Friday, December 23, 2011

Post 71: Taipei - Atkins Impossible (Taipei: Datong District / 台北: 大同區)

When Anna visited Taipei during my trip this summer, she commented that there was bread everywhere in Taipei.  The first time that she said there was bread everywhere, I laughed and didn't say anything in response.  The second time Anna that said it (about an hour later), I passed her observation off as something a first time visitor to Taipei would say.  The next time that Anna mentioned it, she said, "Wow, there really is bread everywhere here," so I actually gave it some thought.  Everywhere I looked there was some sort of bakery... whether traditional or modern, whether truly Taiwanese or influenced by the Japanese or French, whether a brick and mortar store or one of those little shops inside the metro station... Anna was right.  I guess I had never noticed it because bakeries were literally everywhere.  For bread lovers in Taipei, the Atkins diet is simply impossible.

I've decided to post on the moment I realized that Atkins was truly impossible for me.  It was when I was walking around Zhongshan Station, and a window display full of bread caught my eye.  I didn't even look up to check the name of the store.  Knowing that I wanted what I saw (not even hungry at the time), I walked into the shop and picked up a tray and tongs immediately.  It was Ijysheng Bakery (一之軒時尚烘焙) that I had walked into, and this is what I picked up:

Cod roe French bread (明太子法國麵包)

Nothing can keep me from anything that has cod roe... even if there's just a little bit.  Lucky for me, this loaf of French bread has cod roe all over the top and in between the top and bottom crusts.  The cod roe gets toasted after it gets smeared over the bread, which means two things: the cod roe essence is completely baked into the bread, and it can't escape the bread.  This cod roe French bread can't escape from my mouth either.  Cue evil laughter... my aunt sliced it up for me, and it was all gone before she could return from the kitchen.

Shenmu tree bread (神木麵包)

The idea is that the little swirls of this red bean bread represent the inner vascular tissue and outer bark that run through the length of the tree.  What may be water and sugar that typically run through xylem and phloem in a tree is butter cream and red bean in this faux chocolate bread.  With just a sprinkle of powdered sugar on top, shredding the fibers of this fluffy, sweet bread apart is only half the fun of eating it.

High rise cheese toast (高達起士吐司)

A crispy, cheesy crust, a pillowy soft interior, and cubes of heavenly cheese throughout... what more could you want from a mini loaf of cheese bread? I love tearing the slightly burnt crust of cheese off the top first and then picking out the little cubes of cheese lodged in the niches of the bread.  The only thing better than this is a second loaf.

Chocolate popsicle (巧克力冰棒)

I picked this up for one reason only: it looked cool.  I mean, it's bread in the shape of a popsicle, and it even has the popsicle stick holding it all together.  I wasn't the only one who thought it was cool.  Apparently, my little cousin did too because while I was polishing off the cod roe bread, he picked up the chocolate popsicle bread and chomped down on it.  Sadly, I have no idea what it tastes like, but the swirls of chocolate and the crushed peanuts on top sure look tantalizing.

German cheese (德國鹹乳酪)

I'm not sure what exactly constitutes this as German cheese... but if I were to name the pastry, I would simply call it a ham and cheese quiche.  Why? Well, because it's simply a ham and cheese quiche.  It's buttery and crumbly (instead of flaky) on the outside, and it's buttery and creamy on the inside... and it's even better reheated in the oven.

Aside from the fact that I ate everything in sight (including French toast with a fried chicken filet sandwiched in the middle and two grilled Taiwanese sausages from the vendor next door), I would submerge my fork into another one of these Taiwanese-German quiches... and another mini loaf of cheese bread.  Oh, and that cod roe bread too.  Yum.

On a slight tangent, Ijysheng Bakery produced an overly emotional, heart-wrenching melodramatic video about a boy's dreams of his mother's hand-made mochi.  I got a good enough kick out of it to share with everyone.

Some of my favorite bakeries in Taipei include Maison Kayser in the basement floor of Breeze Center (微風廣場) and chain bakery Sun Merry (聖瑪莉).  There's also another bakery inside Sogo that makes an almond and chocolate, double crusted wheel of bread with chocolate hazlenut ganache spread inside (pictured above).  My favorite bakeries in the Los Angeles area include Cuban rooted Porto's Bakery, the French influenced but Japanese owned Frances Bakery in Little Tokyo, Taiwanese chain JJ Bakery, and the ever popular 85°C Bakery, which sprouted from its roots as a coffee house in Taiwan.

My love for bread is too great.  Just last month I scarfed down four small loaves of squid ink garlic cheese bread from 85C with half an hour of purchase... bread addiction, much? Sorry Atkins, you'll never win me over.  Until the next carb crazed moment, let's all get S.O.F.A.T.

Ijysheng Bakery (一之軒時尚烘焙)
台北市 大同區 / Taipei City, Datong District
南京西路 33號 / Nanjing West Road, No. 33
捷運中山站 2號出口 / MRT: Zhongshan Station, exit no. 2
台北牛乳大王對面 / Directly across Taipei Milk King

ML - 20110906

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