Wednesday, 12 March 2014

A TASTE OF TAIWAN: TAIPEI + TAICHUNG

Exhausted and slightly jet-lagged after arriving from London on Saturday, we set off early the next day for Penang International Airport to catch our flight to Taipei, Taiwan.
Waking up with conjunctivitis, and a cough that hadn't shifted for a week was not the ideal start to my holiday, but I carried on like a little trooper.
Here's a brief list of the places that we visited and what we ate during our travels... 

| TAIPEI |

 

| Din Tai Fung 鼎泰豐, Taipei 101 |


Susan's family who was our host for the evening brought us to have our first meal at Din Tai Fung at Taipei 101 - the world renowned restaurant that specializes in xiao long bao. We arrived early in the evening and there was (only) a 20 minute wait. Probably one of the best xiao long bao that I've tasted so far, and I would recommend a visit if you love it as much as I do. 
Click here for the full blog post.

Address:  B1, No 45, Shifu Road, Xinyi District, Taipei City, Taiwan
Opening Hours: 11:00 to 21:30 (Sun – Thu); 11:00 to 22:00 (Fri – Sat)

| Ay-Chung Flour-Rice Noodle 阿宗麵線 |

 

Recommended as a must-eat street food in Taipei, the flagship branch at Ximending was about a 10 minute walk from the hotel that we were staying at.
The flour-rice noodle, or mee sua as I usually call it, had a smooth, silky texture, and the broth was lovely and warming on a chilly day. The noodles are stewed with salt-cured pig's intestines, dried bonito and sliced bamboo shoot. There were also some condiments by the side (vinegar, garlic, and chilli sauce) that you can add into your bowl if you wanted extra flavour. We ordered two small bowls which costs NT$50 each, or you also have the option of the larger bowl which was NT$60.
The queue may seem long, but the staff are really fast and efficient.
There are no proper dining tables and chairs, but stools are provided at the front of the stall, so you can either sit or just stand around whilst eating.
It's a really touristy spot, but still worth a visit.
 
 

Address: No.8-1, Emei St., Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan
Opening Hours: 10:00 to 22:30 (Mon – Thu); 10:00 to 23:00 (Fri – Sun)

 | Ji Guang Delicious Fried Chicken 繼光香香雞 |


We had passed this shop a few times before realizing that it was apparently famous for it's fried chicken. We ordered a small portion of fried chicken which cost NT$55 (large
NT$100), and a portion of those intriguing looking black pieces of squid ink sticks to try. (NT$50). The fried chicken came in bite sized pieces sprinkled with some pepper made with some Chinese medicinal herbs for extra spiciness, it reminded me of popcorn chicken, except slightly larger. The squid ink sticks on the other hand tasted like keropok lekor that we get back in Malaysia. Nothing outstanding, but at least it's ticked off my list.


Address: No. 121-1, Hanzhong Street, Wanhua District Taipei City, Taiwan
Opening Hours: 11:30 to 23:30

| Shilin Night Market 士林夜市 |


This was probably my favourite night market amongst the ones that we visited - I much preferred this market compared to Feng Jia night market.
We came across this stall selling deep-fried spiral potatoes on sticks. The sticks of raw potatoes were all ready on the side, and then doused in batter and fried upon placing your order. It costs NT$40 per stick, and you can choose up to two flavours each - I went for the seaweed and mexican chilli powder. Crunchy and fun to eat.

 

There was also a long queue for this buns, so out of curiosity, we ordered a couple of steamed buns with juicy pork fillings to share.

 


We also went down to have a look at the food court, where there was a huge amount of stalls lined up on each side. After walking past a few, you will realize that most of the stalls sell pretty much the same type of food - the amount of competition around sums up why most of the stall owners are constantly trying to coax customers to eat at their stall.
We were kind of tired of eating fried foods, so we stopped by one of the stalls for some soup noodles. 
Coming from Penang, which has a vast amount of great street food, the food here didn't really entice me as much.


