Travelling in Asia is all about food. When I travelled to HK and Macau in 2009, then Phuket in 2010, our friends there took us to what they considered the best in their countries. And even those we discovered ourselves were great too. I’ve heard so many stories about the great food in Taiwan that I couldn’t wait to try when I went there two weeks ago.
On the first night, we were dropped off at Huaxi night market. The guide took us to where he considered the best ru rou fan shop (stew meat rice). Based on his recommendation, we selected two bowls of ru rou fan, a dish of fried bean curd skin, bamboo shoots and a bowl of white bitter gourd soup. It was cheap. I think the total bill was NT140 but we didn’t really find the food special.
It was also here that we felt we should try the smelly tofu, ubiquitous in Taiwan’s night market. One can smell it from a distance and takes courage to try. The fermented tofu was deep-fried, spiced up with garlic, sweet soya sauce and chili, and garnished with pickled cabbage. It was the best thing I tasted in Taiwan.
I was told the oyster omelet is not as good as Singapore and so gave it a miss. At Taichung night market, we were told to try the 大肠包小肠 (literally small sausage in large sausage) but the queue was too long for our brief visit. So in Taipei’s Shiling night market, we stopped at a stall just to try. A large sausage of glutinous rice is cut length-wise and a meat sausage inserted in between. We loved it and regretted that we didn’t queue for the best one at Taichung.
It was also at Shiling night market that our guide told us we MUST queue for the 好大fried chicken chop. So like obedient kids, 24 of us from the tour group joined the already long queue in the drizzle. The face-size boneless piece of chicken chop was crispy and delicious. The queue, although long, moved fast. There are many similar stalls there but look for the only one with queue.
One weird dish I tried was the bird’s nest fern at this restaurant near Hualian. The young shoot of the fern is cut and fried. The slippery green tasted like Ti Huang Mao.
At Taipei’s Ximending, we were told to try the meesuah but we were just too filled up. Instead, Aaron and I tried a dessert – crushed milk ice with fruits at 三兄弟. Love that, and was told that they have a branch in Singapore.
At Taipei, one of the highlight was a lunch at DingTaiFeng. Even there, we had to queue to wait our turns. This outlet was supposed to be the best, and better than Singapore’s. You won’t miss much if you skip this. However, please visit 伍角船板(Wu Jiao Chuan Ban), if not for the culinary expression but for the artistic concept and the architectural design of the restaurant .
I cannot leave this blog without mentioning the Ah Ma’s herbal eggs at Sun Moon Lake. The two eggs, cooked in herbs and mushroom, cost NT20 and was the best I’ve ever tasted. So fragrant Ivan could have eaten ten if he was there.
So in conclusion, if food is your agenda, you’re better off in Thailand or HK/Macau.