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Moral decline in US the root cause of many ills January 28, 2014

Posted by hslu in China.
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It didn’t take long.

About 40 years.

Chinese has a way to describe how big changes happen in life:

‘三十年河东  三十年河西’

Which literally means:

“The river flows to the east for 30 years; It then flows to the west in the next 30 years.”

When I first came to the states to study, I shared a basement with three other students; two in-state undergraduates, both were freshman and both had blonde hair, and a graduate student from Hong Kong. The Cantonese guy have been here for three years who gave me a lot help in those difficult early days. The cost of my room: $40 a month.

One day as I entered into the basement after a course, I smelled something that I haven’t smelled before: it was kind like cigarrette but different. I later asked my Cantonese roommate and he said it was marijuana. It turned out that one of my American roommate was smoking pot in the back of the house.

That was 40 years ago.

As time went by, I got assistantship from my department which afforded me a small room on the first floor of a big house. Shortly after I finishing my degree and went to work for a major oil company in Texas, things have changed in a hurry on the drug front.

Slowly we began to hear from radio and TV over the years that students from junior highs and high schools got into drugs, not just marijuana, but coke and other hard drugs.

Then kids in elementary schools picked it up and some even got into transportation and distribution of drugs.

Now, marijuana is legal in Colorado. Soon other Democrat controlled liberal states will follow.

The next step up is probably coke or something like that.

Back in the 60’s and 70’s, popular songs I knew were ‘Bridge over troubled water,’ ‘Are you Lonesome Tonight?, ‘Memory,’ ‘Where the Boys are,’ ‘Unchained Melody,’ and many others like that. The lyrics were beautiful and not offensive. They told stories between two people who were in love with each other or expressed a feeling people could relate to.

Take a listen of the songs of 2013 and you will hear violence, sex, drug, killing cops, offensive languages and hatrates.

Movies which were popular 30 or 40 years ago were the ones like ‘Love Story,’ ‘The Way We were,’ The Sting,’ ‘One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest,’ ‘The Godfather,’ ‘The Exorcist,’ ‘Alien,’ and ‘Star War,z etc.

Fast forward to 2013, we saw movies more like audlt films than beautiful love scenes. We saw guns, bloods, drug wars, cop killings, and female movies stars with practically nothing on their bodies. On live stage, the performers did their best to show as much of their body as they could. The sexual acts were common and they were suggestive, provactive, excessive and way over the top.

Take a look of Madonna and Miley Cyrus. You make your own cinclusions. Need I say more?

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And the worst of all this is: Who were the ones who watch these 3rd class stage shows on their iPhones and their  Samsungs? Who were the ones who admire these performers instead of successful people in science and technologies? They are the young girls and young boys of America and indeed the world.

Then there are laws allowing marriages of people of the same sex.

People call this progress. People call this liberalism. People call this equal protection under the law.

I say the tide has shifted and it only took 30 years. I also call this ‘每況欲下。’

So what happened to the conservative ideas I knew 30 or 40 years ago, the ones that made America strong and powerful?

They have been thoroughly defeated and completely buried in the US. They have been replaced and forgotten.

Just wait for a few more years when young girls and boys who grew up under the influence of Maddona, Cyrus and these liberal movements. Will they have any conserative bone in their bodies?

Probably not!

Don’t you see the decline of moral standard in the US?

中國有一句老話 ‘富不過三代!’

美國是不是快沒救了?

You tell me.

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Blame Bernanke on inequality in US January 28, 2014

Posted by hslu in Economics, Health Insurance, jobs, Obama, Obamacare, Politics, stocks, Taiwan.
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Bernanke’s QEs did little to stimulate the US economy. He added $3.2 trillion to Fed’s balance sheet which grew the US economy ~2.2% per annum since 2009; a little better than inflation. U6 dropped from ~17% to ~14%. Millions of people got out of the labor market. They moved from the unemployment line to the food stamp line.

So what happen to that $3.2 trillion? Some returned to the Fed and earned 0.25% risk free for the dealer banks. The rest of that hot money pumped up stock markets all over the world and housing markets in many cities in the US.

US stock market went up 175% since the 2009 low. It was up about 30% in 2013 alone.

