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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Restaurant review – Men Ramen

Hubert Hsu & Irene Kuo

Not far from Feng Chia University, there is a shop, Men Ramen, where they sell authentic Japanese ramen. If your stomach starts to growl late at night, you might want to try Men Ramen since they are open 10 pm to 2 am just for people who like midnight snacks.
All photos by the authors
      Last month, after a late night of chatting with friends, we thought we’d try Men Ramen. The shop looked small, and its exterior was traditional Japanese style, with two big red lanterns hanging in front. There isn’t a parking lot, and there is a police station nearby, so you have to be careful where you put your scooter.

When we arrived, there were already people lining up outside. We quickly joined them. The waiter gave us the menu so that we could order before going in. After 15 minutes, it was our turn to enjoy real Japanese ramen. The space inside the shop was open, so there wasn't any air conditioning, only fans. All the furnishings in the shop were simple, and the lighting was dim. There were only 25 seats. It was a little crowded, and we weren't lucky enough to sit where we could see the ramen being cooked.

There are four items on the menu, ramen, rice, drinks, and additional side dishes. The ramen comes in four flavors, including 正油, miso, salty tonkotsu, and soy sauce tonkotsu. Teriyaki pork is the only flavor for the rice. If you are thirsty, there are three drinks that you can choose from, including beer, soda, and oolong tea. Moreover, if you would like to have much bigger meal than usual, you can order additional side items like eggs, soup, noodles, and pork.

We ordered miso and soy sauce tonkotsu ramen and then we shared. When the waiter brought our ramen, the first thing that came to mind was, “What awesome ingredients! It looks very delicious and smells great! We had a nice first impression! The miso soup tasted good, and the soy sauce tonkotsu tasted a little bit salty but still good. If you feel that your ramen is too salty or mild, you can ask them to adjust the flavor of your soup. They also offer free garlic and sesame seeds so you can add seasonings to your taste. Both ramen dishes used the same noodles, which are very chewy. We can feel them springing back when you chew.

The  portions were moderate, but it was enough to fill our stomachs. The most important thing was that it only cost NT$90 – total! That is very cheap for ramen. In addition to our ramen, we ordered Teriyaki pork rice. It looked like Taiwan’s traditional braised pork rice, but it had a stronger soy sauce and smelled like dried bonito. It was also salty. I thought the portion was a bit small; maybe it is suitable for people who just feel a little hungry. The price was also low, only NT$30. The service at Men Ramen is very good, too. They served our meal quickly and politely. However, the staff seldom smile at customers because they are concentrating on cooking and providing delicious ramen to their customers. We really enjoyed our meal and had a very good time here.

We came to Men Ramen because we had heard of it on the Internet. Now, we have tried it, and our curiosity has been satisfied. Next time you feel hungry in the middle of the night and want something delicious, we recommend that you go to Men Ramen and try their authentic Japanese ramen.

Men Ramen

Address:  51 Xitun Road, Section 3, Taichung (across from the police station)
Hours:      11:00Pm-03:00Am
Tel:           0921 722 948
Prices :    NT$ 70 - 90 (moderate)

Restaurant Review – Sufood Vegetarian Restaurant

 Patrick Chen & Andrea Chiu
In Taiwan, more and more people like to eat out. We like to eat out because it is very convenient, and we don’t have to waste any time cooking. A few days ago, our friend gave us two coupons for a vegetarian restaurant – Sufood. We probably would never have tried this restaurant because we are not vegetarians, but because it was free, we gave it a try. And we are glad we did!

When we first went into the restaurant, we were pleasantly surprised by their atmosphere. There was soothing lighting and relaxing music. The waiters gave us a big smile, which also made us feel good. When we got to our table, we saw the seating was very clean and tidy, and there was a beautiful menu on the table.

Sufood offers mostly vegetarian set meals, which include appetizer, bread, salad, soup, entre, desert, and beverage. We ordered one Vegetable Pita Pocket and one Homemade Vegetarian Calzone. 

