Friday, January 8, 2010

Taipei Jan 2010 - Work, Eat & Sleep!

I don't know if a 2D1N business trip is even considered a "trip" due to the lack of personal free time; but then again, flight ticket and hotel was free and it was a "trip" away from Hong Kong so it was a trip nonetheless. I haven't been to Taiwan for a few years and it was nice to return even for just ONE night. I took the above picture at Terminal 2 of the Taoyuan International Airport and the figure almost scared the Sxxx out of me when I passed by it. It serves as a promotion for Taiwan tourism as well as its free wi-fi services within the airport terminals. There were many other interesting sightings inside the airport such as the Hello Kitty Departure Gate which I posted further down in this post.

When I am above the clouds, I feel very peaceful. It was a nice to look out of the cabin window and all you see was white clouds floating in the blue sky. The hotel I sated was called QUOTE, a recently opened boutique hotel near the Taipei Arena (aka Mini Big-egg). It was pretty trendy indeed. It was nice to see how the Christmas spirit continued over the new year with the Christmas decorations still sitting nicely near the entrance.

As you as I arrived, a cute and pretty lady escorted me to the the front desk / reception area which was on the 2nd floor. Wow, nice! The whole 2nd floor was a 3-in-1 serving area which serves as the front desk, lounge and cafe.

My room on the 5th floor was very decent indeed. I quite like the wooded feel of the whole place.

Of course it was the heavenly bed that really stole my heart! I almost wanted to just skip the meeting and just go take a long and undisturbed nap! Anyhow, the nap had to wait unfortunately.

The meeting / presentation took less time than expected so 2 wonderful Taiwan colleagues invited me to join one of their an all girls night out dinner gathering at Bellini Pasta Pasta. (well not anymore an all girls night out with me joining of course! haha ... but I really can't find a reason not to join XD)

One thing I kept in mind when having this meal was that the so-called Italian dishes (at least the pasta selections) were Japanese-styled / localized and not of traditional or authentic Italian. Japanese-styled Italian cuisine has established a strong foothold within Asia and should be treated as a very unique category on its own. So what's Japanese-styled Italian cuisine? For me it is the unique use of Japan's local ingredients, special items such as Tamago or Seaweed that really stands out. How was the experience? It was alright, no surprises within its own category but certainly better than some of the chain Italian restaurants in Hong Kong in terms of service and quality in my humble opinion.

(1) Bellini Style Bread - it was sweet! I don't know, not my cup of tea to start off with something sweet especially on bread.

(2) Bellini-style Caesar Salad - again the slight sweetness to the sauce, perhaps that was the Bellini-style.

(3) Beef Carpaccio - Too much cheese and the beef was not beefy in flavor, it was the cheese that gave every bite some flavors.

(4) Fried Calamari - it was alright with the traces of spices, enjoyed it.

(5) Potato Gratin with Mentaiko cod roe - definitely a Japanese style dish with the cod roe but the whole thing was rather too condense / firm to dig in. The texture was overly dry as well. On the other hand, flavor was alright with a fairly strong cheese taste to it.

(6) Assorted Mushroom with calamari - it was a cold appetizer and being a calamari lover, I enjoyed it. The sauce was a bit citrus though.

Ordered two pizza and both were served with a thin crust (which I prefer) and they would slice it in front of you, a nice little touch indeed.

(7) Mozzarella Cheese with fresh basil leaves
- surprisingly with all the cheese on top, the cheese flavor was rather weak. The crust was alright, thin and crisp.

(8) Fresh Shrimp, mushroom and blended cheese on basil pesto sauce - interesting use of ingredients and it was actually pretty good. The combination of flavors surprised me positively especially with the shrimp and mushroom which mixed very well.

(9) Spaghetti with yuzu mentaiko, fresh calamari and fresh snowpea sprout - something about the sauce I don't like. Maybe it was the flavors of the seaweed together with the sauce ... humm. The spaghetti was abit overcooked to my liking, still within the al dante category more or less; perhaps it was the way how locals like their spaghetti here or the way how the Japanese-style Italian cuisine.

(10) Spaghetti Bolognese with meat sauce and soft boiled eggs - I loved the boiled eggs and how it had to be mixed all together. The resulting texture was smooth and flavors were nice with hints of yolk everywhere. Perhaps it was a personal thing. :)

The dessert platter looked pretty but I was too full to try any.

