Travel Diaries: Taste of Taiwan

Back in September, I had a grand total of four full days in Taiwan. I flew back to vacation in the Philippines, but I knew that I had to stop by Taiwan first to see the family I hardly get to see. The first day was spent in the Zhong Li district where my Grandma lives, then followed by 3 wander-ful days in Taipei, Taiwan. It wasn't easy visiting my mother's country for such a short amount of time, but I made the most of it every day. Here's a taste of what was on my tastebuds and in my visions.

The Savory

Salty Soy Milk (L) and Fan Tuan (R) 

Salty Soy Milk (L) and Fan Tuan (R) 

My breakfast consisted of my favorite two-part meal: Soy milk and Fan Tuan.

Part I: Soy Milk is only sweet if you add sugar. I prefer to have it savory when vinegar is added to the soy milk and something scientific, but wonderful happens. The milk curdles and thickens up. It is then topped with pork floss, scallions and fried cruller (you tiao). I absolutely love how soupy and light this breakfast is.

Part II: Fan Tuan is literally a ball of glutenous rice stuffed with two ingredients already mentioned in the savory soy milk. It includes pork floss, fried cruller and pickled vegetables. The chewy ball is simple to make, but compliments the soy milk. 

Shilin Night Market

I was in the famous Shilin Night Market for only one of the four days in Taiwan. The two wonderful activities you can do at any night market is shop and eat! From cheap knock-off clothing, accessories and electronics to inexpensive and delicious street delicacies, the night market is the place to be if you're ever in Taiwan. Grab a snack and eat it while you shop because the streets are filled with vendor after vendor, block after block. 

Now on to the food! 

A MUST-TRY: Here you will find the "stinkiest" tofu in the world. That's right. Stinky Tofu. The name says it all. Sure, it has an unfamiliar smell, but it is only due to the fermentation process that the tofu undergoes. For the record, I personally find the smell to be delightful! The tofu is soaked in soy sauce, spices and topped with pickled cabbage. You have to try this, but beware of that smell!

Stinky Tofu: The name is self explanatory. Yes, there's a pungent smell, but when you love to eat it, you really don't find it all that "stinky." 

The best part about the Shilin Night Market is that it has an indoor, air conditioned food court! Like how it is outside, the inside is jam-packed with vendor after vendor. Asians just know how to not waste any space. Keep in mind how hot and humid Taiwan is, particularly in the summer time. Although I went in September, I almost couldn't stand the temperature! Every inch of every vendor had heat exhausting from the sides. That mixed with the humidity made me so grateful to have an indoor, sit-down spot where I could eat in AC peace without feeling like a sweaty wild monkey.

Chinese watercress (L) and Fishball noodle soup (R)

Soup Dumplings are a must have, especially at the world famous Ding Tai Fung located in Taipei 101. They make the perfect dough because that dumpling skin is perfectly chewy and tender, but thick enough to withstand any poke when you pick it up. Trust me, I did a poke test with my chopsticks! It's not easy to tear! 

If you've had soup dumplings before, you'd know the struggle i'm referring to when you try picking them up delicately with chosen utensil. You try not to tear its membrane, but oftentimes a tiny hole rips open, spilling the best substance of the entire dish...THE SOUP. Devastating. 

Check out the masters at work making the soup dumplings.

Dessert

One of the best Taiwanese creations that went viral around the world is Bubble Tea. I had it at least 3 times in Taiwan, but didn't even think to take a photo of my drink when I got there because I can have it any time on any day in the States! So, without further ado, I wanted to show you some of my favorite sweets that I can only get in Taiwan.

Ice Monster

If you're ever visiting Taipei, you have to go to Ice Monster to taste the ultimate Taiwanese Icy treat. My two top flavors are the Mango and Bubble Tea bowls!

Bubble Tea Shaved Ice

The ice is blended with your selected flavor and topped with ice cream, pudding and fresh fruit! Of course the bubble tea version has tea flavored ice, tapioca pearls and milk pudding. It's literally two in one and the best of both things I love!

You'll notice in my photo below that I also got the strawberry flavor, but that did not top mango. The mangos in Asia are sweeter and softer, larger and juicier! Every bite was absolutely the perfect bite!  

Popsicles in assortment of flavors: Passion Fruit, Honeydew, Mango and Strawberry (Also from Ice Monster)

Popsicles in assortment of flavors: Passion Fruit, Honeydew, Mango and Strawberry (Also from Ice Monster)

Hello Kitty Restaurant and Dining

A trip to Asia isn't complete without a sighting of the beloved Japanese Hello Kitty. I didn't just have a sighting though. I found a full on Hello Kitty themed restaurant located in Taiwan! I didn't order anything from here because I was saving my appetite, but I had to go inside to check it out. I wanted to see what Kitty Kreations the cafe created of Kitty. Hello!

Hey, Kitty! Kitty! Kitty!

When in Zhong Li...

My first day in Taiwan was spent in Zhong Li where my Grandma resides.

In efforts to fight my jetlag, I asked my aunt to take me a cafe for some coffee. I can't remember the name of this location, but it was definitely Euro-American influenced. Coffee and ice cream are both universal! You can't go wrong with waffles covered with ice cream, fresh bananas, drizzle of chocolate fudge and a cherry on top!

Fruit

Although Zhong Li is not a popular tourist destination in Taiwan, it is still the district where my Grandma resides. It has its own hustle and bustle. She conveniently lives on a block where fruit vendors sell their best on display! 

I cannot go a day without eating some kind of fruit so whenever I'm there, I shop around and look for the most "exotic" fruit of Asia. My favorite fruit is the wax jambu! The imports in NY just aren't the same. The texture of this fruit is best described with an apple's crispness, but more in line with a watermelon's flesh. The color inside is white and it is pit-less. 

I only ask for one thing when I arrive in Taiwan and that is a plate of wax jambu! September is not the peak season for this fruit, so I begged my aunts to please find as many as they can buy. Of course they spoiled me from Zhong Li to Taipei, and I had several every day for four days in a row!

Wax Jambu

Custard Apple aka "Buddha's Head"

This fruit market is where people make a living every day, selling fruit to the locals. It was absolutely refreshing seeing them sell with a contagious smile. Now of course they didn't know who I was, but they sure knew who my Grandma was and welcomed me to look around. 

Hope you enjoyed this post! Four days in Taiwan, filled with family and my favorite foods!

Love,
Laura