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Almond Tofu Dessert

26 Oct
almond dessertlocationdesRight Next to Jingmei Station Exit 1 (map)
Information: It seems all I can write about are desserts nowadays, but you can’t blame me, they’re so freakin’ delicious! Here’s one I tried at the Jingmei night market. Tofu in Taiwan comes in all kinds of flavors, textures and sizes; both savory and sweet. Just recently I bought a package of cold oatmeal tofu and the night before I had a lovely hot pot dinner with dried white tofu, cold white tofu and ”tofu skin”,which tasted a little meaty. You can also find it steamed with eggs and seafood; anyway, there’s loads. I am definitely into the dessert versions (check out the traditional dessert 豆花 here). The tofu of this dessert was mixed with almond milk and almond extract; it created a very creamy nutty flavor. Other ingredients were Azuki beans, chewy fruit jelly and milk. The flavors are always so interesting; like for example the fruit jelly and creamy tofu tasted somewhat like fruit with whipped cream; lovely. What I like about desserts here is that they’re not overly sweet, but always have a very rich flavor and you always taste ingredients to the fullest. Anyway; Almond Tofu; try it. You can also find plain almond tofu in your regular supermarket 🙂
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Categories:    Desserts!

芋圓 – Taro Balls !

15 Oct

Jiu Fen Taro Balls 芋圓(yu yuan)taro blz

locationdesJiu Fen (九份)is a mountain area near Keelung; it has a narrow but amazing tourist market, hiking trails, loads of beautiful scenic spots, an old street and oh yeah, food! The nearest train station (no MRT) is Ruifang; but I’d suggest to go there by bus. Buses leave regularly from Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT Station (see Map)
Information: From a foodie aspect; the Jiufen market is an excellent way to try out so many new, different kinds of food. You wouldn’t even have to pay a single penny, you could pre-taste everything! The area is known for 3 different kinds of food, of which Taro Balls, I think, are the most recommended, as the food is said to originate from this area. (Besides taro balls, you’ll also come across a lot of Rouyuan(Bawan) (check my post on those here) and multi colored fish balls). As for Taro Balls, you can get them everywhere and all around Taiwan, but texture and taste are definitely best in Jiufen. Taro balls are made out of Taro and potato starch (most likely) and they have a thick doughy texture. Next to the taro version, you can also find sweet potato or red/green been balls (and probably other flavors). They can be eaten hot or cold and often serve as a topping for shaved ice or dessert soups. Unlike tapioca, taro balls do not only have an amazing texture but also add to the flavor of the dessert. I recommend eating them warm; that way you get a lush, rich taro tasting experience! 😀taro balls

Categories: DESSERTS

Coco Curry House: Japanese Curry

8 Oct
photo (2)locationdesLocation: Closest MRT station is Gongguan; leave from exit 2 and walk towards the university entrance
Information: To me, a big plate of Japanese curry is real comfort food. After a day of hard work, sitting down at the table and getting served a plate of homemade curry is the best. Eating it brings back memories of my childhood. I am actually surprised by the lack of curry restaurants in Taipei, even though Japanese cuisine is so intertwined with Taiwanese cuisine. Luckily, the Japanese curry chain restaurant has multiple locations in Taipei. The one we went to in Gongguan (right next to the MRT station) had a fairly trendy décor. The menu is really similar to that in Japan with lots of different options; fried chicken, fried pork cutlet (tonkatsu), prawns, hamburger and lots more.  In addition, you can change the portion of rice and choose the spiciness of the curry.  Plus, you can select extra toppings, including an egg, extra meat and vegetables.  I had picked a fried pork cutlet with my curry and a hard-boiled egg (only had those). The taste was pretty much the same as in Japan; in other words it was pretty good. On another occasion I had tried the fried chicken with cheese curry. Although the cheese doesn’t have a strong taste it really adds to the texture in a good way. The fried chicken, however, was too tender, and not so fatty. This might be a plus for some people, but I didn’t enjoy it too much.
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Rating: Prices are around NTD 200, including free water, which the staff constantly keeps pouring. The curry, although not homemade, tastes authentic and is nice. I would recommend this place, especially when you are really hungry as the portions are big.

Categories: photo (5)

Taro, Coconut Milk & Tapioca Dessert (芋頭西米露)

22 Sep
taro coconutlocationdesClose to NCCU University, The Zoo and Maokong Mountain. It’s also close to where I live, if you want to stalk me. Anyway, it’s a little hard to find, but I think this place is worth going to because it’s local, traditional and cheap.  Take any bus towards Jingmei Girls Highschool (景美女中)from Qizhang七張 station or Taipei Zoo Station (map) and walk about 5 minutes down the street towards NCCU University.
Information: Ahh yes, Taro. Finally I get to introduce a dessert with Taro as its main ingredient. Taro is a purple root vegetable similar in texture to that of a potato. Like Sweet Potato, it can be added to both savory and sweet dishes. The original flavor of Taro is actually a little bit salty, but when adding sugar(sweetener/honey/anything) and any liquid, the texture and flavor change completely, which is what makes Taro so interesting. In this dessert, sweetened taro is added to a traditional dessert soup from Hong Kong (I think, or southern China). It’s called ”Sai Mai Lo” in Cantonese, but the slightly cuter Xi Mi Lu (西米露) is used here in Taiwan. It’s made out of coconut milk and tapioca and you can eat it like that (hot or cold), or with other ingredients, like Taro. When taking a bite of this dessert, you’ll feel like you’re eating frosting off of a cake..without the cake! Cooked/Steamed taro and creamy liquids really complement each other. Tapioca is added, again, for the texture. The pearls used in Xi Mi Lu are really small and you don’t need to bite on them, which is why you won’t get much of that ”jelly” feel.  Try anything sweet with taro! It’s delicious.
taro coconut2
Categories: Desserts

