Friday, April 29, 2011

Inspiring Uncle Courageous...

It has been 5 years and again Mr. Robotic's neighbourhood is in the spotlight. Sadly the place is usually depicted as one you wouldn't want to stay in. 

Though you may find it hard to believe, Mr. Robotic is not living in some run down neighbourhood. In fact, Uncle Courageous has been managing Mr. Robotic's neighbourhood very well for many, many years. However, outside dissenting voices continue to try reduce Uncle Courageous 's credibility by citing his "weaknesses". They pointed matter-of-factly that Uncle Courageous is frail and old and that being alone in the committee, he is not able to garner support for major funds to build beautiful facilities for the neighbourhood. 

Somehow, Mr. Robotic sees these very "weaknesses" as strengths instead. Through the challenges that Uncle Courageous faces year after year, he remains humble and demonstrates perseverance and passion for helping the people. How many of us after being critically ill is able to stand back on our feet and even inspire people in the process? Not many. Even rarer for those in managing neighbourhoods. But we see these qualities in Uncle Courageous.

Mr. Robotic remembered vividly the last Mid-autumn festival. Uncle Courageous who was then recovering from stroke could have easily excused himself from the neighbourhood event and no one would have blamed him. Yet, he made the point to be at the event to participate in the walk and interact with the people, even though he was painstakingly using a walker. Mr. Robotic is not sympathetic though. Instead, Mr. Robotic is full of awe and admiration of Uncle Courageous who perseveres despite adversities. 

As to managing the neighbourhood with measly funds, Uncle Courageous shows that he is frugal, practical and one who is able to work within the means to get the best for his neighbourhood. Given that he is able to manage the funds cost effectively, he should be tasked with more funds right?

While Uncle Courageous is moving on to another neighbourhood this year to take on more challenges, Mr. Robotic salutes Uncle Courageous for all that he had done for the neighbourhood and wishes him all the best. Hopefully, people sees these qualities that Uncle Courageous embodies. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Overdue post about Taipei...

Mr. Robotic went to Taipei for the new year countdown, end of December 2010 so yes he is awfully late with this post. The next few posts would cover the food, sightseeing and the new experiences in his 6 days Taipei trip.

Truth be told, Mr. Robotic had certain reservations prior to the trip. For instance, rubbing shoulders with another person at a crowded place ain't exactly Mr. Robotic's idea of fun. He was also afraid that the shops would be closed for the festive period which is a bummer for any holiday. Luckily, the reservations were uncalled for and Mr. Robotic enjoyed his trip much!

Food are most suited for Mr. Robotic's taste buds. Here are the food places that Mr. Robotic recommends...

There is one outlet near Mr. Robotic's hotel, at the Xi Men Ding area. Not sure why, but Mr. Robotic just loves the ham and cheese sandwiches here. The warm fruit tea and green jasmine tea, though a tad expensive, is very much appreciated in the cold Taipei nights. Believe it or not, even though Mr. Robotic is a tin can, he is afraid of chilling winds. Also worth mentioning is that this cafe opens till the wee hours of the night which is great if you just want a place to chit chat with friends.

Cute desserts on display at 85 degrees cafe!
The bear ain't spare from Mr. Robotic's group...

Mr. Robotic has few cravings for food. Xiao long bao or steamed pork dumplings that oozes hot delicious soup and a perfect match with vinegar and fresh ginger slices however has a special place in his tummy! He especially likes the ones at Din Tai Fung.
Now, before visiting the main Din Tai Fung which is located at Xinyi, Mr. Robotic thought that the standards should be the same as Singapore. Hence, he would rather use the opportunity to savour other cruisines not available in Singapore. Boy, was he glad that his friends insisted. The Xinyi main restaurant where the founder started his first restaurant is a must go place (even though the location is a bit out of the way) if you adore steamed pork dumplings!!
Besides the food, the Xinyi main restaurant is worth visiting because it is interestingly a few levels high and it sells Din Tai Fung merchandise like pens and key chains made in its mascot, Bao Zai's design that is not available in Singapore. And importantly, as a tourist, you can take photos with Bao Zai at the entrance in creative poses. For instance, you can attempt to steal the dumplings from Bao Zai's basket (see photo) or you can open your mouth wide to try and bite Bao Zai... :)

Mr. Robotic heard from Ms. Queen that the Kiki restaurants were started by the Taiwanese celebrity Lan Xi Mei and thus far the restaurants got good reviews for its sichuan cruisine (meaning spicy food). Ms. Queen who is missing her spicy hotpots is not ready to forgo this chance. Hence, the group visited the Yan Ji branch expecting good spicy food and hopefully run into a celebrity or two. 

While the group did not get to meet any celebrity, the food very much exceeded the group's expectations. The group selected two of the chef recommendation items which are 蒼蝇头(Heads of flies) which is stired fried minced pork with chinese chives and fermented black beans and 老皮嫩肉 (Old skin, tender meat) which is crispy deep fried tofu that is tender on the inside. Almost every other table chose these two dishes and it was understandable because these two dishes were really good, especially the former which just goes very nicely with plain rice. The names of the dishes are also very interesting and reflective of the quirky personality of the celebrity owner.

While the two dishes were midly spicy, the main purpose for Ms. Queen was still the spicy hotpot and the group decided on the one with pork slices. Spicy level for Mr. Robotic - extreme.

But it was through this that showed the good service of the staff. The waitress noted that the spicy hotpot was too much for Mr. Robotic to handle and actually got him a bucket of ice to add in his ice water. It was a very thoughtful gesture! Furthermore, the waitress asked if the group enjoyed the meal and recommended other suitable dining places. This place is surely worth re-visiting!
Entrance of the restaurant with the KiKi cat logo.

The spicy hotpot that made Mr. Robotic breaking
out in sweat, running nose and voluptuous lips,
meaning unglam!
12 slices of crispy yet tender tofu.
Seemingly simple yet very delicious!
A great photo by Ms. Long Boots with the
minced pork in the foreground.
Hu Xu Zhang (aka Formosa Zhang or 鬍鬚張)
Lu Rou Fan (minced pork rice) is a simple local dish. However, half of Mr. Robotic's group swore they need to have at least 3 servings for the whole trip. Well, the group only managed to try two places, one of them being the Hu Xu Zhang outlet at Wu Fen Pu area. You can recognise the place easily with the prominent logo of a big beard man of course! Mr. Robotic's verdict is the place is decent with a fairly competitive price. Mr. Robotic heard it is celebrity Xiao S's favorite place for minced pork rice!