Housing prices in Las Vegas, Phoenix, SF, San Jose, Miami, etc., have gone up by double digits for a few years in a row.

Let me ask you this:

Who benefited from the $3.2 trillion?

The rich guys. They owns most of the stocks.

Gates made $6 billion in 2013 alone and he was worth $67 billion in 2013. Buffett made $7.5 billion in 2013 and was worth $53.5 billion in 2013. Others such as hedge fund managers and Wall Street investment bankers also made millions of dollars since 2009.

Who got rich from the Booming housing markets?

The rich guys. Again.

Millions of former home owners are renters in 2013 and will remain so in 2014. The homes they used to own went back to banks. Banks sold these foreclosed homes to individual investors and hedge funds who borrowed from banks at ultra low interest rates thanks to Bernanke’s QEs.

This outcome doesn’t come from the left field. It was by design.

Bernanke engineered the largest wealth transfer in America’s history: he robbed from the poor and the middle class and handed them over to the rich; people who own most of the stocks and big  houses.

In other words, the gap between the rich and everyone elso got bigger thanks to Bernanke. And he is washing his hands and leave the mess, or 爛攤子, to the next chairman.

This is inequality that everyone from the US to Europe to Taiwan is talking about.

Bernanke wanted A trickle down economy. It didn’t happen. The poor got poorer and the rich got richer.

Everybody knows that the mostbdirect and efficient way to narrow the inequality gap is to engineer a crush of DJIA and bring down the runaway housing market.

That’s govrrnment’s job and Obama is good at it.

He started Obamacare. Health insurance companies will lose money because they canceled millions of policies because they didn’t meet Obamacare’s requirements. In return, they got the old and the sick instead. Unsurance companies are in trouble.

He raised salaries of millions of contract workers to the federal government. Companies which hired these people will make less. Companies who don’t work for the federal government will feel the wage pressure and wages will perk up in time. Companies will make kess.

He’ll probably use his pen to sign an executive order or some kind of  regulation (his words, not mine) to raise the minimum wage. Democrat controlled governments will follow Obama and some (DC) have done it already. Businesses all over the US will see their margin squeezed. Some will hire less. Few will close. Economy will suffer and stock market will come down because earnings will suffer.

What follows next will be the housing market because one who doesn’t have a job will not buy any house.

That’s wealth transfer in reverse direction.

Well, there we go again.

What government gives you, government will take it away. The rich can move their money to foreign countries, look for loopholes or change their investment to avoid IRS’s knife. They have wealth managers who do nothing but that.

The middle class is stuck. They will always be the loyal servants to the 47% until they become one of the 47%.

DC area students – spoiled by the government January 23, 2014

Posted by hslu in Global Affair.
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I took my wife to work because it was cold outside. The low today was around -1 degree Fahrenheit. In fact, I have taken her to work  for last two  days as well: We had about 3″ of snow the day before, Tuesday, although forecast called for 5″ to 8″ for the DC area. It was cold yesterday too. The low was in the single digit.

When I took my wife to work on Tuesday, the early morning traffic on Route 7 was very light because all Fairfax County schools were closed and people working for the Federal Government got a day off too.

Wednesday was the same: schools closed and Federal government shut down even though the roads were all cleared, at least in the area where I live.

This morning, Thursday, January 23, 2014, traffic picked up some on Route 7  when I took my wife to work around 6:30 AM. I guessed the Federal government finally opened up for business but I learned that all Fairfax County schools remained closed.

Back in 1989, my company sent me to work for our Canadian affiliate. I took my family along and we lived in Calgary for a year and half. Back then, our daughter was eight and our son was just 5. Both went to a school near by called Don Bosco. Calgary’s winter started in mid to late September and usually ended sometime in late March or early April. It got dark early in the winter and sun usually won’t come out until after seven in the morning. Snow would cover the ground and usually won’t melt until winter was over. Occasionally we had Chinook but that was not the norm. When we were there, temperature in the winter usually stayed below freezing and that was on on a good day. Like clock work, we always got several weeks when temperature would drop below the zero degree mark and stayed there for days or even weeks at a time. Wind would blow from the northwest and the snow fall of 3″ to 12″ were fairly common. In fact, I had to run 100′ long extension cord to my car outside just to warm the engine up so that it would start in the morning. You see, the townhouse we rented had no garage and our car was parked on the street.

