Friday, September 27, 2013

Taiwan 2013

In August, KC and I took a trip to Taiwan for a week – a place we both have never been to. At first, I wasn't too keen on going to Taiwan and I was wishing that I had booked Hong Kong instead. But we had so much fun in Taiwan that we're still missing it till today! Before we embarked on our trip, we spent a whole week planning our itinerary and arranging the places in sequence, which I was so happy that we did because it made travelling so much easier for us. It was actually the first time I've made such a detailed itinerary, complete with English and Chinese names of places even.
We made a great team. I'm horrible at reading maps/directions of unfamiliar places (I felt so useless) but am excellent at looking out for landmarks/buildings. On the other hand, KC was great at directions (he'd study the map the night before so we wouldn't get lost) and super fluent in Chinese – both reading and speaking. So it wasn't too hard for us to get to places:) I kept on stopping to shop and KC was being such a sweetheart the whole time by patiently waiting for me without complaining at all :') He also said that it was the first time he actually enjoyed shopping hehehe^^
Looking forward to more adventures with you sweetie<3





DAY 1:
We checked in to our hotel, Via Hotel, located right in the centre of Ximending–great location! Another hotel that I spotted in the area is Rainbow hotel, it's a little older but a good choice if you'd like to have the Ximending shops at your doorstep. Via Hotel was a new boutique hotel, with no cafes whatsoever but there's a pantry where you can help yourself with whatever snacks you like (you can get a simple breakfast there too). Also, there is a washing machine/dryer you can use free of charge :D

  

The room was tiny, hardly any space to walk but that's okay, since we were out most of the time. The bed was soooo comfy that we found it hard to get up in the morning.



And it was time to exploreeee!



Spotted a four storey hair salon :O



Our favourite supper haunt – the famous Hot Star large fried chicken. We had this every night!



It's massive! And apparently they won't cut it for you even if you asked, unlike Singapore's Shihlin XXL chicken. Also, they only spice one side of the chicken. We overheard another Singaporean requesting for their chicken to be spiced on both sides and we followed suit. That's something Hot Star can learn from Shihlin in Singapore. Needless to say, this was sooooo much better than Shihlin's. When we got back to Singapore, we realised that there were Hot Star outlets at Ion, Tampines Mall and City Square mall. But the chicken there paled in comparison:( The only downside: Hot Star's chickens have bones :<



Tall spiral ice-cream! Which tasted quite bad unfortunately:( Taiwanese ice-creams tend to be more icy than creamy, and that sucks.



When in Taiwan, ALWAYS have food in your hands ^^



DAY 3:



Chow's Porridge for breakfast



Giant Yakult to aid in digestion cause we ate so much haha. Also, I could not understand ANYTHING on the menu (I took higher Chinese for 6 years, shame on me). It helps to have someone who's fluent in Mandarin and can read fan ti zi (traditional Chinese characters).



Their porridge was essentially rice and soup. But it was SO GOOD. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE rice and soup, I can eat it every meal but I didn't expect porridge to turn out like this haha.



CRAZY GOOD PIGS LIVER. The doneness was just right, it was smooth and had a nice bite to it. I still dream about it (and salivate) till this day.

  

Just down the road from Chow's Porridge is the famous Yong Fu Ice-Cream shop (yes we planned our itinerary in such a way that all the places to visit were along the way from each other^^).



Perfect balls of ice cream! Unfortunately, they didn't taste as good as they looked. Again, it was too icy. We got egg, peanut and taro. I liked the peanut, the egg just tasted like custard.



For lunch/tea, the famous Ay-Chung Flour-Rice noodles. I love meesua, especially Taiwanese meesua with starchy gravy.



I first tried Ay-Chung at an Asian joint in Vegas (pictured above), not sure if it was a franchise but it was good. Back then, I didn't know that Ay-Chung was so famous in Taiwan either! Come to think of it, the one in Vegas might just be legit. Does this mean they have other outlets elsewhere too? Hmmm. Btw the weird blob in the 2nd picture above isn't anything gross, it's actually reallyyyy good oyster omelette.



