The other night, a family friend invited us to eat at a QC spot nestled in the maze that is the series of Scout Streets. Sometimes I wish I was a resident of Quezon City again just so I can visit this area often enough not to get confused anymore. In recent years it’s become such a go-to spot for good food; where rows upon rows of restaurants stand waiting for you to step into. It wasn’t like this when I lived here in QC as a kid.
Taipei Taipei isn’t located on the main street, so this Taiwanese eatery isn’t necessarily easy to spot. At night Scout Gandia can be quite dark, so we had to rely on Waze to find our way. It’s located right beside Tweedle Book Cafe, if that’s any help. Anyway, I’ll keep this review short and simple, because that’s the vibe I get from this restaurant.
Taipei Taipei is an eat-and-go type of place with a straightforward setup, like most traditional Chinese eateries you might have already encountered before. And the food is something that I can best describe as comfortingly familiar.
Xiao Long Bao (Php 200 for 9 pieces) 🌟
Handmade steamed Taiwanese soup dumpling. This is the bestseller of Taipei Taipei, and for good reason. In my opinion, these dumplings do not fall short compared to their more expensive counterparts.
The dumplings can be lifted from the parchment without breaking, but the skin is maybe just a touch too thick to easily bite into. But once you do, a generous amount of soup oozes out onto your spoon! These dumplings have just the right amount of filling to soup ratio, and that’s saying a lot since some of the more expensive Xiao Long Bao barely have any soup inside.
These take a little bit of time to prepare since they are made on the spot, but the price point is really good. Guess now I know where to go for Xiao Long Bao cravings!
Fried Xiao Long Bao (Php 200 for 5 pcs)
Fried version of the dumplings above. And because it is fried it pretty much loses the soup inside, but the filling is still tasty enough. The bottom of the dumpling is fried to a brown crisp, similar to gyoza. I think you’d be better off ordering the steamed Xiao Long Bao for the same price.
Hot & Sour Soup (Php 200) 🌟
Classic black vinegar and pepper soup with thinly sliced mushrooms, carrots, bamboo shoots, a bit of pork, and egg. I really liked how intense the hotness and sourness of this soup is, while still keeping the taste natural and not like it came from some instant soup pack.
This soup really hit the spot!
Broccoli with Mushroom (Php 200) 🌟
Broccoli in thick brown sauce with mushrooms and pork. The broccoli is cooked to a nice crunch, and the mushrooms also have a good bite to them. The sauce is just thick enough to coat everything up, and is not salty or overwhelming. A classic dish you can’t go wrong with.
Garlic Vegetables (Php 200)
Garlicky stir-fried Taiwanese petchay. Pretty straightforward. It’s nice and packed with garlic flavour but in danger of being too oily. The veggies tasted fresh though, with a nice juicy crunch.
Three Cups Chicken (Php 200)
This dish gets its name from the three cups of different sauces used to cook it: soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice wine. A bit of sugar, ginger, garlic, and basil is usually added as well, then it is cooked inside the pot until all the sauce has pretty much evaporated. The chicken also kind of caramelizes on the surface.
When they set down this dish, I was very much attracted by the beautiful colouring of the chicken. But then I was so surprised by how little of the chicken (in both size and number) was actually inside that clay pot! It’s not the best version of this dish I’ve tasted by any means, but it’s decent.
Taro Duck (Php 200)
In all honesty, I was quite excited to try this. Ever since I developed a love for taro (which I used to hate as a kid) I enjoy taro hotpot dishes like this one. But I was sorely disappointed. First of all, the duck was so thin you could barely get any meat off.
Second, I thought the taro wasn’t cooked through enough. It might be my preference, but I found the taro was a bit hard. I don’t want it to be mushy, just a little softer would’ve been nice. Since they weren’t sliced into smaller pieces, they became hard to slice or bite into. This could’ve been a good dish because the flavour of the sauce/broth was delightful.
Stir-Fried Beef Tendon (Php 200)
I don’t typically eat tendon so I don’t have many thoughts on it, but my Dad and brothers enjoy it so order it they did. Tendon is the collagen that connects the beef’s muscle to the bone, and after hours of boiling it turns into something jelly-like. It’s quite common in Chinese cooking, and this version has the tendons swimming in a flavourful thick sweet-spicy sauce.
Beef with Sliced Garlic (Php 200) 🌟
I suppose as someone who likes garlic I am pretty biased about this dish. I liked how the thin slices of beef were cooked to the right tenderness, with a nice garlicky kick that complements the sauce. Don’t forget to eat the beef with some pieces of that crunchy fried garlic over rice!
Sweet & Sour Pork (Php 200) 🌟
Ahhh the planet’s favourite Chinese dish. This one has juicy pork with a lightly crisp breading; sweet with a subdued sourness. Pretty good! It’s not oily, and the pork was just the right size. I only wish there was more pork to go around.
Braised Eel (Php 350) 🌟
Thinly sliced breaded eel in hot pepper sauce. I love eel dishes in general, and I enjoyed this quite a bit thanks to that slightly spicy peppery sauce, and that slightly crunchy breaded eel. This dish at least I understand if the serving is a little smaller to keep the price affordable since eel can be quite expensive.
Zha Jiang Dried Noodles (Php 150) 🌟
Ironically, my first encounter with this particular type of noodle dish is through Korea’s jjajangmyeon. You get noodles topped with black bean sauce that’s been stir-fried with some meat and chopped veggies, but this version has tofu and peanuts. You mix it up until all strands of the noodles are covered in that dark sauce. Ohh yum…
Even though this is originally a Chinese dish, this is perhaps one of the few times I found it on the menu of a local Chinese restaurant. I guess the Philippines is simply not that big on black beans, but I sure am! I liked this dish well enough even though the one I had in Seoul was better. 😀
Taiwan Sausage Fried Rice (Php 200)
It’s really hard not to like fried rice especially when it is cooked to just the right amount of flavour, is not oily, and is just lightly toasty. The addition of Taiwanese sausage here gives it a pop of sweet-savouriness every now and then.
When you take a look at the menu of Taipei Taipei, you will immediately see that almost all of their dishes under one category are priced the same. It can be a bit deceiving at first to see that all the dishes are just 200 pesos, but you’ll be surprised once certain plates come to your table barely full. (Such was the disappointing case for the Three Cup Chicken.)
To keep the price steady, some of the dishes have larger servings than others depending on the ingredients used. I can’t say I don’t get that, but you should make sure to ask the waiter first whether the dish is good enough to share for the number of people you’re with.
Most dishes are enough for three, maybe four people to share. Order a lot so you can try a lot of dishes, since they have a good amount of items on their menu. My favourites of the meal include the Xiao Long Bao, the Braised Eel, and the Hot & Soup. (And frankly, the Zha Jiang Noodles did manage to hit the Korean food cravings I didn’t even realise was sitting underneath the surface.)
A teeny issue I had was with the service and how the staff don’t seem to pay you too much attention anymore once all your food has arrived. Not sure if it was just that specific evening we were there, but they seemed a little disorganized. Even asking for tea and water refills took a bit of time.
In any case, if you’re in the mood for no-frills classic Taiwanese dining that will not put a dent on your wallet, try this place out.
106-C Scout Gandia Street,
Sacred Heart, Quezon City
Hours: 11 AM to 10 PM
Contact Nos: (02) 990-1513