Add: No. 136-1, Jingshan Rd, Taipei City
Tel: (02) 2862 6488
Price: 500-700 NTD
Visited: Dec 2016
This time in Taipei, I headed to Yangming Mountain to explore one of Taipei’s more popular cafe/restaurants, called VVG Hideaway. Online, this place has been described as “secret little white house nestled in the mountains” or “heaven-like dreamy secret hiding place”, which I found exaggerated to a point of being funny, but it is true that the photos look quite stunning. Though I was never a big fan of the food from VVG group, I was still willing to trek out there just to take a look at the space.
這次在台北，抽了一天上陽明山探了探當前人氣網紅店之一的 “好樣秘境 VVG Hideaway”。之前看到對這家店的描述，大多是 “坐落于山林間的秘密小白屋”，或著 “天堂般夢幻的白色秘境” 這類的。心裡想著這也太誇張了，不過看了照片後還是忍不住被吸引。雖然知道好樣集團出品的食物向來 “…”，不過爲了美麗的環境硬是要去踩個地雷 － 大概是這樣一個心態。
To get to VVG Hideaway by public transportation, you need to take the MRT to “Jiantan Station” and hop on Bus #303 to “Qinshanli #2 Stop”. Personally I find that quite troublesome – apparently some people waited for an hour because they missed the bus – but if you happen to have a lot of time, or are lucky enough like I was to have a friend drive you, then why not explore?
如果搭乘公共交通前往，得坐捷運至 “劍潭站” 再轉搭 “303號公車” 在 “菁山里二站” 下車。個人覺得這太麻煩了（聽說有人沒看好公車時間，等了一個小時的），不過如果你剛好很閒，或著和我一樣幸運的有朋友開車載上山的話，倒不妨去瞧瞧。
Add: No. 41, Alley 248 Taikang Lu (inside Tianzifang)
Tel: 6466 1042
Visited: Dec 2016
In a city like Shanghai, where the F&B scene changes constantly with daily openings and closings, the restaurants and cafes that stick around become all the more rare and precious. Like Cafe Dan. This small cafe in Tianzifang has been there since 2007, and is perpetually filled with the alluring aroma of freshly brewed coffee and delicious Japanese comfort food that I don’t mind going out of my way for.
There are three stories to Cafe Dan. The 1st floor is used mostly as storage, and to get to the seats one must climb up dangerously steep steps to the 2nd and 3rd floors. It’s not an especially spacious cafe, and fills up quickly on weekends.
Cobra Lily 鏡花水月
Add: No. 19, Alley 181, Taicang Road, Xintiandi, Shanghai
Tel: 5351 0116
Price: [lunch] 78~128 rmb/set [dinner] 300~350 rmb/person
Visited: Nov 2016
For a very long time, my overall impression for Xintiandi has been: expensive restaurants serving not so amazing food. The recently-opened Cobra Lily, however, is something to be noticed. Brought to you by the team behind The Boxing Cat and Liquid Laundry, Cobra Lily does creative fusion Asian cuisine priced around 100 rmb for lunch and 300 rmb for dinner – it doesn’t get much more reasonable for this neighborhood.
對新天地的總體印象是：餐廳個個價格高、東西卻又不怎麼樣，不過最近 The Boxing Cat 和 Liquid Laundry 的老板們新開的 “Cobra Lily 鏡花水月” 倒有點令人眼睛一亮 － 亞洲創意菜做的很有特色，而且午餐一百左右、晚餐三百左右的價位也不誇張。去了三次之後覺得可以推薦，速速整理下照片分享給你。
Let’s take a look at the decor first. The two-storey space includes a restaurant, a bar, and a DJ stand on the 2nd floor. The designer kept the original Shikumen structure while incorporating modern oriental elements – wall illustrations, vases, napkins, cushions…sprinkled here and there.
