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Taipei is the Capital City of Taiwan and it is the place that most first-time tourists to Taiwan would visit. It was during my first visit to Taiwan that I fell in love with the place, the people, and the food. As a matter of fact, words alone can’t really express the feeling I have whenever I visit Taiwan because Taiwan is like a second home to both Jacqueline and myself. Hence, it is not surprising that every year without fail, Jacqueline and I would travel to Taiwan and we would always go to our usual hangouts to do some eating, shopping, and sightseeing. Some of our usual hangouts in Taipei would include Raohe Night Market, Shilin Night Market, Ningxia Night Market, Ximending, Wufenpu, Q Square Mall, Guang Hua Digital Plaza, Zhongshan Metro Mall, and Taipei Main Station Underground Mall.
Truly, there are also many other places in Taipei that we have yet to uncover and every year as we travel to Taiwan, there would always be something new for us to explore and discover. Hence in this blog post, we will be sharing about our usual hangouts in Taipei and why we make it a point to visit these places every year without fail! As we have explored new attractions in our recent trip to Taiwan, we will be sharing about our experience in the next blog entry and as crazy as it may sound, we actually have plans to include these new “finds” into our usual hangouts the next time we visit Taiwan.

Raohe Night Market

There’s a store at Raohe Night Market that specially sells Taiwanese goodies like the “Iron Egg” [also known as Tie Dan], Sun Biscuits [also known as Tai Yang Bing], and fruit-flavoured Jellies. This would perhaps be the best place to get souvenirs for all your family members and friends as they would be slightly cheaper as compared to the retail stores at the airport. Sumptuous street-food at Raohe Night Market

Yummy Grilled Scallops

Desserts Galore at Raohe Night Market

A must-try at Raohe Night Market, fried Oreo balls!

There are quite a number of mini arcades at Raohe Night Market and most of them have the toy catching machine which would get people instantly hooked. Though playing the toy catching machine provides much thrill and is cheaper than playing in Singapore, we would still suggest people to buy the toys from other retail stores as it would be much more cheaper!

Having some fun at Raohe Night Market.

A photo with our Taiwanese friend.

Personally, Raohe Night Market is a haven to me because this is where I can get my business long-sleeved shirts and long pants at a great deal. The quality is comparable to what you get from G2000 and it’s way much cheaper. The best part is, the tailor is able to alter the pants on the spot.

Whenever we are at Raohe Night Market, we would always visit our favourite desserts shop to have this really yummy oreo chocolate with peanut-flavoured ice-shavings. We highly recommend it if you’re planning a visit to Raohe Night Market.

Truly, Raohe Night Market is one night market you do not want to miss when you travel to Taipei! In fact, this is the place where we bought lots of Taiwanese goodies for our family members and friends. Apart from the tempting food that you could find at Raohe Night Market, you would also be able to shop till you drop!

Wufenpu

[Image Courtesy of Wikipedia]

Wufenpu is rather well known as a wholesale hub for clothes retailers and it is Taipei’s largest wholesale clothing market. As Wufenpu is about 10-15 minutes walking distance from Raohe Night Market, we would always just drop by to take a look at the clothing that are being sold and also check out if there are any good deals. Hence, you might want to visit both Wufenpu and Raohe Night Market on the same day.

Shilin Night Market

[Image Courtesy of Wikipedia]

Shilin Night Market is the most famous and busiest night market in Taipei and it is also a favorite focal point for Taipei’s night life among residents and visitors alike. Usually, when we visit Shilin Night Market, we would always check out the clothing and apparels that are available and also indulge in the sumptuous local street-food at the same time.

Ningxia Night Market

Fishball Store at Ningxia Night Market

Fresh Sashimi at Ningxia Night Market

Chicken with Egg on Hotplate at Ningxia Night Market

Having some fun at Ningxia Night Market

Ningxia Night Market is a rather small night market and it would be the best place for delicious local street-food because of the large variety of food stalls that are operating there. If you’re planning to do some shopping, Ningxia Night Market would be out of the question because the stalls there mainly sell food.

Ximending

Ximending is a place for the youths and it is comparable to our local Bugis Village/Street. Most of the time, we would go there to check out the latest fads and also indulge in some Japanese food at our favourite Japanese restaurant.

Sushi

Salmon Sashimi

Chicken Cutlet Bento Set

The Japanese restaurant has a rather interesting train conveyor belt that some Japanese Restaurants in Singapore used to have. Besides dining at the Japanese Restaurant at Ximending, we would also be shopping around for stuffed toys and backpacks.

