MUME

I’m setting a real record here with my constant blog updates! Despite posting more than ever, I still have an incredible backlog of posts to go through. I mentioned in an earlier post that during our time in Taipei we had an incredible meal at MUME. Without further ado, let’s get into a more in depth review! As always I didn’t take notes, so the exact components of some of these dishes are just fuzzy memories but I believe we dined from their Autumn menu.

The first thing that I noticed was just how dimly lit the restaurant was. On the tables were beautiful bits and pieces which looked a little like drift wood. This worked really well the moody but slightly weather worn and nautical feeling of the décor of the restaurant, as paradoxical as that sounds.

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This is the first fine dining restaurant I’ve been to where bread is not complimentary. This really surprised me to be honest! That said tearing into the bread was incredibly satisfying. It came steaming hot as a cute little circle cut into wedges. Accompanying it was a side of beer butter and I believe wagyu fat butter. Although I was a bit put off by needing to pay for bread, the fact that when it arrives it’s still warm and toasty is a nice bonus.

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When this truly modern take on prawn crackers arrived I knew that we were going to be in for an interesting and inventive night. This was the perfect little morsel to whet our appetites, a real mix of textures and flavours.

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The cobia crudo featured the novel addition grapes between the petal like slices of fish. The grape added this beautiful colour and sweetness to the dish. Put raw fish in front of me and I’ll pretty much be in love, but most of my friends thought that the dish was only okay and there was nothing to elevate it into the realm of extraordinary.

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Damn was the wagyu tartare both a piece of art to look at and to eat. It was almost a shame to mix everything up and destroy its beauty. Once mixed up with the confit egg yolk and clam ketchup every mouthful was a real delight. Whereas tartare is often served with crisps or bread, this didn’t really need anything else. With every mouthful there was a certain amount of crunch that off set the soft fatty wagyu.

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I was a bit sceptical about the liver brulee on paper but boy was I proved wrong. It turns out that a sweet sugar crispy caramelised sugar layer is the perfect pairing for liver parfait. The coriander on top also helped balance out the rich flavours and added a Taiwanese touch to the whole thing.

Once again I found it a bit weird how we had to pay for grilled toast to accompany the liver brulee as most people wouldn’t eat this without any bread. They might as well charge more for the liver brulee and include a few slices of toast to go with it.

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Scallop ceviche was another piece of art. The colours and careful placement of herbs conjured up images of fallen leaves on an autumn path. I also really liked how the shaved daikon and scallops were the same colour and blended in with each other to create a textured background for the other more colourful ingredients.

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My friend laughed at me when I suggested we order the chicken nuggets, because apparently classy people don’t order chicken nuggets. Well I was the one who had the last laugh when this showed up. The chicken was perfectly seasoned and amazingly crispy by itself. To be honest it didn’t really need the accompanying sauce. This was also one of the better renditions of fried kale that I have had. Not too oily and really crispy.

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Tomatoes. What can I say about this, other than it was a very pretty plate of tomatoes. When you get a dish of just vegetables at a degustation, there’s usually just this feeling of ‘what’s the point?’. Whilst this was a tasty plate of tomatoes it didn’t reach the same highs as the other dishes.

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This was another visual surprise. I didn’t really know what to expect when the menu description read burnt cabbage, but what appeared truly was a very charred and burnt cabbage with a stream of sauce and white leaves down the middle. The hazelnut added this really beautiful crunch to the sweet Taiwanese cabbage and the salty roe added that extra bit of flavour. If you’ve never eaten Taiwanese cabbage before, let me tell you, unlike cabbage in Australia it is one of the sweetest vegetables ever and will convert everyone into being a real vegetable lover. This took one of my favourite Taiwanese foods and just put in on a whole different level.

The drinks here are also not to be dismissed. I thought that the cocktails were on par with some of the more specialised bars that I had been too, with beautiful and inventive drinks. The cocktail menu featured plenty of fruity and refreshing drinks, with novel additions of herbs and florals. However, the bar tender could also make up any classic drink and their rendition of an old fashioned was pretty darn good. Let’s just take a moment to admire how pretty the drinks are.

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The crispiness of the crispy amadai came from the fried fish scales in this dish. I don’t see this done often, but when I do it’s always a real delight. The scales contrasted really well with the tender fish. However it was the romesco sauce that really won over my friends, as they got close to licking the plate when it was all gone.

