When planning my trip, Taiwan was one of the original countries it was planned around. Not a well-known country, but all my friends who’d ever visited praised it no end – my friend Patricia describing it as the best of Vietnam added to the best of a more developed country. So, I booked a nice four-full-days-stint at the highly acclaimed Meander Hostel, Taipei. (I warmly recommend it, btw, pleasant and sociable and has everything you need, and very easy to meet other travellers at their breakfast!)
Stunning scenery, good food and friendly people was what I was expecting. Also a fair level of development, as it experienced a post-war ‘miraculous’ growth in the second half of the 20th century and is today one of the prominent ‘Four Asian Tigers’ (concerning rapid industrialisation) in the company of Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea.
Sausages filled with sticky rice.
Stinky tofu, the famous Taiwanese fermented tofu whose smell is best described as one you would imagine coming from a potion made out of strongly scented old socks. (Also, my brother’s nickname is Tofu… Providing me with a new handy batch of witty comments. 🙂 ) I was gonna try it… But I didn’t. My friend said it was really good though.Rating: N/A
Seafood on sticks. I wasn’t gonna try, and I didn’t. But for seafood-lovers it was pretty good.
Sweet little gems with sweet stuff (usually red bean mush or green tea mush) inside.Rating: ***
Steamed sweet buns with a sweet interior. You could choose a pig, a chick or a something else. They were so cute that I had to ask T to halve the sad pig face for me so that I didn’t have to perform the killing act myself.Rating: *****
- Steamed pork buns. Same as above, but savoury with a pork filling. Rating: ******* (aka AMAZING)
Un-steamed pork buns. The best ones we waited for for about ten minutes when the members of this family-run stall made them in front of you.Rating: ****** (aka AMAZING)
Pineapple cake (traditional Taiwan style). I was well impressed with this one – pineapple in any other form except fresh is not usually my favourite thing to eat… But this was good. Each (numerous) sample I had.Rating: ****½
I don’t even remember what these are… Reddy sugary coated somethings. Looked about 130% too sweet for me. And I am not one to shy away from sugar. Make for a good photo though. Rating: N/A
- Fruit tasters. Especially at Shillin night market, the most famous and most touristy, we were recommended not to buy fruit coz it was exorbitantly priced, but luckily the keen seller ladies were very eager to give out generously sized tasters on sticks. I refound my love for custard apples, most definitely…(Tho,interestingly, white-insided dragon fruit doesn’t seem to be a thing in Taiwan! They only had the more photogenic, but substantially less scrumptious dark pink version…) Rating: ***** (custard apples)
- Tea-marinated eggs. Yes. I was sort of reassured to hear what they were after a few days of mentally slightly gagging every time I passed them at various corners or convenience stores – I was imagining a Taiwanese equivalent of Vietnamese hot vit lon (fertilised duck egg) swimming in, er, I dunno? Womb juice?? Ok, sorry. But it wasn’t anything (seriously) dodgy, just a few harmless boiled eggs swimming in tea, basically the staples of a British breakfast rolled into one, right? Anyways, my half-Chinese friend L managed to persuade me to try one, and, well, it wasn’t bad. Not sure it was the best thing in the world either, though. Rating: ***½
The “Best Breakfast Ever” (BBE) (not strictly speaking a food stall, but part of a food court… but Taiwanese food anyways) This is a general label for it, not my personal opinion. All I know is that the queue had epic proportions – we were told it’d be an hour, but it ended up only twenty minutes. L ordered all their ‘most popular foods’ for us. Well, it ended up being nice, but nothing crazy impressive, imho. But, well, clearly a cultural experience! Rating: ***
Until then, cheerio, and have a great final days of 2015! Any ideas for interesting New Year’s Resolutions?