Tag Archives: food

Taipei Thing #21: Have some scallion pancake

18 Jul


Yet another suggestion from Jesse was fulfilled by Christine during our afternoon feast: scallion pancake! I was originally intending to seek out one of the famous (read: one with mile-long lines) places in Taipei, but I didn’t need to bother after Christine said she’d be glad to help me cross this one off my list by cooking it for me!

To be honest, I don’t normally order this dish because I don’t like oily foods, and the very name of it in Chinese literally translates to “onion oil cake.” That’s not to say I don’t love it, though, and Christine’s was perfect. Somehow, I finished the whole thing, despite the fact that I was already full – that’s how good it was.

The moral of the story is that, if you visit Taiwan, scallion pancake is one of those things that you simply can’t leave without trying. Just be careful not to get addicted. My solution to that is to only eat it if Christine cooks it!


Not on the list: Afternoon tea with friends

18 Jul

Waffles a la mode

This post is primarily an excuse to post more photos of food, as you can probably tell. My friend Christine, who is pictured below, and whose brother supplied my delicious peanut mochi, loves cooking for friends, and she invited me on this day to join her for afternoon tea. Besides waffles with bananas, ice cream, and whipped cream, here are some other things she put together for us:

Vegetarian sushi

I ate about half a watermelon by myself

More of the spread, including Christine's awesome homemade pizza

Christine is one of those people who really embodies the welcoming nature of people in Taiwan, and you can tell by the diverse company she keeps. Every time she hosts a dinner or barbecue (always featuring Christine’s home-cooked food, which is so good she really ought to have a restaurant), I meet people from so many countries and backgrounds that I can’t keep track of them by the end of the evening. I never cease to be amazed at how well she gets to know so many people, never forgetting a name, particularly since I myself constantly struggle to match names with faces. I really ought to take a few lessons from her!

Our lovely host!

Taipei Thing #20: Eat peanut mochi

18 Jul


Summer has wreaked havoc on my plans to finish writing these posts within a month, but I seem to have found a free moment to get back into the swing of things. The delicious treat you see above was suggested by Jesse, though I’m sure just about everyone who made suggestions seconded this one as soon as they read it.

I must make a confession about the peanut mochi above, however. If you’re from Taiwan or are familiar with important names in food, this photo might give you a hint:

陳記 brand!

Yes, that’s right, my 5 Days in Taipei included a treat from down south: Taitung’s mochi masters, 陳記. When I visited my food-loving friend Christine on this particular day (Day 3 of my “trip”) and mentioned some of the food tasks I had left, she immediately brought out these snacks, which had been brought up to Taipei by her brother that day. So, though it’s technically a Taitung mochi, I did consume it in Taipei – that counts, right?

The good news is that, even if you live in Taipei, as long as you can read Chinese (or have someone who can help you), you can get your own 陳記 mochi delivered to your nearest 7-11 if you order through their website at: http://www.machi.net.tw/index.htm.

And how did it taste? Well, mochi is one of my favorite desserts in Asia, and this one didn’t disappoint. I brought some Japanese mochi home to my family in the US a couple of years ago, and they weren’t impressed, but I’m thinking they might have had different impressions of mochi had they eaten this one. Recommended! And I’ll definitely be making a stop to the original store in Taitung when I visit there this fall. Can’t wait to try the other varieties.

Taipei Thing #18: Jesse House Bakery

13 Jun

Jesse House, where are you?

Back when my friend Jesse lived in Taipei, he appreciated having his own bakery – or at least one that shared his name. I’m sure that’s why he wanted me to stop by this place on Song Jiang Road, which I still remember passing by on my very first day in Taiwan in 2005. And since I happened to be headed to afternoon tea with friends, I had a great reason for making a special trip.

Then, I got there, and saw this:


It seems Jesse House has disappeared from this location, as has the Burger King that used to be a couple of storefronts down. Apparently, I don’t spend enough time in the area, or I would have noticed this sooner. Fortunately, Jesse House left the sign up, so I was at least able to figure out that I had the right place.

A bit of research has since told me that the only location still open (unless the website is telling lies) is the one in Gong Guan. If I ever manage to find it, I’ll surely stop and celebrate, hopefully with a danish of some sort.

