Monday, May 09, 2011

Tea in Asia: Day 5 - Taiwan

We had so much food on the 5th day of my trip to Asia

Our guides, Coco and Denise, brought us to a place for breakfast a few blocks from the Chientan Youth Activity Center (CYAC) called Dante Coffee. We had a few things to choose from, but I can’t remember what they were. The important thing was that I got the ham and cheese with bread and eggs with hot chocolate to drink. I don’t know about you, but I was expecting (yet again with the expectations) a ham and cheese omelet with toast on the side or slices of ham, cheese and a fried egg with toast. Right? What arrived at the table was a curveball; albeit a tasty one.

I really enjoyed my breakfast sandwich. It was like a savoury french toast sandwich. The sweet and fluffy bread went really well with the salty ham and cheese. The egg didn’t do much for me though. In any case, I should make this local delicacy! Ahem.

The schedule for the day was less intense than the previous day. We took the bus to the crowded National Palace Museum. While in the lobby, there were a bunch of Chinese tourists that treated DB, CPR, and LB (to name a few) like celebrities. I don’t know if they mistook me for a press photographer or something (I had my DLSR out), but they all swarmed our group. They shook hands with DB, CPR, and LB. They smiled sweetly and flashed a variety of Asian poses as each of the Chinese tourists got their pictures taken. I guess they’ve never seen a tall white man with long curly hair, or someone that “looked like” Beyoncé. It was quite funny.

After that whirlwind, we began our tour around the National Palace Museum. I was so amazed at their collection of artifacts. There were so many things to see and so many stories to be heard. We weaved around the various groups of tourists to get to each of the display cases.

It was a bit too crowded for some of our group. They weren’t used to the pushing and elbowing that they received from the groups of older Chinese tourists. I had so much fun guarding my spots in front of the display cases.

“Wow, they’re so rude!” I heard from the back of our group. I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself. Huhuhuu! They’ve obviously never been to Pacific Mall during the weekend, or even Chinatown for that matter.

We were about to go to another area of the museum when one of our guides noticed that we had to eat lunch and then get going again. They lead us to a touristy restaurant that was literally around the corner of the main museum building.

LD and I weren’t very hungry so we just shared the Formosa (aka Taiwan) combo. Hmm… let me refer to one of the menus that I brought back.

An Pin’s Mixed Preserved Fruits (I think it was supposed to be called “Anping”, cause there’s an Anping District in Taiwan). The four pieces of fruits were sweet and tangy. What perfect appetizers!

Traditional Peddler’s Noodles were okay. There was a distinct flavour of pork knuckles that put me off. The pile of fried garlic and shallots made it easier to eat.

I didn’t like the Marinated Pork with Bamboo Shoots. I tasted pork knuckles in this too. The restaurant must use pork knuckles in their broth. Also included in the meal was a bowl of Traditional Ground Pork Rice. It tasted similar to the marinated (braised) pork dish.

There were definitely traces of pork knuckles in the Thick Fish Soup. It was made worse by the white pepper. Bleh…

The star of the meal was the plate of tiny Golden Fried Shrimp Rolls. There weren’t any offending flavours in this.

To be on the safe side of things, we decided to get an order of the Meat Balls.

LD and I were really happy when dessert finally came. The watermelon, guava and cherry tomato were ice cold.

I do remember having the soft tofu dessert (Taiwanese style). I liked the addition of red beans. It gave the soft dessert a textural change-up, not that the red bean was hard or anything.

We paid the bill and then headed to the entrance of the restaurant where everyone else was getting together. Our guides gave us a choice of going to a fishing village or shopping mall.

I chose to go to the fishing village, which happened to be the Danshui Market. We immediately saw a bunch of food stalls once we began walking up HuanHe road. I was annoyed that we didn’t come here for lunch instead of the touristy restaurant back at the National Palace Museum. 

I shared a cup of some sugar cane juice with someone as we visited all the different stores. The gentleman grinded the whole cane for this cup. There was a woody taste to the warm juice. Bleh… The best way to enjoy sugar cane is chewing the fibers to enjoy the sweetness.

We kept walking and saw so many different snacks being sold. These sticks of candied strawberries, plums with blueberries, and haw looked really good. I sadly walked past the stand after snapping the image. I should’ve gotten this instead of the sugar cane juice!

