Thursday, March 22, 2012

Taipei: Hectic 4-Day Trip - Night 1

Exactly 2 week ago, I left for Taipei on the annual work trip that happens every March. Originally I didn't want to go since the dates were so close to a trip I had already planned with a few friends to New York, which meant that if I did go to Taipei, it would only be a 4-5 days trip. Combine that with jet lag, the fatigue of travel, and taking so much time away from the office, I was hesitant. Being jet lag would suck, especially if I will be traveling back to the West Coast then off to the East Coast on a red eye flight!

However, it just so happens the dates fall perfectly on Diana Cheng's birthday! Since I haven't seen Diana since she moved to Taipei trying to get her ID, I figured I might as well take advantage of this trip! Plus... I didn't get to go on the work trip to the Far East last October so decided to go on this work trip. I planned my trip so that I would leave on 3/9, arrive in Taipei 3/10 at night, do what I gotta do, then fly back on 3/14 TPE time, and arriving on 3/14 at night US time, which would give me a little over 4 days. I would then sleep one night, head to work, then take off to NY on 3/15 on a red eye flight. Before I left I was definitely preparing myself for the onslaught of jet lag and the abuse my body would take from eating & drinking :P

Oh also, this trip is my first time using the newly acquired Panasonic Lumix LX-5 so some pictures may turn out crappy =/

The familiar VIP lounge at LAX. China Airline does not have their own lounge at LAX and shares the lounge with several airlines.

Packaged snacks.

Some small sandwiches.


ramen cups
Of course, the usual cup ramen.

free alc!
Free alcohol!

the usual
I knew I was gonna eat on the flight so only got few things. I also wanted to schedule out my sleeping time carefully so once I arrive in TPE at night, I won't be too tired to go out for Diana's event, so I didn't take advantage of the free alcohol :P

shin cup ramen
Shin Ramen. Just using the oolong tea bag as weight to cover the top! I actually took a few of the tea they had there and turns out they were Ten Ren Tea. Not bad.

biz class
China Airline's business class. The plane that I was on did not upgrade to the new business class products yet, so all the chairs and entertainment system was older. China Airline's really not known for the first class & business products, but service is always good.

TV screen
Crappy resolution TV screen.

Free slippers.

Appetizers! Fried fish cake with beef pastry.

beef pastry
Fish cake was whatevers but beef roll was pretty good!

Hint of cumin and various spices!

sauvignon blanc
Small glass of sauvignon blanc.

Cold plates. I like how they serve one course at a time.

cold plate
Smoked Salmon Terrine plate.

smoked salmon
Lightly smoked salmon.

Salad with lemon vinaigrette dressing.

Garlic bread! I love China Airline's garlic bread. I always get at least 3-4.

For entree, I went with the Teriyaki Salmon. I've learned over the years not to get any red meat. It's always overcooked! The salmon was actually pretty good! A little too buttery but teriyaki sauce was salty and sweet.

fruit plate
Fruit plate after the meal. (Had to shut the windows cause the light was just coming straight into our eyes).

For dessert, I could've gone with the guava mousse, but went for the Haagen Dazs Vanilla instead :P I love vanilla ice cream. I can eat it all day long haha.

For breakfast, I went with the Taiwanese Congee selection. Again, I've learned over the years never order Western breakfast if it was some sort of omelette. Those omelettes just look way too fake to me.

Pickled Lotus Root and Pork Sung 肉鬆 side dishes. I always ask for more pork sung!

Green Onion Egg "Omelette" and Shrimp & Corn side dishes. These two were meh.

Silk Thread Roll 銀絲卷, which is a type of steamed bun. Usually it is plain, with a little bit of green onion inside. The cool thing is that the dough is rolled out then they fold it into this shape before steaming it. Was expecting it to be hard but not bad for a bun on a plane.


My flight was actually delayed by an hour so once I got to Taoyuan International Airport at 9:30pm, I seriously hauled ass to get to Diana's place in Yonghe, New Taipei City, which is across a river from Taipei. Since I was going out right when I landed, I didn't want to bother my relatives so I crashed at Diana's. When I finally got to her place at around 11pm, I changed in 5 minutes then we took a cab to ShinYi District and headed to a lounge called Stream!

It's a nice lounge that is on the highest floor of a buidling. You get a fairly nice view of Taipei and even though it is not a rooftop bar, there is a patio section. Unfortunately it was raining in Taipei and quite cold for the duration I was there (around 45-60 F) so it was not as enjoyable as it could've been. I also forgot my camera since I was hurrying so I just took a few pics with my iPhone.

Diana's cake! Fancy looking! It is actually a cheesecake.

Since we were ordering Belvedere bottles (yup it was cheaper than Goose), we got some free service: fries, fried mozza, and onion rings. Actually was not bad at all!

Also got a ton of free tequila juice shots thanks to Cyeh and Diana working it hahah. Not much alcohol in it but still, a nice gesture!


Diana pretty much passed out around sometime between 1-2am so afterwards we all decided to get some food! Here's a huge reason why I love Taiwan: they have freaking beef noodle soup at 2am!!

beef noodle
We went to LingDongFang 林東芳牛肉麵, which is a popular beef noodle spot that serves it until 4-5am! Of course it is mostly the party crowd that is here at this hour, but that's not the reason why it is famous. The beef noodle soup here is legit! Lighter in color and the broth focuses more on the flavor of the beef stock, which is cooked with various herbs as well.

chili lard
Of course, if you are more used to the 紅燒 braised flavor, you can also add... chili paste!! The paste here is actually oil in its hardened state and someone told me that it is made with beef lard, that's why it can be in that state. Well, whatever it is, the chili paste is amazing!

Afterwards, we took a cab back to Diana's place and honestly, I was still hungry. I planned to eat before I headed out but due to the flight being delayed, I didn't get a chance to and the small size beef noodle soup that I ordered did not fill me up at all! Luckily, right around the corner from Diana's, there is the 樂華夜市 LeHua Nightmarket!

fried stand
Now at this point, it is around 4am so most of the food stands and vendors closed. However, 肥豬的攤, a famous fried food stand, was still open! The name literally translates to Fat Pig's Stand, so you know they got some good food. This stand has been in business since 1985 and they are actually famous for their special white pepper seasoning that they use!

Variety of items that can be fried, including chicken, veggies, tempura, and sausages. There's also more unconventional items like seafood, chicken butt, and even chicken skin! (Hands not stable since still feeling the alcohol haha)

green bean & popcorn chicken
I ended up ordering the fried string beans and popcorn chicken! GAH! I'm so mad that I didn't take the time to actually take a good picture since it was boooomb. The white pepper seasoning really was good, especially with the chicken! Fried food at 4am is what exactly what I want in Taiwan :P

milk tea
All the milk tea spots were closed by this hour so Diana went to 7-11 and got me a 午後の茶奶茶 Afternoon Tea Milk Tea! 7-11 is the best haha.

Now that I think back on it, it was a pretty hectic first night! Good thing I planned out my sleeping schedule on the flight so I'd have enough energy to stay up and still be tired enough to fall asleep. Also got to eat a few things on my must-eat list! Beef noodle soup? Check. Popcorn chicken? Check!