Friday, 24 September 2010

Taipei Food Journey Day 4 and 5

18th September 2010

Danshui, Taipei district. Another small town towards the north of Taipei.

Danshui stuffed fishball
Internal view of fishball
'Ah Gei'
Stuffings of 'ah gei'
Danshui old street offers many 'small eat' or 'siao chi' in Mandarin which are like local delicacies. One of the most famous delicacy is called 'Ah Gei' which means Japanese 'oily/fried tofu'. The main difference  between the stuffed tofu found in Jiu Fen and Danshui is the stuffings inside. The stuffings used in Danshui's tofu is vermicelli - a kind of transparent noodle which is chewy yet very soft at the same time. The tofu is also wrapped in fish paste to keep the moisture and flavours inside then cooked in a special sauce containing 'fermented soy bean paste'. The sauce taste a bit salty and a bit spicy.

The stuffed fish ball in Danshui is very similar to the one found in Jiu Fen. The only obvious difference is the shape - oblong in Danshui.

Back in Taipei city:

We went looking for  this famous place called 'Ah Zhung Mian Xian' as recommended by friends and guide books. This shop only sells ONE dish and it is always very crowded. The dish that they sell is very simple yet very delicious. The dish is made of 'large intestine' and thin noodles. The noodle used in this shop is the 'red' variety which does not dissolve into the soup when cooked or kept warm for a long period of time. The broth made by this shop is slightly thickened and they used a secret recipe which made this simple dish exceptionally delicious. It is so delicious that you want more and more. I have always refused to eat offals but this dish is just irresistable! One 'special feature' about this shops is that most customers stand while they eat the bowl of noodles.

19th September 2010:

Due to strong wind and rain from the typhoon, we decided to stay indoors at the hotel. Even when staying indoors, we were never short of food! I am mentioning this instant noodle as it is one of the most delicious one that I have tried so far. NB it is inadvisable to have instant noodles regularly due to health warnings.

Even though this is just instant noodles, the noodles were really chewy and the soup was full of flavours. What more can I say about a packet of instant cup noodles, it is quick to cook and it fills your stomach!

That's the end of my food journey in Taipei, I will definitely be back for more! Perhaps next time I will  be travelling down south for more food!

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Taipei Food Journey Day 3

17 September 2010

Day 3:

We took the bus to a small town called Jiu Fen in the Riufang District of Taipei. The town is situated on a steep hillside by the river opening out into the sea at the northern part of Taiwan. This small town has a very long narrow street that goes round the town in a big circle, with shops on both sides of the street. This is called Jiu Fen Old Street. There are many shops selling local delicacies and dishes only found in Jiu Fen.

Jiu Fen Old Street
Fuchow style Fishball
Minced meat fillings in the fisball
Wild boar sausage glazed with honey
Lots of squid balls
A stick of squid balls
Stuffed Tofu
The inside of the tofu

Taro/sweet potato Balls Dessert

Fuchow style fishballs - Taiwan is an island off the coast of a state called Fuchow, mainland China hence lots of Fuchow/Fujian people settled in this island. This is also where a lot of the local delicacies and dishes orignated from. The Fuchow style fishballs were made from local fresh fish made into paste. The fish paste was used to wrap around marinated minced meat, then producing round-shaped fishballs. These fishballs were then cooked in homemade soup and served hot.

Wildboar Sausage - Sausages made from wildboar meat gives a taste of game meat. The sausages are chargrilled with coal and glazed with honey which gives them savoury and yet some sweet taste.

Squid balls - As the name says, these are deep fried balls made with squid and dipped in homemade chilli sauce. These squid balls are really chewy and goes really well with the chilli sauce.

Stuffed Tofu - Another Fuchow styled dish. Stuffed tofu is also a Hakka delicacy. There are two main differences, that I found, between Hakka and Fuchow style stuffed tofu. Hakka stuffed tofu are normally stuffed with mixture of blended fish, minced pork, prawns, some herbs (they may be some varieties of different ingredients depending on what was taught to the next generations within Hakka families). Fuchow stuffed tofu are stuffed with marinated minced pork. The second difference is that Fuchow style tofu are stuffed with filling THEN the opening is sealed with fish paste to keep the moisture in. The stuffed tofu is then cooked in homemade sauce.

Taro/Sweet potato balls dessert - Only found in Jiu Fen is another local delicacy. It is either served hot or cold. These taro balls are made from Taro (sometimes called yam) and sweet potato, sweet potato flour, water, seasoning and sugar. These balls are cooked then served in sweetened water, red beans, green beans or yellow beans can also be added when served.

After spending the morning in Jiu Fen, we went back into the city centre of Taipei and hunted for the famed Hello Kitty Sweet Shop.