Our appetizer was a dish of brightly colored fresh vegetables. We were also served some crisp Rosemary Breadsticks. They were delicious! After our appetizer, our Mushroom Salads and Onion Soup arrived. We will never forget their fantastic flavor!

Before our main dishes arrived, we were already a little full; however, when we saw the Pita Pocket and Vegetable Calzone, we felt hungry again. The dishes looked beautiful, and the aroma made our mouths water. Very quickly, our dishes were empty! They were so delicious that we couldn’t believe they were made of only mushrooms and vegetables and no meat!

The Osmanthus Flower Jelly looked like a crystal because it was golden and transparent. It tasted tender and chewy, and it was very light and plain. Of course, it had osmanthus flavor. Our other dessert, Vanilla Ice Cream with Hot Chocolate, looked like a snow house. When we poured the chocolate onto the ice cream, it froze immediately. It became crispy outside and tender inside, and together the ice cream and chocolate tasted a little sweet and had a smooth texture. The only thing that disappointed us about our meals was our drinks. We had the osmanthus tea, but it had very little flavor.

This was our first dinner here. The atmosphere and service were both impressive. Of course, the most special thing was their dishes, which were all made from vegetarian ingredients. They were delicious and nutritious. Many people think that vegetarian food can’t satisfy their appetites, but at Sufood Vegetarian Restaurant you can taste Italian Food and vegetarian food at the same time, and you will gradually fall in love with vegetarian food.

At Sufood Vegetarian Restaurant, the food is nutritious, delicious and fantastic, and it’s a great place to get together with friends or to celebrate that special day. Why not give it a try?

Sufood Vegetarian Restaurant

Address:  No. 1 Taichung Port Road, 2F
Hours:      Daily 11:30~22:00
Phone:      (04) 2206 1106

“The Intouchables” – A Movie Review

You Wayne Cheah

I recently borrowed a movie from the FCU library, The Intouchables. The Intouchables is a French comedy-drama starring François Cluzet and Omar Sy. This movie takes place in Paris, France, and is based on a true story of a handicapped millionaire and his caretaker and how their relationship grows and changes.
Poster courtesy the official Intouchables facebook page: 
Philippe is a rich quadriplegic (Cluzet) who owns a luxurious mansion in Paris. Philippe is also an aristocrat and an intellectual. We can see this is true when Phillip is willing to spend millions on a piece of art work without any hesitation. He appreciates art a lot. The other main character in The Intouchables., Driss (Sy), is a black Muslim from the poor suburbs. Driss is a caretaker for Philippe. He is not an ambitious guy and spent six months in prison before getting the job with Philippe. The way he mocks and makes fun of Philippe makes him a humorous character in the movie.

The story is told as a flashback: Philippe is hiring a caretaker to take care of his daily life, and Philippe’s secretary, Magalie is interviewing suitable candidates for this position. During the interview session, Driss cuts into line and shows no interest in getting hired. His purpose in coming to the interview is to get a signed letter to prove that he went to an interview and failed to get hired. If he can get the letter, he can receive welfare benefits. The next day, Driss returns to collect his signed letter and finds out that Philippe is offering him a trial period for the job. He accepts the challenge and moves into Philippe’s mansion. After Driss starts working for Philippe, their relationship changes a lot.

Francois Cluzet as Philippe is excellent. He has to portray a person physically disabled after a paragliding accident. He is basically paralyzed and only can act using his facial expressions.  His facial expressions speak a lot for him; I think he did an amazing job.

The big lesson that I have learned from the movie was that true and genuine friendship still exists in the world. The relationship between these two opposite people is based purely on trust between friends. This is clearly shown in how Philippe does not care about Driss’s past criminal record and offers Driss a job. Driss’s funny and charismatic behavior helps make Philippe’s life enjoyable again. He does well caring for Philippe despite his lack of professional experience and reluctance to accept the job at first. We can see how the men affect one another as they develop a truly honest relationship.

