Monday, March 24, 2008

Join the world of Foodie!

Hungry Hamster's Food Adventure has become a member of the Foodie Blogroll!

I still remember the days where my friends thought it was funny whenever I take photos of food I made or at restaurants. Little did they know there is a whole community out there in the cyber world who has the same interest as me! I've made a lot of friends from different countries after I started this blog, it's awesome! You get recipe recommendations, new restaurants to try out and more!

Now there are more chances to make even more friends with the same interest @ The Foodie Blogroll! If you are interested in getting to know other bloggers or making friends across the globe, just click on the Foodie Blogroll link on the right side of my page!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Taiwan Eating Trip Volume III

Melbourne has been so hot these past few days! This made me miss Taiwan even more, lovely food with lovely weather! I'm really looking forward to Easter break this weekend, probably an excuse for me to bake more sinful creations.

Back to my eating trip in Taiwan. We started our third day with breakfast from the same stall where we had the rice vermicelli soup. This time we decided to try out their porridge. We were told there were two types of porridge, one with century egg and the other one with the baby fishes (I don't know what they are called in English, please educate me if you do. ). I was imagining Cantonese style porridge with minced pork and century egg, so I decided to go with the century egg, while my mom chose the baby fishes one. To our surprise, the only difference in the porridge was the toppings. The century egg was actually one whole century egg. The rest of the ingredients were the same! It was funny I had to remind myself that I was in Taiwan and not Hong Kong.

The Century egg porridge

The baby fish porridge

After breakfast, we went to this "Lao Jie" or "Old Street" slightly further out of Taipei. I was told the area was colonized by Japanese before, therefore was very popular amongst the Japanese tourists. There were quite a few snacks and souvenir shops.

Mochi shop

Caramel candies

Caramelized Fruits, I've seen these in China too

handmade traditional desserts made from glutinous rice flour (Tang Yuen)

After a few hours of walking and photo-taking sessions, we stopped by a random noodle shop for lunch. It was not bad actually, the noodles were homemade so it had a nice chew to it. The portion was also quite large, similar to the Australian size!

We visited museums and residences of the British ambassadors in the olden days. We also walked along the beach area which was very romantic and extremely popular amongst couples. My dad spotted Starbuck's and decided to some coffee-fix. My sister saw the Chocolate Fondant and could not resist.

According to my sister, it was really good. It wasn't over cook and the chocolate flowed out as you cut into it. Would be perfect with Vanilla ice cream!

For dinner, we decided to try out a famous restaurant called Shin Yeh. My parents tried out the one called Green Leaf on their previous visit, which was recommended by lonely planet but they were not impressed, so we were told to try out this one instead.

When we first arrived there, it was quite busy and we were told to wait around 40 minutes. However, we managed to get our table after around 20 minutes. The restaurant was quite packed, very popular with local and Japanese businessmen. I was not impressed with the service here at all, probably the only place in Taipei with below average service. This might be because they were too busy. We were pressured into ordering before we finish looking at the menu and decide what to eat.

Chinese style wrap with shredded pork, vegetables and preserved vegetables fillings
This was quite average, similar to what I had at the night market.

We ordered porridge to eat with the other dishes. The porridge here had some sweet potato added to it. Quite a nice touch.

Stir Fried Vegetables in Garlic Sauce

Steamed Fish

Braised Pork Belly

Stir Fried Beef

Bean curd with mushrooms and vegetables

To be honest,I wasn't impressed with the dishes at Shin Yeh at all. It was slightly bland, and tasted mediocre. Maybe I was too used to Cantonese cuisines, but I really prefer Taiwanese Street food than the ones in proper restaurants, with the exception of my beloved Din Tai Fung.

Steamed buns with pork belly and preserved vegetables filling.
This was probably the best dish of the night!

Muah Chee for desserts (Glutinous rice cakes coated with ground peanuts)

This ends my 3rd night in Taiwan. There are still more food pictures from Taipei to come, so do drop by soon when you are free :)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Taiwan Eating Trip Vol II

We started our next day with some local breakfast near our hotel. There were several interesting choices, but we decided to stick with something safe so we tried out the rice vermicelli soup.

The lady scooping the vermicelli into a bowl for me

My breakfast, vermicelli soup and Soy milk

The soy milk was actually very nice, it doesn't have the burnt soy bean taste that I hate. We also spotted the same lady selling some rice rolls, and thought it would be quite interesting to try.