THIS. Was so good. Super garlicky (I love) but I wished that there was more vinegar. Also, the oysters didn't taste like oysters at all, and I actually ate most of them (I don't usually eat oysters).



*contented*



Heard so much about this grilled mochi stall that I was determined to hunt it down. It wasn't hard to find actually, it was just that we didn't realise what he was selling haha.



It's pretty cool. The mochis are originally rectangular, and he softens them on the stove.



The greedy one queuing up for potato cheese balls :3





Milk and peanut flavours! They were good but not fantastic (though I did crave for them on the last night but the rain forced them to close :( Craving for it now too ahhh ) and I preferred the peanut one!



Enroute to Shihlin Night Market. Shihlin was definitely worth the hype! It was my fav night market.



Beautiful breadddd



About S$3 for one massive piece



And you can find the BEST liang mian in Shihlin! At first we were hesitant because we both hate cold food. Then we decided that we were a little hungry and could use a resting spot so we headed in.



It was so delicious! Liang mian has got to be one of my favourite Taiwanese food. I love the sesame sauce! I'm pretty sure it's the same as the Japanese sesame sauce but I've yet to experiment with it at home.

 

Awww what a cute box...



Filled with deadly chou dou fu. Another one of my favourites! I ate it at almost all the night markets I went too haha. And I choose the smelliest stall to order from heh heh heh :P



KC with his da chang bao xiao chang. I don't like sausages, so I didn't eat the Taiwanese sausages there. I tried this though, and we both agreed that it was weird. It's basically a Taiwanese sausage shoved between a tubular glutinous rice sliced into half like a hot dog bun.



Strawberry bing tang hu lu (candied fruit). Was a little messy but I liked it!

DAY 2:
Off to Taichung bright and early in the morning. It was about a 2.5hour journey, which I slept throughout as usual.



First stop, Miyahara/gong yuan yan ke (yes yan ke as in optician, because this building used to be an ophthalmology department).



They now sell gourmet pastries as souvenirs





Then I spotted some ice cream within the building!!! So many variations of chocolate. I think they'd all taste the same to me lol.



Fruity flavours (which both KC and I do not fancy).



And tea flavours, which would probably taste too strong and...foreign. Because I wasn't gonna go for 3 different chocolate flavours, we went for chocolate, mango and... some other purple fruit I forgot haha.



The best part? You get to pick 3 free toppings! Well technically they weren't free cause the ice cream was really expensive by Taiwan's standards (I think we paid S$6 or S$8), so it was as if you were paying for the toppings. Nevertheless, I liked "psychological pricing", and the fact that they had their signature pastries like the pineapple cakes, so if you liked it, you could purchase it in the store.



TA-DAHHH. Not your usual toppings. I loved it! Though the ice-creams weren't fantastic, yet again.

  

Then it was time for lunch at Second Market! Haha KC and I always seem to end up at markets (like legit, wet markets) whenever we go overseas cause that's where all the good food are. And Second Market did not disappoint.



Super long queue for lu rou fan (stewed pork rice, another one of my fav Taiwanese dishes).



And so many takeaway orders!



They all seem so passionate about their job, it's so heartwarming :')



I don't eat the fats (I hate the texture) but the meat was so soft and tender. Got a side of spinach soup which had a slimy texture but was so so good!



Rice in Taiwan is very similar to Japanese round grain rice. So soft and glossy<3







Walked to Chun Shui Tang after that for some authentic bubble tea.



A small cup of cold tea was served while waiting.



You could dine at this tea house too.



And the bubble tea that everyone (who's been to Taiwan) has been raving about. I didn't like it very much because of the strong tea taste (but I guess that's what makes it authentic). I much prefer commercialised bubble tea haha. Mandy says that the hot one tastes better, I'd definitely try that one out the next time I go to Taiwan!

 

From what I gathered, Taichung seemed to be more atas than Taipei. Malls had fancy cafes and boutiques, and the streets were relatively empty.



Milk carton art exhibition held at an open space^^



I loved this area! So much space to run around and cushions to lounge on. Headed to Fengchia night market in the evening. Apparently it's better than Shihlin but because of the rain, we weren't able to fully enjoy the night market, and many shops were closed :( I will be back, Fengchia!



