Thursday, May 10, 2018

Hotel Review: Via hotel taipei main station

It has been a long time since I visited Taiwan. I usually get centrally located hotels at cities where I stay, preferably near modes of transport. Via Hotel was just that.

Via Hotel was really a winner for me

 First off, they have a 24/7 lounge where you can drink coffee and have snacks (taiwanese snacks, soya milk, ice cream, instant noodles). I must say, their coffee was really good!
ice cream and soda all you can

unli juice and water plus yogurt and soy milk

taiwanese snacks

And to think I only paid about $90/ night. The savings from my coffee and water consumption was well worth it! did I mention they even have massage chairs you can use for free??? (sorry no picture)


The rooms was clean and modern and the bed was comfy. (And I am very particular about beds)
Although the room size was not very big... It was enough for the price I paid considering.

inside the room was also a back massager..... you can use to massage your lower back. First time for me to see one in a hotel room. ++++ points! hubby really made use of this one


The toilet also was "japanese" style with the buttons and bidet options. If you haven't been to japan and experienced their toilets... you are missing a lot!

The hotel itself is situated in the "book" street of Taipei.. all around if you walk, you can see several bookstores. There was also one daiso-like shop near the hotel (sorry forgot to take the name) that sold cute and cheap items.
the trip from the airport was very straight forward (one express train ride) and then a 900m/ 10 min  walk. I really dont mind walking so the 2 block walk was also a opportunity to look around.

The hotel is so centrally located, you can walk to the chiang kai shek memorial and the other surrounding city must sees. (president's house, the city wall etc)

In the morning, the lounge serves breakfast (although it was not written in the hotel booking).

It is open to all hotel guests, with bread, cheese, siao long pao (dumplings), pork bun and cereal. Loved lounging in that area after a long day and just drink coffee. (there is also a TV there).

Overall bothe me and my husband gave this hotel 4 stars for cleanliness and the amenities they provide for their guests.

BTW, around the hotel are a lot of beef noodle joints. You can try them one by one.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Lumiang Cave (SAGADA).. buwis buhay adventure

A lot of people  has probably  gone to Sagada (Mt. province),  which has a reputation for being secluded and hard to reach. In a way, it is, if you count 5 hours driving from Manila. (through zig zag roads)

Sagada is enchanting for its raw beauty. the cool crisp air and the freshness of everything, very far from the noise of the city.

We did the usual,  of course like eating at Lemon Pie house (not the best I have eaten, honestly speaking). Yogurt house (superb! esp with the mountain honey)

What I would like to write on  is the Lumiang-Sumaging caving experience. I would consider myself fairly adventurous. I can hike several kilometers to go up mountains with no problems. So when we did Sagada, which I think is so raw that everything you do here is WITH EFFORT... I was open to anything.

Our guide (Apiit) told us we can really do the long course of the caves (lumiang-sumaging), which I though would mean a easy caving experience. Was I wrong!

It was a long way down to the entrance of the cave... at the mouth, you can see some hanging coffins that we cordoned off (maybe in case someone might try to steal them)

We were supposed to have a gas lamp, but somehow, our guide was having a hard time making it light. So we just made do with our cellphone lights.

deep recesses of the cave

The first part of the  hike, I was wondering how we could reach the bottom from where we were since it was a long long way down... with no sign of any path. When Apiit took us to a hole in the wall (Literally,     A      HOLE...... IN..... THE..... WALL.) my mind screamed..... whaaaaaaat?

the hole where you put your body

It was a good thing there were a couple of other people ahead of us (actually a big group) and their lamps were also helping us... basically, we tried to keep up with their group so we can have light.

There was one point (and here I don't have any pictures).. where Apiit said, "Mam, please move to the left when you pass through because at the right side is a crevasse. 😱". BUT WAIT.... there's more... ( you can see why I don't have picture since I have to hold on to the walls..). buhay muna bago picture   (life before picture taking)

When I crawled to the other side he then proceeded to tell me to cross a rock face wall using only my hands and feet while looking for hand holds (think Sly Stallone in cliffhanger).. Remember, we didn't have any lamps of our own... so basically, my husband had to shine a light on me while I try not to die! This is where hugging the wall and being/channeling spiderman works. I screamed at my guide.,.. why didn't you tell me it was like this inside?

So, you can tell I did make it out alive. (lol) I used my cellphone when I got to the other side to shine on my husband. whew!

We also had to navigate climbing up a wall. (rappelling/wall climbing)

swinging from one side to the next

and basically trying not to accidentally slip down anything sheer. like a 30 foot drop.

In the middle, there was a small pool and a huge stalactite . 

What kept running through my head was... good thing it was just us and I wasn't with the kids. I would have had a heart attack from worrying how they would get out.

