Hai Di Lao? Try Elixir Health Pot (Wu Lao Guo) at Taipei

Elixir Health Pot (無老鍋) Wu Lao Guo @ Taipei

Address: No. 36-1, Section 2, Zhongshan N Rd, Zhongshan District 台北市中山區中山北路二段36-1號

Opening hours: 11.00am to 2.30am daily

Online Reservation: http://partner.eztable.com/booking.php?page_name=wulao

Introduction

Wu Lao Guo is a renowned Steam Boat Restaurant owned by the Tripodking Group (鼎王国际餐饮股份有限公司). Elixir Health Pot (無老鍋) or Wu Lao Guo, is an brand expansion of the famous Tripodking Spicy Hot Pot and opened it’s door in Year 2009.

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This place was recommended by a friend who sworn that this is his number 1 for Best Steamboat, even better than our Singapore’s Hai Di Lao (海底捞). I went to their Taipei branch at Zhongshan Station (中山站) which is about 7 minutes walk from MRT. I wouldn’t be able to get a table without reservation as it’s full house on a Sunday evening.

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The dining ambiance is little different from a typical Chinese style restaurant. The dining floor is dimly lited with most of the light coming from a pair of bright dining light overhanging the hot pot.  Each and every table is spaciously partitioned into a semi-private dining area.

Ice Cream Tofu Soup Base

I opt for their Ice Cream Tofu soup base that is boiled in ingredients like pork bone and ginseng. Honestly, this broth is best thing at Wu Lao Guo. It’s definitely satisfying for people that like Tonkotsu broth but this broth is like three times more flavourful. The ingredients in the soup is refillable as well.

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I can say that I have never tasted a steamboat base with such a strong flavour before. And that is when I understand why there are only three items at the condiment counter, because there is no need for it. Everything that you dumped into the pot comes out tasty.

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I’m quite satisfied with most of the items that i’d ordered. Items like the thinly sliced Shabu Shabu Pork, fried dough stick and bean curb skin are very enjoyable thanks to the robust soup base.

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The pork dumpling is very well flavoured, it’s like as if you are eating the fillings of some pork bun (肉包) found in Singapore with a typical meat ball texture.

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The cooked Scallop Paste also has a fish-like fibery texture, with a blend of sweet and savoury taste. This is something that I will order again if I’m back next time.

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The texture of the ice cream tofu is very fluffy and soft and unlike this name suggest, it doesn’t has a sweet taste. It doesn’t exactly melt in your mouth but it’s pretty interesting as I never had anything similar in Singapore before. However it’s not something that I will order if it doesn’t comes with the soup.

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Here’s a summary of the damage:

Soup Base per pax NT$159 (S$7.3 x 2 )
Shabu Shabu Pork Shoulder NT$288 (S$13)
Scallop Paste NT $268 ($12.2)
Bean Curd Skin NT$88 (S$4)
Pork Dumpling NT$128 (S$5.8)
Fried Dough Stick NT$68 (S$3.1)
Mixed Mushroom NT$168 (S$7.6)

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Conclusion

Apart from the food, I’m rather impressed with Wu Lao Guo’s service. The waitresses are very attentive to my requests and always bow at 90 degree whenever she attended to a request. Talking about VIP treatment.

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If you want some variety instead of just whacking the cheap and tasty Taiwanese street food, Elixir Health Pot (Wu Lao Guo) may just be the place. On top of providing comfort and great service, their food is pretty outstanding too.  Looking for a nice restaurant to bring your parents I hear?

The price is not exactly economical, but if you are ok with price of Singapore’s Hai Di Lao (海底捞), you will definitely be ok with this. Personally, i feel that this is more bang for your bucks than Hai Di Lao.

If you intend to visit this place, i would suggest to make an online reservation ( http://partner.eztable.com/booking.php?page_name=wulao).

Map and Direction

Going to Wu Lao Guo Zhongshan Brunch is very simple and straightforward.