Sad faces because we missed our freakin train. In my defence, it was not at all our fault. To get to Taipei, we had to take a choo-choo train (TSR) then the high speed rail (HSR). We were early. But the TSR broke down and we were unable to board and waited for about half an hour. When the train finally resumed service, it bypassed our station without stopping, then we realised that we took the wrong train-_- I was so worried and we had to keep asking the locals for help. Luckily the lady at the HSR control station switched tickets for us for free (the tickets cost S$30/person per way :O), and we made it back to the hotel^^



Hot Star Ji Pa for supper cause we deserved it ;)

DAY 4:



Most exciting day because I couldn't wait to go to Wu Fen Pu wholesale market! So being super kiasu (I wanted to snag the best deals before it got crowded), we headed over to Wu Fen Pu area at about 11, but first, stopped by Hu Xu Zhang (which was just opposite! I'm so proud of our super awesome itinerary), supposedly famous for their Lu Rou Fan.



   

Wasn't as nice as Second Market's. Not even close:(



KC's Ji Si Fan (shredded chicken rice) which was not too bad.



This was his as well. Pork ribs was it??





And radish soup for me^^ Fun fact: I LOVE soups!
Ordered a second bowl of rice and got an MSG attack (it's not as serious as it sounds, I just get a throbbing feeling in my head and feel the skin on my face tightening) 0.0

Walked to Wu Fen Pu after that (in the rain, yes I was that desperate haha) only to find out that they only opened at 2pm (and closed at 7pm cause they had some prayers going on that day). So we went back to the hotel to snooze (great weather to snooze) before heading back. It was a great place to shop! We didn't manage to cover all the shops since they closed early so we had to come back the next day.

  

So glad I brought my rain boots – it rained on most of the days we were there :( Quite a bummer, cause the rain meant that many stalls in the night markets were closed:(

DAY 5:



Super cool robot busker we stumbled upon at Ximending while heading to the metro/MRT/what-do-they-call-it-again? He looked and acted so real it was convincing. He seemed to be able to sense the people around him. I wonder if there was someone controlling him in the background, or is this the future of our technology (lol this reminds me of my tech blog, which I will shamelessly plug in here http://milesnotmetric.blogspot.sg/ PLEASE COMMENT GUYS I need comments to get grades)? You can watch the video I took of this robot here!



After what seemed like forever (so many MRT stops and the walk there was soooo long), we arrived at shang yin shui chan/Addiction Aquatic Development.



It was a fish market/grocers, and reminded me of PasarBella. I (aka the aunty in me) loved the concept!



That's less than S$10 for soooo much salmon. And they were super fresh!



We were both so tempted to bring this foie gras back. It works out to about $5 for one, which is about the same as in SG, but in SG you've got to buy them in a packet that could cost anywhere from S$60-S$120 :S



Macarons! Which were surprisingly super good (we bought a smaller box to try).



They've got pretty much everything. Frozen fish, frozen meats, raw seafood, fried meats...



This QT was very contented with his goat cheese chicken cutlets (ackkk I hate chicken cutlets).



<3



The standing sushi bar. Was so tough to order cause everything was in Chinese. How was I supposed to know what Yellowtail was in Chinese?!



Unagi. I don't eat unagi cause of the bones (I know they are edible but the thought of it...) but this one was pretty good.



The sashimi and sweet shrimp were so fresh! Addiction Aquatic Development is a must-go in Taiwan!



Of course, we HAD to visit the first ever Din Tai Fung restaurant

  

Soya bean sprouts, my fav!



The ginger was sliced super thinly, unlike in Singapore's DTF



Xiao long baosss!





And black truffle xiao long baosss! The original ones tasted about the same but the truffle ones were more fragrant than Singapore's and they were generous with the truffle pieces too.



Zha jiang mian, so-so :/

  

Chilli Wantons were average as well :/



DTF's taro buns, my favourite! The skin's so chewy and springy^^ This was our most expensive meal btw (S$40).



Raohe Street Night Market after! There were lots of food here, but not much to shop.