Feeling pretty adventurous, we would often visit the hair saloons at Ximending for a haircut!

At the Special Hair Saloon.

Zhongshan Metro Mall

[Image Courtesy of Tripadvisor]

For the avid readers, there are a couple of bookstores at Zhongshan Metro Mall and they are really cheaper than what you get here in our local Popular store. The only downside is, most of the books are written in Chinese and there are few English books. Nevertheless, the books that are being sold at Zhongshan Metro Mall are really cheap and you might just want to consider picking up a book or two. Taipei Main Station Underground Mall We would always end up at Taipei Main Station because whenever we travel to other parts of Taiwan via the High Speed Rail, this would be where we eventually end up before heading to our serviced apartment in Shuanglian. Whenever we are at the Taipei Main Station Underground Mall, we will always buy this really delicious Uncle Tetsu’s Cheesecake that always have people queuing up for it every day! The Cheesecake is made on the spot and served fresh from the oven!

The Long Queue for Uncle Tetsu’s Cheesecake.

Fresh and Hot Yummy Cheesecake Made On The Spot.

Finally gotten Uncle Tetsu’s Cheesecake after a long wait.

Q Square Shopping Mall

[Image Courtesy of Trip Advisor]

For some upscale shopping, we would always head to Q Square as it is within walking distance from Taipei Main Station. Furthermore, Q Square Shopping Mall has quite a number of well-known retail stores. We were quite surprised that we even found an Awfully Chocolate store there!

Guang Hua Digital Plaza

For the geeks whom are into electronic and tech gadgets, Guang Hua Digital Plaza is the place to go. Whether you’re planning to repair your mobile phones, get some computer accessories, or purchase a new tablet/PC, Guang Hua Digital Plaza is the place for everything geeky.

Convenience stores like the 7-Eleven are aplenty and we often visit them to get our cravings for convenience food fixed.

Cheese Risotto with Shrimp from 7-Eleven.

It really looks and tastes super yummy!

Every time we visit Taiwan, this is how much we would splurge at the 7-Eleven Stores.

Redeemed our free gift for splurging!

Well, there are quite a number of places that we have yet to uncover in Taipei, Taiwan but the places that we have listed here in this blog post are the places that we frequently go to every year! If you find this useful, do share it with your friends too! 🙂

Hello Everyone,
Baby and I were at Vivocity recently for an event and we were cruising around in search for a good restaurant to have our dinner. We had a few options opened to us, namely, the White Dog Cafe, Xi Men Ding [Taiwan Cuisine], Earle Swensen’s, and Akashi Japanese Restaurant. Well, we decided to dine at Xi Men Ding [Taiwan Cuisine] Restaurant because we wanted to try their Taiwanese food and see how good and authentic it was. Sadly, it was a horrible mistake to dine there and we will never ever set our foot into the restaurant ever again. Read on to find out more.

From Ximending 2012

The Physical Outlook of the Restaurant:
We wouldn’t deny that the physical outlook of the restaurant has a rather classy, clean, and minimalist feel. However, looks can be rather deceiving and we did not expect that this dining experience would be our first and last one.

From Ximending 2012

Surprisingly, Xi Men Ding comes under the management of CreativEATeries; a successful restaurant group that owns restaurants such as the Tajiyama, Sukiya, SiamKitchen, and many more. We’ve been to Tajiyama before and the dining experience was fabulous. You can check out our review of Tajiyama here –> http://awinsomelife.org/2012/05/30/tajiyama-restaurant-vivocity/

From Ximending 2012

So, naturally, we thought that Xi Men Ding would be of the same standards as Tajiyama. Boy, were we so wrong!

Here were the dishes that we ordered:

Rock Salt Crispy Chicken [$8.90]

Though the chicken was crisp, alot of Monosodium Glutamate was added. It was quite an average dish and we felt that for the price we paid, we could have had better tasting Taiwanese crispy chicken elsewhere.

From Ximending 2012

Scallop Fried Rice [$8.90]

Nothing out of the ordinary, the fried rice had a similar taste as the ones we had at Hawker Centres. Lots of vegetables like shredded cabbages and green peas were added but so little scallops. Totally not worth the money!

