Debbie's

Debbie’s is a smallish American style diner that opened up in Taoyuan in June 2008. The atmosphere is nice and relaxed and it’s tastefully decorated, in as much as you can decorate a diner. The owner speaks English and they seem to cater both to the locals and the foreigners in Taoyuan. The place is small, but it doesn’t feel cramped and there’s around 10 tables, all of which seat four.

Debbie’s serves brunch until 14.00 although we missed that today, but the rest of the menu has a decent selection of burgers, sandwiches, burritos and some other stuff as well. The whole menu isn’t available on the website and in addition to the brunch items listed they also have pancakes. The drinks are large and they serve Root Beer which isn’t very common in Taiwan.

I ordered the beef burritos and Brenda got the bacon sandwich and a side of buffalo wings. The bacon sandwich came with a side of freshly made fries and they were really good and the sandwich was quite tasty as well. The buffalo wings were a bit dry, but came with a side of ranch dressing. The burritos were big, but not very authentic, although they had refried beans a bit of mince, sour cream and a side of salsa, so no major complaints for the price.

The total came up to NT$590 which has to be considered reasonable for what we ordered, as most western style places in Taiwan are expensive for no good reason. We’ll definitely go back and try the brunch next time. You can find Debbie’s website here. Debbies is located about 5 minutes walk from Mitsukoshi in Taoyuan.

Update: Well, we went back for brunch this weekend and both of us ordered pancakes, although they normally come with a side of some kind of meat byproduct such as sausage, ham or bacon, but neither of us wanted that so Debbie kindly offered to give us a couple of extra pancakes. The only downside this time was that it took forever to get the food, the place was quite busy, but a couple that came after us got their burritos before we got our food. The pancakes were good, although you’ll most likely have to ask for extra maple syrup as we didn’t get enough, but that was most likely cause of the extra helping we got. Brenda also ordered a side of mash, which we had to remind them about, as it didn’t turn up. The pancakes comes with a drink and are quite affordable at NT$110. We might yet be back one more time before we move from Taoyuan, as I think we’ll need a hearty breakfast on Friday morning.

Lugar home bread bar

Bread, it’s so easy to get good bread in Europe (not counting the UK), but once you go elsewhere in the world, you quickly find that good bread is one of those things that is actually not very easy to find. I’d seen the Lugar home bread bar in the food court in the 101 building just outside of Jasons before, but I hadn’t really paid attention to it, as most bakeries here are not all that special. Sure, there’s Mr Mark which is ok, better than most stuff I ate in the UK, but still quite far off the stuff you can get back home.

So today I was wasting some time in the 101 waiting for my girlfriend to get something in the office so we could grab a bite to eat in the food court and spotted a few things in Jasons I wanted to buy that was on sale. Once she turned up we had some food and then got the stuff I wanted, but when we left we took a different route than normally and walked past Lugar home bread bar. Their shop in the 101 looks more like a cafe than a bakery and maybe this is why I gave it a miss before and the poor English on the menu didn’t help either.

However, today they had little bits of their bread cut up for people to taste and I picked up a piece of something that looked like rye bread. To my surprise this tasted very close to something I could’ve bought from a German or maybe Austrian or Swiss bakery. It was slightly chewy and the more you chew it, the more flavour was released. A really tasty bread of a kind I’ve never had in Taiwan before and a real surprise. We also tasted some other kind of rye bread with raisins and we bought a loaf of each, the plain rye was a mere NT$90 while the one with raisins was NT$120. They also have focaccia, rye and chocolate (go figure), some kind of cumin bread and a whole bunch of other stuff.

The main shop is on Anhe road and it looks like they have more stuff on sale there, although I haven’t been there so I can’t really say. They also sells all sorts of cakes and other sweet baked goods, soup, sandwiches and various types of condiments. This is easily a place I’ll get more bread from and it’s the best bakery I’ve found in Taiwan so far and hopefully things will go well for them and they’ll open up more branches. You can find their website here, although it doesn’t seem to be working that well. The exact address of the main shop is No 3, Lane 49, Section 1, Anhe Rd, Da-an district, Taipei and you can call them on 02-2771-7577.

Update: Ok, so we’ve been back a couple of times already. We tried a sort of southern European style bread and it had a really nice and crispy crust it was soft and tasty inside. It was quite expensive, but it was a bigger loaf than the two we tried the previous time. I also had breakfast there and bought something that had a baguette shape, but shorter, but was made with whole grain flour and was very soft and tasty. It was called a smoked beef sandwich, but turned out to be pastrami with salad and pickles as well as a dijon dressing, very tasty and not too pricey at NT$100 with a large cup of tea. Sure, it’s not every day breakfast, but it’s nice as a treat. They serve breakfast from 8.00-10.00 at their shop in the 101.

Update 2:¬†Lugar is still around, although not in the locations above and according to their website they should have a shop in Sogo, but we checked and it’s not there. So make sure you check their website for their locations, both which appears to be not too far from the 101.

Flavors

So, I finally got around to visiting Flavors, the only Swedish restaurant in Taiwan apart from Ikea, which I don’t really think counts. They’ve just opened at a new location and the place was small ,but cozy and well decorated, although it didn’t look particularly Swedish. The dinner tonight was arranged by the Swedish Trade Council here in Taiwan and there was about 20 people or so in total, most of them other Swedes.

