Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Taiwan Food: Part 3: 22 - 23 April 2018

Exchange Rates: NT$10 = MYR1.34; MYR1 = NT$7.46

Day 5: FamilyMart at Taipei H Imperial Hotel (facing south-side of Taipei Main Station)

Shops, including food stalls, open late in Taipei, at about 10:30 am. Although free breakfast was provided by Holo Hostel (same building as Taipei H Imperial Hotel but different floors) where I was staying, I did not go for a full breakfast. 

According to TSC, food was available at FamilyMart 24/7 in Taiwan. He strongly recommended me to try the food here. He said that the food look plain, but it would be excellent. I decided to give it a try before leaving for Tamsui for more food.

The cooked food looked very plain 

It was really good. Savoury with a slight tinge of sweetness, like those of Malaysian food. Rated 8/10
Day 4: Tamsui

Tamsui was not well-known as a tourist spot. However, after watching a Youtube video, I decided to go there because there was street food. However, the food stalls opened really late. Even at 10:30 a.m. some stalls were still closed. I did not buy anything at the stalls along the esplanade, except for a stall selling Taiwan sausage. It took ages for the young lady to prepare it.

Taiwan sausage. Sweet and savoury. Rated 8/10
Day 4: Tamsui Morning Market, Old Street, Tamsui

I was exploring Tamsui morning market when I spotted this stall selling what appeared to be Chinese meat rolls (Lor Bak/ Ngo Hiong). It has always been a favourite food of mine and I was not going to miss it. I did not want to regret it, but I did for not buying more. I bought one roll only.

One of my favorite food - Chinese meat rolls (Lor Bak/ Ngo-Hiong)

That little white piece in the meat roll was crunchy, like jicama. Overall, I love it. Savory with a tinge of sweetness. Rated 8/10

Day 5: Yongkang Street, near MRT Dongmen, Taipei

Finally, I spotted another onion pancake stall. The onion pancake was on my list of food to try, since it has always received favourable comment from foodies. The queue was long, but still, I decided to join in. It seemed to attract mostly tourists.

I went for the original onion pancake, costing NT$25. I gave the vendor NT$50 coin but she did not give me the change.

I was a quite disappointed. I thought it would be very good. Instead, it tasted almost the same as Malaysia's Roti Canai/ Singapore's Paratha, except that it was more flaky. Rated 6/10
It was not Din Tai Fung or Kaochi. I did not see Din Tai Fung original restaurant when I arrived but Kaochi had a short queue of people waiting to enter. Although there was no queue here, the first floor seating area was full. I came here for the Dim Sum.

Full-house. This family of Japanese sat in front of me

Shrimp dumpling. The first piece was okay. Like the Xiaolongbao (steamed soup dumpling), after eating 3 pieces, I felt queasy. I had to dip them in the sauce to be able to finish them, something which I had never done before. Rated 4/10. Is Taiwanese Dim Sum this bad?

The pork bun was slightly better. Savoury. Rated 6/10 
Day 5: Area behind and around Taipei H Imperial Hotel/ Holo Hostel, south of Taipei Main Station

I was still full when evening came. I decided to skip dinner and explore the area behind and around Holo Hostel.

Until today, I still haven't had Taiwan Bubble Milk Tea, an icon of Taiwanese beverage. I did not see one until today. The Bubble Milk Tea was also on my food list.

So when I saw this stand, I went to order the original milk tea. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the drink.

The Bubble Milk Tea stall (N25.04211° E121.51358°)

The Bubble Milk Tea was item 3
Day 6: An alley somewhere near Chia Rong Hostel, north of Taipei Main Station

I wasn't satisfied with the sourish braised beef noodle in Hualien. Maybe, those in Taipei would taste better. I went in search for another bowl of beef noodle.

Location: N25.05011° E121.51622°

The sourish pickled vegetable was not added to the noodle. It was in a container, to be added as desired by customers. Without the sourish taste, the soup tasted better but it was still below my expectation. Rated 6/10
Day 6: Fuyuan Pepper Bun Stall (N25.05020° E121.51558°)

Fuyuan pepper buns is located beside Star Hostel/ Hotel Puri, north of Taipei Main Station. I came to Taipei telling myself that I must have the Fuzhou pepper buns here. Besides the one at Raohe Night Market, this was the other stall that I wanted to visit. It was just about 50 metres from Chia Rong Hostel, my hostel on my first day in Taipei.

Fuyuan pepper buns stall was adjacent to Star Hostel/ Puri Hotel

The pepper buns at Fuyuan tasted more or less the same as the other two pepper bun stalls at Roahe Market. Boiling hot filling, crispy, savoury and juicy. Rated 8/10
Day 6: At a Ramen restaurant somewhere south of Taipei Main Station

Taipei was hot today. I did not have the mood to go out because I did not want to drench myself in sweat and having no place to take a shower. I just wanted to stay in-door at Taipei Main Station, check out the food stalls and take my meals there. However, TSC in an afternoon Wechat with me, told me to get out and try more Taiwanese food, otherwise I would regret not making full use of my remaining few hours in Taipei. He was right. I would not know when I would be returning to Taiwan again. I had better make full use of the remaining hours that I had to explore for more food.

The ramen restaurant

I wanted a taste of Taiwan Ramen to compare with PNG Ramen. I went for the Original Pork Born (sic) Soup ramen.

The pork was very thin, like 2 mm only. The soup was thick, flavourful but it just did not click with my taste-bud. Rated 6/10
Minutes earlier, while exploring the streets for more food, I saw this stand. Since I was live on Wechat with TSC, he told me the buns would be very good. Hence, I bought a piece of each type of bun. 

