“Mmm…donuts (drooling sound)”
– Homer J. Simpson
Donuts are not something I write about often, mostly because I rarely eat them. I indulge in sweets and junk food, but it’s limited — most of the food I ingest is healthy. I will, however, make exceptions for certain unhealthy delicacies.
When I was in Boston, I specifically went to jm Curley’s for the foie gras glazed jelly donut, which was served on a pedestal. I wasn’t hungry for dessert, but I just couldn’t pass it up, even if it was $6.
And when Voodoo Doughnut opened a location in Taipei, I was excited. I went there a few times to introduce friends to the crazy American donuts. Of course, that didn’t last long as Voodoo Doughnut shut down its only shop in Taiwan after about a year. But I still managed to try their signature voodoo doughnut and their 101 cream (it was probably just a renamed donut for the Taiwan market).
Search for food in Taichung
I attempted to plan my trip to Taichung a little better than I had planned some other trips. I used some Google skills to look for restaurant recommendations — I wanted to find something special and I didn’t care about the price. Unfortunately, most bloggers in Taiwan focus on street food or types of food that I have no interest in trying again. After tasting the recommended street food in Tainan, I was skeptical of those writers’ taste buds.
And then there’s TripAdvisor. It sucks in Taiwan. No, it’s worse than that. If you search for best restaurants in Taipei, about five of the top ten are Indian restaurants owned by the same people and Din Tai Fung shows up at least twice. There’s definitely more variety than that.
Everything I found that was interesting was non-Taiwanese cuisine, and most of the restaurants were far from where I’d be. Considering the heat while I was in Taichung, and the amount of time spent sweating outside, I think it was a good decision to skip the added travel time for those restaurants.
I was, however, convinced to make a trip to a dessert shop in the city. At first I blew off the recommendation, but I agreed to go after hearing more about CJSJ.
Best chocolate in town
CJSJ, as I was told, was started by French Michelin star pastry chef Soriano Joaquin. This little shop opens at 11 am and has a line down the street before it opens. And everything seems to sell out quickly.
By the time my travel companion and I made it to CJSJ in the afternoon before heading back to Taipei, there was no line and almost nothing left in the pastry case. At least we didn’t have to wait long for a seat upstairs with a wonderful view of the Calligraphy Greenway across the street.
The shop is known for it’s small chocolate buttons, which cost NT$75 each (little more than $2). They are beautiful to look at — works of art in a tiny piece of chocolate. It’s a hard outer shell with flavored liquid chocolate inside. I wasn’t interested in these, but after trying one I was tempted to get more (my wallet said otherwise).
I ended up ordering a cake-like thing that reminded me of a circus. It was actually a bit bland, though the jam inside was terrific (if only there were more of that to go with the dry cake).
And, finally, my companion and I split a donut. At NT$175, it was comparable in price to that delicious donut I ordered in Boston; therefore, I had to compare the quality as well. I was disappointed that there was no special presentation like I had in Boston.
There are two things that make this donut worthwhile — the chocolate and the gold flakes. The chocolate is the same as those buttons I mentioned — hard shell and near-liquid inside. The gold flakes just make it sparkle, so you can show off to your friends with it the same way you did when you drank Goldschläger before you could legally drink.
On a side note, the chocolates as well as the donut should not be cut when shared. It just makes a mess.
I would still recommend going to CJSJ if you’re in Taichung, but definitely get there earlier than I did. I’m sure there are much better pastries and chocolates that get sold out regularly. Also, don’t expect a great cup of coffee despite the price, but I needed something to balance out all that sugar I consumed.