One of the places we went to in Taipei was Dan Shui, where they have a very interesting speciality called Ah Gei. We have no idea what this translates to, but it is like a dumpling with glass noodles inside. It is served with a soupy sauce. Not one of the things that we’ll rush back for a second try, but it was tasty and interesting.
There’s also another speciality called Dan Shui fish balls, which are actually fish balls with a meat filling within. This was also not another of those jump-for-joy moments, but definitely a must try if you’re in Dan Shui.
We also had a whole barbecued squid at one of the stalls along the main street, which was excellent. The tentacles were so crispy, and the squid was marinated with a good amount of spice.
Another street snack which we loved was the spring onion pancake. This we had from one of the street stalls (probably illegal) in Xi Men Ding. There are many choices of fillings you can have in your pancake. We went for the classic, and the egg, and on our last day we tried the curry filling. All of them were very good. The stall owner will fry your pancake on the spot, so you are guaranteed a piping hot, crispy pancake. It was almost like the roti-prata we find in Singapore that we love, so it was no wonder we kept going back for more of the pancake from this stall.
Another exciting find in Xi Men Ding was this stall selling fried assorted mushrooms. Now this was definitely an illegal stall. The owners of these illegal stalls operate on pushcarts, and when the police comes they flee and hide in the little side lanes around the night market. We have seen the police come on many occasions, but have never actually seen any stall get caught, even though it would be impossible not to outrun a pushcart. We figured hence that there is a silent agreement between the police and the illegal stalls, and indeed, we even saw the police patronize one of those stalls!
But anyway, this mushroom lady took our order and our money. While waiting for her to fry the mushrooms, the police arrived. Talk about good timing! Without a word, this mushroom lady fled the scene, pushcart and all, with the mushrooms still in the fryer and our money in her pocket! Naturally we followed her, and she eventually stopped in little lane, and very apologetically gave us our mushrooms, which were fried perfectly in that short time it took for her to flee. It was the most interesting episode indeed.
Cup noodles are amazing in Taiwan. When K went to Taiwan for the past 2 times, he was absolutely hooked on their cup noodles. It was his source of motivation while training in the jungles with the army. Whenever he went back to his bunk he and his mates would pig out on countless of those Taiwanese cup noodles. The most incredible thing about Taiwanese cup noodles is that they contain a packet of real meat in them. They come in flavours such as red spicy barbecued pork, spicy beef, etc. Every one of these comes with an accompanying packet of actual meat! The flavours are also very intense and satisfying. I can totally imagine a group of hungry army boys craving for these while they’re out roughing it out in some remote jungle.
Our hotel was more than aware of Singaporeans’ love for their Taiwanese cup noodles, and was quick to direct us to the nearest Carrefour where we could buy them by the cartons. Indeed, they see many guests who ship those cup noodles back by the cartons. In fact, while we were there, we saw many cartons of cup noodles sitting around at the reception, waiting to be delivered to the airport to be checked in, and flown home. We too jumped on the opportunity to buy some home, though not in such large quantities as our fellow very kiasu Singaporeans. These we brought over to London, and served us very well last winter, which was the coldest winter UK has seen in decades.
All in all, our trip in Taiwan has been all about food, food, and more food. We had a great time walking around the night markets and trying all sorts of street food and drink. We didn’t get a chance to fully explore though, and we only stayed in Taipei for our entire Taiwan leg. We will definitely be returning, to maybe go to other parts of Taiwan, and K definitely wants to make a trip to the famous Snake Alley to try some disgusting snake delicacy there. Watch this space!