Sorry, Jesse!

Taipei Thing #15: Have a KGB Burger

31 May

KGB: Kiwi Gourmet Burgers

Michael Turton suggested that I have a KGB burger, which I had no problem with, since they’ve got two things I love (see below). And I was already scheduled to have dinner and language exchange in Shida with my friends Curis and Shelley, so it wasn’t a tough sell getting them to agree.

Thing I love about KGB #1:

Hunter's Gold

I seriously miss Woodchuck Dark & Dry (now called “802”), which I drank religiously at Gandalf’s, a mainstay of the artsy/musical/treehugger crowd in my hometown until it burned down the year I graduated from college. For that reason, cider is a bit nostalgic for me, and I never miss ordering it when it’s available.

Thing I love about KGB #2:

CC Heaven

I’m not sure I’ve ever ordered anything else at KGB. CC = cranberry & camembert cheese. On a burger! Try it. Trust me, you’ll love it. The one pictured is a “slim,” since I was stuffed from all the other food (and those fries all ended up on Curis’s plate, too), but I still finished every bite because that’s how much I love this burger.

A few more shots ought to do it for this post:

Enormous side salads



Mmmm. Just writing this post makes me want to go get another CC Heaven right now…

Taipei Thing #14: Eat 甜不辣

31 May

甜不辣 (tian2 bu2 la4)

Jesse sent me on yet another food mission: to eat 甜不辣, otherwise known as tempura.

Kaifu and I had been eating all day already: vegetarian food at 新卡莎, a sharwarma from Mohammed, and red bean & mochi ice from Tai Yi Milk King, not to mention the strawberry iced tea I sipped while people-watching in Yong Kang Park. Furthermore, I was on my way to meet friends for Thing #15 (another food task).

It was a day to make any hungry girl or inner fatty proud. But there was still tempura to be had, and we were able to find some off Shida Road, among all those food stands near the Wellcome grocery store. It really was delicious, though I think I’d be able to appreciate it better on a day when I hadn’t been stuffing my face for hours already.

And for those curious about the black piece on the left, that’s pig’s blood cake (豬血糕, zhu1 xie3 gao1). The video below will explain everything you need to know (and for those who can read Chinese, the subtitles offer some extra fun – check out 4:23):

Taipei Thing #13: Buy unfamiliar fruits

31 May

Helpful fruit stand guy

A comment from Melissa sent me on a mission to find unfamiliar fruits. She said to buy one of every fruit I couldn’t identify, and a ripe mango if I could find one. I actually stopped at a lot of fruit stands during the course of my travels, including a couple of traditional markets, but was surprised at my apparent knowledge of fruits available in Taiwan (vegetables would have been a different story!). Actually, I encountered more unfamiliar fruits during my dinner at Nonzero than I did at the fruit stands. Strange. Still, I did manage to find one I didn’t know, the melon below (with my ripe mango):

Mango and, um, I don't know what this is called...

I’ve been told that the melon is called 香瓜 (xiang1 gua1), but I have yet to find a proper English name for it. Do you know?

I think this adventure might have resulted in several more purchases 5 years ago when I first came to Taiwan, since I’ve already encountered so many fruits here that I’ve come to know and love, particularly lychees and dragonfruit. Still, I think this is a great way to experience new things, and I will definitely buy more curious fruits whenever I see them from now on!

Side note: The Ice Monster Returneth

27 May

It's coming...

I had been told that Ice Monster will reopen in June, and that seems to be the case, if this apparent facelift is any indication. I can’t say I particularly care, since I didn’t actually go to Ice Monster very often, except that it will be nice to have a Taipei institution on the map again. There had been news reports this spring that business has gone down for other shops on Yong Kang Street since the closing of Ice Monster, so hopefully its return will bring back the tourists and the shoppers. I’m also interested to see what changes are being made behind those temporary walls. We’ll find out soon.

Taipei Thing #3: More about those pigs (vegetarians, beware)

27 May

A closer look.

My dog went a bit crazy this evening when I got home. He could smell the pig blood on my shoes.