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Beef Short Ribs were tender and easy to split even amongst 5 people because it just melted like butter when I cut into it. Underneath the slightly charred baby napa cabbage there was a small spoonful of local grains, to continue with the Taiwanese theme.

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Mushroom risotto was the only vegetarian main on the menu. Instead of rice MUME continued with the Asian inspiration by using barley instead. This lent the whole thing a pleasant , toothsome taste. The soft boiled egg sort of disappeared into the sauce when we broke it open to reveal its soft oozing insides. This was right up my alley and I can imagine myself having this for lunch at an upmarket café somewhere. Someone, please make this happen.

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Dessert was not the usual Chinese faire. Instead, MUME has opted for an entirely European dessert selection. Strawberry cheesecake, a passionfruit financer and chocolate shards all made an appearance. The passionfruit dessert was my personal favourite because passionfruit is one of my all time favourite flavours. I’m also a sucker for flower petals.

As for everyone else, there was an even split of favourites for all the desserts. My chocolate loving friends immediately gravitated to the chocolate shards, practically inhaling the smoked vanilla ice cream and chocolate.

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Others preferred the more mellow taste of the rather deconstructed strawberry cheesecake. I have a feeling this would have stolen my heart if it hadn’t been for the passionfruit financier from earlier.

It was sometimes hard to signal the wait staff due to the layout of the restaurant. However, when they did see you they were extremely helpful and personable. Most, if not all of the staff were bilingual making this dining experience a breeze for everyone, myself included.

One thing that I found a bit weird was how the cutlery was placed in containers on the table for dinners to dispense for themselves. This may have had to do with how unlike in some other fine dining restaurants there really wasn’t a fleet of wait staff to check on you all the time and place cutlery for each dish. I was fine with this for the most part, but because I used a new set of cutlery to dish up each dish to prevent flavours transferring at the end of the night I had pretty much run out of all cutlery!

I think we ate our way through the whole menu excluding oysters. After tasting everything, we decided on additional servings of the liver brulee, wagyu tartar, crispy amadai and beef short ribs. Had we been feeling a bit more ambitious the burnt cabbage would have also made a re-appearance.

This still stands out as one of the best dining experiences of the year so far. If I lived in Taipei I would have spent the next few months shovelling all of my favourite dishes in my mouth as much as possible before they were replaced in the new season’s menu.

http://www.mume.tw/

https://www.facebook.com/mume.taiwan

Note: bookings can be made via email or facebook messanger but a deposit and phone number was required to confirm our table.

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Double T: Taiwan and Thailand part 3

Double T: Taiwan and Thailand part 3

Day 6 Hualien

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The tickets that we picked up the day before were for a big adventure, far away from Taipei city. Early in the morning, before any trains had started running we walked all the way to Taipei Main Station. Honestly, I loved that early morning walk and the way the incredible stillness made the familiar neighbourhood feel fresh and new to me.

Once we reached Taipei Main Station it wasn’t too long before we boarded our train for Hualien station. Hualien is a county about an hour and a half out of Taipei city by train. It’s the biggest county in Taiwan and is pretty famous for its national parks. Despite some reluctance on my part, we decided that like typical tourists we had to visit Taroko!

At Hualien station we met our guide, Matt from Hualien Outdoors. Matt is friendly and very knowledgeable about the area. Unlike a lot of the other guides, he is a native English speaker and he explained aspects of the fauna and history to in considerable depth. As most of us hadn’t had breakfast Matt drove us to a traditional Taiwanese breakfast before starting the journey to Taroko national park.

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The park is another additional 40-50 minutes from Hualien station. On the drive to the park you can see the sea on one side and on the other side, a military base!

In person Taroko gorge is stunning. The marble river beds are just this amazing work of nature. We visited most of the main sights and took some short hiking trails because we, or rather I, am much too unfit for anything too serious. On the plus side, I managed to partially overcome my fear of heights by running over suspension bridges in alternating fits of bravery and panic!

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A real highlight was when Matt took us down an otherwise unused part of the walking track to what used to be kept as an onsen area before typhoons and floods semi destroyed it. There was actually a no entry sign to the stair way leading down to the onsen area but we just circumvented our way around it! I felt very daring but also very scared walking down the stairs which had been pulled out by rising waters a few years before. We had a really serene lunch here away from the main tourist areas. Evidently we weren’t the only ones with this idea, as some locals and mountain climbers also had the same idea!

