Monday, March 22, 2010

Taipei March 2010 - Day 3 (I have a 3rd Stomach!!)

After Day 1 and Day 2 of my Taipei trip made me realized one thing about my physical self: I might have 3 stomachs! One for daily meals, one for desserts and one to hold whatever the other 2 cannot hold!

By 8am on this sunny morning, we were already on the move; destination Yiland 宜蘭. The ride was about an hour or so and thanks to my cousins, my mom and I only need to sit back and relax (and nap a bit more of course). It wasn't hard for me to fall back into sleep soon after waking up because my cousins bought me a fairly heavy breakfast! It was Chinese donut wrapped by a long baked flatbread with sesame called Shaobing 燒餅. To go along with the flatbread was a glass of warm Rice Milk 米漿 which was thicker, creamier and stronger / more intense in flavors. Zzzzzz food coma ...

I was woken up by the silence, by the silence of the engine. My first glimpse I was that of trees, a lot of trees and many parked cars. Is this Yiland? Apparently it was a pit stop on the way to Yiland and we were at the National Center for Traditional Arts. It was quite interesting to be honest, the site consists of a combination of natural landscapes as well as traditional arts and craft workshops within reconstructed historical buildings. Did I mention there were many traditional street foods as well?? I said it before and I say it again, it is never too early for sweets! The first thing we had here was the bowl of Tapioca pearl. Unlike normal Tapioca pearl, these kinds were filled with red beans, more or less a fusion style of Tapioca pearls. Yum! Plenty choices and I picked the gingery sweet soup to share with my mom.

A picture is worth a thousand words so I rather post all the pictures I took here instead.

We bumped into this friendly caretaker and he was quite talkative as well. Not sure what we said but he somehow took some leaves off the tree and made a peacock out of it! Or was it a chicken?

I think he mentioned something like a squirrel? Peacock it was!

After the short stay at the National Center for Traditional Arts, we headed straight to Yiland for lunch. There were many new establishments in this town / district including several new malls and residential buildings which kind of destroyed the local scenes if you ask me. Such visual contrast reminds me of Hong Kong and how old districts were torn down to make room for modern infrastructures. Anyhow, enough ranting.

We arrived at this local resto called Tu Hsiao Yeh 渡小月 (宜蘭市復興路三段58號 / 03-9324414) famous for their Seafood and local dishes. When we arrived, we noticed there were many polices in the surround area and apparently there was a high ranking KMT party official dining upstairs. the number of uniformed body guards were beyond my counting ability and the number of convoy / identical vehicle parked around were beyond my count as well.

I can see why this place is famous for its seafood, just look at the following ...

Sashimi in a Chinese resto? ah well, why not! As long as they were fresh I am good to try! They were fresh indeed, surprisingly fresh. I am not quite sure what types of fishes they were but they were good and sometimes it is better not to know but just to enjoy :) (I think one of them is the Swordfish)

The Fried Rice Noodles 粿條 was rather oily but flavor was pretty good.

Not sure what the English name of this dish was it was a deep fried dish 糕渣 originated from Yiland. Based on wiki, this local treats consisted of minced shrimp, minced pork and chicken and "fish paste" then deep fried to golden yellow. It was interesting, like fried jello in terms of texture or like those fried milk but with a rather salty flavors. A must try local treat if you stop by Yiland.

In Hong Kong, xiancao (仙草) or Asian Grass Jelly is often consumed cold as dessert. In Taiwan, you can find the same Asian Grass Jelly served hot in liquid form everywhere. Hot xiancao (仙草) in liquid form is often treated as dessert which can be found in many bubble tea establishments, but to my surprised, it can be treated as main dish as soup!! It was xiancao / Asian Grass Jelly Black Chicken Soup 仙草雞湯. Interesting indeed! Strong chicken flavor with hints of Chinese herbal tastes and traces of mint. (note: if you leave it out in the cold for too long, it will solidify into the cold grass jelly) The chicken was nice too very tender and soft the way it should be especially being in the soup for so long. We basically cleaned out the chicken! Yum!

Seafood cakes 海鮮餅 (like Crab / Prawn Cakes) were very peppery, made from a mixture of minced seafood and vegetables.

Baked Seafood Purée 焗海鮮 was rather unexciting, overly creamy in my opinion. I felt like eating cream sauce.

Next was the steamed fish. To cook a nice steam fish it requires a lot of skills than it looks. Timing is one of the most important and it also depends on the type of fish, size of the fish and etc. The oil that was poured over right before being served is also very important as well. The steamed fish here was well prepared with meat having a bite to it.

the dessert was very interesting! Initially we all thought it was Almond Tofu cubes but as soon as we tasted it we were all in surprised! It was warm and it was way softer and very spongy than almond tofu. We asked and it was handmade with some peanut powder, rice flour and something I don't even know what. It was good though, rather refreshing as well.

I wanted to walk it off but out next destination was the home of Taiwan Beer, or what it used to me at least. I was rather disappointed because I was expecting a tour of the brewery and the check out the manufacturing process but it turned out to be one huge souvenir shop!!!