With the full stomach, I walked back to the hotel. The first thing I did was not to return to my room but to poue myself a cup of hot chocolate form the lounge!

I realized that there were cup noodles on the counter for those in search of food in the middle of the night, nice touch!

Oh did I mention the hotel was using iMac for their guest computers, thumbs up!! After the hearty hot chocolate, it was time to sleep! (already thinking about breakfast!)

The heavenly bed was hugging me all night long, I felt like a little kid sleeping without worries. The best thing to do in the morning after such a wonderful night of sleep would be to get myself something good for breakfast. While walking around the area, nothing really interested me because those that were opened nearby were mainly western establishments serving the all familiar coffee and etc. I wanted something different so I stopped by this little street vendor for some rice dumplings 飯糰.

It consisted of zha cai (pickled vegetable), some rousong (pork floss) as well as chucks of youtiao (Chinese fried donut), all wrapped in the rice ball / dumpling. The rice was a bit dried but it was a very satisfying breakfast indeed because it was , someting simple, something different and something local!

After the simple yet satisfying breakfast, it was time to head to the airport. When I arrived at my gate, I seriously thought I went to the wrong gate! Look at it, a Hello Kitty Gate! and a WHOLE section of it too!

I think Hello Kitty has dominated the world!

If you feel bored while waiting to board, you can teach yourself how to draw Hello Kitty following these steps shown on one of the walls.

If you feel bored still, perhaps you can play the slides (if you are young enough).

If you want to find a nursery room, no worries, there was a Hello Kitty themed nursery room near by.

If you feel like dropping a few bucks, why not get yourself some Hello Kitty merchandise from its store!

Am I going to take the Hello Kitty Jet back to Hong Kong?


Unknown said...

were u on a hello kitty jet? :D
jap style italian food is really famous here too eh?


Such an informative yet funny post - especially the last bit! : )

Looks like you enjoyed the business trip, the Boutique hotel seems enjoyable. Any clues how much it'll set us back, per night? Cheers.

Peech said...

Hotel Quote is owned by a friend of mine. I've stayed there myself and highly recommend it to friends. It will probably cost you NT$4,000 and up depending on which category of room you take. Most things in the hotel (minibar, lounge snacks) are free. The instant noodles come out after 9:30pm...but you can munch on M&Ms, gummy bears, Goldfish, Jelly Belly anytime!

uvepece said...

Wow, the hotel looked great! And the Hello Kitty boarding gate is crazy!! It is dominating the world, really! Here in Spain we have an invasion of Hello Kitty everywhere! hahahahha

Jason said...

@Rita: I think HK ppl like anything related to Japanese ... dun you agree?? haha

@BABEDOLPHIN: as mentioned by Peech, it will cost you about NT$4K per night. I think the room size is very decent indeed.

@Peech: I have been munching on too many Jelly Belly and spoonful of M&Ms for that 30 mins I spent at the lounge. HAHA ... I enjoyed my stay very much and their rooms are very spacious for its own category and honestly, EXCELLENT Customer Service (especially the touch of smiles on them all the time). The building used to be a KTV establishment right?

@uvepece: I really want to try taking the Hello Kitty Jet operated by Eva Air from Taipei to somewhere Japan I think, to check out the experience. I heard that even the toilet paper on that Hello Kitty Jet has Hello Kitty prints! (yet to be confirmed on this note .. but I would not be surprised at all!)


Thanks for information, Peech and Jason.
Will put this on my list if I visit Taipei again soon! : )

Jin said...

i just saw a feature on hotel quote, and then found out that you stayed there. wow, that place looks awesome! you should go on business trips more often, even just 2D1N! i miss taipei. i miss 欣葉, 三井, 唐宮, 淡水, 士林夜市, 臭豆腐, 雞排, 蔥抓餅, 牛肉麵, 青蛙下蛋, 芒果冰. my god, even their mister donut is good!!

joan h said...

what a cool hotel!! i've never heard about it, but it looks so modern and unique to hotels here... my favorite pasta at bellini is their spaghetti w/ the soft egg. but you didn't make it to any night markets! :)

Jason said...

@Joan H: thanks for dropping by! it was rather unfortunate that I did not have the chance the visit the night market =< ... I was in such a rush. I am already planning my next trip to Taipei focusing on foooooooood !!! :) (and I really want to try to MOM's PIE you recommended ...)

Jason said...

@Peech: I think I am heading to Quote again later this month. Really enjoyed my stay there last time that I gotta give them another try. :)

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