Tuesday, December 9, 2014

More Pictures of the Mandarin Oriental and Catch-Up Dinner with Mom

I was really lucky to have the chance to see my mom this time around when I was in Taiwan.  She came and hung out with me on Sunday, the last night I was in town.

This is a view of the Mandarin Oriental hotel from the side, taken from the outside.  It doesn't really look like a hotel, does it?  It's obvious the hotel was built from some former building serving another purpose - it is quite disorienting once you are in the lobby.  There is also a shopping mall directly next to it.  Taxi drivers also kept getting confused as to where to pick up or drop off, because the entrance is actually at the back of the building.  The location is not the most convenient, either.  It's about an eight minute walk to the nearest subway stop.
The decor is faultless though, everything is beautiful and new.
 These chairs in the lobby are really fun and just begging to be sat in.
So we promptly did that:
The lobby had a lot of flourish.  This was the front desk / check in area.  It felt a little bit closed in/small considering how much empty space they have in the other parts of the lobby (see pictures above).

 I loved this little guy.  He had a fresh new flower over his nether regions every day.  Not many of us can say that!
 The only weird part about the hotel was how empty it was.  It felt like ghost town.  Coupled with the white marble and iron decorations everywhere, the hotel felt a bit chilly and reserved.

However, the service was still impeccable and so nice.  The bellboy who greeted me every morning remembered the address from the first day I told him.  Nothing was too much trouble and the hotel actually did a seamless job picking up my luggage from my room and picking me up directly at the office and driving me straight to the airport.  I was quite impressed.

I met my mom for brunch on Sunday and we wandered around the city.  Christmas decorations were up everywhere.  It was very festive.

At night, we went to a random Japanese restaurant where we ended up sharing their omakase dinner set and ordering some hand rolls a la carte.  The restaurant was celebrating its 25th anniversary and our bill was 20% off -- nice!  Here are some of the tasting delights:

This really cool burdock root appetizer (cut into thin shreds so fine that it felt like slippery soba noodles), dipped into a soy and quail egg mixture.
 My mom really liked this lightly pan fried mushroom stuffed with shrimp and breaded into a ball:
I quite enjoyed this steamed egg custard packed with fresh clams:
But my favorite was probably this little puffer fish, lightly grilled and crusted and dipped in salt.  So tasty and fresh and tender and succulent!
Here is one more shot of me lounging in this ridiculously romantic canopy before I left…I will definitely miss this spot.

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