Walk Down Memory Lane

Last night after running some errands, I took a walk down memory lane. I was around Zhongshan area, where my first work and apartment used to be. It was close to dinner time so I headed to that night market where my colleagues and I spent many a summer night chowing down fried chicken fillets, iced sugary drinks and our favorite dessert- ding xiang dou hua (tofu pudding).

I strolled a bit, re-familiarizing myself with the place. A few stalls closed down including one of my favorites- the omu and sukiyaki rice stall. I bought my 'usual' meal- seaweed takoyaki with mayo and freshly-made sugar-raised doughnut. The tea shop had a long queue so I settled with just a bottle of water from nearby Family Mart. I walked to the end of the lane until I reached the children's park.

I sat at one of the benches and watched little girls and boys take turns going down the slide. I ate my food in peace while observing moms and dads from afar, happily looking after their kids. It was endearing to see parents enjoying a moment together-- peaceful and quiet, without the worries of tomorrow.

Memories of 8 years ago came rushing. I was 23. I was happily employed at my first job after my MA graduation, just moved into my first apartment, made new friends with new colleagues, started learning the ropes of adulthood. This night market became a third home and even a friend-- the place I run to when my horrible PMS strikes with only the basil fried chicken can pacify... or when days are slow at the wire desk, or when I'm having one of those give me a break I'm so homesick- kind of day.

How different my life was back then. I actually smiled at the thought of this... my thumb traced the piece of jewelry wrapped around my finger... and my eyes shut for a moment. I never knew this would come. I looked at the people in the park and imagined a future like theirs.

And just when I was about to be emotional, I was reminded of the dessert place's closing time. The auntie at that stall can be masungit when you place your order before her closing time so I had to rush. True enough, she was still masungit but this tofu pudding is still the best. I ordered the iced version, with mini sago, sweet potato balls and nuts. The hot version is perfect during colder months. What a nice and sweet ending to a small trip down memory lane :)

Chocolate Banana Bread

I bought a tub of cocoa powder for the Peanut Butter Oreo Cheesecake I made previously, but just used around 4 tablespoons of it. I was thinking of trying other recipes to make use of the cocoa powder, something not overly sweet and can be eaten for breakfast and tadaaa... Chocolate Banana Bread it is!

If you're bored at home and have nothing to do, please please make this one! This turned out really moist with just the right amount of sweetness. I didn't add chocolate chips on top because I'm saving them for my brown butter chocolate chip cookies :)

Recipe from: https://www.sweetestmenu.com/chocolate-banana-bread

1 and 1/4 cup plain flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup or 1 stick unsalted butter
2 overripe bananas
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

1. Grease and line your 9 x 5 inch baking tin with baking or parchment paper. Preheat oven to 180 C (360 F). In a large mixing bowl, sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda and baking powder. Add sugars, and cinnamon and gently stir.

2. In the microwave, heat the butter in a large heatproof bowl until just melted, stirring in between 10 second bursts. Remove the butter and set aside to cool slightly. Meanwhile, mash your bananas well using a fork.

3. Next, add your vanilla, eggs and milk to your cooled butter and whisk gently until combined. Make a well in the middle of your dry ingredients, add wet ingredients and mashed banana. Very gently fold the mixture using a spatula or wooden spoon until the mixture is just combined – be careful not to over mix.

4. Add 1/4 cup of chocolate chips to the batter. Pour mixture into prepared tin and sprinkle 1/4 cup of chocolate chips on top.

5. Bake for approximately 45-50 minutes or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Taipei Series: English-speaking Dentist

Hello! It's mid-autumn festival today. People are out grilling and eating mooncakes. I plan to just stay home and do nothing... or maybe do something hehe... so here I am resurrecting my Taipei Series with a new post, this time for expats' dental needs.

I discovered this dental clinic when I was still working at The Post. Their old clinic (they moved to a new location) is around the corner of our office's building so I thought it was the most convenient one. However, I didn't know if any of the doctors can speak English. My Chinese at the time was not that bad, but it would put me at ease if I can communicate to my dentist in a language that I'm most familiar with.

I still remember walking in for an oral prophylaxis and asking the receptionist if they have a dentist who speaks English. I was told that it was my lucky day because Dr. Zhan, their dentist who studied in New Zealand, was in the clinic.

I've been seeing 詹業勤醫師 Dr. William Zhan (I just recently learned of his English name!) since 2011. He is very nice and explains in detail what he needs to do, or what your "teeth situation" is. If a tooth needs to be filled, he orders a dental X-ray and shows you the results on screen.  I'm not sure if that's the standard practice, but I've been to two other dentists here in Taipei back when I was still a student, somewhere in Muzha area, but I don't remember having X-rays and such detailed consultations with them.

Dr. Zhan holds his clinic at 京站全人牙醫診所 Q-Holistic Dental Clinic.
Address: 台北市華陰街59號2樓/ 2nd Flr., No. 59 Hua Yin St., Taipei City
Nearest MRT Station: Taipei Main Station, Q Square Exit
Contact No.: 02-2552-5652
Website: http://www.periocenter.com.tw/front/bin/home.phtml

If you can read and write Chinese, or have a friend who can help, you may book an appointment online on the below website, just be sure to select Dr. Zhan's name on the drop-down list. You will receive a call from them to confirm your appointment.

Hope this helps!

Photo Credit: awarenessdays.com

Ten Years in Taiwan

Has it been 10 long years since the day I pushed my suitcases under the scorching heat of the summer sun, sweating and panting until I reach Zhuang Jing Dorm Number 9? Ahhh those days. I'm thankful for this journey, for my God who sustains me, and for the people who continue to help me make it through.