Hello Kitty Shop in Da An:

The sweet shop/restaurant has a Hello Kitty theme. The shop offers many cakes and desserts shaped in Hello Kitty or has some sort of Hello Kitty deco.

After doing some shopping, dinner time fast approached. We wandered on Yong Kang Street as recommended by a sales lady at a departmental store.
Plate from 吃饭 Restaurant
As we were walking along the street we caught a glimpse of a restaurant called 吃饭 'Chi Fan' which literally means 'eat rice' in Chinese. As we havent't had any rice for days, this was of course the obvious choice amongst all the many restaurants on that street.

Three layer pork belly 'stewed'
Rice served with chopped pork belly
Restaurant Special Tofu with dip
As you can see from the photos, it was a really good choice of restaurant. Starting with the three layered pork belly meat. The meat is made of a layer of skin, second layer of fat and third layer of meat. The pork belly was stewed in restaurant own-made sauce for hours and hours which created a very tender meat and the fat melts in your mouth. I have only one word to describe this dish - YUMMY!!!!! As with any great dish, as a Chinese, I must have rice to go with it. This odinary looking bowl of rice is far from ordinary. The rice was boiled from 'high-class' rice grain. The texture of the rice is chewy, soft and has a perfect level of stickiness which makes it a very delicious bowl of rice. To add to the deliciousness of the rice, chopped pork belly stewed for hours add much flavour to a simple bowl of rice!

We also ordered the house special fried tofu (beancurd) with a chilli dip. Although this dish is uncomparable to the deliciousness of the pork belly dish, but still, it is a very nice dish to go with the rice.

After dinner, of course we must have dessert. This mango dessert was recommended by the sales lady at a departmental store. According to her, a popular Korean celebrity once visited the shop for it's famed mango dessert!

Mango Avalanche
The mango dessert in this shop is not famous for nothing. As with many shop that serves very nice food, this shop was very crowded, all the time! With many different mango desserts to choose from, we opted for the 'Top 1' popular dish called Mango Avalanche. The dish is made with mango syrup poured on blended ice, then fresh mango pieces, mango jellies are piled on it then topped with shop own-made mango ice-cream. Just by looking at it can make one drool!

Dessert be continued on Day 4

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Taipei Food Journey Day 2

16 September 2010

Day 2:

En-route to catch the bus heading for the National Palace Museum, we found this shop serving hand-pulled noodles.

Noodle Chef at work

Using flour, eggs and some water the noodle chef kneaded and pulled the flour until it become strings of noodles. Customers can order flat or fine noodles and the chef will knead the noodle dough accordingly.

House Special Noodle

The House Special Noodle is 'dry' noodles in homemade sauce. The noodle is served with chopped long beans and minced meat with some of chopped chillies. The mixture taste salty with a hint of sourness from pickled vegetable. The dish also contains half a boiled egg and steamed Pak Choi.

Chinese Dumplings
Dumplings stuffed with minced pork
Chinese dumplings - skin made from flour and stuffed with marinated minced pork. The dumplings served in this shop is absolutely delicious! As you bite into the dumpling, the skin is so soft, soup oozes out into your mouth and the minced meat is full of flavours.

Gelato ice cream selection
Hazelnut flavoured gelato
After lunch, of course we had to have dessert. Gelato is an italian style ice-cream with a soft texture. The hazelnut flavoured ice-cream we chose tastes like fresh hazelnuts and was cutely decorated. Even the crushed peanuts on the ice-cream taste nice!

On our second day, we went to another night market called Shilin Night Market:

Small 'biscuit' wrapped in big 'biscuit'
Shredded/blended ice served with red bean and pudding
Small 'sausage' wrapped in big 'sausage'
Big fried chicken
The are many many stores in the market which sell food, drinks, desserts, clothes, accessories and some games stores.

Small 'biscuit' wrapped in big 'biscuit' - is crushed crispy biscuit wrapped in a pan-cake like 'biscuit'. Customers can choose different flavours to be added to the biscuit. The one showed in the picture was black sesame flavoured biscuit. This combination of biscuits creates different layers of texture as you bite into it.

Small 'sausage' wrapped in big 'sausage' - is chinese style frankfurter wrapped in glutinous rice shapped into hotdog buns. Both the 'sausages' are charcoal grilled. The dish can be served with homemade spicy sauce, fried onions or spring onions.

Last but not least, the star of the market is the big fried chicken! Anyone who visits Taipei cannot miss this dish! It is called BIG fried chicken  because it is really huge. One serving consists of the almost half a chicken. The batter used is a secret recipe created by the shop. The fried chicken is deep fried in very hot oil hence creating a fried chicken with very crispy/crunchy skin while the breast meat retains its juiciness! yum!