The rice roll tasted nothing like its Japanese relative. There are two varieties, either with black glutinous(sticky) rice or normal white glutinous rice. The fillings consisted of preserved vegetables, omelette, and dried shredded pork. Perhaps a great way to incorporate all the food groups into one meal.

We thought we were done with our breakfast until we walked past this little stall with several people waiting for their food.

Not surprisingly, we decided to join the queue and got ourselves one of the little omelette/crepe looking food.

It was served with chilli sauce. This was quite good, and the lady was very generous with the fillings. There were lots of lettuces with some creamed corn and other unidentifiable ingredients. It tasted pretty good overall, but also slightly oily.

With our full tummies, we spent the day visiting the mountains and the sceneries. Taiwan is really clean and there were tissues in all the toilets! I'm very impressed!

For lunch, our driver took us to try out some clear Taiwanese beef noodles. I have to say I still prefer the previous type.

Clear Beef Noodle Soup

Stir fried vegetables in curry sauce (ordered by the driver)
I am not a big fan of curry, so this did not appeal to me.

Another stir fried noodles with curry powder
As above, I didn't really enjoy this either

For dinner, at first we decided to take a look at a smaller night market which was recommended by the driver as he thought that the Shi Lin Night Market was too commercialized. However, we were quite disappointed with the size and varieties of food available at the smaller night market, so we proceeded to the Shi Lin Night market.

Though it's true that the Shi Lin night market is quite commercialized, but I think there are still a lot of authentic food you can get there. The whole market was packed with people, mostly teenagers. There was a whole shopping street that shopoholics would go crazy over. The street was so crowded because the shop owners also open their 'temporary' stalls in the middle of the road. Every once in a while, you would see the shop owners pack their belongings up and pushed them back towards their shops because there were rumors that the police were coming to check. It happened around 4 times while I was there which I found very amusing.

Next snack has a very interesting name. The owner is taking a rest from his rigorous deep frying.

This is probably one of my favorite snack during this trip

It's a deep-fried thick sliced white bread filled with creamed corn, mayonnaise, shredded dried pork, and a starchy sauce. It might not sound very appetizing but I really loved it. I know it's not the healthiest food, but let's face the fact, most good food are not that healthy. Moderation is the key! (I'm no where near that)

The crunchiness of the deep fried bread went surprisingly well with the starchy sweet/salty fillings.

Baked mashed potatoes with Cheese. This was my sister's choice and she loved it.

We also queue up for this famous fried chicken. There were easily 20 people in the queue, so we decided to try it out to see what's so good about the fried chicken.

They are flattened-crumbed- and deep-fried chicken pieces.
I thought it was way too greasy for me, but my sister who is a fan of oily food loved it.

Shi Lin Market has more things that I can imagined

I spotted this old man receiving some sort of treatment in the middle of the food areas

Oyster omelet. This was very different from the Thai or Malaysian one that I've tried.
The sauce tasted like it was made from preserved Tofu.

We also tried a lot of other food that night but due to poor lighting, I will not be putting up the photos. This shall be it for my Taipei eating trip Vol II, there will be more posts to follow so do drop by and check it out soon!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Taiwan Eating Trip Vol I

I went over to Taiwan for a short holiday in mid February and loved it there. The people were really friendly and helpful. Their underground railway system was really efficient too, people actually obey the rules and queue up to get on the train!

Street food and night time market stalls were really good too, but I wasn't that impress with the more famous Taiwanese restaurant. Xiao Long Bao at Din Tai Fung was awesome too!

Our plane touched down at Taipei around 7 pm and by the time we got out of the airport, it was around 8 pm. Since the food on the plane wasn't too appealing, we decided to go to Din Tai Fung for supper. We had to go straight there as the restaurant closes at 10 which was quite easy for us as we hired a driver with a van to take us around.

There was only a slight queue when we arrived as it was already past their peak hours. The waitresses here are very efficient, friendly and polite. While we were waiting for our queue, I saw this little stall in front of the restaurant and decided to try it out.

It was some sort of traditional snacks made out of rice flour with different fillings in the center. The ones I got were peanuts and black sesame. It was actually quite bland to what I had expected, so I was quite disappointed.

