/bɪ ə gʊd gɜ:l/ n. moniker of she who blogs here [also known as, bie]; adj. personal awesome advice to all female kiddos

meet the fam #thechennies

meet the fam #thechennies

I went to Taiwan a couple of weeks back for a press trip, kind of a behind-the-scenes look at the operations of a restaurant that will be opening in Singapore. That meant major food fatigue, but in a good way! - since on any given day, I eat either half portions or one-and-a-half portions (mostly the former). I knew I was in for a good run actually, since Taiwan is THE land of cheap and good eats.

While I can't divulge the actual dining establishment we went to (yet), here are the other hits - and misses - on my trip. Ugh, I miss Taiwan already.

{Feng Chia Night Market} More info here
This night market is the Shilin of Taichung, but less pent-up spatially. I can't speak for the shopping since our group breezed past the stalls, and just went for the snacks and games. (Oh, this is actually my first time trying out the games at a night market. At the shoot-the-ducks-with-an-air-pistol stop, I garnered a miserable 3 out of 9 hits. Over at the archery corner, I managed a 4 out of 6 balloons tally. I always knew I was medieval. Lol.)

Anyway, the snacks. Wow. The variety is awesome. Our hosts did tell us that Taichung is the foodie capital of Taiwan, and their street snacks are the best in the country. Apparently, bubble tea originated from Taichung! The stuff we ordered aren't the usual favourites though because my tastebuds wanted to be slightly more adventurous:

We tried honey white bittergourd as our host exclaimed it to be very good. He had to finish the entire cup because we all took one sip and ugh.

Stinky tofu. Second time I'm trying this and mannnn, the smell is truly like eating in a dumpster. Not appetising. Disclaimer: I don't like tofu much either.

Chicken feet. Weird. Chewy. Hit a bone. Spat.

I thought it was a chocolate egg tart, but turns out, it was black sugar. Not too cloying though so thumbs up from me.

One of the girls got this. Taiwan sausage, one of ZX's fave!

This sinful dessert is mine. Mochi doused in condensed milk and sprinkled with peanuts. Sooooo good.

I couldn't choose between these squid options, so I gave up. Anyway, my skirt was bursting at the seams (media dinner before this hence.....)

The guy looks like he's flipping the finger but actually he's gesturing me forward to have a look at the menu. See, he even gave me a GIANT box to pose with lol. It's just packaging though, because it's a normal bubble tea cup in a handy cardboard box with a rope to carry it. The others commented it was way environmentally UNfriendly so I brought it back home to reuse. Bielet uses it for her daily soybean drink now - easier to tote around ;))

Dunno if the other writers want to be identified on me blog, so here's a shaaaaaaaaaky group shot of the team and our hosts. Yes, guess who cannot take selfie #notme

{Kou Cheese} Website
This stop was truly a pleasant surprise. I was at the hotel and had some time to kill before catching my high speed rail to Taipei. The initial plan was to chill at Mister Donut, the Taiwanese version of Dunkin' Donuts that I loved during my obsessed-with-Taiwan days, but I just couldn't find the store! Navigation fail. So as I was walking back to my hotel, I remembered my host saying there was some place to eat around the nearby museum. And voila.

What greets you as you turn the corner from the entrance

I fell in love with the decor. So hipster. And like those hipster cafes back home, this also had a merchandise area - with the cutest stuff. There are also plenty of books for patrons to just will away the hours. Being the sole customer (weekday morning), I plonked myself on the beanbag and just enjoyed the aircon.

Minimalist chic. I like.

Jams or honey or any other prettily bottled accompaniments for you?

The view from on top. Very Japanesey, eh?

The picturesque surrounds. As mentioned, it's an art museum so artists come here to set up their outdoor exhibits for others to enjoy.

Not that the decor was all I loved. This store specialises in half baked cheesecakes, with three types available. I asked for the staff's recommendation and she suggested I try their signature number 2 cake. (Frankly, the girl was rattling off too fast so miss-jak-gantang couldn't really make out what she was saying, so I asked for her recco. Lol.) It had a nice tinge of cheese (not too rich) and was really light, smooth and soft. It felt like I was eating a cloud of cheese, or maybe a denser version of a cheese chiffon cake. Either way, I gobbled down the 4 small cakes. And since pineapples are in season (my host told me!), I got myself a pineapple tea. The pineapple cubes were nice and sweet when I got to the bottom, but I think I didn't let the cubes infuse the tea long enough because the original bitterness of the tea still overwhelmed the drink. Mental note: take the time to sip the drink instead of slurping everything down.

The menu

In a handy box, even if you eat in. And please clean up after yourself.

You get to choose from either four or six cheesecakes. Hey, I just realised I ate the one with the logo first. Hmmm. Oh well.

Ze refreshing pineapple tea! Can you see the cubes all sunken at the bottom?

Me. How come the cafe looks like a plateau when I am actually sitting right at the top? Maybe that's why I look pudgy. Ugh. Don't care, still wanna post the picture.

{Black As Chocolate Cafe} Website
Having read good reviews of this chocolatier, I was really looking forward to eating here. That, and the fact that its owner was the former franchisee of Awfully Chocolate in Taiwan (until some breach in contract, lawsuit, blah blah). I l.o.v.e. Awfully Chocolate, and wanted to size up its competition.

