Sunday, November 29, 2015

三明美食

三明美食 was just down the road from Yehliu Geopark. Phyllis personally likes their food and thought that we could have lunch here before we headed for the airport. And so we did.

On the way to the restaurant, I noticed that it was just next to the waters and that there were quite a few squid boats harboured there. Ah, so the place was a fishing village.

The restaurant's proprietor, Mr. Zhang Ming-fa, with his brothers Ming-chun and Ming-yi - hence the name "三明 (Three Ming)" - started this business in their home village after gaining some insights into the trade by working at seafood restaurants in Taipei. You know you are stepping into a seafood restaurant when you step into one - the smell of salty crustaceans and fishies from freezers (some in tanks) - so rest assured that what they serve would have freshness stated all over it.


Originally, their menu was tweaked to cater for local taste buds but the three brothers then injected some of their work experience into the business. This resulted in a menu that had traditional Taiwanese cuisine fused with contemporary Japanese cuisine.

Needless to say, the sashimi we ordered were fresh. In fact, they were so fresh, they literally just melted in our mouths.


I normally am not a big fan of anything oyster-ish. But this plateful of gooeyness was not too bad. I did not have much of it but I dare say that the sauce went really well with it.


My favourite dish of the meal would have to be this plateful of high cholesterol sinfulness. I mean, look at this photo - how can I not like this?! It was fragrant with the topping of deep-fried chopped garlic and chilli, and the calamari was just the right texture even for Dad who hates chewing. I had so much of it I was afraid that my voice was going to vanish after lunch!


Bro would have loved this dish of pipis. They were so fresh, so juicy and luckily we ordered it to be done with no extra sauce, as we were able to taste the original "pipiness" of the shells.


The only non-seafood dish we ordered was this plate of funghi. I really liked how they stir-fried it with mint leaves and also up to a level whereby they are not entirely burnt but still maintained its wokhei.


As much as the ingredients used here are caught locally. It helps that Zhang is familiar with the harbour and still has relatives who go out to sea for their catch, as he is able to get his ingredients at a price that is still considered good value when presented to customers.

Not bad for a last meal to end our Taiwan holiday. Thank you for your recommendation, Phyllis! And a very big thank you to the team at roundTAIWANround for a fun-filled trip. I will be back!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Yehliu Geopark 野柳地质公园

Yehliu Geopark (野柳地质公园) is a cape-turned-geological park in Wanli (万里区) District, New Taipei City. The 1.7km-long cape is known as Yehliu Promontory to geologists, as it was formed as geological forces pushed parts of the Tatun Volcanoes (大屯火山群) out to sea.




The cape became a centre of attention due to the many hoodoo rocks found here. Hoodoo rocks are spires of rocks that protude from the bottom of an arid drainage basin or dryland. Generally, hoodoo rocks form within sedimentary rock and volcanic rock formations.


A number of rocks had been given imaginative names according to their shapes, such as Ginger Rocks, Fairy Shoe and Mushroom Rocks.

Mushroom Rocks to the right of the photo




Ginger Rocks

I assumed that the place was a birdwatcher's paradise, as there were many people with binoculars and big DSLR-like cameras walking towards to far end of the cape referred to as the Marine Bird Rock. Also, as the cape is surrounded by sea, there were many warning signs and barriers put up to prevent visitors from stepping to far out due to personal and group safety, as well as protection of natural resources.


The highlight of the geopark is a rock called the Queen's Head (女王头), which is the unofficial emblem for Wanli District. We thought it was going to be huge so there was a tinge of disappointment when it was just about 1 feet taller than I was.

The Queen's Head

To be honest, we found it just so-so, perhaps due to a variety of factors. One could be the amount of tourists there. Too many people just spoiled the serenity of the place. Another could be that we have seen other places with rock formations that were more spectacular than this, for example the Great Ocean Road, where the rock formations are huge!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

九戶茶语

It took us a long time to decide on where to have dinner in Jiufen. In the end, we chose to dine at this tea house called 九戶茶语.