While were were waiting for our queue, the waitresses also gave us our menu sheet so we can made our orders first. This saves time as the food arrived quite promptly after we were seated.

Beef Noodles
I was a bit disappointed with this dish as it wasn't as good, compared to its price.

My long awaited Xiao Long Bao!

This is my favorite Xiao Long Bao Restaurant Ever!
Check out the skin! It's nice, thin, transparent and delicate! However, it's so stretchable that you can pick it up with a chopstick without tearing the skin and lost all the precious soup!

Here's a guide on how to enjoy Xiao Long Bao

We also ordered several stir-fried vegetable dishes to balance out the meat and vegetables proportions.

I must emphasize that the service here is really efficient. There was a waiter who was responsible for filling up our little dishes with julienne ginger pieces. It was like a free-flow ginger festival. We ordered 4 steamers of Xiao Long Bao in total, and it's very thoughtful of them to deliver it 2 at a time. This prevents the Xiao Long Bao from turning cold.

After our satisfying dinner, we went to the hotel to check-in to our rooms. It was around 10 pm, so we decided to take a walk around the hotel. Since the hotel we stayed at was next to the popular tutoring areas in Taipei, there were a lot of students around.

Guess what I found! Cold Stone Creamery! I think I've read about this in someone's blog before, so I was quite happy to try it out.

The lady mixing the ice cream with the ingredients of your choice on a cold stone.

The end product! The ice cream was really rich!
This ice cream was not cheap, I'm quite surprise that a lot of young students can afford it!
I realized Taiwanese girls can eat quite a lot too, compared to Thai girls.

Anyway, this would be the end of my Taiwan Eating Trip Vol I. Vol II should be coming up soon if I'm not too busy.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Penang Eating Adventure

Sorry for being MIA for a few weeks. I went to Taiwan the previous week for an eating adventure, and now I'm back in Melbourne.

Here are some of my food adventures from my earlier Penang trip that I promised to write about.
I really love Penang food! Actually, that may be what I like most about Penang! It has so many varieties of good quality hawker food at such a cheap price. Most of the dishes you can get at Hawker stalls are probably only 1-2 Australian Dollars!

Yu Sen for "Happy Belated Chinese New Year"
A type of salad eaten during Chinese New Year.
The ingredients are mixed together by tossing it up. The higher you toss it, the more prosperous it is. While tossing, most people will shout out some prosperous phrase.

Some starters

I used to get freaked out when I was a kid whenever I see the black strands inside any dishes. I used to think it was cooked hair. *How innocent* According to my dad, it's supposedly a type of grass only found in the desert, and most that are available now are fake ones. I will have to check out the reference on that.

Yummy Abalone

Dried Wonton Mee
It's pretty good but I still prefer the soup version

This probably my favorite wanton mee stall in Penang.
The noodles are cooked to perfection! The texture is springy and chewy. The soup is also flavorful, unlike those I've tried in other places.
Never buy a 'take-away' version of it though, that does not do it any justice at all! You'll end up eating soggy noodles, and will probably hunt me down for blogging about it :)
The hawker stall is at the corner of New World Park on Burma Road

Lovely Assam Laksa! This was so good!

Homemade Penang Hokkien Mee (Prawn Mee)
This is also my other favorite hawker dish in Penang.

Penang Chee Cheong Fun
Rice rolls with shrimp sauce, sesame oil, and sesame seeds
This was good, but I can only eat it in a small amount as I find it a bit too oily

Ice Kacang
I love Ice Kacangs in Malaysia! I had this 3 times while I was in Penang! At different hawker stalls though. This one is from New World Park. This wasn't too photogenic, and the fruits were slightly overripe. The ice on Ice Kacang in Malaysia are always so fine, it melts as soon as you place it in your mouth. However, the ones I have in Thailand are usually still crunchy and I actually have to bite through the ice. Not good for someone with sensitive teeth.

Ice cream version!
My favorite part of the Ice-Kacang is probably the ice, the red beans, and the creamed corn.

Lobster Noodles
This was pretty good, but I still prefer the one at Kum Den.
The noodles were slightly too fat for my liking and the sauce wasn't as flavorful.

Baked Cheese Lobster
This was good, but it was so rich so I couldn't have too much of it.

That's probably the highlights of my Penang trip. I'll post up food pictures from Taiwan and more restaurants in Bangkok soon. Thank you for your patience!