Flavors of Taiwan
Taiwan Travel Blog› entry 5 of 8 › view all entries
I had the opportunity to tour Taipei through the eyes of an Local.
The Verdict: I loved it!
On the first looks I had with Taiwan, I cant help be feel that it is very similar to the Philippines. But taking a second look on the place, I begin to see a lot in Taiwan that I wish we were in the Philippines. The place had maintained its local feel and flavor, one you commonly see among Asian countries, but at the same time it also established a culture of sophistication and discipline that I've always hoped we were more in my own country. While being truly Chinese in many sense, it had maintained itself to be well kept, clean, and generally polite and friendly atmosphere. For people who want to experience a sense of Chinese culture but has your own reservations about probably safety and cleanliness, I think Taiwan is definitely the place to go. :)
The most memorable experience of Taiwan for me is definitely the food! :) Our local tour guide took us to the smaller places but jam packed with locals to introduce us to the local flavors. I'm sure I have gotten the names wrong, but once I learned how to properly post pictures into the blog I will share it :) Here's among the specialities I've tried (I've made the names up)
Sate Corn - Sate is a local flavoring we can get in stores here in Manila. It's normally labeled as barbecue sauce (but nothing like a US Barbecue or steak sauce). It's brown colored, oily with some granules - tastes a bit salty and spicy. Sate is brushed on the corn while its partially grilled. It's a very flavorful :) When you drive around Taipei, there are little food shops that sells this.
Stir fried Tenderloin Pepper steak with Wasabi - the tenderloin steaks are cut in small strips probably 1/2 inch by 2 inch. Stir fried you'll taste the pepper and then served with wasabi on the sides. We loved this so much that were kept ordering the meal till the restaurant came back to tell us they ran out already.
Meat ball - The locals calls it a meat balls (which defy's the most meaning we call meat balls). It looks like a bun, the covering was made of something like sticky rice, it was filled with minced meat with other stuff like strips of tofu with sauce inside. The Bun is then deep fried then topped with a purple colored sweet sauce, then about a table spoon of hot sauce topped with some herbs. If you understand chinese dimsum its like a cross between siopao and ham suy kok :) Despite our hesitation of taking it, it was pretty tasty!
Pork + Squid Maki - This is actually a thick semi clear soup with meat - and apparently some squid masquerading as meat too. This dish is available on all over the small stalls on the streets of Taipei. It's a local delicacy loved by many people. Eating it has a very relaxing appeal especially during the cold weather. The secret to the food is actually the vinegar you add in for added flavor. It has a hint of sweetness and makes all the difference :)
Shabu Shabu - My family and I argued about where Shabu Shabu really started, we ended up guessing its probably from Japan. :) But anyway during cold weather december, the Taiwanese family (or at least the local family who hosted us) called up their entire clan to enjoy a dinner of shabu shabu together with us. For those who are not familiar, shabu shabu is served on your desk with a gas stove, a pot of soup and all sorts of meat, fish or squid balls, vegetables, seafood, sauces served on your table. You then place in all the food you like, wait for it to boil and make sure the meat are cook, place it on your own bowl, add sauce and devour. It was pretty cool :)
Best Takoyaki I've tried! - Ok takoyaki is definitely Japanese :) We went to this Night Market in Shilin. My younger brother had recently visited taiwan for 3 weeks sponsored by the government to atract the youth. This was generally his favorite. He bought one giant order and shared it with me. Btw, if you don't know what Takoyaki is, its also sometimes called Samurai balls or octopus balls because it had pieces of Octopus inside.
Dumplings and Gyoza! - We loved dumplings so we made sure to order it. :) What's more remarkable for me is that dumplings and gyoza in Taiwan are generally cheaper compared to what we get here in manila. You order the pot stickers while they prepare for it and your choices of sauces are paraded outside where you can pick what you like (a bit Hongkong style noodles like). What I also found interesting was they serve hot soy milk for free despite their small store.
Smelly Tofu - this apparently was well talked about but I personally didnt like it. The Tofu was in a somewhat sour sauce and has a funny smell. But apparently it's what everyone will ask us if they heard we went to Taiwan :)
Grilled Squid Jerky - thse are like squid flakes topped with syrup that you can ask the seller to grill hot for you and eat it while hot. I like it to be a sweet and spicy not strongly spicy which my dad loved. We brought home 3 packs which i finished in 2 days :) so go figure :)
We had a LOT of food including noodles, normal chinese delicacies, I guess what i shared with you were the ones i find more unique seeing there. But remember, this is coming from a Chinese born and raised in the Philippines who got access to authentic Chinese foods :) So I might have skipped a lot of other details because I find them normal already but you might enjoy yourselves :)
One thing for sure, I find the food are generally cheap and affordable in Taiwan. And eating is definitely part of their life style and a moment to bond and share with loved ones.
Let me try to upload pictures for you! :)