To be continued in Day 3

Taipei Food Journey Day 1

15 September 2010

Taipei city, Taiwan.

A very friendly and clean city.

One will never go hungry in this city, everywhere you go, on every street you can always find food. Cheap and good food. This trip, I was on a quest to find highly recommended places that serve the best food in Taipei. These places were either recommended  by friends, websites or travel guide books. Each area are famous for certain delicacies/dishes.

First stop,

Taipei Da An area. We found a family run noodle shop just round the corner of our hotel. Their specialty is the beef noodle soup.

Beef Soup Noodle

Braised Beef Noodle Soup sprinkled with spring onions
The beef soup/stew has been shimmered for hours, the fragrance and beefy taste of the soup comes with every mouthful of the dish. The homemade noodles was very chewy and cooked to perfect softness. You just keep wanting for more and more noodles. One interesting thing we found about this shop is that customers can ask for one extra FREE serving of soup and noodles if they wanted more.

Of course, one must go to the many night markets around Taipei city. You can find many shops selling clothes, accessories, shoes etc and many food stalls outside these shops.

We went to the Raohe Night Market on the very first evening.
This night market is famous for the chinese herbal medicine stewed pork rib.

Pork ribs stewed in Chinese herbal medicine
The rib has been stewed for hours that the meat simply drops off the bones when you chew on it. The meat is full of taste absorbed from the chinese herbal medicines and you can also taste the sweetness from Goji berry added to the soup.

Oyster omelette
 The oyster omelette is also very popular in Taiwan. It is basically fried egg filled with oyster and served with tomato-like sauce. We found out from a local resident that they actually use a lot of corn flour in this dish which gives the jelly like texture in the omelette.

‘Tofu Fa'

Bean curd dessert made from soya milk, a kind of tofu coagulant. Nice served hot or cold. This is one of my favourite dessert! Those that I found in Malaysia are always served plain. But in Taipei, we found that you can add red bean, green bean, or 'pearl' and some sweet syrup poured in. Pearl is a popular jelly-like chewy balls made from potato flour and milk powder. This dessert is absolutely delicious and refreshing.

to be continued in Day 2

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Home Sweet Home 2010 - Part 2

It did not stop raining all Friday. We booked for a hot pot meal at Kampung Nelayan Floating Market Seafood Restaurant, Tun Fuad Park.

Hot pot, also known as steamboat, refers to several East Asian varieties of stew, consisting of a simmering metal pot of stock at the center of the dining table. While the hot pot is kept simmering, ingredients are placed into the pot and are cooked at the table (wikipedia).

Hot Pot filled with Chicken Soup and grill pan
Fish balls, squid rings, stuffed tofu, fish cakes etc

Tofu and Veg.
Hot Pot cooking
The floating seafood market restaurant
 Hot pot is a fun way for family and friends to cook together, chat and have fun. The process of putting raw food into the pot or grill pan, cooking and waiting for the food to cook is fun and entertaining. All the seafood, meat and veg cooked in the soup add lots of flavours for cooking soup noodles at the end! Another fun part of having a hot pot is that you can basically add any edible food into the pot/grill and cook to your liking - seafood, meat, veg, mushrooms, dumplings etc.

Lunch next day-

Roast Duck rice
Roast Pork Belly rice
Roast Pork Rice
Bought from a popular shop in Lido, there was a long queue, partly due to Hari Raya holiday, but mostly due to the very nicely roasted meat. Despite all, my mom managed to buy the very last pack of roast pork belly rice! It does not only look good, it tastes absolutely fabulicious!

Roast pork belly - The crispy first layer of pork belly skin, the soft second layer of fat and the tender third layer of meat is absolutely mind-blowingly delicious!

Roast duck - The crispy thin layer of skin, taste of thick juicy duck meat teamed with the specially made sauce...eeemmmmmm...

Roast Pork - Roasted to tenderness with a little bit of charcoal taste to the meat. Served with thick dark soya sauce mixed with leftover sauce from the roasting pan. The sweet and savoury taste is a perfect match!


Carrot and pork rib soup
Mom's very own home-cooked radish and carrot soup shimmered with pork rib and peanuts. Cooked for more than an hour to enhance the sweetness of the soup! Absolutely homely and warm to have...

香芋扣肉 - Steamed pork and yam
One slice pork, one slice yam
Another one of my favourite Hakka dish! Three layered pork belly slices and yam slices. This dish has always been passed on from generation to generation within Hakka families. Steamed with a concoction of sauces, spices, herbs and other ingredients, one has to try it to know how delicious it really is!

more to come in part 3..perhaps more Hakka dishes to come...