked and the chicken, ugh. Dry & overcooked with bits of unidentified black bits. My friend told me that her father would bring his own tea to the place. Only edible dish was the steamed buns.

I've concluded that if you walk into a restaurant and find college students cooking in the kitchen (part time job), either turn around and leave, or don't order anything that actually require skill to cook.

I'm flying to Beijing next week, will type up a report upon my return in early Oct.
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