Yet, I do not remember Don Bosco was ever closed because snow was too heavy or temperature was too low. Our office in downtown Calgary and the Calgary government were never closed in the winter. People dealt with the snow using steel chains on their car tires and heater on their car’s engine block. Everyone dressed in layers of cloth and used ski mask to deal with wind and frigid temperature. The city government prepared for it to the extend city budget allowed it to. Kids prepared for the winter too even though their noses would turn pink after exposing to the cold temperature for too long.

Well, students in the DC area are a different breed. Many parents of these students directly and indirectly work for the federal government. A high percentage of them are probably liberals. Fairfax and Loundon counties are among the richest counties in the US. The Fairfax county where I reside, is probably afraid of lawsuits from these rich parents in case their kids fell in the snow or tripped on ice covered side walks. As such, the schools around the DC area were closed for three days straight this time around because snow came. Workers for the federal government got two days off, probably on our expense. Well, I take that back, in theory they should work for us, the tax payers. But it never works out that way.

Hmm…, pretty good deal for federal government employees: easy jobs, don’t produce anything, good salaries, excellent benefits, no threat of layoffs and days off when it snows and/or when it is cold outside. We the tax payers have to work for a living and pay our taxes to support federal government employees. We call jobs like these:’铁饭碗,“ a rice bowl made of steel.

When it is cold outside or when there is a threat of snow, be it 1″, 2″ or more, students in the DC area get to stay home with heaters on at full blast. The government doesn’t want them exposed to the cold temperature. They are too precious to face the wrath from the mother natural.

All I can say is this:“温室中的花朵,凋谢的早.” Competition against students from other countries? America will deal with that when there is no threat of snow or when it is warm outside.

Question: Do students of International Falls, Minnesota get to skip school when it snows or when temperature drops to the single digit in winter?

El Erian off a sinking ship January 22, 2014

Posted by hslu in Economics.
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With tapering in progress and the ending of the 32-year old Bond bull market, PIMCO will face strong head wind going forward.

El Erian saw what’s coming and prepared for his exit of PIMCO with a series of op-eds and short articles.

He was marketing himself in public to financial instutions, foreign buyers or government agencies.

We call this: ‘打知名度.’

We’ll have to wait for the announcement which should come soon.

In the mean time, Bill Gross will be a loney man with less money to manage and fewer dollars into his pockets.

Gone are the 8 or 10% annual returns and the ‘new normal’ will have a negative sign in front of PIMCO’s annual return in the next couple of years until the Fed is out the market and let the short rate rise.

America is not far behind January 21, 2014

Posted by hslu in Obama.
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Colorado has gone to pot.

The mountain state wanted it that way.

So be it.

Last I checked America is proud to be a majority rule country. They call it ‘Democracy.’

Hmmm…

Accirding to the rule, more than 50% of the people who voted on that day in November 2013 liked the pot idea. Assuming 55% of eligible voters voted, we have at most 30% of people in Colorado who are in favor of using pot in the public.

30% against 70%.

Do we still call this ‘majority’ rule? Or is this the new ‘norm’ of American Democracy?

Well, I digress.

Since Colorado had gone to pot, I call it ‘淪陷了,’ America is not far behind.

Why?

Well, Obama, a time tested liberal, seems to favor that.

He said that pot is no more dangeous than things like beer and wine, well, he said alcohol.

He was even kind of proud of himself when he said he had used pot before.

I bet American blacks kids want to be like what Louis Farrakhan called ‘MESSIAH.’

American’s first black president, AKA, Messiah, sure sets a good example for American black kids to follow, isn’t he?

As if black kids in the US haven’t had enough problems to start with; like no father and no education, they now have pot to deal with, still an illegal substance in 49 other states.

Yeah, I am generaling things a bit. Of course not all American black kids grew up in single-parent families. Some of them turned out to be very productive citizens of the soceity.

But as they follow their messiah to pot, they will probably stay at the lower echelon of the society.

Well, that’s what social welfare is for.

Whom to blame, you might ask?

Obama, of course.

52 and 43. Or was it 43 and 52? January 21, 2014

Posted by hslu in Obama.
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1-21-2013

Obama: Approval          52%     Disapproval      43%

Fast forward 365 days:

1-21-2014

Obama: Disapproval    52%      Approval           43%

Funny how statistics can play game with ratings.