The selection of dishes aren’t really representative of Sweden, as Ola, the chef and owner, does his own little thing, but the meatballs looked authentic enough. I ordered the warm smoked salmon salad for starters while Brenda got the Italian mushroom sallad. The menu differs slightly from the one on the website, so there might be some difference choices when you get there. For main course I went with the venison & hasselback potato with juniper game sauce, while Brenda decided to go for the prime beef & potato tower with green pepper sauce & garlic butter.

First we got some freshly baked bread with tapenade, although not being a big fan of olives, this wasn’t really for me and the bread has some peculiar flavour, but you could tell it was very fresh. Then we got some pumpkin soup – which for some reason seem very popular with restaurants in Taiwan – which was ok, but nothing spectacular.

The venison on the other hand was very tender and cooked just right, although I only got one hasselback potato which I think was a bit stingy considering that what I ordered was well over NT$1,200. Brenda’s steak came with more potato and was also very good and had a nice sauce with it and came in at under NT$1,000. Of course tips and tax wasn’t included in the price.

The dessert was some kind of apple cake from the southern parts of Sweden in a light vanilla sauce, all quite tasty, but the sauce could’ve done with a bit stronger flavouring. All in all with drinks, the tab ended up at close to NT$3,000 which is a bit steep considering what we ate and neither portion was huge. I will be going back as the food was tasty, although I think I’ll go for the veal chops & truffle mashed potato with truffle sauce, as I saw someone else eating at it was a good helping of mash and four veal chops, which looked like a lot more food than the two pieces of venison I had and it was slightly cheaper. The meatballs also looked ok, but also seemed quite expensive, considering how easy and cheap they are to make.

Flavors is a place for when you want to eat something out of the ordinary in Taipei, but it’s not cheap. Of course, it all comes down to your budget, although I might have to go back and check out the supper club at some stage as well.

You can find out more by visiting their website or giving them a call at 02-2709 6525. The map below shows where they are, it’s not that hard to find, it’s about a 5 min walk from NY Bagel and they have a big sign outside. Just don’t talk too loud outside or the upstairs neighbours will come down and complain ūüėČ

So, we're moving…

After a lot of though and time spent discussing what we’re going to do, we’ve decided to move. We’re going to move back into Taipei, as it makes a lot more sense being there as Brenda works there and I spend a lot of time visiting companies there. We’ve found a nice place and we’re going to go and sort out all of the details on Saturday, so hopefully all that will be in order so we can move in some time in mid August.

The woman next door has driven us slightly mad and it’s time to get away from here. Although there’s nothing wrong with this flat, well, in fact, it’s actually bigger than the place we’re moving to, we just can’t hack it here any more. Besides, fuel prices are going up and its getting expensive driving that far every day for Brenda and it can be a long drive when the traffic is bad.

The new place is actually brand spanking new, they haven’t even finished building the whole complex and it looks quite nice. They’re meant to have a gym, a spa, a small cinema and some other neat stuff, so all that sounds good and the price we found a place there for was very reasonable. Fingers crossed, Brenda will get this place sold quickly as well.

It might not be super convenient located, as you have to take a shuttle bus to the MRT station, but it still beats having to take a taxi to the train station and then the high speed train to get into Taipei. It’s also close to the mountains and there seem to be some places where you can head out there. It’s also closer to some of our friends which should improve our social life a bit, as we’ve been part lazy and part too far away for a lot of stuff, so it’s time to get active and social again…

Anyhow, we’ll see how things turn out, but by this time next month, we should’ve moved if all goes smooth, which I guess it never does.

I almost forgot, on Friday we’re going to Flavours along with what should be a big group of other Swedish people as the Swedish Trade Council has arranged a get together there, so that’ll be cool.

The Windmill

This Thursday night of all nights of the week, we visited a new place in Taoyuan called The Hometown of Windmill. Go figure about how they come up with names for restaurants here. The name seems to come from the fact that the building has a large windmill on it. They server “European” style food, but also steak and some other things.

I ordered the Milanese style lamb with risotto while Brenda ordered the leg of duck with risotto and for an extra NT$150 she also got a “sallad”, soup, dessert and a beverage. All tables had a carafe with water and the service was pretty decent. The enviroment was also pleasant and they seemed to be doing the European thing with loads of different kinds of cuttlery.

The “sallad” was very strange and had wasabi on it, something Brenda didn’t care for much at all and while she’d only just started her sallad, my main course turned up, which seemed a bit strange. The soup consisted of pumpkin soup in a pumpkin shaped bowl and it was apparently quite tasty. We also got some bread rolls, which looked like the average local stuff, but tasted surprisingly like a french roll and had the same crusty texture.

The Milanese style lamb was more like a lamb shank, and I was kind of expecting something like an escalope, but the meat was very tender and really tasty. The risotto, well, it was better than average here, but still no risotto. Brenda’s duck was a bit dry and not that great. The dessert consisted of some strange little selections, some kind of chocolate gateau similar to the black forest kind, a raspberry on some sauce, bits of pinapple with that tasted like a hint of cinnamon and some kind of min panacotta.

The total came up to about NT$1,100 with service charges etc, which wasn’t too bad, although, the steak and some of the other stuff on the menu was priced at more than that per portion. You can find the Windmill’s website here and there are some more information in Chinese there as well as some pictures of their food. The map below doesn’t show anything on the location of the restaurant, as it wasn’t built at the time the Google map satelite photo was taken.

All my maps have been moved to the FindIT map