[Taipei, Taiwan] 馬辣 – A Hotpot Buffet with Hagen Daz, Movenpick, Wine & Beer

28 05 2014

A hotpot buffet with 8 flavours each of Hagen Daz Ice Cream & Movenpick Ice Cream, Red Wine and Beer, do I have your attention yet?

While Taiwan might be known for its scenic tourist spots like Tarako Gorge, Sun Moon Lake and the various hot springs, the highlight of my Taiwan trip turned out to be buffet hotpot restaurant 馬辣, much to my Taiwan friend E’s dismay who adamantly insisted that Taiwan has much more to offer than a mere hotpot restaurant.

Anyhow, I first heard of 马辣 from my mum, and subsequently as a recommendation from an adjacent Taiwanese passenger on the flight to Taipei. It’s a pretty popular place usually packed to the brim during mealtimes, with 5 outlets currently in operation in Taipei that are all very much accessible by public transport. Our first visit left us so impressed (and lazy to search for other alternatives), that we decided to come back to celebrate T’s birthday here as well.

The buffet is priced at 498NT++ for weekday lunches and 598NT++ for weekends/dinners (or roughly S$25++), for a time limit of two hours. However, the staff seemed pretty lax on this policy and allowed us to stay on for more dessert, drinks and idle chatter since there was no one else in the queue then. Buffet items include a host of meats (Angus beef, Boston Pork Should, Chicken Thigh…), Seafood (Oysters, Scallops, Prawn, Crab…), Vegetables, Dipping Sauces, Drinks(Fruit Juices, Soft Drinks, Beers, Floral Teas…), Desserts (Cakes, Fruits, Ice Cream…). Diners are also allowed to bring their own booze with no additional corkage charge, overall a pretty good deal if you ask me. Heck, I would pay that price for just the free flow ice cream and beer.

With the exception of the dipping sauces, drinks and desserts which are self-service, other items require diners to physically tick a checkbox and pass it on to the wait staff, who will then have the indicated items brought to your table, ensuring that whatever arrives is relatively fresh and not left in the open for prolonged periods of time.

So to cut long story short, 馬辣 is an incredibly value for money hotpot buffet if you are in Taipei that I would definitely recommend visiting.

Fuxing Location
Address: No. 152, 4F, Fuxing South Road
Hours: Monday to Sunday, 11:30AM-5AM
Phone: (02)27727678
MRT: Zongxiao Fuxing

Xining Location
Address: No. 62, 2F, Xining South Road (台北市西寧南路62號2樓)
Hours: Monday to Sunday, 11:30AM-5AM
Phone: (02)23146528
MRT: Ximen

Tingzhou Location
Address: No.86, Tingzhou Road Section 3 (台北市中正區汀州路三段86號)
Hours: Monday to Sunday, 11:30AM-5AM
Phone: (02)23657625
MRT: Gongguan

Zhongxiao Location
Address: No.4, Alley 10, Lane 233, Zhongxiao East Road Section 4 (台北市忠孝東路四段233巷10弄4號)
Hours: Monday to Sunday, 11:30AM-5AM
Phone: (02)27212533
MRT: Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall

Songshou Location
Address: No. 22, 3F, Songshou Road (台北市信義區松壽路22號3F)
Hours: Monday to Sunday, 11:30AM-5AM
Phone: (02)27205726
MRT: Taipei City Hall





Woobar @ W Hotel – High Tea, or more accurately “Low Tea”

10 05 2014

Whenever I hear the term “high tea”, I get an impression of luxury and indulgence. After all, it does sound like a step up from just “tea” right? So, it doesn’t come as a surprise that many eateries and cafes use the term “high tea” loosely, not knowing that it is in fact, a misnomer.

The story goes that in the past, the Brits used to get by with just 2 meals a day, breakfast and dinner. However, it became fashionable for dinners to be served as late as 9pm (my guess is that most Brits hit the tavern after a day’s work first…and it seems like little has changed since then). Unable to stomach the long interval between breakfast and dinner, the Duchess of Belford at that time, a lady named Anna, made it a habit to have bread, cakes, butter and tea be served to her room in the afternoon, giving rise to what we now know as afternoon tea, or “low tea” as this meal was often eaten on low parlour chairs.

“High tea” on the other hand, used to refer to the hot dinner with strong tea served to rejuvenate industrial workers after a hard day’s work. The term “high” was used because these dinners were served to workers sitting on high back dining chairs.

Definitions aside, I would say that my experience with Woobar’s High Tea Set ($58/$68++ per set serving 2 pax on weekday/weekends) was in general, a positive one. I personally felt that the pricing was really reasonable, given the location premium, free-flow of tea/coffee, the amount and quality of the food. What’s more, diners can request for complimentary parking as well 😀

The key downside however was the seats, low sofas that were not at all conducive for eating.

One of the salient features of this tea set is the “bird cage” presentation, which is more novel than functional. The teeny bite-sized nibbles do add up to quite a bit of food so my advice would be to have a light lunch before embarking on this journey.

The bird cage comprises of 3 tiers. At the top most tier, served in what looked like a fishbowl, was the Chocolate Crackle and Pop which reminded me of coco pops.

The second tier comprised of savoury items. I especially liked the Tikka Inspired Salmon with Mint on Spiced Pappadum, which was like an aburi salmon marinated with curry powder among other Indian spices. The Torched Double Brie Pickled Cucumber Nigiri was nice as well, especially since I’m a fervent cheese lover.

I’m still on the fence about the Chocolate Foie Gras Ganache with Port Wine & Gold Leaf. It’s a creative idea but the flavours weren’t very compatible in my view. The liberal use of port wine also resulted in a slightly overwhelming alcoholic flavor.

On the other spectrum, the Twice Cooked Hen’s egg Mantou Chili Crab was really forgettable, mainly due to the egg that hardened up somewhat from being twice cooked. Furthermore, I could hardly make out the chili crab sauce and felt it tasted like sweet Thai chili instead.

The bottom tier comprised of the sweet items. Of the lot, I had a penchant for the Assorted Macarons and the Almond Whoopie Cookie Sandwich. Items I felt were so so were the Bambolini Ball (Lemon Infused Lemon Curd Ball) and the Fresh Berry Trifle Shots.

What I didn’t like were the Chocolate Cupcakes that I found dry and overly dense, not exactly the best attribute to have after numerous rich and heavy desserts.

As part of the tea set, we were also served Crones (a light filo pastry) of varying flavours such as Passion Fruit Butter, Marmalade, Strawberry and Blackberry. This was my favourite item of the afternoon and what I liked best about it was that it was not overly sweet or cloying, while retaining a mild buttery tone and flaky texture.

We also ordered a side of Truffle Fries ($15++), which was rather pricey given the petite portion.

Woobar @ W Hotel

21 Ocean Way, Sentosa Cove, W Hotel Singapore

Tel: +65 6808 7258

Website: http://www.wsingaporesentosacove.com/en/woobar








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