No, they do not only serve tea, they also serve full meals. We chose one of their set meals upon their recommendation.


Service was prompt and courteous. There was a bowl of complimentary winter melon soup.


There was a box of something, which we found intriguing. They did not allow us to touch it, as it was apparently, burning hot.


Ah, so it was our prawns!


The plate of peas was lightly stir-fried and not heavily seasoned.


The braised chicken was tasty, too. If it were a warm dish, I would have eaten the whole plate. Too bad it was a cold dish.


Mum and Dad really liked the baked basket of corn, sweet potato, pumpkin, groundnuts and mushroom. Perhaps it was because of that smoky flavour.


We thought the fish was quite well done, too. The sauce was light and the fish was steamed to a texture that we liked.


At the end of the meal, they served us a plate of complimentary fruits. It was a plateful of watermelon slices and cherry tomatoes. There was a small serving of gherkin, too. 


As we chose a window table, I could see the night view of the harbour below from where we were sitting.


I could not resist taking a photo from the balcony. How pretty is the night scenery? Look at the lights and the reflection on the water, so pretty (would be prettier if I knew how to change my camera's settings).


In my opinion, no trip to Taiwan is complete without saying hello to Jiufen.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Sunny Room Bed & Breakfast 阳光味宿

For the final night of our Taiwan holiday, I chose to spend the night in Jiufen (九份). As I have seen Jiufen in the day time, I was eager to see Jiufen at night, imagining it to be very much like the scenes in Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away. After all, it was the place that gave him the inspiration for that animation.

There were so many B&Bs to choose from on Tripadvisor but in the end, I chose to stay at Sunny Room Bed & Breakfast (阳光味宿). Phyllis drove us into their compound and so we approached their public area via the main entrance.


After the worker (who was Indonesian-Chinese and started to converse in Indonesian with me) collected the rest of our room payment, she showed us to our room, which was up a flight of stairs.


Similar to Olive Tree where we stayed at for our first night in Taiwan, Sunny Room had lots of little figurines and trinkets scattered throughout their compound.


We were impressed with the room, which we found airy, welcoming and uniquely-designed. Mum and Dad were pleased with this choice.


This is called the Small Happiness Room (小幸福四人房) and what I really liked was the rock-hard mattress of a bed! I love hard mattresses but not everyone does, so if you prefer soft mattresses, you may not want to choose Sunny Room as your choice accommodation.


We really liked the layout of the bathroom - so much like our kind of design that is simple and white.


There was a little reading corner that had a window with a picturesque scenery of the Pacific Ocean framed by pink curtains. Tastefully done, indeed.


What really blew us away was the view from the balcony. We would have sat out there for a longer time had it not been for the mosquitoes that welcomed us very quickly.


I mean, how can you not like this as your view?

Sunset at Jiufen
Morning scenery at Jiufen


We followed instructions to walk up to Jiufen Old Street (九份老街) using their side entrance.


There were quite a few steps to climb to get to the old street, so be prepared. After soaking in the old street atmosphere and having dinner, we retired to bed and the next morning, packed our luggage and took a final tour of the B&B.


From the outside, I really liked how the bookshelf looked.


Again, like the outside, there were lots of trinkets and figurines inside.




It definitely exuded a homely feeling, a kind of lived-in feeling. It was not pretentious and we liked that feeling. And who would complain with a view like this to accompany meals?


I liked the sandwich they served. I like anything with egg, really. Haha! And I had a feeling that those are Twisties that you see in that green cup.


After a short chat with the owner, we knew the reason behind the unique design of the rooms and furniture - the husband and wife team used to work as interior designers and had crafty hands. They live in one of the rooms on the premise with their family of two children, as well as their fur family.






I managed to pat all the dogs but could not get to the cat - it refused to budge from its spot in the garage.

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