Seems Obama has flipped and then flopped.

Well, the 52% disapproval rating  is still an improvement; a 3.5% improvement in fact. Back on December 4, 2013, 55.5% of American people didn’t like Obama’s performance. 

He’ll get an F if you ask me.

Source: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/other/president_obama_job_approval-1044.html

This is Democrat at its best January 19, 2014

Posted by hslu in Health Insurance, Obama, Obamacare.
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If Democrat Senators have their way on giving money to the unemployed, (reads: using tax money to buy votes) they will do it without any consideration on how to pay for it.

It’s in Democrats’ DNA.

When pushed by the Republicans, they got very clever and used budget cuts that won’t take effect until 2024 to pay for it. They even called it budget neutral.

So the US Congress math goes like this:

     2024 budget cuts = 2014 expense

They will even pat themselves on the back and tell the American people with a straight face:

‘Democrats care about deficit and national debt too. We did it with a balanced budget approach and this is ‘pay as you go’ at its best.’

Just like when Obamacare was passed by the US Congress in 2011, Obama, Pelosi and Reid and the rest of the Democrsts called this piece of legislature garbage ‘budge neutral;’ meaning it pays for itself, because they totaled what they could collect in 10 years (2011 to 2021) to balance 7 years’ expenditures (2014 to 2021.)

This is how American Congress works. This is how American Democrats operate.

This, in the words of Chinese, is: ‘睜了眼說瞎話.’

Not to mention that Democrsts took $760 billion out of Medicare to pay for it.

Now that Obamacare becomes the law of the land, young people under 26 can stay with their parents’ health insurance plans but 27-39 years old have no intention to sign up because they are healthy and don’t need health insurance coverage. Only the old, the poor and the sick ones with pre-existing conditions are on Obamacare and they are happy.

By design, Obama wanted the young and healthy ones pay into the system so that their insurance premium can be used to subsidize the old, the poor and the sick ones with pre-existing conditions.

Now the reality sets in and everyone knows Obamacare can not balance its book anymore.

Guess what: you and I will come to the rescue and pay for it with our tax money: the shortfall on the insurance premuin, the subsidies to people who make less than $94,200 per year for a family of four and whatever make up to  Obamacare’s insurance partners. These insurance companies are guaranteed to make a decent profits under Obamacare.

This is just another typical government sponsored program by American’s federal government: wasteful, inefficient, over promised, under delivered and always over budget.

American people just never learn from their past mistakes, do they?

Chinese Restaurant Owners are a Tough Bunch January 17, 2014

Posted by hslu in Chinese, Chinese Food, Economics.
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A Chinese restaurant owner in the 7 corners area here in Northern Virginia once told me that it is difficult to be a Chinese restaurant owner because Chinese customers are so picky that it was impossible to please them.

In her words, she said that:

They want the prices low.

They want the quantity of the food huge.

The want the taste of their Chinese food authentic.

And they want their service at Chinese restaurant quick and snappy.

One thing they don’t care was the ambiance of the restaurant. They are generally rowdy. They might allow their kids running around. Some of them are sloppy and messy. And many leave little tips.

In the words of Chinese,  she told me, Chinese customers’ expectation for Chinese restaurant is  “又要马儿好,又要马儿不吃草;” they want their horses fast and speedy but they don’t want to feed them.

She sometimes talked to me about her business because my wife and I were one of a few customers at their restaurant the first week they opened for business. We frequently visited her restaurant and knew her well.

With the ubiquitous of Chinese restaurants and all-you-can-eat cheap buffets in many cities of the United States, they vote with their feet and the owners are one their toes to keep them happy and satisfied.

Inside the restaurant, chefs are difficult to deal with too. They may have good credentials from China and they may have official license from a local government but once they are in the US for a while, things are likely to change.

They want less work, i.e., not busy at the restaurant is good for them. They want salaries high. They pay attention to the classified section of the World Journal  because they want to see job availability near his home. They don’t want to do side jobs. They want to leave at the right time. Some of them don’t have the habit to help others. When something upsets them, argument with other chefs, too much work, not enough money, you name it, they vote with their feet and leave you behind in the cold as well.

