Why we don’t cook ;)

Even though we experienced some mild earthquakes and saw what rainy season can truly be like, Taiwan has treated us well so far and we experienced a lot of good things. We’ve been exploring the beautiful surroundings of Taiwan from Geoparks, to Orchid island (Lanyu) and seen much wildlife (like flying squirrels and flying fish) and off course tasted a lot of delicious meals. Though flying squirrel is on the menu here, we prefer see it fly. Contrary to flying fish, which we have tasted on Lanyu, but didn’t seem to fly… We promised a blog about Taiwanese food and here it is! We did our best to taste as much food as possible;) Below we‘ve made a short summary of our food highlights in Taiwan…so far. We have to confess that we didn’t cook for over 2 weeks now, since we have discovered so many local restaurants in our neighborhood. Varying from buffet to hotpot, all with friendly budgets around 3-4 euro a meal.

Din Tai Fung (DTF)

“Xiao Long Bao”

Here in Taipei it all started, an affordable Michelin Star Restaurant, that now evolved in a chain of restaurants around the globe. It is an absolute must when visiting Taipei! It’s a Michelin star restaurant serving dumplings (for a very small price!) and other Taiwanese dishes. Especially the Xiao Long Bao are extremely delicious. These soup dumplings are not your average wonton soup; it is a steamed dumpling, which you have to put on a spoon and open up to let the soup flow out, before letting your taste buds take over. Yes, exactly! The soup is in the dumpling! As a bonus you should definitely try the spicy wontons, since the sauce is simply amazing!

stinks like hell and it tastes like…

Stinky tofu

Apparently tofu is a big thing in Taiwan, and it varies in texture, size, spicing, cooking method and fermentation. The fried egg tofu is very nice, crunchy on the outside and it melts on your tongue leaving a slight hint of salt. Although tofu is a big thing around  here, for us the stinky tofu was a big nope. It stinks like hell and it tastes like…well, let say an old shoe. Although we didn’t like it, if you’re around you should definitely try it (if you’re brave enough to withstand the smell) as there is a 50/50 chance that you will like it.

Ice Cream with coriander & peanut crumble wrapped in a thin pancake

We apologize for the long name, but could not figure out a short name that could fully describe this peculiar dessert. As with the stinky tofu, it is likely that you won’t appreciate this meal, mainly because of the abundance of coriander. With a certain genetic predisposition you probably think that coriander tastes like soap, so in that case don’t try this. But if not, then this will be a rewarding and refreshing dessert after you’ve loaded up on savoury night market treats! P.S. To beat the odds, we both liked it! 🙂

Beef noodles

We’ve had different experiences with beef noodles. Overall the broth is genuinely good and rich in flavor. The noodles can make a difference, especially when handmade, but it is the beef that makes or breaks this dish. You have to keep in mind that meat in general is differently appreciated here, chicken toes are a great snack and the more bones, the better the meat….

Pineapple cake

You can’t pass a tourist shop without being asked to taste the pineapple cake. We don’t have a strong opinion about this cake, except that it tastes really similar to the Dutch ‘appelkoeken’.

Sweet cold peanut soup

More like a desert than an appetizer, this peanut soup is sold in a can (like a coke) and in the lit a spoon is hidden. When you dig in you will find delightful softened, sweet tasting peanuts in a creamy liquid. It’s gooooooood!

greenish color, a salty taste and a powerful aroma

1000 year old egg

A thousand year old egg is a delicacy that is made from an egg that is stored for approximately 100 days in a mixture of charcoal and quicklime. It has a greenish color, a salty taste and a powerful aroma. When chewing, it looks like you are eating a piece of green pudding.

But what does it taste like? The video down here should be self explanatory:

Flying Fish (or Frying Fish)

We’ve been on a trip to Lanyu (Orchid Island) and although we haven’t seen flying fish in action, we’ve eaten plenty of them! The lives of the people on Orchid island revolve around the flying fish and they have developed many ways of preparing them. Fried, boiled, breadded, with bones, without bones, dried, salted, with vinegar, with soy sauce; these are just a couple of examples. But we preferred the fried option!

Asparagus drink

Available everywhere, just next to the Coca Cola and not nearly as bad as it sounds. It’s not a tempting smell again, but actually it is surprisingly “hao he” 好喝 (good to drink). Very sweet, with a creamy taste and a slight hint of asparagus…

Street Food

This is amazing! Most Taiwanese homes don’t even have a kitchen and if they do it probably is ill equipped. And to be honest, there is no need for a kitchen with this street food culture! On the night markets around Taipei and in other cities, you can enjoy a wide range of food. It’s too much to mention, but varies from curries, to vietnamese and of course noodles and dumplings.

Some night markets are quite touristic with mainly the popular snacks, while others offer more traditional dishes and are more authentic. What we often eat at the night markets is a small basket with vegetables, which you can fill yourself and you can add meat, noodles or tofu. It then gets boiled in a nice broth, it’s healthy (if you don’t choose the fried option;) and really delicious!

Besides eating all those incredible dishes, we also briefly experienced Japan at the beautiful island of Okinawa. Here the days were filled with cubical cars, insane toilets with too many buttons, white beaches, cool castles and great little bars with ramen and other delicious food. We ended the days sitting next to very kind Japanese businessmen who try to get us drunk on sake by filling up our glasses over and over again.

Now you might think that we’re only eating here and make small trips, so here is some proof that we’re actually studying here as well. It hard to learn Chinese, but fun to start recognizing more and more characters and learn to have small talk with the people living here.

So 请享用 and until next time!

Bonus photos

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