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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Taiwanese Street Food

Taiwan has so much food that i had nightmares about the 鸡扒. It became 鸡怕 after the second day in Taiwan. There's so much food that it deserves a dedicated post and the best tip i received from a friend before departure was "STRATEGIZE YOUR EATING PLAN."

The trick to eating all and wasting not is to list down the things you would want to try and start with the lightest food. While i am going to name the street food according to where to find them, i will put a number next to it that suggests what order you should consume them.

Shilin Night Market (士林夜市)

The famous 毫大鸡扒 located at the start of Shilin near Jian tan MRT is not an item to start off first. It should be the last, or second last.

A fried chicken cutlet (6) that is bigger than my face, do not take this lightly.
It is the only store at the Shilin area that commands a long queue. It costs SGD 2, super value-for-money. They hand out plastic bags while you are in the queue, and it is a no-nonsense business. When it's your turn, they drop the cutlet (no, they do not cut into smaller pieces for you) and you hand them coins.

Chicken cutlets are the next most popular to bubble tea in Taipei. You can find one at every corner. Then there are some stalls who try to differentiate their chicken cutlet by naming them oddly, like the Peeing Cutlet 撒尿鸡扒.

Shilin is the best night market to go. You can find all the famous street food you've heard about and all shopping needs can be met there. You can't cover every nook and cranny of Shilin within a night. 

There is also oyster omelette (3) which is done very differently from Singapore. Though the oyster is alot fresher and vegetables are included, i prefer Singapore's for its irresistible chilli and flour that accompanies the egg.
The famous Ah Zhong Mee Sua (2) is also found at Shilin. I can't give you addresses of all these street food because it's chaos at this night market. Open your eyes wide though as the glittery accessories, shoes and clothing can easily distract you from your food quest.

There is hardly any oyster in it, but the mee sua is soft and gooey. While i prefer the Singapore's Shilin chicken cutlet, i must say the mee sua beat Singapore's hands down!

It is the only street food that has a sitting area although it's pretty amusing to see how the sitting area is like a bus station where everyone (whether you come solo or with friends) eat watching a TV and then scoot.
My favourite street snack is the fried milk (1)! Similar to fried ricotta, cubes of milk are fried. I feel compelled to do my vlog all in Mandarin because i'm in Taiwan where everyone speaks in this overly sweet voice and they echo the last said word. 

Prince Potato (7) is the most calorie ridden of all. A fried potato drizzled with generous overflowing helping of cheese sauce and sour cream with fillings of your choice. The corn and scallop combo was yummy!

Getting to Shilin:
Take the MRT(捷運) to Jiantan station(劍潭站) which is on Danshui Line (淡水 the Red Line).
Once you alight from Jiantan station, let the bright lights lead you.
Note: There is a station called Shilin along this line. This station is Not near the Shilin Night Market.

Raohe Night Market (饒河夜市)
Raohe Night Market is near Wufenpu, the area where you can find clothes at wholesale prices. While Wufenpu is all shopping, you will find a push cart or two hawking food. If you come across this cart that sells cuttlefish, try it! For SGD 5, you get a huge serving of cuttle fish (4) in some sauce that  resembles rojak without peanuts. The cuttle fish is very fresh, juicy, soft and springy. Mint leaves are thrown in for an extra unique taste.  
Getting to Wu fen Pu: Alight at Houshanpi(後山埤) MRT station. Use Exit 1 to Wufenpu Commercial Zone and walk north along Zhongpo N. Road(中坡北路) to the intersection of Zhongpo N. Road and Yongji Road(永吉路).
From Wufenpu to Raohe Night Market, walk towards the Songshan railway station(松山火車站) and you’ll see the night market after crossing Ba-de Road Section 4(八德路四段).
The Raohe pepper meat bun (5) 饒河街胡椒餅 is famous. As Singaporeans, if we see a queue, we queue. It's a bun filled with peppered pork and chives. I didn't think it was incredibly delicious, but everyone is crowding around to catch a glimpse of how the bun is baked. It sticks to the wall of a charcoal fueled well. 

Then also at this night market, there is a Rice Cookie Explosion. A healthier choice of snack, i 
bought home one.

The beverages in Taiwan are plentiful. Bubble tea that we Singaporeans queue 45 minutes for is in every corner of Taiwan, along with many other drinks like Bitter gourd and Ai Yu jelly. 

Originating from Taiwan, i thought all bubble tea would be good. However, after trying thrice, i concluded there can be hits and misses. 

What is amusing though is they call their bubble tea Bo Ba, which means big breast tea.
Go for their bitter-gourd with honey juice though. Good for the skin and the body. Whilst the street food is cheap, each drink go for SGD 3. Their fruits are even more hefty but guaranteed sweet and juicy!

Ai Yu is pretty bland and tasteless though.
For the Singaporean who wants value-for-money, Taiwan's street food serves that exactly. Their portions are big, even their sausages are double the length of my hand.

Another street food i was highly amused with is this assortment of stewed innards and bean-curd. One of them looks oddly similar to a penis. I asked the seller what this is, and she said something in Mandarin. I did not know what the official term for penis is in Mandarin (ok, i just googled it's called 阴茎 Yin Jing) so whatever she said, i wanted to believe it was a penis. Then she had to spoil my lurid imagination by saying it's made out of flour. But the Mandarin name mentioned for this does not mean flour! Adamantly, i want to believe it's a penis.
Amongst this assortment, you can find blocks of solidified pig's blood, chicken backside AND rooster's COMB!
Chicken Backside are the sticks in the middle.
The rooster's comb is the one on top.
I did not know a rooster's comb can be eaten! My stomach churns.
It's a pity i didn't try. I should have.

Jiu Fen 九份
Jiu Fen is a pain to get to, but so worth the ride! Jiu Fen being on the outskirts of Taipei City, it took me 90 minutes to get there. 

Getting to Jiu Fen: I discard the directions how to get there from the internet but instead went to Taipei Main Bus Station to get a bus ticket that goes to Ji Long (Bus 1814). According to the locals, this is a much faster way than the train. It sounded complicated anyway. 

Arriving in Ji Long (ask the bus driver) , alight and board bus 1062 (bus company called Keelung Bus) and alight when everyone else alights. Jiu Fen is extremely tourist-y.

A quaint mountain town, famous 2001 Japanese animation film Spirited Away actually modeled after the streets of Jiu Fen. Plenty to see, eat and buy, this was one of my favourite spots.

Another of my favourite street snack is this ice cream paired with freshly grated peanut then wrapped in a wheat flour paper thin crepe. Coriander is one of the ingredients too. Coriander with ice-cream (4)? That's unique.

Yong He at XimenDing 永和西门丁
I was surprised to know Singapore's Yong He (5) at Geylang is actually the same as the one in Taipei! I thought the one in Singapore was founded by a Singaporean. Comparing the two, Singapore's pale in comparison, big time. 
Getting to Ximending: Alight at Ximen MRT, Exit 6. Walk to the end of the main stretch of Ximen, turn left and you'll find Yong He. Away from the rows of shops, it is across the road of No. 41. Sec 2. Hankou St. I know that because it was a hostel that i wanted to stay in. Mornings are really crowded as it is the best choice for breakfast!

Count your blessings as you live to eat!

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