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Before heading back to station we dropped by the beach and spent some time mucking around, skipping pebbles and taking photos. We were all also particularly enamoured with Matt’s drone which took some great videos of us derping around.

Although we were all significantly worse for wear after the long day of walking, I had agreed to meet up with our aunts and uncles for dinner that night. We managed to gorge ourselves at a nice hot fry place with heaps of small dishes and Taiwan beer. Being sick I abstained from beer and was content to sip on orange juice.

Needless to say, after an exhausting day I slept like a log.

Purchase train tickets
Hualien outdoors

Day 7 Taipei

Sadly on this day I became even sicker. I barely made it out of bed for some beef noodle soup from Lin Dong Fang. The beef noodle soup was unusual as you can add dimension to the broth is a spicy beef paste. It was however, very tasty and I very much enjoyed the herbal broth. On the other hand, the service was very brusque as is usually expected of such crowded, cheap places.

I decided to go back to our air bnb and rest whilst everyone else went to the National Palace Museum. You’re not allowed to take photos inside the museum, but I was told that the exhibitions consisted mostly of pottery. I believe that they have since built an additional wing to the museum to house more artefacts so there might be even more to see now!

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After a nap and some solitary lounging around, I thankfully felt well enough for dinner. Actually getting to the place was a real struggle as my knowledge of street names isn’t all that good. I had to end up calling the restaurant to ask where they were! Thankfully the taxi driver was really patient despite having a hard time with google maps.

Our dining destination and one of the few Japanese restaurants that we went to was Kitcho. I’m not going to be able to go into any real detail about this meal. They explained the fish in Chinese, and my Chinese sadly, does not extend to varieties of fish.

We went for the 3500NTD omakase. The highlights of the meal were definitely the set up. The counter bar and plates feel luxurious and it’s always a great experience to watch the sushi chefs at work. As an extra bonus, all the girls who worked there were super cute!! The most memorable dish was one of the last, a roll with all sorts of fish together!

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As for the rest of the meal, I think it was good but not worth the price tag, especially in Taipei where there’s heaps of good Japanese food for very competitive prices. I also hear that you have a much better experience at Kitcho when you’re a regular customer which is sort of annoying when you’re still paying the same amount.
Lin Dong Fang Beef noodle soup
National Palace musuem
Kitcho

Day 8 Taipei

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I didn’t take any photos today! Except for this one! To be fair, we didn’t do all that much. We had lunch with my grandmother at Eat Together in ATT 4 Fun. This is one of my favourite buffets because it’s fairly inexpensive and has a wide variety of fairly decent food. A booking is always a must though.

Then I spent the rest of the day shopping away. I definitely added a few extra kg to my suit case just from this day alone!

For dinner we thought we would check out Shilin night market, because it’s the biggest one in Taipei. Maybe it’s because we didn’t really know where to go, but in terms of food our experience at Shilin was fairly lack lustre. Ever since Shilin moved away from where it used to be; in a large car park; it’s become more commercialised and I feel like the food quality has suffered for it. On the other hand there is a lot more shopping to be had! So it’s not a completely bad thing.

Eat together (6th floor buffet)
Shilin night market

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Back in my youth I used to visit Taipei once every year. This was the first time that I have been back in a over 4 years so it was full of nostalgia but also surprises with all the new things that had since popped up. Going back after so long made me realise that I really do love Taipei. The hustle and bustle, the delicious food and my family make it a perfect place. It combines heaps of things I love into one little package and feels like my home away from home. I’m glad that I got to show my friends this second city of mine!

My biggest regret was that there simply wasn’t enough time to fit in everything that I wanted to do. I’m sad that I missed out on revisiting some of my favourite restaurants and also at the complete and utter lack of cute cafes that I went too. Don’t worry though, I’ll be back for you one day Taipei!

Stay tuned for the next part of this trip, which will pick up our adventures in Thailand.

Double T: Taiwan and Thailand 2016 part 2

I promised a speedy update and a speedy update I deliver! This is just going to be a short little post because we didn’t do much on the weekend, and the things that we did do, I stupidly did not take photos of.