Add: B1, K11 Shopping Mall, 300 Huaihai Middle Road
Price: [chocolates] 20 rmb/pc [hot chocolate] 98 rmb/glass [plated desserts] 168 rmb
Visited: Nov 2016
You might remember my post back in August about Pierre Marcolini coming to Shanghai. His newest boutique / salon de thé recently opened on the B1 floor of K11 Mall, and it doesn’t only have chocolates and macarons for sale, but also a transparent chocolate lab that produces hot chocolate and plated desserts. On a cold winter day like this, a dose of chocolate really doesn’t sound like a bad idea.
For those who didn’t read the last post, here’s a quick recap: Belgian chocolatier Pierre Marcolini, after winning the title of World Champion of Pastry in 1995, opened his first shop in Brussels, and subsequently in Paris, London, Tokyo, Monaco, Luxembourg etc. I first tasted his chocolates almost 6 years ago in Brussels, what a pleasant surprise to now find his shop in Shanghai.
給沒看過上一篇的人一個快速簡介：Pierre Marcolini 來自比利時，1995年在法國裏昂得到世界甜點冠軍之後，于布魯塞爾開了自己的第一家巧克力店，現在在巴黎、倫敦、東京、摩納哥等地方也都能看到他的作品。我在巴黎時因爲看的一個叫做 “Qui Sera Le Prochain Grand Pâtissier”（誰會成爲下一個甜點大師）的電視節目而認識了他，沒想到店居然開到了上海，有點令人開心。
Compared to his previous pop-up store, the new boutique now also offers financiers baked fresh in Shanghai everyday (chocolates and macarons are flown in from Belgium).
跟之前二樓的 pop-up store 相比，新店裏多了我很喜歡的常溫蛋糕 financier 費南雪，這些是上海當地每天新鮮烘焙的。其他的巧克力和馬卡龍都是在比利時的巧克力工廠制作後空運而來。
Add: 6F, 20 Guangdong Lu, Shanghai
Tel: 5383 2031
Price: 300~350 rmb/person
Visited: Nov 2016
Bo Shanghai‘s neighbor Daimon Bistro is also presented to the Shanghai dining crowd by chef Alvin Leung, but in terms of price point it’s much easier to swallow (around 300 rmb/person) for its fine dining other half. The design inspiration comes from Hong Kong’s Kowloon Walled City – pawnshop at the entrance, purple neon lights, walls full of graffiti, waiters dressed in cop and gangster outfits – all the details chip in for the wild and raucous ambience at the bistro.
Bo Shanghai 的鄰居 Daimon Bistro 同樣出于 Alvin Leung 之手，是（以外灘來說）價格親民的餐廳。設計靈感來自香港 “三不管” 九龍城寨，入口處的當鋪、紫色暧昧燈光、滿牆壁的塗鴉，各種細節營造出混亂市井的氛圍，連服務員都穿的像警察和流氓（金項鏈好閃）。
The bar area, using bamboo to mimic the scaffoldings in the Walled City.
Add: 6/F, Bund 5, 5 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu
Tel: 5383 3656
Price: set menu 1500 RMB + 10%, with wine pairing 2200 RMB + 10%
Visited: Oct 2016
Please note that this was an invited tasting arranged by the restaurant.
I haven’t been to Bo Innovation in Hong Kong, but I have heard quite a lot about this much-debated Three Michelin star restaurant and its self-proclaimed “demon chef” Alvin Leung. London-born, Canada-raised Alvin was originally an engineer, and after teaching himself how to cook, he opened Bo Innovation in his 40s and quickly won two Michelin stars (subsequently three stars, and the restaurant is also currently ranked #28 in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants). His brand new Bo Shanghai recently soft-opened, and before it officially launches at the end of this month, let’s go have a sneak peek.
