Stuff

Boy, the malls sure are crowded during the holiday. When we went to Taipei 101 there were lots of people wearing tour group buttons. I guess for some people, making a trip up to Taipei for the holidays is a big deal. Anyways, I’m somewhat phobic about big crowds, so going out at times like this can be kinda stressful.

Here are some notable activities of the last couple of weeks:

Food:

Ikki (Corner of Dunhua North Road and Minsheng East Road)

When we first arrived I had a lot of misgivings. The entrance was a stairway leading down to a fountain and a bridge going over the water to a large black door. Outside was a hostess waiting to take our names and lead us to our tables. Inside the hallways are painted black with red lights glowing from the floors. Individual dining rooms were found behind sliding doors off the main corridor. In other words, it looked really, really nice. But my experience here is that the more flash there is, the less substance there is behind it.

I was pleasantly surprised however to find that the food was quite good as well. Ikki is a Japanese restaurant, and offers a choice of set meals with various options you can choose from. Every dish I had was top notch, and the sashimi selection was quite fresh and good quality fish. Especially interesting were tempura shrimp which were battered in what appeared to be some kind of dry noodle.

Diamond Tony’s (Taipei 101 Mall; also in Tianmu)

I’d noticed this Italian restaurant a few times while visiting Taipei 101 Mall, but had never had a chance to go in. The food and service here turned out to be top notch. The food is authentic Italian. I started out with Prosciutto e Melone, one of my favorite antipasti. It’s basically parma ham with cantaloupe, but the two flavors go together surprisingly well. Then had a Caesar Salad which was spiced up a bit with the addition of some smoked cheese. For the main course I had veal with ham and cheese which was also quite good.

Movies:

霍元甲 (English Title: Fearless)

This is Jet Li’s latest movie, and also rumored to be his final martial arts movie. If you’re a fan of this genre it’s worth seeing, but it’s only OK, not great. The story line involves Jet Li’s character Huo Yuan-Jia (霍元甲) who followed his dream to become the top martial artist in his town, suffered a crisis, was redeemed by the support of a blind country girl and then went on to compete to be the top martial artist in China. There’s a decent story in here, but it seemed to be a mishmash of fairly standard story lines. The fight scenes were pretty good, so edpark will probably enjoy it. The showing we saw was not subtitled in English, so I got a real workout trying to follow along. This one is not yet scheduled for US release.

Memoirs of a Geisha

I hadn’t know what to expect going into this one. I’d heard mixed reviews of it going in and never read the book. All in all, I quite enjoyed this one. The story was fascinating, both tragic and at the same time inspiring. Though it was well over 2 hours long, it did not seem long to me at all, unlike my experience with King Kong which seemed to be a tedious 10 hours long. There seems to have been a lot of controversy about many of the leading roles being played by Chinese instead of Japanese. I did not think this detracted from the story at all though. Anyways, I highly recommend seeing this one. This movie was done mostly in English and was subtitled in Chinese. The few parts that were in Japanese were simple enough for me to understand though.

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