Wednesday, November 5, 2014

15 Must Try Street Snack In Taiwan

I travelled to Korea and Taiwan in July 2014 during my backpacking trip. It lasted for a short 19 days but I made a lot of friends!

I'll be posting on the food I tried, recommended by my friends, while I was in Taiwan.

#1 Mee Sua (Vermicelli) 

No I don't think Mee Sua is overrated at all. In my opinion, the Mee Sua in Singapore and Taiwan taste very different.

In Taiwan, there are a few versions of Mee Sua available. The one I tried was at Xi Men Ding (西門町) and there was a really long queue. The shop assistants were moving quickly - it was sort of like a food ration speed - Pour in a bowl, stick a spoon in it, Next. (The only difference is that you need to pay. Bad joke) I can totally imagine how many bowls they sell a day.

Type 1: Pig Intestine Mee Sua (Definitely non-halal)

Pig Intestine Mee Sua - NT $50 (Small) *Caution: It is really hot.

The mee sua here is not soggy at all as compared to the soggy, overcooked mee sua we can find in Singapore's Shilin. This mee sua is firm but soft, swimming in flavourful sweet broth. Also, it has got no "pig smell" (which I cannot stand) at all so it was really awesome. The pig intestines are soft, not too chewy and the parsley gave it a great fragrance. 

Type 2: Oyster Mee Sua

Oyster Mee Sua - NT $50

I love oysters. This is bowl of Mee Sua was from Rao He Street Night Market. The shop I went to was one with a long history and was passed down several generations. (I actually forgotten to note down the shop name) Needless to say, you can expect a long queue. The oysters are huge and fresh. This traditional bowl of oyster mee sua came with pig intestines and was pretty good. However, it had a slight "pig smell" so minus points for that.

#2 Taiwanese Bubble Tea

There are tons of bubble tea shops in Singapore but the great thing that makes a difference is you can get a Ginormous cup in Taiwan.

Miyahara bubble tea - NT $110

Look at the size of this. This was at 宮原眼科Miyahara. If you are in Taichung do visit this place. The architecture there is amazing. 

Milk tea with pearls - NT $40 (At Xi Men Ding)

Bubble tea are everywhere and it pretty much taste the same. Good tea and chewy pearls.

#3 Scallion Pancake (蔥油餅)

Scallion Pancake (Half) - NT $30

I only ordered half a pancake because the full one is too big. It seems pretty small in the picture because I ate some plus the fact the it is all folded and stacked together. It is the best thing to eat at night. The fragrance of the scallions is amazing. The pancake was slight chewy and springy (like good hot and soft roti prata texture) There was a subtle sesame seed aroma that adds to the deliciousness of pancake. You can be sure that your mouth is going to stink afterwards but it is definitely worth it.

#4 Oyster Omelette (蚵仔煎)

Oyster omelette - NT $50

I would eat this everyday if it doesn't make me put on extra pounds and clot my arteries. The Taiwanese oyster omelette is totally different from Singapore's version. In Taiwan, they use more potato starch so it has a soft and slimy texture unlike the crispy ones we have here. There is also a special sauce on it, which is kinda salty (from miso). Honestly, I love the oysters in Taiwan but if only this omelette can pan-fried crispier with hot sambal chilli. How I appreciate the word - fusion now. Slurp.

#5 Taiwanese Fish balls

When my friend recommended me to try the fish ball noodle I was like What? You kidding me? I don't even eat much fish balls in Singapore. 

How wrong was I. This is seriously some good fish ball and I would definitely recommend you trying it.

Assorted Fish ball Soup - NT $50 Add NT $10-35 for other carbs to go with the soup. I chose glass noodles.

This was purchased at a shop that serves traditional fish ball soup at Jiufen (九份) in Taipei. It is a double storey shop and there were a lot of tourists.

These fish balls are not like the super smooth kind we have in Singapore. The fish balls got has a chunky meat ball kind of texture. It is springy and not fishy at all. In my opinion, it actually tastes closer to fish.

You can order it with a side like vermicelli/ glass noodles or braised pork rice which brings me to the next must try food.

#5 Braised Pork Rice (卤肉饭)

Assorted Fisball Soup - NT $60
Braised pork rice - NT $30

This one is a polarized kind of food - Either you love it or hate it. Personally I really love this. 

My mum cooks braised pork all the time so this feels like a home cooked meal. 

The entire bowl of rice was showered with pork fats that melts in your mouth while you savour your rice. I like braised sauce with lots of pork belly fats. The pork floss is also really yummy, giving the rice a combination of texture. It is one the more sinful food I had in Taiwan. I will definitely recommend this together with a huge bowl of assorted fish ball soup.

#5 Taiwanese Sausage (台式香腸)

There were a variety of flavours on the menu but I picked the original pork flavour. I think this tasted sort of in between Singapore's "Taiwan Sausage" and Lap Cheong (臘腸) It is definitely very salty. The sausage is springy from the chunk of fats. Give it a go and you probably will know what I mean.

#6 Fried Squid (椒鹽花枝)

Fried Squid - NT $150

At first I have no idea what in the world is Hua Zhi(花枝) until I saw the image of the squid. I'm so used to it being called Wu Zei (乌贼)/ Sotong in Singapore.

There are a few version of fried squid but I like this one is the best. If you have eaten Taiwanese fried chicken you can imagine the taste.

