Friday, 22 June 2012

Restaurant Review -- Dragon Boat zongzi (Shimen)

Dragon Boat Festival starts tomorrow, and with it (or indeed before), starts the mass consumption of zongzi (粽子; sticky-rice tamales).

Also traditional around this time are health warnings from government health departments against over-indulgence in these high-calorie, fat-and-salt laden items.

Finding non-meat versions can be quite tricky (though many vegetarian restaurants produce them at this time of year). The most famous zongzi manufacturer in northern Taiwan, the Liu Family (劉家) in Shimen District (石門) of New Taipei City, for example, has no meat-free zongzi despite producing around a dozen different flavours.

One hundred meters past Liu's there is a vegetarian outlet, however, which has been in operation for more than two decades.Previously NT$20 for each bamboo-leaf-wrapped snack, the price had risen to NT$25 by NOMM's visit last week.

To NOMM's taste, they are not that exciting (zongzi are judged by the quality of their fillings), but at least vegetarians can join in the culinary part of this weekend's activities.

Text copyright Jiyue Publications 2012

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Restaurant Review -- Buxiban zone (part II)

Following last week's review, Shad reports that there are a number of cheap vegetarian eats at No. 72, Zhongxiao West Road Sec. 1. And she is correct.

There are four restaurants on this single block: two selling a variety of dumplings, one selling rice, noodle and soup dishes, and one with a vegetarian buffet.

NOMM chose this last one, and enjoyed a nice meal even though it was almost closing time. NT$75 bought a mixed plate of vegetables and the house-special of "lion head" (獅子頭; a kind of meatball), with a bowl of rice and bottomless soup.

Text and photos copyright Jiyue Publications
(apologies, Blogspot is still not uploading photos)

Thursday, 7 June 2012

News Brief -- Disney bans junk food except in its parks

Walt Disney Co, said Tuesday it would ban junk-food advertising on its TV channels and Web sites from 2015 to help fight obesity among US children, Taipei Times reports today, c/o AFP (full article here).

“The nutrition guidelines are aligned to federal standards, promote fruit and vegetable consumption, and call for limiting calories and reducing saturated fat, sodium and sugar,” it said.

Disney also said it would roll out a “Mickey Check” check-mark icon this year to identify nutritious food and menu items at its retail shops and theme parks.
[In other words, it does not ONLY sell nutritious foods at its venues.]

Seventeen percent of US children are obese, a figure that has tripled in 30 years, according to a report last month from the Institute of Medicine.

However, others expressed skepticism.
“Kids aren’t obese because they are watching fast-food commercials on the Disney Channel,” wrote a Virginia resident. “They are obese because instead of being active, they are sitting in front of a TV ... How about creating TV shows that challenge kids to be active while watching?”

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

News Brief -- staff/camera in kitchen expose food recycling (Kaohsiung)

The well known Big Cow Beef Noodles (大牛牛肉麵) located on Zhongzheng Road (中正路) in Kaohsiung City has been exposed as recycling customers’ leftovers and selling them to other customers, the Broadcasting Corporation of China reported yesterday (full Chinese-language article here)

That restaurant has now closed its doors before the city’s Department of Health could investigate and impose fines, but another restaurant of the same name located on Kaohsiung’s Siwei Road (四維路), although completely unconnected, claims its business has fallen by between 10 percent and 20 percent.

Translation copyright Jiyue Publications 2012

Monday, 4 June 2012

Restaurant Review -- Buxiban Zone (Taipei)

Many Taipei students get out of school and go straight to cram schools for several hours trying to fill what should be an already full head with more information, and in the process further destroying any chance of a wholesome childhood with a balance of learning and play.

Often students have time just to grab a bite between classes, as do teachers, and with mostly snack food available, this is rarely vegetarian and is rarely nutritious. 

So it is good that 5 years ago the Vegi Garden (植善蔬食多國料理) opened on Kaifeng Street offering meals in Eastern and Western styles that are “pure veg, low sugar, low salt, low oil”. 

The menu sounds exotic, ranging from Japanese wild mushroom hand-made noodles (NT$180) and Thai sweet and sour hot pot (NT$260), to Spanish golden stewed rice (NT$190) and pumpkin mushroom baked penne pasta (NT$210). For an additional NT$80, all become set meals with a soup, side dish and drink.

NOMM found the soup good, and the side dish (soft white tofu) excellent. The main dishes of Italian wild mushroom rice (NT$190) and Thai coconut milk curry hot pot (NT$260) were disappointing, however. The latter’s soup was so weak it was unidentifiable as having been made with either curry or coconut milk. 

Address: No.47, Kaifeng St. Sec. 1 (開封街一段47)
Telephone: 02-23118198
Hours: 11:00~14:00 & 17:00~21:00
NOMM processed food index: 1 (low)

Text and photos © Jiyue Publications 2012

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Restaurant Review – “Gravy Rice” (Zhongli)

Zhongli (中壢) in Taoyuan County is a center of Hakka culture. This tends to be a very meat-based cuisine, so NOMM expected some difficulty in finding lunch on a recent unplanned visit, especially as we rolled into town at almost .

Short of time, we headed out toward the northwest on another purpose, and were happy to come across several vegetarian stores (albeit some already closed) in the Minzu Road (民族路) area. Perhaps there is a Buddhist hospital or similar nearby.

The Su Xiang Mian Zhi Jia (素香麵之家; “home of fragrant vegetarian noodles”, but no English name), slightly up Guangdong Road (廣東路) to the left (south) and hence technically over the township boundary into Pingzhen (平鎮) was still open but about to close, so we ordered “whatever is quickest to prepare”.

This turned out to be hui-fan (; NT$60), usually given in dictionaries as “rice in gravy” but better thought of as rice topped with vegetables in a wet sauce: thicker than “soupy noodles” (湯麵) but runnier than “dry noodles”(乾麵), and, of course, made using rice not noodles.

In any case, it is not an NOMM favorite and would not have been our first choice, but it was tasty enough, and the owner was chatty about moving back to her hometown to open the restaurant 4 years ago after spending much of her life commuting each day to Banciao (板橋) in Taipei County.

SuXiangMianZhiJia has a wide range of rice and noodle dishes, as well as dumplings, vegetables and marinated side dishes.

No.3 Guangdong Road
, Pingzhen City, Taoyuan County
Tel: 03-4013888
Opening Hours: ~, ~, Mon~Sat

Text and photos © Jiyue Publications 2012

Monday, 21 May 2012

Restaurant Review - contemplation (Keelung)

The Buddha Light Mountain organization (佛光山), founded and still run by a monk who still Master Hsing Yun (星雲大師), has temples and religious branches throughout Taiwan, many of which have restaurants called Dishuifang (滴水坊).

Despite operating a cooking school at its Kaohsiung headquarters, there is no standard fare: the menu varies from restaurant to restaurant. A few months ago NOMM ate at the Yonghe (永和) outlet and cannot recommend it, today we ate in Keelung, and although overpriced (NT$110 for a bowl of noodles that might cost half that normally), the food was tasty enough and the environment quiet.

For those with a political mindset: KMT supporters will be happy as Hsing Yun is one of there own, DPP opposition supporters might want to stay clear, as he supports President Ma, wants the Dalai Lama to kowtow to Beijing, and once said that there are no Taiwanese, only Chinese.

Address: No. 270, Xin Er Rd. (信二路) Keelung
Tel: 02-24231141
Hours: 11:00~20:00, closed Tuesdays
NOMM fake meat/processed food index: 5 (moderate)

text and photos copyright Jiyue Publications 2012