Tag Archives: Taiwan

Aboriginal Dishes in Wulai

20 Nov

Bees and Raw Meat (and a beautiful waterfall)

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Wulai is a beautiful mountainous area just outside of Taipei New City, takes about 30 minutes by bus from Xindian Station (map). It’ll take you to a lovely market street, an uphill walk to a beautiful waterfall and an aboriginal theme park. Oh and a lot of hot springs.
Information: Wulai 烏來 is a town in Taipei County. It’s known for a large amount of public and private hot springs and its aboriginal history (not to mention stunning scenery). It’s crazy how you can find such beauty just outside of the city. One of the popular restaurants is Taiya Po Po, which specializes in aboriginal food, like that of the Atayal people. The restaurant was mentioned several times on the internet as well as some food programmes; so we had to give it a try. There were two dishes on the menu that were hard to resist for the average food adventurer; Fried Bees and Raw Pork Meat (的麼面), next to those we also ordered some traditional rice steamed in a bamboo tube and some stir-fried vegetables. But let me begin with the beeezzzz. I had no expectations, other than the fact that I hoped I wouldn’t have to taste any hair. Luckily the dish was quite good. The bees came on a plate with several fried vegetables, which made for a very crunchy combination. Bees were crispy and although they didn’t have that much flavor; they complemented the rest of the dish. Crispy protein rich treats, pretty tasty really, surprised me! The fried vegetables were really good as well. Texture-wise, I think this dish is worth a try. flavor-wise I’d give it a 7 or so. Speaking of flavor! Raw pork meat; something that was unfamiliar to us as well. This dish 的麼面 consisted out of raw mountain pork with rice and salt, stuffed in a jar, left to ferment for 2 weeks and served on a plate with ice cubes. Such a crazy idea, you might think, but if you were missing out on the flavor till now, then I wouldn’t skip out on this one. 的麼面 tasted like a very very salty dry-cured sausage. The texture was a little too tough though; the chunks of meat were quite big and it took a while to ‘devour’ them. (hah, website-pun joke in there).  But, trying new things (I believe) is all part of living here, and so it was worth a try and the flavors were worth it. Oh yeah, the bees were also caught in the mountains, and so the price for that particular dish was a little higher than expected (450 NTD). But what better way to blend in than to try the local food (that even Taiwanese people may not have tried before).  Wulai; highly recommended, beautiful place, interesting history.. and loads of food! wulai3 wulai4 wulai5 wulai6
Categories: Lunch / Dinner

Ringer Hut: Nagasaki Cuisine

5 Nov
photo (2)locationdesNearest MRT Station: Taipei Main Station. Go to the food court on the first floor in the main hall of the station.
Information: The Ringer Hut is a Japanese chain restaurant (although not a really big chain) that is specialized in Nagasaki-style noodles. These noodles include champon ramen and sara udon. Champon ramen is a type of noodles with a salty broth made from pig and chicken bones. This is normally topped of with various vegetables, meat, and seafood. The champon ramen at the Ringer Hut was stuffed with vegetables, pork and seafood. The broth, however, was a little bland. Sara udon is a interesting type of noodle. The noodles are basically not cooked, but are in fact solid. Have you ever tried eating your cup noodles without adding water? It probably tasted like crisps. Try to imagine this, but with a thick sauce with lots of vegetables on top, plus some seafood and meat. It’s great and it has a unique crispy flavor to it. The Ringer Hut knows how to serve you a good plate of sara udon. No nonsense, good food. The side dishes tasted pretty standard; nothing special about it and also not bad at all.
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Rating: Although the champon ramen might not be the best the sara udon is really tasty. I would recommend everyone to give the sara udon a try. It is most likely my favorite dish from the Nagasaki prefecture, and there probably aren’t many places in Taiwan that sell it besides the Ringer hut. Expect to spend about NTD220 a person.
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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

A tour around Taichung (台中)city

30 Sep

Taichung City; 南天(NanTian)temple, Taichung City Park, Taichung folklore museum park & FengJia Night Market .