Prince Ramen Restaurant

21 Sep
photo (1)locationdesNearest MRT station is Xindian. Walk towards the river and look for the boulevard.

Information: There is this perfect spot around Xindian MRT station where you can relax along the river, rent a paddle boat while watching the turtles in the water, and have a refreshing beverage. On the boulevard there are lots of small restaurants with all sorts of different food. Prices are generally a little higher, because of the lovely view and location. A ramen restaurant caught my eye, while strolling along all the eateries, and after some thinking we decided to take a seat there. There is a minimum order of NTD 220 per person, but we wanted to order less than that. After consulting with the manager it was okay to just eat a single bowl of ramen. The ramen being sold here is tonkotsu ramen (ramen with a broth made of pig bones). I decided to go for the original bowl of tonkotsu ramen. The slices of pork seemed a little burnt to me and after a taste test it did not really impress me; it was tough, a little burnt, and the flavor was off. The egg was hard-boiled (we seem to get that a lot here) and not soft-boiled, which I prefer. The broth and the noodles were good though. The broth was fatty and very tasteful and complimented the noodles very well. The rest of the garnish was so-so: a little scallion and konjac. It left me with mixed feelings of how to rate this ramen shop.

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Rating: Overall the ramen here isn’t bad at all. The broth and noodles are good, but the meat and egg were disappointing. If I would be nearby I would like to test out a different bowl of ramen here. Besides, the scenery and the atmosphere definitely make up for its flaws.

Categories: photo (5)

Street Food: Hot Stinky Tofu & Duck Blood

20 Sep

tofu ducl blood
Location: This amazing looking snack can be found at plenty of night markets, but I bought it on beautiful Maokong Mountain. Nearest MRT station : Taipei Zoo Station (Map).

Information: Sometimes.. names of Chinese or Taiwanese dishes are really creative.. and sometimes you just get what you pay for: Spicy Stinky Tofu & Duck Blood is exactly that: pieces of foul smelling Tofu, Dark Duck Blood Jelly in an extremely spicy red-brown colored broth. I know, I know, it doesn’t sound appealing; but the interesting thing is, the creamy tofu, the slippery duck blood and the hot broth go together really well. The duck blood is simply congealed, which feels like you’re biting into flavorless pudding; but because it’s been simmering in a spicy broth, you get the full hot flavor coming out of it when taking a bite (have some water ready). Stinky Tofu is actually not as bad as it sounds. I think you can compare it to cheese; smells bad, tastes less bad. All it is is fermented Tofu (Like pickles, sour cabbage and yogurt. All fermented food products).  I like cooked versions of Stinky Tofu because the taste of ferment lingers when taking a bite. The outside of any version is usually firm or crunchy and the inside is soft and creamy. All these combinations of flavor and texture make it a really interesting snack! Prices are usually under 50 NTD. Note: I’ve given up on checking for anything English, because it’s usually just not there. So I’ll try to provide the Chinese characters as much as possible. If you have any questions on anything, just post in the comment section below 🙂

blood1bloodz

Categories: Street Food

Night Market Snacks: Pig’s Blood Cake & Pork Gelatinous Dumplings(BaWan)

13 Sep

porkybpielocationdes

The much bigger than expected Jingmei 景美 night market can be found behind Jingmei Station, exit 1

Note: These dumplings aren’t actually dumplings; it’s just a term I used to describe their appearance; read more to find out

Pig’s Blood Cake (豬血糕 , zhu xue gao)

Information: Finally, I get to introduce my favorite snack in Taiwan (Pig’s Blood Cake). This pitch black snack only has a few ingredients, but the consistency and texture are to die for. Pig’s blood cake is made of exactly that: Pork Blood. You can find it in plenty of dishes, but the night market version is the best. The blood is combined with sticky rice which is then steamed and put on a popsicle stick. When you order one, you can choose whether you want chili paste on it or not. The savory popsicle is then dipped in soy broth (not always) and rolled around in peanut powder. Sometimes cilantro is added. Texture is sticky, chewy, like a spoonful of savory-sweet thick rice pudding; but better. Imagine eating peanut butter chewing gum that falls apart into your mouth. I’m not sure if this description makes you want to eat it; but it is really good; I never skip this snack when going to a night market and neither should you! Note: Jingmei is the only market so far where I found a cake shaped like the picture below

bloodcake

“Pork Gelatinous Dumpling” (BaWan)

Information: When walking further down the market, we stumbled upon a dish called 肉圓 (rouyuan), another traditional Taiwanese snack which in Taiwanese (local language) is called Bawan. It’s some sort of big dumpling made of rice flour, starches and water, which gives it a somewhat gelatinous appearance. The stuffing apparently varies ( I read this.. on the internet), but ours was stuffed with some pork, cilantro and bamboo shoots). It was topped off with savory and sweet sauce (there were different kinds). The texture was very soft and gooey and even a little creamy when biting on it. Taste of the stuffing was a little bland, but the sauces added to the flavor; not bad! I came home only to find out later that this is quite a special and traditional dish; so there must be better versions out there. Excited!  More to come!bawan

Categories: Street Food

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