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.
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.
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.
We came across a photoshoot which seemed more for a magazine than an actual wedding.
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 :"
Crispy flavour-enhanced chicken nuggets from Ji Guang Xiang Xiang Ji.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Certified Angus beef. Sounds good to me!
A twin, or yin yang pot. We chose a collagen soup base and a spicy soup base.
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.
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.
We miss this so much since it was banned in Singapore. It's coagulated pig's blood.
One of my favourite food item is the cheese balls.
I think I read 'shark meat' on the food label. Then again, my mandarin sucks.
Unlimited servings of thinly sliced meat. Which reminds me, you are given only 80 minutes to indulge yourself.
Ummm... pig's stomach?
Yummy baby squid! Very crunchy and not the tasteless common variety.
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.
TAIWAN HOLIDAY LINKS
Getting from the Airport to the Town Centre
A review of the reasonably priced City Inn Hotel
Great Yakiniku Dinner Wine and Dine
Best Fruit Smoothie at Agnes B Cafe
Dining Cute @ Hello Kitty Cafe
Best Breakfast @ New York Bagels
Best Spaghetti and Fruits Tea @ Afternoon Tea Cafe
Ice Cream Toast @ Dazzling Cafe, opened by a socialite
Best Mala Hotpot Supper @ Ximending
Shida Night Market
Shilin Night Market
Raohe Night Market
Jianguo Flower and Jade Market
Shopping Malls & Bookstores
Eslite, Shinkong Mitsukoshi
Main Attractions - Places that you can't miss
Danshuei Old Street: Eat while you walk
Jiufen: Traditional Alley
Shifen: Lighting A Wish Lantern
Beitou Hot Springs: Soak your troubles away
Yehliu Geopark: Amazing Rock Formations by the Sea