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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Taipei Day 7: Around Ximending & Mala Hotpot

We stayed at a hotel just 3 minutes away from the Ximending shopping street where there's an Eslite 116 building, two multi-storey Watsons store (to the boy's dismay), a couple of KTVs, Magazine Freak, Sasa, The Faceshop and Etude House. Prices for Korean brands are still on the high side even though Taiwan is much nearer to Korea. You'd likely need 2 hours or more to wander around and browse the shops.

Ximending

I'm not sure if the Watsons stores here are open 24 hours, as I needed to get some stuff after 12 midnight and found them still opened for business. There's also a rather large Daiso on the 5th level, and you can get Froyoyo at the ground level.

Ximending

One of the two Magazine Freak stores I went into, the other one being at Taipei Main Station. You can get your monthly fix of Taiwanese and Japanese magazines here. They do sell art, craft, and cooking books too, as well as manga. There's even a bargain bin on the upper level, where some Japanese magazines go for as low as NT109 due to defects with the GWPs.

Ximending

We came across a photoshoot which seemed more for a magazine than an actual wedding.

Ximending

We tried a couple of snacks at Ximending, and since our hotel was just nearby, ate in a couple of restaurants and cafes there. Mostly, we had awesome takeaways from convenience stores nearby.

You can get the popular Ah-Chung Mian Xian here. I found it one day as I was exploring the area on my own, the boy being sick of me constantly entering cosmetic stores, and subsequently dragged the boy to have a bowl of the famous noodles. To our dismay, due to my lack of sense of direction, it seemed to have disappeared :"

Ximending

Crispy flavour-enhanced chicken nuggets from Ji Guang Xiang Xiang Ji.

Ximending

Ximending

Green tea frozen yoghurt with aloe vera cubes and mochi from Froyoyo. There are 2 tables outside the yoghurt store and if you happen to dine-in, listen out for the song that's playing. It goes 'yo..yofroyo'. It's so cute. The boy wasn't as observant and didn't quite believe it was their theme song.

Ximending

They have a couple of flavours and toppings to choose from and the first one we tried was mango yoghurt with mango cubes. Nice and refreshing, but not much different from those we can find back home.

Ximending

There is a mall, FE21, just across the road from our hotel, and it's like a smaller version of Shinkong Mitsukoshi. OG maybe? They were having a sale and every morning, I would see a long queue outside their doors, way before opening time. One day, I overheard a customer asking a staff about the free gift and she said 'a tote'. That left me puzzled and I thought to myself, it had better be a real expensive one.

FE21

I was tempted by the SKII promotional set, but they were limited and sold out before I could get my hands on one of them.

FE21

We decided that we were going to have hotpot for dinner even before we reached Taipei and since Le Ye BBQ and Hotpot was one of the recommended places, we had our first hotpot experience there. All I can say is, we were disappointed. There was no mala soup base which I was craving for, the soup was mediocre, and the place was a little tacky for the fussy me.

On the other hand, both me and the boy miss our wonderful dining experience at Mala Hotpot. The restaurant is located on the 2nd floor of the Holiday KTV building. You can't miss the bright orange facade, all the way to the end of the Ximending shopping street and across the road.

Mala Hotpot

Certified Angus beef. Sounds good to me!

Mala Hotpot

A twin, or yin yang pot. We chose a collagen soup base and a spicy soup base.

Mala Hotpot

Cute collagen cubes which went into the soup. I was looking forward to crunching on these collagen cubes only to find out that they melt and disappear when heated, leaving me to down bowls of MSG laden soup just to get 2% closer to achieving beautiful skin.

Mala Hotpot

The spicy soup was rightfully called mala. See the fiery pepper? It's the kind of spiciness that numbs your lips and tongue, though I haven't come across any that can stand up to the one at Chong Ching Hotpot. Then again, it might be because we had cowardly asked for medium spiciness, to avoid getting diarrhea on the flight home.

Mala Hotpot

We miss this so much since it was banned in Singapore. It's coagulated pig's blood.

Mala Hotpot

One of my favourite food item is the cheese balls.

Mala Hotpot

Mala Hotpot

I think I read 'shark meat' on the food label. Then again, my mandarin sucks.

Mala Hotpot

Unlimited servings of thinly sliced meat. Which reminds me, you are given only 80 minutes to indulge yourself.

Mala Hotpot

Mala Hotpot

Ummm... pig's stomach?

Mala Hotpot

Yummy baby squid! Very crunchy and not the tasteless common variety.

Mala Hotpot

And yes, there's free flow of Hagen Daz and Movenpick ice cream. The restaurant is open from 11:30am to 5am daily, and it costs just NT499 per person for dinner.

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