This sign was sketchy. The place was selling ka ka (refer to the 3rd and 4th points if you don't understand). I'll pass on the weirdly named rice crisps.


A dog resting in front of a store front.

I saw this lady making takoyaki further down the street. Why did we have to eat lunch beforehand? Why?


The market area was packed full of people. I stood near the bearded man's sculpture and looked back at the road we just walked down. The man, George Mackay, came to Taiwan as a missionary and opened up some churches according to wiki.

On our way back to meet the rest of our Danshui group at the front of the (MRT) Danshui Station, we bought some frozen yogurt in cones to snack on. It was a popular snack with tourists. The ladies give you a lot of frozen yogurt. Whether you get the small or large size one, the ladies make sure the yogurt stands nice and tall on the cone.

I got a few frames of the hazy harbour front during our slow walk back to our meeting area. I'm not sure why we were told that it was a fishing village. Mistranslation?

As we waited for the rest of the group, we saw a two younger kids (they were probably 10 years old) fighting. Actually, the slightly bigger kid was just wailing on the other kid. I don’t know what they were fighting over, but when the fight was over, the guy (who did the beating) just got on his bike and casually rode away. So random. The smaller guy didn’t look like he was hurt too badly. He, too, just casually walked away.

Oh, there was also a creeper who was taking photos of our group from afar. He disappeared into the crowds after we all began to look towards his direction. This was not the first or last time people stared at us during our trip to Asia, but it was the first time someone was snapping shots of us from afar.

As the sun began to set, we headed back to the CYAC for the night. Some of us went to check out the famous Shilin Night Market.

I was still jet-lagged at that point and so I didn’t have the stomach to eat much. Sad, huh? This giant bowl of lime jello drink greeted us as we began to walk into the cramped market. This stall also sold bubble tea, which AB happily drank for the first time.

Beside the lime jello/bubble tea place, there was a long line up of people trying to buy the XXL chicken slabs. I was really curious about this place, but maybe that’s just my Chinese instincts kicking in. Hmm? There’s a long line up… it must be good! I should line up and see what the fuss is about!

A few people, including CY, JV, CPR, and MG, enjoyed dinner at a stall with large griddles. I kept walking through the smelly market with AB, LD, and NG. As we snaked through the market, we walked by this stall selling skewers of meat.

Toward the back of the Shilin Night Market, we found the source of the funky smell. It was none other than stinky tofu! I remember Jimmy told me that the deep-fried ones tasted better than the steamed version. We had to get fresh air after this. The combination of the hot and humid air with the stinky tofu was just too much to handle for us. It really did smell like sewage and stinky socks. We avoided the eerie arcade-like area of the market and made our way out to the fresher air.

There was another stall that undoubtedly sold Taiwanese beef noodle soup, but I just couldn’t do it. The noodles were screaming my name… it was so painful to ignore.

On the edge of the sheltered area of the market, I spotted a gentleman making these pan fried buns. I remember reading about this on a Taiwanese blog and I vowed that I wouldn’t leave Taiwan without trying one. I got bought a few and LD snacked on them towards the side of the market. I was disappointed at how small and juiceless the ones I ate were. Not having an appetite to begin with ruined my experience. I’ll snack on a few more next time.

We hung around the market and played some darts before we were all ready to get back to the CYAC and out of the drizzling rain and heavy humid air.

Reflecting on this day, I really missed out on a lot of Taiwan eats. I wish I had the stomach. I wish I could go back and eat some skewers of meat, shaved ice, the XXL chicken, and Taiwanese beef noodle soup. Okay, so I wished I ate my way through the Shilin Night Market – yes, even the stinky tofu. Why couldn't my appetite come back?

Click here to read about my last day in Taiwan (Day 6).


  1. mm, love the pics of the night market!! the red thing in your fruit plate looks like a cherry tomato?

  2. just noticed you linked to my blog! thanks!! sorry your dumplings weren't juicy. :( i usually hit up the ones with a line but sometimes there are some dud stalls.

  3. Hi Joanh, thanks for dropping by! We love your blog! It looks like a cherry tomato, but I wasn't sure because it was on the dessert plate.

    I didn't know it at the time, but the dumpling stall that I went to was the same one that was on the linked page (the blue and white sign).


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