Sugar & Spice 糖村: Taiwan’s Candy Pride

Why Sugar & Spice is Taiwan’s No.1 Gift of Choice

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Located on Dunhua S. Road in Taipei City, Sugar & Spice’s décor is minimalistic and bright. More than half of the customers in store are tourists, speaking a diverse array of languages while holding exquisitely packaged gift boxes. To the unsuspecting eye, this may appear to be an international boutique. In fact, this is a rapidly rising boutique star in Taiwan’s snack world. Not only is Sugar & Spice the top wedding candy and full month cake choice for domestic and international celebrities, their products are must-buy gifts for tourists.

Business Weekly referred to Sugar & Spice as a store which “sells desserts like LV”, the business has grown at a steady rate of 15-20% annually, producing approximately 1/3 of nougats sold in Taiwan each year. The French nougat was voted as one of the Top 10 hardest snacks to put down by China’s Little Red Book on WeChat, alongside Godiva chocolates and Shiroi Koibito cookies of Hokkaido, Japan, the only Taiwanese snack included in the ranking. The soul of the brand consists of the product line itself, manufactured only with the highest grade ingredients, through a stringent production process. The most popular product, nougat, for example, includes high quality US almonds selected by hand, President brand butter, trehalose from Japan and fresh egg whites beaten that day. On average, the cost of each nougat is three times that of other brands. In addition to this, the production process is meticulous. Different nougat recipes are even utilised with the change of seasons. During summertime, trehalose volume is increased, despite its six-fold cost, and baking temperature is adjusted to give a more refreshing taste while preserving the perfect chewy but not sticky taste.

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Another star product, the pineapple pastry, selects only the highest quality local pineapples. Different varieties of pineapple are selected during each season, mixed in specific proportions according to characteristics of pineapples produced in different regions throughout central and southern Taiwan. The pulp of the fruit is preserved, ensuring each bite is filled with an authentic tangy flavor, providing the best quality and taste possible. Innovations such as the addition of Parmesan cheese into the pastry crust for a chewy experience wildly popular with tourists from Japan.

In addition to bestsellers such as nougats and pineapple pastries, Sugar & Spice offers a variety of desserts ranging from Taiwanese snacks to French delicacies. Not only do products come in exquisite gift boxes, trendy and dainty gift boxes are also available for international travellers to select and combine products for individual gift needs. Sugar & Spice products were even selected for the 2016 Golden Horse Awards as the perfect gift for international celebrities attending the festivities.

As Sugar & Spice locations are only available in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Guangzhou, China, Sugar & Spice is now working with China Airlines to launch the Good Day event. The event will allow more travellers to experience the draw of Taiwan’s must-buy gifts.  From 25 September 2016, travellers who check in at China Airline counters located in Hong Kong International Airport and Incheon International Airport will be able to try Sugar & Spice’s French nougat!

All photos used in this article are provided by Sugar & Spice.

The Place Tainan, a Modern, Minimalist hotel for you

The Place Tainan 台南老爺行旅. During my recent visit to Tainan, I had put up at this hotel. On entering the lobby, it look very much like any other decent hotel. Clean, modern and filled with polite staff rushing to help you settle in.

After a night there, I think the hotel offers more than that! The Dutch designer has taken a minimalist approach and there’s nothing in the hotel that is “extra”. The layout of the room is well thought out and thus space saving. There are many universal electrical outlets, next to the bed, on the desk and beside the reading chair. The climate control panel is large and right next to the room card slot the moment you enter the room. The coat hanger is also there right beside the door, waiting for your coat.

It does help that the room is themed in black and white, giving a sense of cleanliness and functionality.

 

Continuing the minimalist look, many things are hidden behind doors or cabinets. For example the toiletries,  the kettle and tea cups, the mini refrigerator, even the toilet.

The hotel manager also took us to the largest suite in the hotel. It is huge and perfect for 2 although it would comfortably fit 4. Check out the video.

This trip to Tainan was hosted by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Department of Commerce of Taiwan and I’m glad they have made every effort to show us the many different sides of Taiwan, especially Kaohsiung and Tainan.

 

Looking for Lodging in Kaohsiung?