Day 4 Taipei

Today we went our separate ways. I met a friend and spent the day shopping away in Q square and Taipei Main station. On the other hand, everyone else went to Taipei zoo. The camera also went to Taipei zoo, so I leave you with some cute photos of animals frolicking around.

If you ever read this Ana, it was nice to meet you, and I hope we can catch up again someday!

We all met up again at 6:00pm for an absolutely delicious dinner, which will be the subject of its own blog post.

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Taipei Zoo

Day 5 Taipei

Unfortunately, today I started feeling a bit sick and could not stop sniffing and coughing into everything. On the flip side, we didn’t have to do too much this day. We picked up some tickets from Taipei main station for tomorrow’s travels before grabbing a quick lunch at a nearby department store.

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We also had delicious waffles.

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Chiang Kai Shek memorial hall wasn’t too far away from the station so we also decided to check it out. This memorial hall is actually massive and there’s usually a lot going on in the plaza area on weekends. We spotted this cute dog riding a remote controlled car, a group of teens practicing some sort of dance and also a rather large Frozen exhibition. The Chiang kai Shek memorial hall is more comprehensive than the Sun Yet Sen one and is flanked by two music halls on either side. It really makes for quite the sight even if you’re not going into all the halls.

 

The rest of the day was spent shopping in Zhongxiao Dunhua, Xi Men Ding and eventually led to Ning Xia night market. Although not very well known, I love Ning Xia night market because it’s pretty close to where we were staying and feels really local unlike some of the larger night markets. Although the most famous thing there is the fried sweet potato sweets, my personal favourite is the salad boat. This deceivingly named item is actually a fried donut with seasoned boiled egg, mayonnaise, tomato, ham and cucumber in it. It is not the slightest bit healthy unlike its name!

Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall
Ning Xia night market

So concludes this fairly fluffy post. The next update should have a lot more actual content!

Double T: Taiwan and Thailand 2016

I’m only around a month or so late, but I thought I would start posting about my travels to Taiwan and Thailand at the start of this year. I know it seems like all I ever do is travel. Trust me when I say I certainly wish this was the case! Instead here I am working all the time and slacking off at home when I should be doing more productive things.

Rather than write really in depth posts I’m just going to be focusing on the highlights. Hopefully it will be easy for you to read and easy for me to write up before my next big adventure! There will be links at the end of each day. Some of these places only have Chinese web  pages or no web pages at all so I’ve linked to the English page that I find the most helpful.

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Taipei Day 1

This was a super tragic day. We learnt last minute that one of our friends wouldn’t be able to make it to Taiwan due to a work emergency. We mourned him with fast food at Malaysia airport.

A short flight later, we landed in Taipei Taoyuan. It was easy to buy prepaid sim cards at the airport, and after a long wait at immigration but a super speedy car ride, we were settling down into our airbnb apartment. I was pretty happy to be staying close to Songjiang Nanjing station as it’s an area I’m pretty familiar with.

After picking up another friend who had arrived in Taipei a few days earlier we went off to dinner. Before we arrived my mum had recommended that we go to the Din Tai Fung located in the Shing Kong Mitsukoshi near Zhongshan station because it was new and less crowded than the other branches. Lo and behold, she was right. After a short 20 minute wait we were inside and ready to eat.

The Din Tai Fung in Taiwan has a bigger menu than the Australian one. The dumplings were a bit better than what we usually have in Melbourne. What I really appreciated were the Taiwan only dishes that I love such as the stir fired cabbage and fish dumplings. Service was also a lot better at the Taiwanese branch, although at times a little confused as different wait staff alternated between English and Chinese.

After dinner I went out on a bit of a journey to buy some egg tarts from a not so near KFC before settling in for some well deserved sleep.

Mitsukoshi (We went to Nanxi store number 1)

 

Taipei Day 2

Despite not having the best nights sleep I still managed to somehow wake up nice and early for a light breakfast. We thought that we would have a nice pleasant walk to the café which is located next to a near by park. However, the weather was ridiculously stuffy and humid so that walk was super short lived.

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Fika Fika café is surprisingly spacious for Taipei standards. Like newer Melbourne cafes the décor was very much in line with the light and airy Scandinavian theme that has been popular recently. We shared a breakfast Panini and had some coffees. The brown sugar latte is one of their signature drinks and very different from anything that I’m used to having back home. It was sweet and almost caramelised. That being said, coffees from cafes and cake stores are incredibly expensive in Taipei! Just the latte cost over 5 dollars Australian which is practically unheard of in Melbourne.