After yet another booboo in my directions, I found my way here but the place was empty again (dinner time but I'm at a dessert place, go figure). I had a peanut butter chocolate cupcake, which is only available for in-dining (no takeaways), and a pot of Twinings.

First whiff (and shovel) into the cupcake was heavenly - look at that generous amount of peanuts!

But everything came crashing down when the spoon went into my mouth. The cupcake was so dry, like peanut-flavoured cardboard. No joke. I was so disappointed that I jerked the spoon forward (in my mouth) and tmd, the odd shape of the spoon locked around the back of my teeth. Flashes of me forcefully prising the spoon from my mouth and dislodging a tooth or two in the process flooded my mind. It was truly a f*ck me scenario (for lack of a better word, pardon my french). But I managed to slide the spoon back towards my throat, and I breathed again. Needless to say, I took nibbles at the edge of the spoon thereafter ~ as a real lady is supposed to eat anyway.

Reason why I'm bringing up this humiliating incident, is because I wanted to say that this didn't affect my judgement on the food. It was really just awful (pun truly unintended). Anyone can tell you I love peanut butter-anything and chocolate-anything, so peanut butter and chocolate-anything should be SURE WIN. No. Fail. Pui.

{Agnes B Cafe LPG} Website
Another unintended stop. I wanted to dig into a pork mcmuffin at the opposite McDonald's but breakfast service had ended 10mins before 11am #tooefficient Since I hadn't tried this Agnes B cafe in Hong Kong, I hung around that few minutes before this cafe opened at 11am. 

Boy, was I glad I did. The bacon and cheese quiche was a bit too hearty, but I do love a good, flaky pastry. It was melt-in-your-mouth awesome. As was the iced rose and osmanthus tea. People, osmanthus has officially replaced chrysanthemum in my heart, um, belly.

The designer packaged eatables in store were tres chic, and I bought a couple of chocolate tins. Lovely gifts! (Made in HK though, so it's probably cheaper there?)

I asked the staff if I could take photos and she said okay but only the cakes, so sorry I didn't get any other photos of the gift boxes or the interior.

{VVG Thinking} Website
If you were wondering, VVG stands for Very Very Good. This group has another four eateries, and the namecard for each establishment is fan-cy. And as hipster central goes, this one takes the cake. Converted from an old warehouse, its ground floor seats restaurant patrons and the kitchen, while the second storey has an impressive range of books (English and Chinese), stationery, clothes, homeware and other quirky knick knacks. As a reviewer put it, you could spend a whole day here and not instagram one single food picture.

The retail floor on the second storey

Eats on the first floor

As warned by other foodies, the dishes do take a while to come. I was in a hurry (return flight to catch in a few hours) so I skipped desserts and just had a main. The duck confit arrived fashionably late but what a gorgeous sight. I forgive you. The meat just fell off the bones as I forked it around the plate - yep, no need for a knife even.

But as luck would have it, the dish went downhill from there too. I ain't no masterchef, but from my marathon tv sessions of the series, duck confit and fat are somewhere in the same category - meaning my meat should be tender and moist. Not. Like what the bazooka is going on?! Everything I'm eating is turning to sawdust...

So as much as I don't like citrusy sauces on my meat (I prefer that the strong flavour of meat is complemented by something less girly and more full-bodied, oh, is that wine?!), I drowned my cardboardduck in the orange jus. Bleurgh, still tastes like sawdust. Just worse.

{Other random stalls}
En route to Taichung, our driver stopped us at Hualien to have supposedly very good vermicelli and meatballs. The noodles were a tad too dry for me, but mannnnnn, the meatballs really were da bomb. The side of spring onions, fried beef and squid weren't too bad either.

On our last day at Taichung, the girls went to get cocktails at the hotel lounge and I got the guys to bring me to eat braised pork rice. Damn greedy. And crap, it was lousy braised pork rice. (The usual joint was closed.) But I did try pig's blood and tongue. The blood was really silken smooth and the tongue was oddly rubbery - "like biting your own tongue, right!' exclaimed my host. Um, I think once is enough for me thankyouverymuch.

I had the best ever roti prata at some stall in between my hotel and the mrt station. With a generous whacking of lamb and fried egg. I'm hungry now just thinking of it.

Since I've been to the other most famous (read: touristy) night markets, I decided to check Tonghua Night Market out. Bombed at navigation again - my pioneer badge has gone to waste - but I asked a nice, elderly man who pointed me in the right direction. I had planned to try the braised-style yong tau foo, but decided to be slightly healthier and went for the soup version. I told the aunty I wanted everything except the blood cake, and she replied "you cannot finish everything by yourself!" So I only got to try the radish, cabbage wrapped meat, tempura and some other chewy thing (which I thought might be squid but she said not). It was yumsville, and surprisingly, not very salty - the sauce veered towards the sweet side. [Sorry, I don't have the photo of my meal... :(( Hp battery died on me.]

Bottom line: Taiwan wants me to just bumble around aimlessly (spontaneously) and discover good eats. All this planning (and planning) is in vain.


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