Thursday, December 18, 2008

Day 13: We Go to Sogo

Another day, another breakfast at another hotel. Tango Xinyi's breakfast buffet, reflecting its positioning as an upmarket business hotel, was much more international in flavour. Still I stuck mostly with Asian flavours.

stir-fried vegetables, yay

miso soup, yay!

HM however was as pleased as Punch to find...

yogurt, yay!

After breakfast, we dawdled for a bit in the lounge, drinking our coffee, before heading out for the day.

very mod

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.

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.

Sun Cheng

lipsmacking goodies visible from the outside

We bought three buns for 77NT (S$3.85).

floss bun with tuna inside

red bean bun

pumpkin 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.

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