After noticing the pig truck for the first time on Saturday, I happened to be passing the same place at the same hour tonight. This time, after watching a bit from afar, I decided to ask the workers if they’d mind my taking some photos. Not only did they not mind, they also invited me into the truck for a better look. As you can see above, the view from the inside is quite different. A few more:

I was surprisingly not disgusted by this.

More pieces.


I expect some people will be rather disgusted by these photos, and if that’s the case for you, I’d advise you not to watch the video below.

As for me, I was fascinated rather than disgusted. After all, if I can’t stomach seeing where the pork I eat comes from, I probably shouldn’t be eating pork in the first place. The only thing that was slightly gross was standing to the side in the truck as they carried off two pigs, and seeing what was presumably fat slide down one of the carcasses as it passed no more than a foot away from me. Of course, that may have been more terror than disgust – terror at the possibility of that fat sliding off and hitting me. Ick.

And actually, it was the people that I found the most interesting. This particular truck had two men working – one was middle-aged, while the other appeared to be perhaps a few years younger than me. Both were very friendly. The older man seemed almost proud of his work, happy to have someone take an interest in his job. The younger man asked if I was going to put my photos and video on a blog, or possibly Facebook (you can hear him say “妳要放在部落格?” at the end). When I said I’d probably do both, he told me he thought Americans didn’t use Facebook, and that I looked Australian – something about the shape of my face? We had a nice chat, and I got the impression that I was a welcome distraction from what is normally tedious work.

In any case, if you’re still reading, and haven’t been bothered so far by the photos above, here’s the older man in action. Watch how smoothly he works, not even looking when he hangs the meat hooks:

If you’re interested in seeing the process for yourself, the market is located on Xi Ning South Rd., about a block south of Zhong Xiao West Rd. According to the workers, there are many trucks in and out of the market all night (I saw 3 come and go while I was there), so there will be plenty to see. Be a bit careful if you get close, though. The pavement will be covered in blood.

PS: Lest anyone feel the need to use the comments to discuss the horrors of meat-eating and the cruelty of pig slaughter, let me forewarn you that any such comments will be deleted. This blog is meant to be an exploration of urban life in Taipei, not a platform for promoting an agenda – unless, of course, that agenda is to share with others how great Taipei is.

Taipei Thing #10: Have red bean & mochi ice at Tai Yi Milk King

26 May

Tai Yi Milk King. Go in the daytime to avoid lines.

Continuing with Monday’s food tour, here’s another suggestion for good eats, this one from Joan, the world-famous hungry girl. I never really took advantage 臺一牛奶大王 when I lived only 2 blocks away, so I was happy to oblige on this task! We went in the early afternoon, so the place wasn’t too busy. Normally, there are lines on summer evenings, especially on the weekend, but we didn’t have to wait at all.

First, check out all the choices:

Kaifu with Tai Yi's large selection.

Of course, it’s all in Chinese, which is probably the reason I didn’t go there much when I arrived in Taipei. Here are some more special items you can get at Tai Yi:

You can pick up an order of tang yuan (湯圓) to take home.

Tai Yi is pretty well known among locals, but it doesn’t get the tourists like the overrated Ice Monster used to (and will again soon), so I think it offers a more “authentic” Taipei shaved ice experience. The menus and no-frills environment are good evidence of that.

Joan’s suggestion was to try the red bean and mochi ball ice (紅豆湯圓牛奶冰). I’m not a fan of red bean, but I live for 湯圓, so I gave it a try. Kaifu went with the pudding ice, which cracks me up every time I see it. (There’s a place on Yong Kang that even serves it with sprinkles!) Here are our ice masterpieces:

Red bean & mochi ball ice & pudding ice

I have to admit that I wasn’t able to finish all the beans in mine, though I did of course finish all the 湯圓. Just look at how many beans they piled on there!

Red bean overload

We had just eaten our vegetarian meal and a shawarma, too, so I was really full by the end of the ice. I’d consider getting it again, but perhaps asking them to tweak the bean/mochi proportions, or else sharing with someone else. In any case, it was good to get out of my usual habit of getting mango or strawberry ice. Thanks, hungry girl!

PS: As a self-appointed expert on public restrooms, I advise you not to use the bathroom at Tai Yi before you finish your ice. In fact, the bathroom smells so bad that you may want to just head to McDonald’s a block away to use their relatively clean facilities!