It is the same spicy seasoning with crispy batter. The squid is springy and easy to chew. I guess the seafood smell has all been covered by the seasoning as there is no fishy smell at all. It is a little pricey but pretty worth a try! ($6.25)

#7 Black Pepper Buns (胡椒餅)

 This was at Raohe Street Night Market (饒河街觀光夜市) 

There was a really long queue and we waited around 10 minutes to get our black pepper buns. 

We watched them make the traditional Fu Zhou black pepper buns while waiting in line. Look at that huge ball of marinated pork. Freshness is guranteed. Our pepper buns were scalding hot, right out of the charcoal oven.

NT $50 each.

Sesame seeds on top of the bun.

I waited like a minute or so for the steam to go off before I can take a picture. It has a thick chewy crust and a giant meat ball with spring onions in the middle. The meat ball is very peppery and super juicy. (I hope you like pepper)

#8 Grilled Oyster

Grilled Oysters - 10 for NT$100. We bought this at Raohe Street Night Market (饒河街觀光夜市) 

By now you would have realized that I really like oysters. Oysters in Singapore are ridiculously priced so I found myself eating them every other day here in Taiwan. (I know it is high in cholesterol but I couldn't resist plus the fact that they are so cheap here)

The oysters were fresh and there were condiments such as chilli on the table of each stall so feel free to help yourself to them. I would suggest going there before night fall if you don't like queueing because night market can get really crowded.

#9 Scholar's Cake (状元糕)

A little information about the cake - It got its name as it resembles the shape of a scholar's hat in the past. (Let's not go too deep into Chinese history).

2 for NT $30
4 for NT $50
8 for NT $100
2 flavors available - Peanut or Sesame, you are allowed to have an assorted flavours.

I pick peanut of course. This kind of reminds me of Tu Tu Kueh but the texture is completely different. This fluffy and chewy, in between the texture of a rice ball and chinese kueh. I really like this. I would have bought 8 if I wasn't full from eating all the street food at Rao He. (Bought this last when I exited the night market.)

#9 Fried Milk (炸鲜奶)

I'd tried weird stuff like fried ice cream, fried mars bar and now fried milk. I was really curious how to fry liquid milk.

Fried milk - 1 stick for NT $20, 3 sticks for NT$50

Turns out that it was not exactly milk, it is closer to a custard with mild milk taste. Pretty cool stuff.

#10 Grilled Scallop Skewers (干贝烧)

This store is located at Danshui (淡水) along the long row of shop fronts. Apparently it is very popular - they have a few franchises in Taiwan and Malaysia. You can see pictures of celebrities on their signboard.

We were given a ticket while we waited for our grilled scallop on a stick.

I picked the choice taste flavor - NT $50. This is slightly spicy. For me it tasted pretty ordinary like scallops with seasoning but I have to say the scallops are really fresh. If you love scallops you can give it a try.

They have a website too - Omak Taiwan (If you wanna find out more)

#11 Meat Ball (肉圓)

Meat ball - NT $40

You should never miss this signature dish. The Taiwanese meat ball has a thick glutinous/ starchy skin is that is chewy. For this particular meat ball, there were chunks of pork, mushrooms and bamboo shoots in the centre.

#12 Ah Gei (阿給)

Honestly, I have never heard of Ah Gei in my life but I think everyone else in Taipei had. 

The name Ah Gei was derived from Aburaage (油揚げ), a fried and stewed Japanese tofu pouch. Another name for it is called Tau Pok Skin. 

Top: Meat ball Bottom: Ah Gei

Most food were served at NT $35 per dish.

Ah Gei - NT $35

This is a must try dish in Tamshui (淡水) according to many travelling websites. The Tofu Skin is filled with Glass Noodles and sealed with fishcake paste and with a generous amount of pink gravy. I have no idea what the gravy was but it tasted a little like Yong Tau Foo Sweet Sauce but salty. 

In my opinion, the taste is pretty ordinary but then again, it is their speciality and who knows you might like it more than me.

Meat ball - NT $35 

Okay, I love meat balls.

I think the taste of the meatball varies from places to places, here the meat ball was minced and soft and the give a generous amount of gravy.

#13 Shaved Ice (刨冰)

Fruit Shaved Ice - NT $60

Here's come dessert. I'm sure there are other exciting shaved ice but fruits and ice, showered with condensed milk and syrup) is a pretty good combination. 

#14 Ice Cream Cones

Who don't love ice cream? You see them everywhere.

I can't remember how much this cost but it taste exactly like the Mcdonalds ice cream only it is so much more bigger.

Strawberry ice cream - NT$40

I bought this ice cream towards the end of Shifen Old Street (十分) and it was so worth it. The ice cream is made of real strawberries, with a slight hint of sourness of strawberry and mildly sweet. The thick crispy waffle cone is the real deal not the cheap ones. There are so many other flavours to choose from.

Mixed Chocolate and Vanilla Ice cream NT $15

I only ordered the small. I saw some people ordering the big ones which was super long. I like the vanilla more than the chocolate. The chocolate tasted like plain sugar with diluted chocolate. I would suggest you to try other flavors than chocolate (it probably taste way better), take the big cone and finish it if you can.

#15 Aiyu Jelly (愛玉凍)

The aiyu jelly itself has no taste and is sweetened by the lemon juice and honey. An ice cool bowl of Aiyu Jelly in summer is cooling.

I'm sure I haven't covered all of the good food in Taiwan. Do leave a comment of what you would recommend and I will try them out the next time I'm in Taiwan.

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