It would be silly if I come out without anything right? So I got myself this Shaohsing Eggs (smoked / marinated Shaohsing wine eggs).

They were marinated with the shells!!!

Look at the yolk! Yum! I need a drink and this would do as well! :)

I took another nap on our way back. Once we arrived back in Taipei we took a walk at a 士林官邸 (The former official residence of Chiang Kai-shek and Madam Chiang) located in the Shilin district before dinner. The whole estate has been turned into a park / garden which means I better take my allergy pills now! Took some pictures and walked around. Quite a nice walk.

Now it was time for dinner! It was a local resto in the corner of a residential district. Please enlighten me but I still don't know how to pronounce this three words in Chinese (so no English pronunciation sorry) - 冇冇有(ㄆㄚˇ)( ㄉ一ㄥˇ) (ㄨˇ).

The decor was very homely and you see people rushing back and forth as well. The place was mostly self-served so we got to get our own water / tea. Price wise all items were neighborhood prices as in around NT40 (HKD10) for a bowl of noodles and avg NT200 (HKD50) for other stir fried dishes!

I loved how they put the wooden board on the wall, like how the Japanese does it. I guess it was the Japanese influence to the culture over the many decades ago.

Oh yes you are right, one of the items on the wall was called "this is Onion" 就是洋蔥 (direct translation). Only if all dishes can be named as explicit as this one! And yes, it was Onion only! Check it out!

There were also some appetizers we ordered and I liked the dried papaya marinated in passion fruits 木瓜白香生果, yum!

One of the famous items here was the dry clear noodles and yes it was good! Thin, dry and chewy / al dente! Mix sure you mix well before eating.

The egg looked ordinary but once you take a closer look you will find that it was deep fried as well! nice touch, giving it a nice texture to it. Please note that flavor was quite strong.

Sweet and sour Pig intestine was nice, chewy and has a kick to it!

Deep fried Squid Mouth was perfect to go with beer! A little bit heavy on the pepper salt but loved it overall!

Stinky tofu was rather disappointing because it was not stinky enough!!!

I bet this Shark Meat dish was something special because I rarely see it in Chinese resto, perhaps a local delicacy. Nothing too special, rather tasteless and texture was like ... pig intestine to be honest.

The following was another one of my adventurous order. Forgot what that was but turned out to be a HUGE Fried Egg dipped in meat sauce HAHA ...

Next was Super Spicy Duck Blood 痲辣鴨紅. (solidified duck blood) Oh it was spicy but it was good! I was sweating after two sips!

the direct translation of this vegi dish was Flies Head 蒼蠅頭 (flies as in the insects!). The name was derived from the black beans in the dish. A bit too salty again.

We also ordered soup and it was Bitter Melon and Pineapple with Chicken soup. A rather interesting combination but refreshing indeed. The hints of pineapple flavors balanced the bitter flavors from the bitter melon pretty well and I had many bowls of it. If you were afraid of bitter melon, you should try this combination at home and try it out!

Oh my, I think my third stomach was already full! (or was it?) HAHA ... by the time we arrived back at the hotel I tweeted for a while and suddenly wanted to chew on something! Hello 24hr lounge! Look at the cute piggy faces floating on top of the instant noodles!!! :) ...

Time to get some rest because it will be another gastronomic adventure tomorrow!

Day 1 >> Taipei March 2010 - Day 1 (Eat, Eat and ... Eat)
Day 2 >> Taipei March 2010 - Day 2 (More Food please ... )
Day 3 >> Taipei March 2010 - Day 3 (I have a 3rd Stomach!)
Day 4 >> Taipei March 2010 - Day 4 (More Food and Cuties Spotted!)

Day 1 + Day 2 + Day 3 + Day 4

- End of Day 3 -


Beef No Guy said...

Ahhh Yilan! Been to this county and town twice, including that National Center for Traditional Arts. Probably the best place to visit for kids and that old street recreation that includes old time toys, souvenirs is great. Was also fun to see glass blowing demo, dragon beard candy too. The food court there is not that good, although grilled sausage snack is nice, some regional dessert snacks, and of course the kumquat lemon drink is refreshing. Someone on the Chowhound board mentioned that Tu Hsiao Yeh restaurant in YiLan and I can see why. Thanks for that part of the writeup!

Jason said...

@BeefNoGuy: You should reminded me how I missed to put down the English name for Tu Hsiao Yeh! Yeah, the food court at the National Center for Traditional Arts wasn't that exciting especially when you find a Starbucks in the middle of the establishment!

Jin said...

I just realized I lived in Taiwan for a good 6 years and I never visited Yilan. Thanks for the write up, now it's time to go back!

Jason said...

@Jin: yes and do let me know when you are going back so I can tag along! lol

Unknown said...

Oh yeah, I love 燒餅油條 dipped in 豆漿 for breakfast!

Jason said...

@MegaPacific: yeah! It is a very hearty breakfast option indeed! I miss such simple yet hearty breakfast :)

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