The Intouchables. is a true story of the relationship between two men – it’s about friendship, trust and love. It is a very touching and interesting French movie. I usually do not get emotional when I watch movies because I know they are fiction. However, when I first started watching this movie, my heart melted, and tears kept rolling down my cheeks when the movie came to an end.  I love the way the two main characters are brought together and the good chemistry that happens between them. The Intouchables is really a great movie to watch after a hectic week of homework and classes. 

Offer Oh Wraps – A Restaurant Review

Jennifer Yu & Joyce Hong

Are you tired of food that you have already eaten over a hundred times? Have you had trouble finding a new place to get together with friends? There is a new restaurant in western Taichung city, named Offer Oh, and they sell wraps - those meat and vegetable dishes served with a kind of thin pancake that you can wrap everything in. At Offer Oh, you will find many different kinds of wraps, and the restaurant is just as cute as its name sounds.
Photo by the author

When we got to Offer Oh, it was only 6 pm, which was a little early for dinner, so there were only 2 or 3 other guests in the restaurant. Our first impression was that Offer Oh is very quiet, maybe because it’s in a narrow alley. Although it’s not on a main street, it is pretty big inside, so you don’t have to worry that you will not have anywhere to put your book bag or purse. The lighting in Offer Oh is very warm and is the key feature of the whole atmosphere. The music that they play is not pop music but bossa nova, which adds to the mellow atmosphere. At Offer Oh there are three kinds of chairs you can choose from: sofas, regular chairs, and stone chairs.

As soon as we sat down, a smiling waiter gave us our menus. If you are not very hungry, you can just order a main dish, but the specialties at Offer Oh are their set meals. These meals include appetizer, salad, main dish (spring roll, hamburger, rice, risotto, wosa-noodles, steak, or fish), dessert (brulee, ice cream, waffle), and a cold drink (tea, Olay, smoothie, coffee, latte, beer, cocktail), or hot drink (tea, coffee). If you are a vegetarian, you won’t have a problem since the Offer Oh menu includes many vegetarian dishes.

At the waitress’s recommendation, I (Jennifer) ordered the Offer Oh “Offer Wrap” set meal, which came with corn soup. You can eat Offer Oh wraps directly from the bowl, or you can put the ingredients on the wrap and roll it up. After the first bite of pork, I realized why so many people love it. Instead of being tough and dry, the pork was well cooked but tender, and all of the ingredients worked together perfectly. It was a really nice dish. My salad contained lettuce, tomato, olive and houseleek (石蓮). At Offer Oh, they use Thousand Island dressing, which was not too heavy, allowing the flavor of the vegetables to come through. The salad was followed by a cold appetizer, which was like sushi. The rice was from North Africa, and it made the dish really special. The last part was the dessert and drink. I chose classic creme brulee, which is one of my favorite desserts. It was sweet and yummy. My drink was white water milk tea; the milk part tasted heavier than the milk teas I have had before, and I liked it.

I (Joyce) chose Roasted Rice with Mutton as my main dish.  Needless to say, I upgraded it into a set meal as well. I also had a salad and cold appetizer like Jennifer had; however, I did do something a bit different – I ordered the hot appetizer, which contained deep fried okra, shrimp, and eggplant. It tasted good, and the deep fried food was not too greasy. Furthermore, the shrimp tasted delicious. Because it was served whole, with the shell, I could enjoy the fresh shrimp paste.

 After finishing the appetizer, I was surprised by the following roasted rice. The roasted rice was wrapped in paper. When I unwrapped it, its scent filled my nose; the many ingredients in it (green pepper, carrots, baby corn, broccoli) made it smell fragrant, and it tasted as good as it smelled! My meal hadn’t come to the end. The dessert and the drinks followed after the roasted rice. My dessert was “The clown” ice cream. This is a special ice cream that contains coffee and wine. It tasted sweet and a little bitter from the wine; it really gave me a whole different experience. My last dish was my drink, a matcha latte, which had a beautiful feather-shaped garland on top. It was nice, but the matcha powder didn’t dissolve completely, so it was a bit disappointing.