When this happens, inevitably the tastes of their dishes change usually to the worse. Long term customers notice the change right away and business suffers as a result.

When you are doing great business because of good food, authentic tastes or whatever, other restaurants with similar dishes will creep up near you and take your business away. More often than not, a new restaurant with similar line of dishes appears a few blocks away. The competition is cut-throat, in her words.

If god forbid an All-You-Can-Eat buffet opens its door near you, your business will drop precipitously to the point of not able to break even in many cases.  Now they get stuck with a long term lease and a lousy, sometime, money losing business. They get sloppy on the salary to their workers. They slack on money to their suppliers.  And finally they can’t stay open anymore and have to sell the business for little money.

The cycle repeats at Chinese restaurants in many shopping centers all over the United States.

That’s why I call the Chinese restaurant owner a tough bunch.

Such is the life cycle of a dedicated Chinese restaurant owner.

 

Liberals use Obamacare to re-distribute wealth January 17, 2014

Posted by hslu in Congress, Health Insurance, Obama, Obamacare, Politics.
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I’ve called Obamacare Obamashame in my blog because it hides the real purpose of the Not Affordable Care Act when Obama, Pelosi, Reid and all Democrats in the Congress passed the law despite objection from the majority of the American people.

The real purpose is to re-distribute wealth from people who pay federal tax, the 53%, to almost all people who sign up for the government health care system.

Here is one way liberals take money out of our pockets to many under Obamacare:

If you sign up with Obamashame you are very likely to get a tax credit.

Yeah, you say that you knew that.

But I bet that you don’t even have a clue who qualify for the subside:

Any people who make $94,200 per year for a family of four will get money from other people’s pockets.

Hmm…, that seems a little generous, don’t you think? But since the liberals are spending OPM to buy votes, they might as well cover as many people as they can while they were at it.

But, why $94,200?

It is 400% of the poverty level and it will be indexed to inflation. As this figure is revised up when government reports new income data, more people under Obamacare will get something from the ones who pay federal tax.

I am going to predict that people who make less than $94,200 per year will want to keep OPM coming and the logic conclusion is that they will vote Democrats back to the Congress and the WH.

Here is to the American’s middle class:呜呼哀哉,尚飨!You are forever doomed!

Open you pockets, the liberals are coming!

 

Taipei Cafe, Rockville, MD January 17, 2014

Posted by hslu in Restaurants.
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Rockville, MD  has many Chinese restaurants and most cater to Chinese customers. Taipei Cafe, 顶鲜台湾料理, is no different from the others. The fact that we drove more than 20 miles from VA to sample its food says something about the allure of a new Chinese restaurant. Their ads started to appear on free Chinese Newspapers about 2 to 3 weeks ago. We took our Dad there because he likes to try new Chinese restaurants too.

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I have to give Taipei Cafe a thumb up because it is difficult to make it in Chinese restaurant business because All-You-Can-Eat buffets squeeze out all the margins from the top and rising costs, seafood and labor cost in particular, eat their profit, if there is any, like it is a free lunch.

Taipei Cafe probably didn’t cost the owners very much to open because there wasn’t any decoration to speak of. Well, most of the Chinese restaurants are like that. I was surprised at the size of the restaurant: 3 separate sections including a 30-40 people party room, a main dinning room with 60 to 70 seats and some tables in the front. But the latter probably won’t get used other than lunch time on Saturdays and Sundays.

It was somewhat busy when we were there on a Thursday evening about 7:20 PM: there were about 50 customers in the dining room before us. A few more came right before we left the restaurant at 8:20 PM or so. I know people come for 台湾料理 “Taiwanese cuisine” but they won;t come back if it is not authentic. There is another Taiwanese restaurant about 1/4 of mile away.

Well, competition is always good for the customers. They are cut throat among restaurants; especially Chinese restaurants. The reason is simple: not very many Americans will come and there is no Latinos at all. Very few Indians come for Taiwanese food either.

I hope they can make it.

Now, let’s take a look of the restaurant and their food:

I have seen similar display at a popular Taiwanese restaurant in Sun Moon Lake, Taiwan.

I have seen similar display at a popular Taiwanese restaurant in Sun Moon Lake, Taiwan.

