"Fondue King" Hot Pot, Taipei
I have a routine when coming into Taipei - land at 10PM, get to the hotel by 11PM, drop my bags and hit the late night hot pot joints, and then get back to the hotel for a full night's rest for the next business day. This place, the "Fondue King," or ma la wong (it's not Swiss fondue - it's Taiwanese hot pot, which I suppose is kinda like fondue in the sense that you dip into a central pot), has outlets all over the city, and is open pretty late.
But tonight was quite a bummer. It had always been one of my favorites, with its pivotal sa cha sauce and spicy stock. It is hardly one of the top-quality places in Taipei (rather, it's a cheap all-you-can-eat on paper plates place at only NT$299, or US$9), but I still liked it better than some of the "nicer" (a la carte) hot pot places due to the broth. Unfortunately, tonight, they lacked cilantro (which to me changes the taste of the sa cha dipping sauce considerably), and the lamb was of pretty poor quality (it was thick and with inedible portions). Maybe I've been spoiled by the good quality meats at the "whispering man" hot pot back in Singapore, but either way, I was really pretty bummed tonight. I don't think I want to come back here now.
But at least I got my Taiwanese "Apple Sidra" (apple soda). And it looks like they have a pretty funny URL too: www.emala.com.tw. Ha ha.