The Backpacker’s Guide to Taiwanese Food (Part II)

“So what did you do during your time there?”

“I ate.”

That is usually regarded as the irresponsible answer, signalling you’re not up for listing all the sightseeing and the fun adventures you had during a trip.

Yet the case would be different if it’s Taiwan we’re talking about. “I ate” would be the most honest answer, because a trip to Taiwan is the perfect synthesis of food and sightseeing,- you explore all sorts of places in search for food, and food leads you to great people and great nature.

So here’s a little help from a fellow foodie.

Also, this is the second half of my guide to Taiwanese food. Do check out the first half, even just for the food pics. And just a brushup- last time we talked about: 1. don’t miss the alleys 2. go hunt around when it’s midnight.

NUMBER THREE: GO NEAR WATER AND EAT SEAFOOD!

Spending one day or two near the sea not only allows you to catch water-habitat Pokémons, but also gives you access to amazing food. Living on an island, Taiwanese people have figured out great ways to catch and cook seafood.

Recommended location:

  1. Yehliu, New Taipei

Yehliu is a cape in Wanli District, New Taipei, offering super fresh views and equally fresh seafood.

Go to Yehliu Geopark to check out the breathtaking rock landscape, including the world-famous Queen’s Head rock. Geologists have predicted that the Queen’s Head is going to break within 40 years due to erosion, so go see it while it’s still there. Then, after treating your eyes, treat your stomach at any local seafood restaurant.

My favourite discoveries: 

1. Loofah and clam soup

clam
image source: http://www.xiachufang.com/recipe/100352393/

I used to find clam soup a little bitter, but the smooth taste of loofah evens everything out, and the soup is really refreshing when you’re a tired, sweating tourist like me.

2. SHREDDED GINGER TASTES GOOD WITH ANYTHING!

Taiwanese people tend to shred ginger into thin, long slices, and it tastes good with anything. The soy sauce dip with shredded ginger in it is amazing.

Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 3.59.53 PM.png
Just a pile of shredded ginger. image source: online
number four: eat a lot of sweet stuff

If you have a sweet tooth, get ready to spend a lot of time (and not much money since things are at good prices) on the ice-cream, pastry and desserts. While most of the great salty food in Taiwan is traditional, the new generation in the Taiwanese food industry is magic when it comes to cute, posh sweet snacks.

Recommended locations: 

  1. anywhere in Taipei, really
    IMG_4149.jpg
    I mean, it’s Taipei. PC: Mia

     

My favourite discovery: 

  1. shaved ice
IMG_4151
Mango-flavour shaved ice at Taipei 101. PC: Mia

“Ice ice baby, ice ice baby… ”

In case you don’t know what shaved ice is, it’s an ice-cream dessert made of fine shavings of ice or crushed ice.

Go look for an Ice Monster shop in Taiwan. Ice Monster is certified by CNN as one of the top 10 dessert places around the world. And it’s cute. It’s logo is a square-headed monster. Awww.

ice omnster
image source: online

2. wife cake (lou puo bing)

wife cake2
image source: online
wife cakes
Chia Te Bakery in Taiwan sells amazing traditional Cantonese pastries. image source: online

As per Wikipedia:

A sweetheart cake or wife cake is a traditional Cantonese pastry with a thin crust of flaky pastry, and made with a filling of winter melon,almond paste, and sesame, and spiced with five spice powder).

I’ve tried wife cakes in mainland China before, but the Taiwanese ones are way better. The filling is stickier, and the crust tastes milkier. I deeply regret only buying one box. And if you have any plans on going to Taiwan, please bring me more wife cakes.

 

NUMBER FIVE: TRY THE VISUALLY UNAPPEALING. TRY EVERYTHING.

If you want to discover good food, have some guts. If you’re from another culture, a lot of Asian food would look weird to you. I mean, if bubble tea wasn’t so popular worldwide, it does look like a weird drink with tiny dark balls floating inside.

But if you’re really willing to try things that don’t look that good or sound that good (many dishes in Taiwan have weird names), you and your tastebuds won’t regret it.

Recommended locations:

1. National Palace Museum

Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 4.30.06 PM
image source: online

Apart from it’s incredibly huge collection of almost 700,000 pieces of Chinese artifacts, the National Palace Museum also offers great food. The restaurant is quaint and serves excellent traditional Taiwanese food.

2. Jiufen Old Street

IMG_4309
Jiufen is a small mountain town in North Taiwan. It’s known for its quaintness, street snacks and narrow streets, and above all, it’s known as the Mecca for Ghibli Studio fans, because this is the place that inspired the Oscar-winning animated movie Spirited Away. PC: Mia

My favourite discoveries:

1. taro balls

Ew, what is that, frog eggs?

Despite what its appearance might make you think, the taro balls in sweet soup is definitely a local dessert you shouldn’t miss. It contains a variety of chewy balls: taro, sweet potato, purple sweet potato, black sesame, green tea, etc. You can pick between chilled and warm.

It’s the best thing I have ever had in Taiwan.

2.  Coffin bread

Like, how is that even a name for food?

Coffin bread might not sound all that auspicious, but it sure tastes great. It is named after its shape which resembles a rectangular coffin. It’s a toast stuffed with cheese, minced chicken and vegetables.

coffin.jpg
image source: http://www.lataco.com/walking-a-delicious-road-to-pa-pa-walk-sgv/

In conclusion, there is no way you can be disappointed by Taiwanese food, but a bit of optimizing and strategy wouldn’t hurt. Go explore and treat yo’self!

**The End**

p.s. when i posted the first half of the guide i had no idea if anyone would need this, so i am super grateful for the positive feedback from you guys! i want to hug all of you, or actually, consider yourselves hugged.
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