沒有吃過香港的 Bo Innovation，不過對這家爭議不斷的米其林三星餐廳和其自稱 “廚魔” 的主廚 Alvin Leung 早有耳聞。倫敦出生、加拿大長大的 Alvin 本是工程師，自學廚藝後在40幾歲時開了自己第一家餐廳 Bo Innovation，並迅速得到了米其林得青睐（目前也名列 “世界最佳50餐廳” 第28位）。最近他在上海外灘五號的 Bo Shanghai 開始試運營，聽說月底要正式開幕，趕在那之前，先來嚐嚐。
Arriving on the 6th floor of Bund Five, I was led through Bistro Daimon (another new concept by Alvin) to the hidden Bo Shanghai. So it does seem like everything needs to be hidden these days…like Tai’an Table (which was recently awarded one Michelin star but had to close due to license issues) or Speak Low (a perpetually packed speakeasy bar by famed Japanese bartender Shingo Gokan). Bo Shanghai has just 26 seats (including 6 at the bar) with a nice view of the bund, though the view really isn’t the focus here…
抵達外灘五號的6樓，先經過 Bistro Daimon，在服務人員的引導下來到藏在牆後的 Bo Shanghai。現在的餐廳（比如剛得米其林一星就被迫關門的泰安門）和酒吧（像是穿過角落的書架方得入內的Speak Low），為何都流行藏起來？Anyway，進入 Bo Shanghai 後發現其實地方很小，位子就26個，夜景挺美的（不過來這裡吃飯，夜景應該不是重點哦…）
The two chefs at Bo Shanghai (DeAille and Simon, the two on the right in the photo below) are both Cantonese who grew up in Toronto, and before arriving in Shanghai they were working with Alvin for over two years in Bo Innovation.
Bo Shanghai 的兩位主廚（下圖右邊二位）是在多倫多長大的香港人，來上海之前在 Bo Innovation 工作了兩年多。女主廚 DeAille 說話非常客氣，有空時會很詳細的分享他們的料理故事。男主廚 Simon 說起話來很活潑，有種天然的喜感（喂，這樣說別人好嗎？）。我坐在吧台前用餐，邊吃邊和他們兩位聊天，學習了不少有趣的事情。
Bo Shanghai’s 10-course tasting menu (1500 RMB + 10%, with wine pairing 2200 RMB + 10%) is inspired by the traditional cuisine from China’s 8 different regions, in fusion with French techniques, and is completely different from the offerings in Hong Kong. To start, here are the amuse bouche: croissant with scallion oil filling, and a Chinese bun with black truffles and comté cheese.
Bo Shanghai 的菜色將來自于中國八大菜系的靈感與法國料理做了結合，呈現的是和香港店完全不同的創意。目前只有一個10道菜的套餐，價格 1500 RMB + 10%（配酒套餐 2200 RMB + 10%)。從開胃的 amuse bouche 和面包就已經能嚐到主廚們的融合概念，比如這個放了蔥油的可頌，以及加了黑松露和法國的 comté 芝士的中式花卷。
Garden Terrace Miyazaki
Add: 247-18 Shimoharacho, Miyazaki, Miyazaki Prefecture
Price: 37,000~57,000 yen/night
Visited: Oct 2016
Please note that this was a complimentary stay arranged by the hotel.
Our last stop in Kyushu was Miyazaki, where we stayed at a most beautiful and serene hotel designed by famed Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. Located on the site of a former factory, Garden Terrace Miyazaki is sheltered by a timber canopy, and entering its bamboo premises automatically imbues one with a sense of tranquility. How did I find out about this low profile hotel, you ask? Well, a friend had stayed at Garden Terrace Nagasaki (also designed by Kengo Kuma) on a recent trip and really loved it, and after doing some research I found out that it has a sister hotel in Miyazaki, and decided to give it a try…
Upon entering the hotel, we were first left upstairs to the second floor lounge for check-in. This space also functions as a club lounge for hotel guests, with complimentary snacks, drinks, and a small library.