I don't usually eat oysters, but I fell in loved with the grilled oysters with garlic in Shenzhen, and thought I'd give this a try. I finished all 6 by myself :O



Fried milk. Very strange indeed...

DAY 6:

To Jiu Fen. This was quite a distance as well, we had to take the MRT then the TSR.



Aww sleepyyyyy



Check out the queue for the bus. There were more people behind me btw.





We were greeted by this breathtaking view

    

These clay figurines are actually whistles that work like our primary school recorders. This guy handpaints them and is excellent at making music with them. So talented!



Hahaha totally judging me. My pink guava juice (S$3!?) in a doraemon bottle.



It was super touristy, with lotsa souvenirs. Unless you want to see the view/explore the area, Jiu Fen is not worth going.

Headed back to civilisation and on to yet another night market. I think this one was Tong Hua Night Market.



Frozen banana with chocolate and peanuts. SO, SO GOOD!





<3



Stumbled upon so many pet shops on the way to the MRT. The dog culture in Taiwan is superb, dogs are even allowed on public transport. I wish Singapore was like that :(

Because we are chiongster and it was our last night, we rushed to another night market before they closed. This was Shida Night Market. Shida comes in next after Shihlin, as one of the best night markets in Taiwan.

Because we are chiongster and it was our last night, we rushed to another night market before they closed. This was Shida Night Market. Shida comes in next after Shihlin, as one of the best night markets in Taiwan.



Smelly tofu again^^



I don't remember what this was, but it was goodddd.



"Not very nice, but I feel like eating it."





Ate the mai ya tang (malt candy) we bought from Jiu Fen, along with liang mian and instant eggs which we bought from 7-11. The liang mian was pretty good as well! And the instant eggs were almost exactly like the lava eggs you get at ramen shops!

DAY 7:

 

Lunch at Niu Dian before we headed off to the airport with our last Hot Star ji pa.



My side of baby okras. I've never seen okras so tiny before. They were juicier than their larger counterparts (normal lady's fingers) too!



LOOK



LOOK at how marbled the beef was!? It was amazingly tender, and it melts in your mouth. The soup was a little tasteless but the beef definitely made up for it.



Oh look, a puppy! A pooping puppy... Haha gotta love dachshunds, but not the irresponsible owner who didn't clean up after his dog >:(

11 comments:

  1. Hello.
    i'm drooling after reading your post and missing tw like crazy as well (been there 3x and most recent trip in july). ah zhong mee sua doesnt have oysters in them. those chewy stuff are pig's large intestines and you could actually help yourself and add extra garlic/chilli/vinegar at this little wall fixture opposite of the cashier point!
    I absolutely love chou dou fu as well!!!!! i wish they have it in Singapore. and you were right. the ye shi which had alot of petshops nearby is tong hua street. They had fabbbb smelly tofu there as well. and steak that are bigger than your face. Do try if you head there again! ahhh. i just miss tw soooo much now. hahaha. Thanks for this great post though. I will def check out that pasarbella like place the nxt time i head to tw :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi there! Haha I'm drooling too:(( OMG that explains why I was okay with the taste! And damn, I missed the condiments section near the cashier. I've had chou dou fu in Singapore, in Chinatown if I'm not wrong:) Apparently the Chinese stalls in Geylang sell them too. Haha yes, please do check out Addiction Aquatic Development, it will not disappoint, especially if you enjoy seafood and sashimi! :)

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  2. hi!! what flight did you take?? thnk you!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hello
    Do you think it is okay to bring along 7month old baby to taiwan if what we are gonna do is about the same as what you did/go at taiwan?

    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmm I did plentyyy of walking, so if you don't mind having to push the stroller around I think it's fine as the roads are not busy! However, I do think that it might be difficult to push your baby through the night markets as they can get very very crowded. Jiu Fen was very crowded too, and the roads were very narrow so not advisable to bring a stroller there. Otherwise, the other day activities like shopping and sight seeing are fine:)

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  4. Hi, your pictures are broken. :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh no thanks for informing me! I have no idea why, will try to fix it.

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  5. Hi! Your picture are still not visible. Would really like to see pictures of all the food!

    ReplyDelete