templeNan Tian 南天 Temple: website: http://www.tcntg.org.tw/。 Famous for being the largest temple in Taichung worshiping emperor Guan Yu of the Han Dynasty. A 6 storey building filled with symbolism, ancestral worship and amazing artwork. Taichung is pretty famous for its temples in general (probably because all of them have huge statues in front of them). Have something to confess? Looking for love? In need of money; try to find some good luck in one of these.  🙂 Check out the website, as taking pictures inside (of Gods and sacred places) is considered disrespectful and so I didn’t take many. 
park 2park taizhongTaichung City Park: In need of some relaxation? Why not go to the romantic Taichung Park.  The park was built under Japanese Rule in 1903 and the pavilion (see above picture) was built in 1908 (and is still there;  as many changes have been made over the years). Besides the many large trees, park benches and bridges,  there’s also a music stage, some tennis courts and other exercise facilities. The music stage is often used by elderly, playing traditional Chinese instruments. You can also rent a rowboat to float around on the park lake. It’s also a place for youngsters to hang out, smoke and be their loud self though,  so there may be some disruption in the romantic image pictured above. The scenery is beautiful though 🙂

museumpark2museumpark1Taichung folklore museum park: the Taichung Folklore museum will tell you everything you need to know about aboriginal cultures in Taiwan, the Japanese occupation, Buddhism and ancestral worship (then and now), some old style architecture and a beautiful tea garden. You’ll also find old movie and propaganda posters, old toys and some Qing Dynasty art. It’s a little small for a day out, but there’s no entrance fee, you can buy food and drinks and it’s a very good place to relax within the bustling city center. 

nightmarket 1 nightmarket 2FengJia Night Market: One of the most famous night markets in Taiwan; and there’s a good reason for it. It’s huge, much more open space than usual cramped markets and the food! my goodness the food! Looking for anything specific? FengJia will have it!  More to come in the Night Market post 😉

Categories: Scenic Spots

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.
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Categories: Desserts

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

13 Sep

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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

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“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

Some unusual Parts of the Pig

1 Sep

Pig Eyes, Pig Head, Pig Colon… for Breakfast

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When you get to this bus station (closest MRT: Wanfang Hospital Station (map)), cross the street and turn right and walk for about 200 meters. You’ll find a traditional market on your left hand side (a little complicated). Many other (but not all) markets will have this kind of food. By market I mean the more or less traditional markets, not the night markets. These may sometimes open very early in the morning and close around lunchtime. Markets like this are more local.  They can either be indoors or outside. Ask around! There’s bound to be one where you are now or will be in the future! Alright, let’s start!

Information: Somehow, when I was told about pig eyes (豬眼睛) as a local delicacy, I got exited immediately (I’m all in for trying out new kinds or styles of food) . It was only a few days before the actual date however, when a friend told me it was breakfast food; we had to go there early, as pig eyes are really popular and sold out quickly. That’s when I needed to man up a bit (eyeballs for breakfast; as Taiwanese as I am trying to be, that doesn’t sound good no matter how hard I try). But, as the brave adventurous western person I am, my mind told me that anything chewy, squishy and round was going to be amazing and I was fully prepared. Again, I was in for a surprise. We got served some pig eyes, pig head and colon. These were accompanied by a bowl of noodles and some side dishes (tofu, soy egg, Chinese spinach). The eyes tasted like biting on very tender pork fat. Nothing chewy or squishy about them. They were well cooked and had a very soft and savory meat flavor. There was nothing unsettling about it. The head consisted out of very tender pork meat, but since it was scraped from the entire head, every piece of meat had a different size. Pig colon just tasted like your average intestine (to me), if you’ve ever tried any. The aftertaste is usually very strong and a little bitter (a little like liver). You either love it or hate it. All of the dishes were topped off with thickened soy sauce and ginger. For breakfast however, this is still a very heavy meal and so if you want to try it (please do, you’ll miss out if you don’t), you can take some home and eat them at a later time. I found out that this is a really local kind of food. Many people my age haven’t tried it and it may even sound strange to them. Therefore I feel that it’s a must-try food! Also, I think it’s much more common outside of Taipei. Well, enough rambling; Picture Time!

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Categories: image photo (3)

market table

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