With the entry of Airbnb and many hostels, hotels are feeling the pinch with falling room rates. So what they do? Well, when the going gets tough, the tough gets going! In my recent trip to Taiwan, specifically in Tainan and Kaohsiung, I stayed at 2 hotels which fit the bill. They are not your run of the mill hotels. Take a look.

Smokey Joe’s Apartment Hotel (冒煙的喬_就是公寓旅店)

Address: No. 91, Wufu 4th Road, Yancheng, 80344 Kaohsiung (高雄市鹽埕區五福四路91號)

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Walk into the hotel lobby and you are greeted by lots of colour from the colourful sign to lights to just about everything else. The colour makes everything cheerful. The helpful and friendly staff complete the package during check-in.

The centre piece of the lobby is a gleaming car. It is polished everyday, as many people can’t resist touching it. 🙂

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Car integrated into the front desk

Having seen the lobby you would expect much from the rooms, where you are going to spend much of your time in right? Well, Joe doesn’t disappoint.

The attention to details go down to even the bath soap. Check out the different graphics on each bottle!

Wifi is free in the entire hotel and it was pretty fast, which is much appreciated, because mobile connectivity in my room was spotty. You would however, have to switch connections when you leave an area and enter another. A small inconvenience, which did not trouble me at all. At this point, I would like to mention that it’s very easy to get connected in Taiwan. All 4G prepaid plans are sold with unlimited data. They are a tad pricey, but you can surf to your heart’s content without worrying about busting any data cap. Other than inside hotel rooms, I never had any bad data connection anywhere in Taiwan. Kudos to the telcos in Taiwan!

In my next post, I will talk about another hotel that I had stayed in, in Tainan. On this trip, I have had the opportunity to stay in very different types of hotels. Do stay tuned! This trip to Taiwan was made possible by the good grace of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Department of Commerce of Taiwan. On the topic of accommodation, I believe they deliberately put me in different types of establishments, so that I would be exposed to the myriad of options available to visitors to Taiwan. Also, while I was in Kaohsiung, I visited the Chef Teng Restaurant, a wonderful family owned establishment whose aim is to bring comfort and enjoyment to their customers through food.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chef Teng of Kaohsiung, Taiwan

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Chef Teng Restaurant (Main Shop)

I was recently in Taiwan. Specifically in the city of Kaohsiung. Now, I have been to Taipei many times for holidays. Yet, I have never been to Kaohsiung for a proper holiday. Many years ago, I did spend a night in Kaohsiung, but one night doesn’t do this beautiful city any justice. The food for one is great! Any extended stay in Kaohsiung, must be accompanied by a furious sampling of the great food here. One of such places I visited while I was there is Chef Teng Restaurant (鄧師傅功夫菜). He has many locations in Kaohsiung. The one I had visited is the main shop at 中正三路82號 (仁愛一街). Chef Teng (retired) was there to meet us. Lucky me. The other Chef Teng (his eldest son) who is usually in another shop in Taipei, happened to be around. It was a great opportunity to chat with both chefs who shared their ideas about the food they make for their customers.

The 2 dishes above are what Chef Teng is famous for. He does not disappoint. I hate fatty stuff. But he promised that it’s not what I imagine. So I gave it a try. Wow! Especially the thigh meat pictured on the right, it had the right texture (not to tough, not too soft) and there was no greasy after taste.

Chef Teng is a family business. The shop caters mainly to the everyday crowd and prices are reasonable. He has a large clientele of regulars that eat at his shop. Very much like us Singaporeans, who will regularly visit the neighbourhood Chap Cai stall in the coffeeshop. Some of the dishes I tried and liked are pictured below.

 

In fact, the entrance of his shop is set-up just like a Chap Cai stall. Take a look.

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The Shop Front

You pick your dishes buffet style and then the staff will serve you what you have chosen with a bowl of white rice.

Finally, after gorging yourself silly with all the heavenly food, treat yourself to some nice dessert. Chef Teng has thoughtfully packed them into little glass bottles if you would like to take them home to savour instead.

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Chef Teng’s Dessert

Incidentally, he serves them both cold and hot. They taste nice either way. This trip to Taiwan was made possible by the good grace of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Department of Commerce of Taiwan. Like most Taiwanese I’ve met, they have been the most gracious and wonderful hosts.