Saturday, February 16, 2013

Fusion Cuisine, Fine Italian Dining & My Farm, superb gelato style ice cream in LouDong, Taiwan, YiLan County

We were visiting the town of Lou Dong in Yi Lan County and we had the chance to eat at some very interesting restaurants.  I will write two blogs on four different places we stopped to eat.

The first is Fusion cuisine.  It is a new Restaurant, recently opened serving absolutely delicious Italian Food.   

My only regret is that I did not have my camera with me during our meal, but I did go back the next morning to take some photos as a remembrance of our great dinner.  When I get the chance to return, I will take some photos of our food and add them to this blog.

The owner and head chef, Aqua and his wife, started in the food business about seven (7) years ago in a rented space and this location is first owned property.   

Chef Aqua and his wife

He traveled to Europe to master his culinary skills before coming back to Taiwan to open his business.  You can tell by the interior design that there was a lot of TLC (Tender Loving Care) that went into his restaurant.


It is a modest entrance, leading to the open style kitchen surrounded by a red brick and black marble top counter.  

Chef Aqua busy at work preparing for tonight's dinner

The dining room is on the second floor and the steps leading up are a rainbow of bright colored ceramic tiles with a black wrought iron railing.  The second floor is full of surprises with a gorgeous Italian mural painted on one wall.   

The far end along the street side has an open area design with a 100+ year old rustic Italian feeling.  Hanging from a tall ceiling is a beautiful crystal chandelier.  

The interior design gives the customers an Italian experience but this is just setting the stage for a delicious meal.

The menu offered to us is a simple menu with eighteen (18) main courses.  Along with the main course selection, he offers an “A” and “B” set.  The “A” set includes an Appetizer, Soup of the Day, Ink Bread, Beverage, Desert and Fruit.  The “B” set includes only Soup of the Day and Ink Bread.  The menu changes from time to time, and regardless of the menu, you will certainly be delighted with a fine meal.

As a side note, I have traveled the world, and spent many, many weeks over an eight (8) year period traveling to Italy.  I have visited Milan, Venice, Pisa, Florence, Rome, Avezzano,  Verona, Trento, Como, Novara, Parma, and many other small towns and areas in the Northern half of Italy.  I have eaten in fabulous Italian seafood restaurants, but never, never, have I ever tasted (Squid) Ink Bread!  I have tried black squid ink dishes but these were too salty and “fishy” tasting for my tastes.

We ordered four different main courses all with the “A” set.  We ordered:

Today’s Fresh Fish (I ordered this one)
Linguine with Clam and White Wine
Roasted Lamb Shoulder with Rosemary

To start, they brought out this black bread with a robust pesto and olive oil spread.  I was somewhat reluctant to try the bread, but the first bite with the pesto spread was utterly delightful.  We had to order more bread it was sooooooo good.  Next they served the soup, and today’s special soup was pumpkin soup.  On rare occasions I have seen pumpkin soup on American menu’s, but this pumpkin soup was creamy, rich, and simply the best I have ever had.  The salad served was a nice combination of vegetables and fruit with a very special house dressing.   

Each of the courses took time to prepare, but the size of the courses was very satisfying.  The presentation for each course and meal was beyond my expectations, and comparable to a fine restaurant you might find in a large American city.  

My fresh local fish was cooked to perfection, and the vegetables and dressings added an explosion of flavor.  I also tried a little of each of the other main courses, and we all agreed we found a great restaurant in this small town.   The desert fruit tart, and fresh fruit was s splendid way to finish the meal and to refresh our palettes.

This was a very special meal, fit for a kings and queens!  Now I know why they named the restaurant “FUSION CUISINE”!  Bravo chef! 

Fusion Cuisine
Tel: 03-9613465


After leaving the restaurant, heading for our car, we noticed about 2 blocks away a small corner store with bright lights and several people inside and seated at several outdoor tables. We decided to stop and to our delight, the MY FARM store served homemade gelato style ice cream using their own farm grown fruits.  



They encouraged us to step up to the counter and sample taste ALL ten (10) flavors of their gelato’s and we could not refuse.  Yummy!  After the sampling we each purchased a small cup of our favorite(s), and sat down to enjoy this refreshing treat. 

Some of the flavors they offer including passion Fruit, Strawberry, mango and many more

I love ice cream, and it is one of my life long weaknesses.  It is difficult for me to refuse good ice cream, and believe me, I have tasted great ice cream all over the USA and around the world too.  Most of my favorite ice cream’s, frozen yogurt’s, gelato’s, and sherbet’s use fresh fruit and not syrup based frozen fruit.  When I tried this gelato style ice cream at My Farm, each flavor I tried had an explosion of fresh fruit flavor. 


Let me digress to the past just a little.  We will talk more about My Farm below.  As a young boy growing up, my parents also loved ice cream.  We did not have a lot of money when I was quite young, so ice cream could only be afforded for special occasions such as birthdays, holidays, etc.  It was great that we had seven of us in my family, so we could get ice cream at least 7 times a year or more.  

Not Me and not one of my brothers, but it could have been! - Courtesy of

Growing up in Akron, Ohio, my favorite ice cream was at a small drive-in restaurant near the old local airport called Stricklands.  My Dad would take us for Ice Cream there on special occasions.  Even as I grew older, I seldom ate their food, because their ice cream was homemade and the best I had throughout my younger years.  this was a favorite place to take a date on Friday night and Saturday!   My favorite flavors at Stricklands was their maple walnut  and lemon chiffon ice cream, but they had so many special flavors throughout the year and it was always a treat to see what new flavors they had each week.  You could even order two, three or even four different flavors on one cone !!!!  Just like below.