We just loved this place from the moment we stepped inside. The atmosphere is good, and the food is good, too. Both young people and older people will enjoy it. The wait staff was very polite and always smiled. Although we asked lots of questions about the dishes, the waitress explained every detail patiently for us. The dishes themselves were each prepared attentively; we could feel the chef’s diligence. Nearly all the dishes are extraordinary, but they are not so cheap. Therefore, we suggest that you come with friends or family, order different meals and share with each other. All of this makes Offer Oh a great place not only for dating but also for dining together with colleagues, classmates, or family. Just be sure to make a reservation since Offer Oh is popular with foodies!

One final note. You might want to ride your scooter or take the bus since there is no parking lot. 

Offer Oh
Address: 91 Chung Cheng Street, Hsitun District, Taichung
Tel: (04) 2326-6984
Open: Daily 11:00 am-2:30 pm; 5:00 pm-10:00 pm
Price: NT$200-680

Oaken Café – A Restaurant Review

Sophie Chien & Hannah Tang

Feng Chia night market is a popular place, but after walking around for a while, it might be difficult for you to find a place to relax. Therefore, we are going to introduce a nice place - Oaken Café – the perfect place to rest your tired feet.

All photos by the authors
 Oaken Café is tucked away in an alley near Feng Chia University (off Feng Chia Road between Fuxing and Xitun Roads). Very few people know about the café shop; most students at Feng Chia University have never heard of it. That’s what makes it the perfect rest stop.

The first time we visited the café, we had no idea where the door was until the waiter opened the door for us. After we went in, we discovered that the shop was not only a café, but also a bed & breakfast. Our waiter took us to a table and gave us menus. The café was not big inside; there were only three to four tables, which could sit only about 12 people. 

Most of the decorations were very special and all made from wood. The doorknobs and lights were shaped like open books made from wood. Furthermore, there was an interesting box on the wall. We approached the box and found that it was a mail box where customers could send postcards for free. 

There were some postcards on a shelf above the box, and visitors could write a few lines and drop their postcards into the box; Oaken Café then mails it for free.  In the café, visitors can also buy a special souvenir like a keychain shaped like Taiwan. After exploring the café, we went in for our meal.

AT Oaken Café, they sell mostly coffee, but you can buy tea and snacks, Mexican burritos, bagels, and ice cream. We ordered two cups of latte, a Mexican burrito and a bagel. The latte tasted great. The coffee beans are fair trade beans, which is good, also. However, we were disappointed about the Mexican burrito because it looked like the one from Costco. The sauce was different, though, and much tastier. There were two different sauces on it; one was salsa and the other Caesar. I preferred the salsa to the Caesar. Additionally, the bagel was soft and delicious! For the most part, we enjoyed our meals. The only pity was that the service was too slow. We had to wait for more than 15 minutes for our coffee.

Oaken Café is a place where you can relax and get away from all the noise of modern life. You can order a cup of coffee and spend an afternoon here by yourself. It is also a nice place to hang out with friends. The next time you are in the Feng Chia night market area, you don’t have to worry about finding a place to relax; Oaken Café will soon be your favorite!

Movie review – The Notebook

Camillia Fang & Tanya Chung

In Hollywood, there are many popular types of movies such as comedy, science fiction, action, animation, and romance. Among all of these, romance is the most popular. Recently, we saw a romance movie, The Notebook. This movie is about an old man who reads a romance story from his notebook to an old woman, hoping to evoke her love.
Poster courtesy

The Notebook began when Allie, a rich man’s daughter, went on summer vacation with her family. On one lively carnival night, she met Noah, a low-paid carpenter. Although they were from totally different backgrounds, they were still deeply attracted to each other. However, Allie's parents opposed this crazy love affair. Therefore, the lovers were forced to separate. Noah tried to write to Allie. Unfortunately, his letters were all intercepted by Allie's mother. Because Allie didn’t know he had written, she didn’t write him any letters. In the meantime, World War II broke out, and Noah joined the army. Allie waited for Noah for seven years, but she still didn’t hear from him. At the same time, a young and promising man, Lon, fell in love with Allie. One day, Allie saw Noah’s picture in the newspaper. She knew he was alive. She had to choose between Noah and Lon. Finally, Allie accepted Lon’s proposal.

