Saturday, 2 April 2016

Eating in Taipei

One of the stuff that people always tell me is that Taiwan got lots of good food and shopping. So I was kinda excited to go. As its my first visit to Taiwan, the food experience has been the most to try all the commonly recommended food. See if the hype is real. Next visit, maybe we will have more interesting stuff.

Kicking off the feasting was Wu Lao Guo which was just opposite my hotel. It's by far the best steamboat I've ever eaten. They call it elixir hotpot. True to their name, the broth is rich with pig's blood, ginseng and other sorts of Chinese herbs. Food was freshly prepared, the broth came with this unique tofu ice cream that is really different and to top everything off, they provide this complimentary smoothie that helps to soothe the palate after a very rich meal. It's one of the best parts of the meal. Vain Pot and I were really over the moon when we found out we could refill the very nice smoothie once! I would say this is a must try if you go Taiwan. the damage was around 1400-1700 TWD which is really a steal for hot pot of this quality back home. We liked it so much we dine here twice! 

Wu Lao Guo
100, Taiwan, Taipei City, Zhongzheng District, Section 1, Xinsheng South Road, 124號
(They have a couple of outlets, you can choose the one most convenient to you)

Another place I was raring to go many months before even my Hong Kong trip is Yong He Dou Jiang Da Wang. Here in Singapore, I typically go for my dou jiang you tiao fix at Yong He Eating House which I believe is a copy version of the original one in Taiwan. I like the Taiwan version! It's really good! For a start, the sweetened soy bean was just right and coupled with youtiao or fried fritters it's heavenly. The xiaolongbao here is kinda one of my favorite variation of the xiaolongbao. It's very rich in flavour, broth was generous as well as the meat. What's more, it doesn't taste bad at all! If you are in Taiwan, at least try it once! 

Yong He Dou Jiang Da Wang
No. 102, Section 2, Fuxing South Road Taipei 106
(They have multiple outlets so you can google the one most convenient to you)

The shopping and the sight seeing in my opinion isn't that exciting. My own take of the visit was that shopping in Taiwan isn't worth the fuss people go crazy for unless you are on a strict budget. In fact, the experience was so bad for me I only came away with a cap. That said, I went to Jiufen since it was along the way as I wanted to go Shifen to release lantern. Jiufen is like a Chinatown with lots of street food and chapalang shopping. There we bought ginger tea, owl key chains as souvenirs and even lanterns with well wishes. Food wise, I would recommend that you try their famous ice cream roll, tofu dessert with yam, sweet potato balls, fish, siting and meat balls soup and sesame noodles. There's a wide variety of stalls and I really only identified the good ones from the popularity of the queues so that will be your cue. I'm personally not a fan of street food, and I won't say the food will wow you. The wow factor comes from the fact it's different and you can't find something similar at home easily. 

The dou jiang you tiao craze doesn't end at Yong He Dou Jiang Da Wang. Another highly popular stop is Fu Hang Dou Jiang. This is the one with the queue! It's really easy to find the place from the train station because the queue extends all the way to the station. So exit and bam! Queue! Over here, I tried the thing I have been craving for, Shao Bing with egg and you tiao. It's really really awesome. I swear I'll eat it again and again whenever I visit Taipei. Another thing I tried was the Dan Bing, which is some kind of roti prata. In fact, I thought it's nicer than roti prata back home. In Taiwan, besides the sweetened dou jiang which we are very used to, there's also the salty version which taste closer to chawamushi. I prefer the sweetened version but locals choose the salty one. I'll say try both! This is another place I feel you should at least visit once if you happen to be in Taipei. 

Fu Hang Dou Jiang
Hua Shan Market 2F, No 108 Zhongxiao East Road, Section 1, Zhong Zheng District
(Go early even on a weekday. The crowds in the late morning are mainly from tourist)

Night markets are another highlight of Taiwan's night life. I need to disclaim it's really not my thing. It was a wet and rainy holiday so photo taking was difficult. The black pepper bun I tried is really tasty and feels good to eat it on a very cold and wet day. The same applies for the bbq mushrooms seasoned with different flavours. Despite the cold weather, I had to try the ice cream roll wrapped in popiah skin and peanut shavings. My favorite one was found in shifen. I had a couple of likes such as peanut muah chee with black sesame fillings and the black pepper pork bun. But it's really not something I'll brave the rain just to eat again. 

Raohe Night Market
Songshan Station 
(There are many night markets, I was told Raohe is the one where locals frequent)

There's also the famous ah zong mian xian which everyone says must try. So try I did. It's very nice. Typically, I avoid eating this sort of mee sua in Singapore because they are topped with oysters and I don't like oysters. At Ah Zong Mian Xian, it's topped with pig intestines. The noodles are flavorful, and it's piping hot so it taste especially nice when the night is cold and wet. 

Ah Zong Mian Xian
No. 8~1 Emei St., Taipei 

One of my favorite Chinese restaurants back home is Ding Tai Fung. I decided to try the one in Taiwan where it originates. Some of the stuff is found in the menu there but not in Singapore like the glutinous rice with pork fillings and the spicy wonton with shrimp. I would say that the food was good but Singapore better! One complain was the xiaolongbao in this outlet didn't have sufficient broth compared to the xiaolongbao back home. Apart from that, it's not a bad place to dine but really Singapore better...

Ding Tai Fung
Taipei 101

One of the most unexpected discoveries was the really nice pasta in one of the cafes near my hotel. Given that this is the first trip in Taiwan, I didn't have the opportunity to dine at the less touristy places. Moreover, most pastas in our local cafes are mediocre. So it's a pleasant surprise to find a really good tasty pasta at a random cafe. I liked it enough to eat it once more before I flew home. 

Second Floor Cafe
(Sorry, could only find the address in Chinese, they got multiple venues do check their website for the addresses)

Keeping it short, I felt the overall food experience in Taiwan still needs discovering. As of now, it's more of experiencing food not found in Singapore rather than eating fantastic food. I felt the fuss that food in Taiwan is so good so good requires further convincing. Nevertheless, I felt the rain played a part in me not fully enjoying the food so I'll be going back again.