After breakfast I wanted to walk around and do some shopping, but Taipei is a pretty late rising city so sadly nothing was actually open. I didn’t mind too much as it wasn’t too long before we were due to eat again! My grandma had very generously offered to treat us to lunch at one of my favourite Peking duck restaurants Long Du. We over ordered and there was an almost comical amount of food on the table. Sadly, everyone forgot to take their cameras so we have no photos of the duck and all the delicious dim sum tid bits.

A word of warning, if you want to go to Long Du, you need to book before hand in Chinese for a Peking Duck. If you can get a table, getting the congee made with the remainder of the duck bones and meat is a must!

I actually can’t recall what we did that afternoon. I think we all spent it in a food coma induced haze. Even though we were all still stuffed from lunch we still made an effort to go out and get dinner, because in my opinion Taipei is the land of good food and to skip a meal is just a down-right shame.

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Taipei is pretty famous for its night markets full of good food and bargains. Raohe night market is one of the more manageable night markets for people who have never been before. This is because it’s mostly just one straight line that you walk down with the majority of food vendors in the middle. We shared some fried milk (weird I know), and ice cream wraps with coriander (weirder still, I know). It was my first time having both and they were delicious.

When you go to Raohe the most famous thing is the hot pepper buns. They are cooked in a tandoor like device and are all sorts of fragrant and juicy. Happily, the store is at the front of the night market and despite the long lines it is incredibly efficient and within 20 or so minutes you will be munching into flaky pastry, juicy beef and spring onions.

Fika fika cafe
Long du on Tripadvisor
Raohe night market

Taipei Day 3

Despite the recent American food trend that has gripped Melbourne, we have a real lack of American style pizza, and by American style pizza I mean Chicago deep dish pizza. The first time I saw deep dish pizza on a travel show I was immediately entranced by the pie like creation. So when I heard that Taipei had a deep dish pizza restaurant I knew we had to try it.

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Luckily Big Boyz Pizza was not only located within walking distance, but also accepted reservations in English via facebook! It takes around 40 minutes to fully cook a single deep dish pizza, so if you don’t want to wait for too long it’s important to reserve a table and some pizza before hand. Despite how decadent the deep dish pizza looked it was also really satisfying to eat and everything tasted really fresh.

After lunch, it was time for another landmark: Taipei 101. When I last visited many years ago it was the tallest building in the world, but it has now been elapsed by a few other impressive sky scrapers in other parts of the world. At the bottom of Taipei 101 is a rather ritzy department store, but there wasn’t much there for us apart from the food courts so off we went to the observatory tower. The weather for the whole time that we were in Taipei was a bit dreary. It was either foggy or slightly rainy almost every day. Consequently, the view we had wasn’t really the best. Personally, I didn’t mind that much because I have an intense fear of heights, but I think my friends would have liked to see more than rolling expanses of fog!

The thing that really impressed me in Taipei 101 was the giant circular thing? In the middle that helps stabilise the building against wind and also earth quakes. Watching videos of it moving around to minimise shaking was really surreal and amazing.

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From the top of Taipei 101 my friends had spotted Sun Yet San memorial hall and were keen to check it out. We opted for a bit of a walk instead of taking a train because there were a few transfers from 101 to the memorial hall.

We arrived just as the guards had finished changing, but we were content to just wander around the various exhibitions for a while. In no time at all, another hour had passed and the change of the guards was on again for the final time that day! We watched it from a bit of a distance and admired just how in sync they were!

Looking back, we packed a fair bit into this day. As it was getting dark we decided to head up to Elephant mountain, otherwise known as xiang shan to soak in the night scape of Taipei 101. None of us were prepared for what turned out to be a rather steep climb up to the viewing platform, as we had been told that it was an easy little jaunt. Nevertheless, the views were beautiful and well worth the walk.

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I realise, we forgot to take photos of dinner! It was another Taiwanese speciality dish, spicy hot pot. I struggled a lot with ordering because everything was in Chinese and there were no pictures, but somehow we managed to have a pretty satisfying meal.

Big Boyz Pizza
Taipei 101
Sun yet Sen memorial hall

Stay tuned for more posts, which I will hopefully put out quickly!