Later that night at the Taoyuan Airport, I took out the buns to try. I told him they were all with vegetable filling. He examined the photos of the stall again and told me that they were vegetarian buns.

None was good. I would rate them all at 4/10.

Rated 4/10

Rated 4/10

Rated 4/10
I was generally satisfied with the trip to Taiwan, having tried almost all the food that I set out to taste. The only food on my list that I failed to find was Gua Bao (steamed buns with filling) and O-ar Chien (oyster omelette).

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Taiwan Food: Part 2: 20 - 21 April 2018

Exchange Rates: NT$10 = MYR1.34; MYR1 = NT$7.46

Day 3: At a row of shops beside Hualien Visitor Center at Hualien Train/ Bus Station

I asked for an English menu at this corner shop. Ordered braised beef noodle in soup (Niu Rou Mian) which was on my to-eat list.

Niu Rou Mian. It was savory and sourish. I didn't know that Taiwan braised beef noodle soup is sourish. Since I don't like sour food, it was just average for me. 5/10
Day 3: Raohe Night Market

The most popular stand in Raohe Night Market sits at the street entrance (near the temple). It has a long and perpetual queue and is famous for its Fuzhou pepper buns. I am a Fuzhou but I don't think it is a Fuzhou snack. Rather, the baking of this pepper bun in a traditional oven has its origin in the manner Kompian/ Kompyang/ Guangbin/ 光餅was prepared and baked (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kompyang).

This stall was one of my reasons for visiting Taiwan.

It has the longest and a perpetual queue in Raohe Night Market

Even in a light drizzle, the queue did not abate. The majority of the customers seem to be foreigners.

Fuzhou pepper bun (Fuzhou Hujiao Bing) 

This was from the few pieces left from that particular batch. Still boiling hot inside but the crust was a little chewy. Savoury and suit our Malaysian palate. I like it. 8/10

A Jipai (chicken cutlet) stall. The chicken cutlet is popular but it wasn't something I would consider different from all the fried chicken we could get in Malaysia. It was not on my food list but nevertheless, I bought a piece.

The fried cutlet before it was machine-cut into bite-size pieces.

Tender and juicy. Heavenly. Rated 9/10
Day 4: MRT Zhongxiao Fuxing Exit 2, Taipei

While waiting for the bus to Jiufen at MRT Zhongxiao Fuxing Exit 2, I spotted this steamed bun stall. Steamed bun has always been one of my favorite food. I have always been curious about the taste of steamed buns from other countries.

The steamed buns tasted ok. The bun is soft and the filling savoury and juicy. Rated 6/10
Day 4: Jiufen Old Street

Before coming to Taiwan, I thought I might not be able to find this Fuzhou fish ball stall in the labyrinth of streets in Jiufen. Hence, I did not try to look for it. In fact, there was no need to look for it. It was just there, right on the main street. My intention was to try the Fuzhou fish ball at this stall. It was a popular stall.

The ball in dark texture tasted better than the Fuzhou fish ball (big round ball at the bottom). There were two smaller balls.

Fuzhou fish ball. Fuzhou fish ball has meat filling. Bouncy, savory and juicy. Not bad in taste. Slightly above average. Rated 7/10.
This is another popular stall in Jiufen. Colourful desserts made from taro, sweet potatoes, etc. in either hot or cold drink.

I had eaten half a cup already. The colourful combination makes it attractive. Sweet. Taste ok. Rated 6/10. 

Day 4: Around Songshan MRT station Exit 1.
On returning to Taipei from Jiufen, I alighted at Songshan MRT station bus stop. I explored the back/ side streets to explore for food and I saw this stall. It was selling O-ar Mi Sua and stinky tofu.

In my plan, I wanted to go to the famous Ay-Chung stall for this noodle. I do not know how the O-ar Mi Sua here compares to Ay-Chung.

The oyster was coated in sago and there was intestine (which I never took in the past). This time, I emboldened myself and ate the intestine too. The taste of the noodle broth (sans oyster/ intestine) was acceptable/ average. Gooey and savoury. Rated 6/10
Day 4: Back at Raohe Night Market
The Taiwan onion pancake was quite famous but I did not get one the earlier night because of the queue. This evening, there was no queue. I wanted one but because of miscommunication, I got a pepper bun instead. 

The stall sat at the entrance to Raohe Night Market but before the arch, on the left of the street.

Surprisingly, the pepper bun at this stall was better than the stall with the very long queue. The crust was crispy. Rated 9/10
The fried squid from my company mess here in PNG is excellent. It was therefore not on my list of food to try in Taiwan because all fried squid would taste the same. If it was not because of temptations, I would not have bought a cup of it.

The fried squid stall

It was very tasty. Tender and crispy. Rated 9/10
There were three stalls selling similar rib soup, sitting side by side. There were hardly any vacant seats, and patrons were sitting elbow to elbow. The rib soup at Raohe could be considered the second most popular food here, after the Fuzhou pepper bun.

I got my cup of rib soup from this stall

Patrons were sitting elbow to elbow. Very crowded.

Ribs, with slivers of meat. Bak Kut Teh (Malaysian or Singapore pork rib broth) or Bek Ting (Fuzhou 8 treasure soup) would be better. It tasted quite plain. Rated 6/10.

I didn't know what this middle-easterner was serving. I just wanted to have a taste of it.

Savoury. Tasted ok. Rated 6/10