In this special movie, the director uses a very special shooting method. The movie uses time and space to relate the whole story. The director wants to emphasize the changing mental state of the elder Noah and Allie. Closer to the end of the movie, expectation grows in the audiences’ minds. Will they get together or not?

Next, this story is set in the 1940s. The costumes, scenery and stage props really reflect the age. Even the basic story setting also reflects the social environment in South America at that time. Finally, the music to the movie was something really special. Our favorite part is the scene when they are boating on the river. At the beginning, a clarinet slowly and elegantly elaborates the whole atmosphere, and then the orchestra comes in, and the melody describes the touching reunion after a long separation. Now, every time we enjoy this melody with our eyes-closed, we can strongly feel the touching love between Noah and Allie.

In this movie, although the touching love between two teenagers was very beautiful, the thing that made the most lasting impression on us was seeing an elderly couple together until the end of their lives. Unlike in common romance movies, the director of The Notebook uses a unique way to describe this love story. The audience easily becomes immersed in the story. The Notebook is a classic romance movie; we recommend that you watch it with your boyfriend or girlfriend. You can borrow the DVD from the FCU Library, or you can rent it from a local DVD rental store. We are sure you will enjoy it!

Restaurant Review – Da Tie Tofu Pudding

Kelly Lin & Charphy Hsieh

In the Feng Chia University area, you can buy many special snacks. Most of these snacks are fried and hot, or spicy. However, if you want to eat something sweet, you will be able to find a few snacks, too, and Da Tie Tofu Pudding is your best choice.
All photos by the authors
 When we arrived in Da Tie Tofu Pudding, we found the space was a little small – only twenty seats. Although they offer indoor and outdoor seating, there isn’t enough space for too many customers. However, Da Tie has a cheerful relaxing atmosphere. You can chat with your friends and enjoy your tea time here, but it’s a little bit noisy.

 Da Tie offers three kinds of sweet snacks, tofu pudding, grass jelly, and toast. The tofu pudding comes in three flavors - original, milk, and tea, but the grass jelly comes only in “original flavor.The toast at Da Tie comes in five flavors - peanut moji (made from sticky rice; soft and sweet), taro moji, garlic cheese, tuna cheese, and ham cheese. The prices range from  NT$30 to NT$65 per dish.

We ordered the original tofu pudding and the grass jelly. The tofu pudding is served in iced soy bean milk, and the ingredients include taro balls, taro paste, and tapioca pearls. The grass jelly includes grass tea and shaved ice made from grass jelly; the ingredients include mung bean, barley, and tapioca pearls. Both the Da Tie tofu pudding and grass jelly were delicious – tender, dense, and fresh – and the texture of the tapioca pearls was chewy and springy like a rubber band. There were just three people working when we visited, so they were too busy to clean the tables and forgot to smile at the customers. However, they served our meals fast, so we did not have to wait too long.

Da Tie Tofu Pudding is a good place for students with a sweet tooth. The snacks are delicious, and the prices are moderate. Although the service is not the best, we still recommend Die Tie Tofu Pudding because of the great snacks. If you have a sweet tooth, you should not miss it!

Da Tie Tofu Pudding

Address: 320 Henan Road, Section 2, Taichung (Next to Top Stand Bakery)
Hours: Daily 11:00 A.M. – 11:00 P.M.
Price: NT$30 – NT$65
Tel: 04-2707 5559