You see this when you walk in the restaurant. It means:"When you are having a meal, you are as big as an emperor."

You see this when you walk in the restaurant. It means:”When you are having a meal, you are as important as an emperor.”

I am not too sure what this means. It's Taiwanese.

I am not too sure what this means. It’s Taiwanese.

It says: "I am afraid of my wife." I am not sure who the "我“ it is referring to? Is it trying to make a statement? Hmmm....

It says: “I am afraid of my wife.” I am not sure who the “我“ it is referring to? Is it trying to make a statement? Hmmm….

We had four appetizers and three main dishes, My wife also ordered a bowl of 尤鱼羹 “squid in thick broth.”

As usual, we ordered way too much for the three of us.

The four appetizers were:

1.   豆腐干 Sliced dried bean curds in soy sauce with sesame oil, some vinegar and sugar. I couldn’t taste any special spice in this dish. Kind like what I had 40 years ago at a food cart, usually after midnight with a friend or two, not far from our university in Tainan. This dish reminded me of those days when we had a bottle of 高粱, a small plate of 豆腐干, a small plate of 卤海带, a few pieces of duck neck 鸭脖子and a bowl of 阳春面 plus a 卤蛋。

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2.   臭豆腐 Stinky tofu. There are four things that need to come together to make this a memorable dish: a) the stinky tofu shouldn’t be fried for too long, 2) the pickled cabbage (with some carrots) should be on the sweet side so that it would complement the deep-fried tofu, 3) the sauce that goes with the tofu shouldn’t be just some soy sauce and a few drops of sesame oil, and 4) it own;t complete until hot sauce was added right before you eat them together. The stinky tofu was okay; slightly on the side of staying in the deep fryer a little too long. The pickled cabbage was bad: it was under marinated and I could taste the raw cabbage in my mouth. It was too spicy and there wan’t any sweetness, at least I didn’t taste it. We has to ask for hot sauce because it wasn’t offered on the plate.

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冰镇蹄膀 Cold Pork shoulder meat: nothing to write home about and will not order this again. The slices were too thick and poorly seasoned. The name was better than the dish itself.

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凉拌海蜇 Jellyfish cold plate: A good dish to order but it came after we already started our main courses. If I have to complaint, I’ll say the sauce wasn’t sophisticated enough.

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Three entrées were:

1.   香芹豆干 Dried bean curd with Chinese celery. I knew I has dried bean curd for appetizer already but I couldn’t pass this dish on because I like the combination a lot. I like this dish and the Chinese celery wasn’t tough to chew either. Not overly salty and the bean curd had the right firmness.

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2.   韭黄牛肉 Yellow Chinese chive with shredded beef. Again, lightly seasoned like what it should be and beef was tender too. If a few slices of red bell pepper would make it even better.

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3.   砂锅鱼头 Fish Head in a Clay Pot: It is important to prepare this dish so that it doesn’t smell like a fish dish to begin with. I think Taipei Cafe accomplished that. The hearty soup was not salty but quite tasty, the fish meat, if you could find it, was so tender that it almost melted in my mouth, Chinese cabbage was well cooked, a few pieces of taro root were also well-cooked, the deep-fried tofu was a bit small and to my disappointment, there wasn’t any green bean cellophane noodles at the bottom. When the big clay pot was bought to our table, it didn’t come with a ladle  and three small bowls. We had to ask for them and the wait staff was very quick to bring them to us though.

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My wife also order a side dish of squid in thick broth: 尤鱼羹。Well, I didn’t like it because it wasn’t like what I had at any of Taiwan’s night markets. The squid wasn’t coated with fish paste and the broth was too dark. It also need more black vinegar and white pepper too. I may be picky because I like my squid coated in white fish paste floating in alight colored broth with cilantro coarsely cut in similar lengths. To Taipei Cafe’s credit, some enoki mushroom was added to the broth which was a plus.

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The quantity was very good. The prices were reasonable. The service was quick. The kitchen was very efficient putting out dishes. The wait staff was courteous and friendly. A couple of Latinos were very friendly as well and they did smile a lot.

We will for sure go back to try more dishes at Taipei Cafe even though we have to fight the awful traffic on the north loop of the notorious Washington Beltway. It would be a good place to have some lunch too.

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