Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Travel: Eslite, Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Dept Store, Ice Monster (Taipei, Taiwan)

Here's a bit of a random post from our last day wandering around Taipei.

My Tiny Taiwan Haul

A couple haul pictures -- I was surprised at my restraint! I just bought a few face masks and staples. The THREE Blush in 019 Love Kick was a small splurge (I did have a lovely shopping experience at the THREE counter at the SOGO Pacific department store, though!)

Some face masks from Taipei

Not too much other stuff purchased

24 hour Eslite Bookstore

Eslite is more like a small department store than solely a bookstore. I really liked looking at the selection of products they stocked here. Lots of cool things that would make great gifts or souvenirs, from mostly indie designers/labels. I really enjoyed the local flavour of this store (they have multiple locations in Taiwan).

Eslite 24 hour bookstore

Yes, a 24 hour bookstore!

While wandering around the food floor, we saw this pretty neat looking tea bar. They used a mix of traditional tea brewing equipment and beakers to make the tea.

We had another ice tea here

Served in a sleek, plastic container.

I had another "I'll have whatever is.. "famous"" exchange with the tea girl, which is always an awkward exchange for me when asking to just have whatever is their best seller. I mean, really, I don't know enough about tea to have a preference!

The sticker shows what we ended up with. All I can really make out is that it's a red tea. It had a nice flavour though, and we appreciated an unsweetened ice tea :)

This is the type of tea we got (I ordered at random)

Also in Eslite, we saw this adorable stand of handmade toys (Mao's Dolls). We bought a friend here after much back and forth.

Handmade Taiwanese toys

Shin Kong Mitsukoshi in Xinyi

Then we moseyed on over to Shin Kong Mitsukoshi in Xinyi. It's 4 (or more?) enormous multi-leveled department stores, connected with walkways at various levels.

Shin Kong Mitsukoshi department store in Xinyi district

Honestly, it was kind of boring. We went through every floor, and it's basically just HE designer brands that you can get anywhere in the world (especially NYC). We did enjoy the children's department (at one point, I saw 4 things I owned within my sightline, haha) and a soymilk demonstration on the home appliance floor. The soymilk demonstration was for a high-powered blender (think Asian Vitamix). The demo guy kept saying how the soymilk "???" (loosely translated as "there is no sediment") and how smooth and wasteless this method of making soymilk is. LOL. That reminds me, I should buy some soy beans and give it a try in my Vitamix! I crave soymilk now and again, but absolutely hate the stuff at your standard non-Asian grocery store.

We decided to have a quick bite at the food court, since we love us some basement food courts in Asia. This one is OK - not as impressive as Qsquare's. We went with the most popular option, which was the udon stand.

Udon from the basement food court - hit the spot

Rose House Tea Shop

At this point, we were a bit tired of walking around, so we decided to have a spot of tea at Rose House Tea Shop. It seemed especially popular with the local ladies for afternoon tea.

The decor is like stepping into an old fashioned B&B, lol.

To no surprise, we ordered some chilled tea. How much ice tea did we drink in Taiwan? A LOT.

This one was actually super delicious and served with crisp slices of apples.

We also succumbed to a very tasty looking waffle on the menu:

A cute looking waffle that didn't taste great

Holy crap, it was awful. The waffle was slightly undercooked and not crisp at all. The whipped cream tasted fake. The strawberries were not flavourful. The neon yellow macaron tasted horribly artificial. And the rose flavoured ice cream was a vibrant shade of pink and tasted strongly of hand soap. I've had rose flavoured desserts before, but this one TOTALLY missed the mark. The single lady beside us consumed an entire one of these herself, but we left ours only 25% eaten. And with all the ice cream shoved off to the side. LOL.

Ice Monster

Ice Monster mascot has a pornstache

LATER. I coerced Cory into hitting up a third mango shaved ice establishment: ICE MONSTER. We thought we'd be good and just get a small version instead of their "MANGO AVALANCHE" (as gratuitous as it sounds). Then we were shut down because there's a minimum charge of 220 TWD (for 2 people) and I ended up ordering a strawberry flavoured popsicle so we could sit down. IN RETROSPECT, we should have just ordered the mango avalanche and dealt with either leftovers or a stomachache.

Strawberry popsicle

Mango shaved ice... a small one

Our little mango shaved ice here was better than the one we had at Smoothie House. The single girl beside us ate an entire mango avalanche by herself (maybe that was her dinner...). I enjoyed the atmosphere here. I just wish they went a bit easier on the sugary syrup additions. I guess the "no sugar added" trend hasn't swept through Taiwan yet...

I guess this place is mega popular if they offer a 10% discount for take away...

Bottom Lines:

Eslite 24 hour Bookstore: Yay! Although they have an even better store in Xinyi, though it has more regular hours. But I loved checking out all the local products on their non-book levels.

Shin Kong Mitsukoshi: Nay. Pretty boring, unless you need to pick something up here that you can't get at home (i.e., certain HE Japanese makeup brands).

Rose House Tea Shop: Yay for the tea. Nay for the waffles.

Ice Monster: YAY!

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