Address: No. 101, Jihe Road, Shilin District, Taipei City, Taiwan 111

| Kekou Fish Balls 可口魚丸 | 

 

We made a short impromptu visit to Tamsui (or Danshui), and tried the fishball soup at Kekou - one of the first to start the Danshui fishball craze. There were obviously many other similar businesses that we passed on the way, but we particularly hunted this one down, just because of its reputation...
Business here is fast-paced, and we were lucky enough to get a table. A bowl of four fish balls costs NT$30, or you can get a bowl with two fishballs and three wantons for the same price. The fishballs have a meat-filled centre - quite springy and tasty, but I've honestly had better back in my hometown...
They also sell meat buns or plain steamed buns for NT$10 each, which you can order on the side to have with the soup, or on its own.
For those of you interested to make fishball soup at home, you can buy a big bag of fishballs and buns for a mere NT$100 - just don't go too crazy now...


Address: No. 232 Zhongzheng Road, Danshui (Tamsui), Taiwan

| Ah Pa Tofu Restaurant |


After passing this place numerous times on the way to the Ximen station from our hotel, we decided to try it out on our last night in Taipei. They specialize in dessert soyabean puddings and soya drinks, as well as other delicious Taiwanese small dishes. Great for a simple traditional sit-down meal if you're in the area.
Click here for the full blog post.

Address: Hanzhong Street, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan (opposite 85 degree cafe)

| TAICHUNG |






We took the HSR from Taipei to Taichung during our stay in Taiwan, and spent two nights at the Holiday Inn Express. We didn't really live close to the main centre of Taichung, so we mainly ventured around the surrounding areas.

 

| Miyahara Opthalmology Department 宫原眼科 |

 

Miyahara Opthalmology Department, otherwise known in Chinese as 宫原眼科 (Gong Yuan Yan Ke), was previously used as an eye clinic that was constructed by Miyahara, a Japanese optometrist, in 1927 during the Japanese occupation period. Today, it houses the flagship store of the famous “Dawn Cake” (日出蛋糕), and sells other interesting treats such as pineapple cakes, chocolates and cookies.
I particularly liked the ice cream parlour where you have a selection of dozens of different unique flavours and equally interesting toppings. The staff are dressed in hospital uniforms to match the theme of the venue.
I would highly recommend a visit if you are visiting the area.
Click here for the full blog post.

Address: No. 20, Chung Shan Road, Chung District, Taichung City, Taiwan
Opening hours: 10:00 - 22:00 

| Feng Jia Night Market 逢甲夜市 |

 

We took a taxi from our hotel to Feng Jia night market, claimed to be the largest night market in Taiwan. The journey took about 20 minutes and cost NT$200 each way - much faster then taking the bus.
Here's just a few pictures of what we nibbled there... 

Deep-fried mushrooms - NT$100 per cup.

 

 

Duck soup noodles - it was nice to have a little sit-down in between all the walking. 


Takoyaki - more of a Japanese snack, but the long queue lured me in...
 

Dad had a liking for these stalls that sold all sorts of strange looking animal innards...



Beef-filled buns baked in stone ovens.





Interesting shaped cakes - they looked nicer than they tasted...



Like every other night market, there are plenty of street-food stalls to choose from, hence best to visit with an empty stomach!

Address: Xitun District, Taichung City, Taiwan 407

And here's a few more street snacks that we had at the night market close to the Holiday Inn Express that we were staying at...

 

We tried the fried chicken cutlet since it seems to be quite popular here. This costs NT$60 a piece, which you can buy as a whole piece or have it cut into smaller pieces.


 

This stall sold choux buns with different types of fillings - NT$20 for the fresh cream-based fillings, and NT$25 for the ice cream filled ones.

 

So that pretty much sums up what we ate during our stay in Taiwan - obviously just some bite-sized information, with surely much more to discover...

Still not convinced about stinky tofu. 

Finally, unrelated to food...here's a selfie photo of me with HELLO KITTY...

So Asian...

I only did it because all the other girls were doing it.
Honest.

The Cheekster, signing out x


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