Wall / CoSTUME NATIONAL
Add: CoSTUME NATIONAL Aoyama Complex 1F,5-4-30 Minami Aoyama
Price: cocktails ~2200 yen
Visited: Oct 2016
A Japanese friend took me to this bar in Omotesando, and I honestly couldn’t tell that this is a bar even after arriving at its door. Apparently, it’s hidden behind this white wall.
Entering the bar through the slender (and very discreet) door, we arrived at Wall. It’s an elongated space brought alive by the gorgeous, lush vertical garden behind the bar, put together by famed French artist / vertical garden designer Patrick Blanc. I have always liked his works in Paris, and it was quite a pleasant surprise to run into him again in Tokyo.
推了中間那道細門入內，竟是另一番天地。狹長的空間裏最引人注目的是吧台後方整面的植物牆。豐盛的、綠油油的，很美。打造這片植物牆的是法國藝術家／垂直花園名設計師 Patrick Blanc，以前就非常喜歡他在巴黎幾個作品，在東京能碰上真是挺令人驚喜的。
Upon being seated, we were first served the halve of a fresh fig. Apparently it’s typical in Japanese bars to be served a small bite like this before or along with your first drink.
Osoba no Koga おそばの甲賀
Add: 2-14-5 Nishi Asabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Hours: 11am-3pm, 5-9:30pm
Price: 1,000~5,000 yen
Visited: Oct 2016
For a casual lunch, a friend took me to a small soba noodle shop called Osoba no Koga, located in the Nishi Asabu area. It’s not a place tourists would specifically look for, but for a light and authentic meal, it was perfect.
這次東京之旅頗喜歡的小店之一是日本朋友帶我去的おそばの甲賀（Osoba no Koga）, 位于西麻布一帶。小小的一家蕎麥麵店，絕不是觀光客會特地尋過去的那種地方，進來吃一碗麵，舒服。
We first tried a bowl of chilled soba with sea urchin (2,550 yen). It was a simple but most delicious combination of soba noodles, sauce, some dried seaweed, sea urchin, and a dab of wasabi – something I could go on eating without getting sick of.
We also tried a bowl of nanban chicken soba noodles (1,400 yen), served hot with soup. Unfortunately this was less of a hit for us, mostly because the noodles are too soft after being soaked in the hot soup. If you visit this little noodle shop, go for the sea urchin soba.
Sakurai Tea 櫻井焙茶研究所
Add: 5F Spiral Building, 5-6-23 Minami Aoyama, Tokyo
Price: [tea] 1,600 yen [tea set] 4,500 yen+
Visited: Oct 2016
For those interested in Japanese tea, Sakurai could be a worthwhile place to visit while Tokyo. Located on the 5th floor of Spiral Building in the ultra stylish Minami Aoyama area, Sakurai is a modern Japanese tea house founded by Mr. Shinya Sakurai, an ex-Yakumo Saryo and Higashiya who expands his craft to not just tea, but also pairing with food and alcohol.
The shop, also designed by Simplicity Studio, fuses traditional Japanese design with modern metallic vibes. The counter displays a range of beautiful teaware, and beyond the counter is a tea roasting area.
店裏融合了傳統日式風格與現代金屬的摩登感，看得出來也是 Simplicity 設計的。入口處的櫃台上漂亮的茶具一字排開，透過玻璃可以看到烘培茶葉的區域。
On the other side of the counter is the tea room. Tea and tea desserts are available a la carte as well as in sets (gyokuro, blended tea, hojicha, bancha, matcha, etc., 4,500~6,900 yen/set) and alchoholic versions like encha gin, hojicha rum, matcha beer (1,200~1,600 yen), which all sound quite interesting.
The tea room is small, with only 8 seats around the bar. I arrived during the late afternoon, so I can only imagine how beautiful the space must be during the day with natural light spilling in from the large windows. Upon being seated, I was handed presented a selection of tea leaves to choose from, accompanied by clear explanations about their origin, aroma, and flavor.