From Ximending 2012

Brazilian Mushroom Soup [$8.90]

This soup was just totally disappointing. The portion was only fit for one person and even then, the soup did not lived up to its, “Chef’s Recommendation” as indicated in the food menu. On top of that, the soup was way too salty! For the price we paid, we could have “Buddha Jump Over The Wall” at FoodCourts!

From Ximending 2012

Stir-Fried Sweet Potato Leaves [$8.00]

Substandard dish. We prefer the Sambal Stir-Fried ones available at those local “Zi Char”.

From Ximending 2012

Wok-Fried Tofu With Meat [$13.90]

Seriously, this is perhaps the most edible dish for the night. But with a price of $13.90, it is definitely over-priced.

From Ximending 2012

Inclusive of one additional bowl of rice, wet tissues, service charge and GST, our entire dinner cost a total sum of $59.10! Seriously, we totally regretted dining at Xi Men Ding! It was totally not worth it. Not only was the quality of food bad, service was extremely horrendous as well. Here’s why:

The supervisor/manager welcomed us, showed us to our seats, and presented us with the menu. For a start, this was just standard operating procedure. Nothing WOW about it. Then, having look through the menu, we decided to place our order and we waved our hands up in the air like we just don’t care. We waved for about 3-5 minutes and nobody attended to us. Then, a service staff saw our hands and quickly looked away and attended to other matters such as wiping the tables, clearing of plates from other tables, and pouring tea for other guests. I mean, at the very least, the particular service staff could have gotten someone else to attend to us or gestured to us that he/she would be attending to us right after he/she is done with whatever he/she needs to do!

We kept our hands up in the air like some clowns until the supervisor/manager saw us and attended to us. The order-taking was once again routine and nothing out of the ordinary. Our dishes were then served and we ate. By the way, the dishes that we ordered were all either recommended by the Supervisor/Manager or selected based on the “Chef’s Recommendation” as indicated on the menu. As we felt that the portion of the Scallop Fried Rice was quite small, we placed an order for a bowl of rice and the same scenario happened. We had to wait for 5 minutes before anyone attended to us. Honestly, we are very patient individuals and we wouldn’t have mind waiting if the service staff at least made an attempt to acknowledge that we needed some form of assistance. We just couldn’t believe that the service staffs are trained to look away when guests are waving their hands to attract their attention!

So, after placing an order for a bowl of rice, we waited… and we waited. The rice didn’t came. We waited for a good 10 minutes for a bowl of rice and it didn’t came. At the 15th minute, we decided to check with the service staff because we were rushing for time and for the 3rd time, the same scenario happened. We just do not understand why it is so hard for them to serve us. Was it because they didn’t like our face or what? But anyway, we weren’t the only guests that had the same unpleasant experience. All over the restaurant, I see guests with their hands up in the air trying to get the attention of the service staffs. Needless to say, service at Xi Men Ding was extremely bad.

After our entire meal, we asked for the bill and was attended by a service staff whom was rather impolite. She gestured to us to pay our bill at the cashier counter and the way she did it was as if we owed the restaurant thousands of dollars. During the whole cashiering process, it was really cold. No sense of warmth nor a fond farewell given. There was no eye contact and no, “Thank you and please come again!” nor, “How was the food? Is the service ok?” Everything was just transactional.

Well, I’m not sure if other guests encountered the same experience as we did but surly, for the amount that we paid for dinner, $59.10; we expected better food and better service. Time for us to move on from this bad episode and dine elsewhere worthy. By the way, the restaurant was running at full capacity on a Friday evening and just because its fullhouse, it doesn’t give them an excuse for bad service and bad food. This restaurant really do not deserve to use the name of Xi Men Ding because it doesn’t live up to the real authentic Taiwanese food and the warmth hospitality of Taiwanese people.

Our Verdict:

Don’t waste your money on expensive below average food that is coupled together with lousy horrendous service. Your money could be well spent at other restaurants.

Ok, before people say that I am bias and not objective in this particular review, do check out other reviews by other bloggers whom blogs regularly:

Review by LadyIronChef: http://www.ladyironchef.com/2011/07/ximending-taiwanese-restaurant-cuisine-food/

Review by Alvinology: http://blog.omy.sg/alvinology/tag/ximending-vivocity/

Review by 1911 Photography and Chronicles: http://fearstar.blogspot.sg/2010/08/ximendingvivo-city.html

Review by Love Oishi: http://loveoishi.blogspot.sg/2012/01/xi-men-ding-vivocity.html

Stay tuned to more updates from us.

God bless!