This looks similar to a four scoop cone from Stricklands - Courtesy of the internet

In college, there was a new and hip ice cream restaurant called Barn Hills Ice Cream  that served decadent ice cream sundaes and deserts.  The decor and uniforms of the staff reminded you of an ice cream emporium form the 1800's.  They had a huge menu of deserts and would even make a custom sundae for you with a huge selection of toppings.  I do remember they had a Monster desert sundae made up of 5 gallons of Ice Cream in a huge bowl.  This was a perfect desert for large groups of 10-12 or more people.  Over the years, I have bought my own ice cream makers and have made hundreds of varieties from many different recipes.   

In California at the annual Gilroy Garlic Festival, I even tried Garlic Ice Cream.

Gilroy's Garlic Festival Ice Cream - Courtesy of Wikipedia

For more info on this great place to visit every summer visit their web site or contact below:  

Gilroy Garlic Festival Association, Inc.
Mailing Address:  PO Box 2311, Gilroy CA 95021
Street Address: 7473 Monterey Street, Gilroy CA 95020
Tel.:  408-842-1625
Fax:  408-842-7337

Of course, here in Taiwan, the Green Tea, Red Bean, Passion Fruit, and even Taro Ice creams are delightful but not overly sweet.   Premium USA Brands such as Ben & Jerry’s have some of the most interesting varieties and combinations of ice cream that you must try when in the USA.  Check the link below to see the flavors on their web site !!!!!!!!

In Switzerland, the fresh Mövenpick brand of ice cream has become a global favorite, and their ice cream is one of the best in the world.  Here in Taiwan in addition to their local ice cream brands, In larger super markets, you can actually buy Mövenpick ice cream alongside of Häagen-Dazs and other international brands including ice cream from Russia and Japan.


Ok, now back to My Farm.  They also sell fresh dehydrated fruits and vegetables, organic rice, even ginger tea, all great for cooking or eating.   

We bought these to take home with us

Shelves filled with dried fruits, vegetables and more

The young owners went on to tell us that all of their produce is home grown in the Yi-Lan area and all are organic healthy to eat.  On occasion they also sell some fresh vegetables and fruits in their store like the fresh ginger roots below. 

Fresh Ginger Roots and Ginger Powder Tea

I suggest, when you are in LuoDong, there are some great places to eat and these are just a two.  I will do one more blog on two additional restaurants in the area, so enjoy!

Edward C.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Formosa Restaurant in The Howard Plaza Hotel in Taipei, Taiwan - Superb Taiwanese style food!

Many of the blogs I am writing are about Taiwan because I am on an extended business trip in Taiwan.  I have been coming to Taiwan for over 20 years.  During this time, I have stayed at many of the 4 star and 5 star hotels in Taipei, and other major cities in the country.  Of course, with my extensive travel around the USA and the world, I have stayed in hotels from the truly disgusting to some of the best in the world from my perspective.  More on these hotel experiences in the USA and worldwide in later blogs.

I met a very nice couple, Alex Pan and his wife Apple, several months ago on one of my sightseeing trips.  Alex is the Assistant Manager of the Public Relations Department at the Howard Plaza Hotel in Taipei.    When Alex told me about his hotel, I was looking for a central location to take some friends from Taiwan and Singapore to dinner.  I decided to give the Howard Plaza Hotel in Taipei a try.

I must digress and say that I have really enjoyed some of the better 5 star hotels in Taipei for their ambiance, service, quality, attention to detail, and the fine food offered in their restaurant(s).   I really did not know what to expect at The Howard Plaza.

As I was approaching the hotel in the cab, I was pleasantly surprised how big this hotel is.  As we approached the front door, I could feel the luxury and sophistication of this hotel property.  The lobby was splendidly luxurious for my standards.  I was really looking forward to trying their food at their Formosa Restaurant on the lower level from the lobby.

From the Lobby to the Formosa Restaurant

Main Entrance for the Formosa Restaurant

Reception at the Formosa

Beautiful works of art abound in the Howard Plaza

The Main dining Room at the Formosa

We were greeted at the front entrance of the restaurant, and escorted downstairs to level
B1 to our private room at the Formosa Restaurant.   We invited several friends to join us including Alex pan and his wife Apple as well as Taiwan’s famous blogger, Nina Cheng.  You can see Nina’s article on this restaurant at the following link:

We immediately had several people telling us about the menu, and attending to our every need. Great Service!   The food on the menu is more typical Taiwanese style food prepared by a fabulous head chef.  

If you have a discriminating taste for superb Taiwanese style food, you must try this restaurant.  Below are just some of the delicious dishes prepared for our group:


The food was absolutely wonderful, and I wanted to thank the chef for his excellent meal.   In moments several people came to tell us that the head chef was on his way, and asked if we would like some photos with the Chef.

Our friends & guests with the Head Chef

After this very pleasant experience, I know I will go back to this restaurant for more Taiwanese style food, and I plan on staying at this hotel on my next short business trip to Taipei.  For your information, The Howard has about 10 or so properties in Taiwan including Beach and Lake Resorts, The Suites, and others.

To contact this hotel below is the information you will need:

The Howard Plaza Hotel
160, Ren Ai Road, Section 3
Taipei, Taiwan 10657, R.O.C.
Hotel Phone: +886-2-27002323
Alex Pan: x2481
Reservations: +886-800-011-068

Edward C.