We skipped going to the other pools in sumaging cave (there were bats there and everything was slippery...) and by that time, I was ready to come out.
the way out... climbing a rock wall

i see the light!

The last picture is the entrance to Sumaging cave.... for us, the exit... They do not charge entrance fee for visitors, but in my opinion, they should and the fees in turn would be used to improve the facilities of the cave for the safety of the visitors.

Honestly, we weren't even given helmets! My husband's shoes kept slipping from the rocks (very very dangerous I tell you)

I guess you could say, that will be the last time I will do Lumiang. (won't recommend it to others either)

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Bo innovation review

I have once again ventured into trying michelin starred restaurants. After the disappointing outing at Joel Robuchon atelier (read it HERE), I have decided to once again eat at a "michelin" starred restaurant in HK.

as per hubby... this is supposed to mean "monster"
the name of the restaurant in chinese

We were a bit early for our reservation... so we waited for about 10 minutes and then shown to our seats. The interior is well lit and cosy.

I would also soon discover that the tables had drawers that contained utensils which you can use for the courses (some require more than chopstticks)

We were first served a egg waffle (common in HK) which had spring onions and hunan ham. I haven't tried an egg waffle before (me thinks this is their amuse bouche or "bread basket equivalent) and it was quite savory. I liked it and I thought it was brilliant twist to a traditional bread basket.

our official first course was Hokkaido scallop with caviar and rice crispies. they presented us with a special vinegar (read the ingredients and it has MSG salt and sugar). It was splashed on top of the scallops and actually gave it a nice kick. the flavor was very fresh and outstanding. the visuals were colorful too. Crusnch from the rice crispies and caviar was great.

This was iberico ham on top, fish from japan, morel mushrooms on a bed of tomato puree

The crispy thing on top is the morel mushroom. the taste of the tomato and iberico ham were the first thing you taste and I hardly noticed there was fish. The acidity of the tomato was good as a follow up to the sweetness of the hokkaido scallop.  Love also that they have the compressed towels that they refill everytime you use one
don"t eat me

lobster, truffle and dried shrimp wanton with floss. they actually present you with a bottle of dreid shrimp oil (which they drizzle over the wanton)
I loved that they have generous amounts of truffle on the dish. but I guess this was my least favorite because of the dried shrimp oil. It was kind of over powering. 

you would never guess by looking at the dish that it was a xiao long pao. but it is.

it actually looks like an egg. The red line in the middle is vinegar. (blew my mind actually) and you eat it with one swoop. You bite. BOOM! it explodes in your mouth with xiao long pao flavor! pure genius. loved it!! 

This is foei gras, and loved how he kept it in its original state (nice serving size too) on the side is mustard green "ice cream" that you eat with your goose liver. on the side is either a small plum or big cherry. 

All of the elements went together superbly... the slight sweetness/tanginess of the ice cream with the foie gras was excellent. it cut thru the richness of the liver and balanced it well. the ice cream is served on a peanut crunch bar. YUM!

This is probably what you might consider a palate cleanser. Chinese rice wine with calamansi with egg white. The container itself was great. Something you would thing the emperor of china would use.

We had fun with drinking this. As with most of his dishes, I think he injects something whimsical and playful. (You had to hold both handles and pour the drink to your mouth.)

This was one fun serving tray. They used a popular black bean canned mackarel as the serving plate (note: its my hubby's favorite canned fish). It had crispy fish skin on top, crispy kale (although I am not a fan of kale). The cod was good. the presentation was fun and creative.

If you look closely.. the can says.. bobo 100% extreme chinese

In preparation for our main course we were given some serious looking knifeware

For the main course, we had a choice of  scampi or A3 wagyu. Of course I chose the wagyu! It was served with cheung fun (traditional cantonese rice roll) and generous amounts of black truffle.

Can you see the truffle in between the cheung fun? tender juicy tasty... should I say more?


mango sorbet, grapefruit "sharksfin" and coconut molecular ball.

the coconut ball also exploded in your mouth. They used thai coconuts (I could tell.. its just different from Philippine coconuts). There is the crunch factor from the dried (not sure if it was mango). the ice cream was not too sweet and the grapefruit "sharksfin" was also good.

Even the coffee cup was unique

Bo is big bruce lee fan... we also got a picture taken with him (blue hair and all). He is a superb chef. Very creative and playful. I loved that he kept it innovative yet retained the taste (not too fusion that you couldn't recognize what you were eating). Foremost in my book is that it should taste good. and this surpassed all my expectations. The service was attentive (very good waiter to guest ratio). A good restaurant is evidenced when your water gets refilled without you even asking. 

He deserves his 3 michelin stars. CLAP CLAP! Highly recommend!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...