Taiwan and Japan- pre Sakura (Cherry Blossom)


#1

The Sakura Season is one of the most magical experiences in Japan, and also one of the most expensive. We will be visiting the Mt Fuji/Tokyo area just before the flowers go into full bloom mode. Hopefully, we can catch an early spring. If not, what the hay, we’re in Japan!!

In keeping with our budget conscious theme, we are transiting through Taiwan. This “detour” saves about 30% off the direct r/t price to Narita. And, what the hay, we’re in Taiwan! :slight_smile:

Our first few eats in town was just grazing street food. The usual suspects.

Breakfast is included in our rate at the Les Suites Hotel, Da’ An. I’ve enjoyed this boutique hotel many times over the last 15 years and wholeheartedly recommend.

Breakfast is self served in their two comfortable adjoining lounge rooms.

A nice assortment of western and Asian offerings.

Kinda screwed up and overindulged at breakfast. After the morning gorge, we walked around the National Taiwan University area. We figured college kids = cheap eats. We were mostly right. Will revisit with more appetite.

We walked about five miles, returned to Les Suites to rest our feet and get ready for Japanese dinner.


#3

It’s not now? Given it’s warmer there. My peach plant is blossoming since a week already, but not yet the cherry tree.


#4

Dinner last night at Kingyo Japanese Restaurant. Japan ruled Taiwan from 1895 - 1945, so it’s not surprisingly to find good Japanese eats throughout this island.

Kingyo has the best QPR of any restaurant (not just Japanese) that I’ve ever eaten at. The fish is super fresh, although not as rare or exotic as at the more expensive exclusive sushiya. The dinner sets offer a nice complementary variety of ingredients and cooking methods that more than satisfies our seafood itch.

We know from previous experience, do not order the more pricey full on sets. I never thought I would ever say this about any Japanese restaurant: TOO MUCH FOOD!!

On our last two visits, my wife and I could not finish our fish. Never happened before. We took a kitty bag home with us.

My only minor quibble is the fish cuts are enormous. We are not dainty eaters, but are still shocked when we get our sashimi course. Large cuts are Kingyo’s SOP, not a sign of amateur exuberance.

Tonight, I ordered the Classic Set @ NT$699 = USD$22.60. My partner splashed out for the Lobster Set @ NT$799 = USD$25.83. Big spenders, huh?

Started with sashimi. Her Lobster Set had the slab of Maguro.

Salmon Salad to cleanse the palate.

A couple of Tuna Rolls. The expensive set got the Ikura topping, economy got Sesame.

Burdock Noodles w/ Ikura. Like natto. Too slimy for me, more for her.

The courses started coming in hard and fast. At the onset of our meal, my wife has expressed concern to our server that we may not have enough room on the bar for all the dishes. The server replied, in Taiwanese dialect: “Eat Hard, Eat Real Hard!!!”. :ok_hand:

Lightly Batter Fried Taro and Shiitake

Salmon Kama. Silky smooth with delicate seasonings.

Grilled Pork Belly wrapped Cherry Tomato and Prawn. The burst of tartness paired well with the salty fatty pork. (Pictures getting worse, I was too busy Kobayashi-ing to keep ahead of the flow)

Miso Soup w/ Fish Skin. Skin was a bit rubbery to me, and I usually enjoy skin of fish.

After a pregnant pause, wife asked if can relax or do we had anything else coming. Server laughed. Ah yes, the Main Course. Sheesh.

Some Sweet Bean Soup to finish.

With 3 small chilled Sake (we were eating so hard and fast, couldn’t imbibe at our normal rate), the total all inclusive came to… drumroll please… USD$68.30.

That’s just a tad under our average bar tab at home.

On previous occasions.

Abalone on Salad.

Even more sashimi, from The deluxe Set.

Half Fishhead. Delicious!!

Half Spiny Lobster.

Walked back to our hotel, marveling at another nice meal at Kingyo. We’ll be back. Excellent start to three weeks of indulgence.


#5

It’s like 70f here in Taipei. Folks walking by in their down jackets and scarves give me the side eye when I walk by in my shorts and t-shirt.

Japan starts warming and blooming further south. Okinawa—-> Kansai. We will be more Northern next week, and hope to catch a warming trend. Forecast just now.


#6

Based on this forecast, you may be a little early?


#7

Great!! We’re headed home on the 28th. We don’t need to see full bloom and full crowds on the 30th.

If we see some Sakura, great. If not, there’s always next year.


#8

Hot Pot tonight. Frigid temps in the 60’s tonight. Brrrrr…

Some alcohol to stave off the cold.

Wave after wave of dunking goodness. Tongue was good, no surprise. Ostrich. Like chicken. BIG chicken.

Finished the meal with obligatory hand pulled (?) noodles.


#9

What are those black tripes?


#10

Blasphemy no Kavalan!!?!?!

While in Da’an check out Tian Xia San Jue’s excellent beef noodle soup


#11

That is the natural color of tripe. Apparently, tripe is bleached white in western countries.


#12

Will try to check it out.

Had an excellent Da Lou Mien for lunch yesterday. Restaurant above the original flour rice joint.

Started with couple of small plates.

Nice veggie dumplings.

The noodles ingredients were almost what we would find in a Mu Shu dish. Wood Ear, Bamboo, Pork, and more. Very well done.

Ong Choi to complete the meal.

After lunch, had to stop for a fresh Soy Milk and an Egg and Pork Pancake. Life is Good!!


#13

Thanks for sharing your trip notes so far. I’ll be following along with interest - we’re headed out to Taiwan and Japan too, just one week behind you. Happy eating!


#14

Taipei = International cosmopolitan city.

Only fitting we dine at Bellini Café. An Italian Restaurant with a Japanese Chef. In Taiwan.

Refreshing Washington State Reisling to start.

Carpaccio. Parma Ham on Romaine. Fennel Sausage. Fried Seafood Assortment.

Margherita & Spicy Peppers Pizza. Great cracker thin crust. That oven from Italy works!!!

Tomahawk Pork Chop. Rib Eye steak. Steak was perfectly seared and beefy.

Cote du Rhône. Argentina Cab.

Spaghetti Bolognese. Al Dente, good chew.

A bit of showmanship. Risotto Funghi finished tableside in a flaming Parmesan Wheel. Kitschy, but delicious nevertheless. Again, al dente as it should be.

Dessert board. We chose Tiramisu and Apple Tart.

More than enough of everything for six. Shizuoka Japan tomorrow. Oishi!!


#15

Indeed, that’s a lot of food!