  1. Alight at Zhongshan station and come out from Exit 3
  2. Continue walking straight until you come to Zhongshan North Road. You won’t miss this. It’s a main road.
  3. There is no need to cross the road. Turn left and continue walking for about 200m and you will see Wu Lao Guo

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Taiwan Railway Bento and their Braised Minced Pork Rice

** Update from Railway Bento as at March 15 at 8.09am – The Railway Bento team is currently having some internal shuffling with exciting menu coming up! Both outlets in CT Hub and International Plaza will not be operating at this moment until further notice.**

Taiwan Railway Bento (台湾鐵路便當) and their Braised Minced Pork Rice

Address 1: CT Hub 2 Kallang Avenue #02-16 Singapore 339407

Opening hours 1: Mon – Sat  11.00am to 8.00pm, closed on PH

Address 2: International Plaza 10 Anson Road #02-85A

Opening hours 2: Mon – Fri 11.00am to 3.00pm, closed on PH

Introduction

Railway Bento was originated from Taiwan and they currently have two outlets in Singapore. These rice boxes form a great part of Taiwan’s rich food culture and are widely popular in Taiwan till date. In the older days, their people have to travel long distance on train and have to rely on these lunch boxes for their meals. These lunch boxes have a well balanced food spread like meat, vegetable, egg, bean curd and rice.

These lunch boxes come in at traditional and pretty looking wooden box packaging and also come in a variety of choices. I visited their branch at the CT Hub with the invitation of Glen, the boss of Railway Bento. Thank you Glen for the kind invitation and for hosting me.

Menu: click to enlarge

Braised Minced Pork Rice ($4.80)

Generally I have two complains on the braised minced pork rice (卤肉饭) that i had in Singapore. Firstly it’s the pricing. Typically in Taiwan, a good bowl of braised minced pork rice cost something like S$3 to S$4 but in Singapore, it cost about $8 to $12 in a Taiwan-style Cafe. Secondly, I personally prefer the minced meat to be really fine, and well mixed into a thick gravy but many sold them in thicker chunks.

Therefore I thought Railway Bento did well in this two aspects, keeping the price at an affordable $4.80 (even at their Tanjong Pagar branch), and there is a good mix of fatty and leaner meat in the finely-minced meat sauce.

I thought braised minced pork rice (卤肉饭) is suppose to be a little greasy to be enjoyable and Railway Bento’s version has just the right amount of it. The sauce has a very thick texture that coats the rice perfectly. This meat sauce is actually less salty than it looks which i think it can be readily accepted by Singaporeans.

Fried Chicken Cutlet Bento ($6.80)

As for their chicken cutlet bento, i thought it’s rather decent. There nothing exactly fantastic about it but also nothing bad about it. It’s freshly fried, crispy and served piping hot. The chicken cutlet taste like those from a typical Taiwan Snack Stall in Singapore. At $6.80, the portion is quite decent for it’s price and this bento also comes with half an egg, salted vegetable, a slice of Taiwan sausage and it also comes with a small portion of braised minced pork.

Century Beancurd ($3.50)
I thought the sauce is very heavy and salty in taste but I like it. This sauce has a complicated mix of chopped coriander, garlic, soy sauce and chilli and is for sure too salty if consume on its own. However I thought it goes pretty well with the cold tofu. I also like the century egg that comes with a soft yolk center.

Fried King Oyster Mushroom ($3.50)

The king oyster mushroom is coated with a tempura-style breading, deep fried to crisp, and sprinkled with chilli powder. Having this dish is more for the texture than that the taste as this mushroom doesn’t has a very distinctive taste to begin one and it’s more like munching on the breading and texture of the Oyster Mushroom.

Conclusion

Taiwan cuisine used to be very popular in Singapore but it’s craze had significantly reduced after the cafe culture kicks in. The Railway Bento made a good decision to market it’s food as a eat-and-go model, rather than a Taiwan-style Cafe, therefore keeping the cost low.

As one of the members of the working class, I thought Railway Bento offers a hassle free lunch takeaway option with a variety of food items in a box. Not only the price is reasonable, it also offer a rather decent food quality and choices. I enjoyed the meal, especially the braised minced pork rice.

CT Hub at Kallang Ave