stir-fried vegetables, yay
miso soup, yay!
HM however was as pleased as Punch to find...
After breakfast, we dawdled for a bit in the lounge, drinking our coffee, before heading out for the day.
Now that we had done most of the sightseeing we had wanted to do, shopping was the main item on our agenda, that and eating. The Zhongxiao/Dunhua district would give us plenty of opportunities to do both.
We started with the 3 Sogos, located within walking distance from each other.
our first stop - Sogo Fuxing
This felt like a pretty new shopping centre with an upmarket feel. The products were top of the line but really not so different from what we would get at home, likewise the prices. We enjoyed the look around though, for other reasons.
On the top floor, there was a...
... a simulated Japanese Garden
a little OTT but nice
The top floor also offered a bird's eye view of Taipei.
not a pretty city
but one with a great transport system
thumb's up for the subway
We then moved on to Sogo Zhongxiao.
This turned out to be the most "normal" of the 3 Sogos, offering mid-range products at affordable prices. There was many a Christmas promotion ongoing which HM could not resist, especially with the Japanese make-up lines offering freebies with every purchase.
By this time, I was ready for lunch but HM was not. HM watched me eat this...
zha jiang mian and dumplings (100NT/S$5)
.... at the Sogo Fuxing food court's Jiu Ru stall. It was pretty good - hopefully we'd get the chance to eat at the restaurant proper.
After lunch, we went round the corner to Sogo Dunhua.
the exterior didn't look like much...
... but inside it was all designer boutiques, nothing to interest us at all. That was a bit of a let-down.
Walking to our next stop, Eslite's Dunhua store, we chanced upon a popular pastry shop.
lipsmacking goodies visible from the outside
We bought three buns for 77NT (S$3.85).
floss bun with tuna inside
red bean bun
That settled HM's lunch, and would tide us over to the big dinner we had planned.
THE Eslite store, the one in Dunhua
Eslite was many floors of books and a little intimidating at first glance. We did some light browsing and bought a book and a magazine, and decided to return another day. And so it was back to the hotel for a nap and a soak.
Refreshed, we returned to the Dinghao area where, first, we headed to Shin Yeh, one of Taipei's most well-known restaurants serving Taiwanese food. The restaurant was full so we made a reservation for later in the evening. We wandered around the area and that's how we discovered the Dinghao Ming Pai Gou Wu Zhong Xin or, literally, Dinghao Branded Goods Shopping Centre. We didn't see any branded goods per se, but there was an ecletic range of shops indeed, selling all kinds of products and services.
line 2 reads "Mysterious Thai Buddhist Talismans"
More than that, the place held promise for HM; there were a number of small boutiques and make-up shops. The place deserved more time than a quick walkthrough, and we had a table waiting for us. In the end we decided to return the next day.
Back to dinner.
Shin Yeh didn’t look like much from downstairs
but was considerably more posh upstairs
with designer touches
We were at Shin Yeh to taste Taiwanese cuisine at its best. While the restaurant obviously offered luxury dishes made with premium ingredients, typical of any Chinese cuisine, we preferred to go for the real Taiwanese flavours of street food and home cooking.
such a relevation gao shan oolong was - amazingly fragrant
sweet potato porridge – very smooth, more like Cantonese style porridge
lu rou aka kong bak – appropriately fatty, and made with good soy sauce
a discovery for us - stewed bitter gourd with su zi (a Taiwanese fruit that tasted like olives)
deepfried oysters with basil – yummy
stirfried pig liver – amazingly tender and our favourite dish for the night
mullet roe roll – somewhat surprising (tasted like kraft cheese)
mua chee dessert – compliments of the restaurant
That was easily the best meal we had had in Taiwan, and worth every cent of the 1490NT (S$75) we paid. We could not wait for Shin Yeh to open in Singapore.
After dinner, we explored the area a bit more, walking off our dinner, but the shops on the main street had mostly closed for the night. In the backlanes, many pubs and restaurants remained open, but we had been amply watered and fed. The boutiques that remained open mostly sold youth-oriented street wear - fun to look at, but nothing we would buy. For a while, we watched the locals mill around the itinerant stalls that sprung up on the sidewalks, forming mini-night markets instantly, and, just as quickly, melting away into the darkness when the police came round. Then it was time for bed.