Saturday, July 4, 2009

Assorted sweets at 羅東 (Luo Dong)

Chalk it up to laziness (yeah, I'll admit it), or to shorten my backlog of random eats, or because my sister has been calling for more food pics, or perhaps because I'm just a tad bit bitter I won't be able to have any of these crazy amazing desserts again for what seems like an eternity, but I'm condensing my remaining dessert posts from 羅東夜市 (Luo Dong Night Market) into one mega post with tons of food porn. Prepare to be amazed.

First up was a 豆花 (Dou Hua) stand. How do explain dou hua... it's the silkiest of silky tofu varieties. Essentially the center cut of silken tofu, which gets sliced by a large ladle into thin slices, traditionally placed in a bowl of boiled sugar water. Often flavored with ginger sugar, brown sugar, peanuts, regardless of style, it always has a strong almond scent that always takes me to my happy place haha. Served hot or cold, dou hua is traditional night market food, and you can find it x10 at every one. Luo Dong's standout in this genre of food is a place called 包心粉圓專賣店 (Bao Xing Fen Yuan Specialty Store). How am I supposed to translate that?! If I was forced to, I guess it means 'filled heart dumpling specialty store,' but I'm pretty sure it sounds way more elegant if I leave it Chinese. Anyway, 粉圓 (Fen Yuan) are something that almost every ice store makes (Meet Fresh is famous for theirs...). They're gelatinous rice that is molded into really 'QQ' balls that aren't too off from mochi. Soft and yielding, yet surprisingly resilient, they offer the perfect complement of texture to the thin shaved ice, or in this case... silky smooth tofu.

I got the 綜合牛奶豆花 (mixed milk dou hua), which was 50 NT ($1.50... don't quote me on this, it was a while back!). Ridiculously thin curd tofu is topped in a cup with a generous serving of shaved ice made with milk, then topped with more condensed milk, plus a heaping serving of peanuts and tapioca balls, finally drizzled with almond milk. Yum. Oh I forgot to mention the hot ginger flavored sugar syrup (sounds gross to those who hate ginger, me included, but it's not what you think) that's given alongside in another cup. It's something that I would eat in the summer or winter. Would I recommend it? Uh, no time to respond, too busy wiping the drool off my keyboard. If you find yourself at this night market, it's really easy to find... it's a circle... just keep walking, and look for the absurd line.

Next up on the docket was mango ice! I know that Ice Monster is all the rage in Taipei (and in the Philippines too apparently), but I'm weary of them since 1. their prices are absurd... almost 2 times the price of most places and 2. I've gone 3 times and gotten sick 3 times. That's exactly what I'm not looking for when I want shaved ice... and empty wallet and an upset stomach hours later to remind me about how stupid that decision was. Anyway, I found this gem called 'Summer Snow 巧味冰庫' (Summer Snow... er something unknown... fridge :D). As you can see, my translation skills are top notch lol. The store was pretty packed, and had a nice store front, so I got suckered in. Their specialty is 雪花冰 (snow flower ice as a literal translation), which to summarize is usually when you take a flavored milk... common flavors are mango, vanilla, milk, matcha green tea, and then you shred the ice from that. The result is really thin crystals which have a creamy texture as opposed to the graininess of normal shaved ice. It's more akin to a sorbet in that it melts on your tongue with a smooth context rather than just... crunch.

Anyway, I got their 芒果雪花冰 (mango snow ice) which I'm pretty sure was 100 NT ($3). Half a plate of freshly shaved mango dipped in mango juice syrup, half a plate of thinly layered ice made from the aforementioned condensed milk/mango ice, topped with a scoop of mango sorbet, and drizzled with more mango syrup, this can probably induce a sugar coma if eaten too quickly. In any case, it was absolutely delicious, the ice was smooth, and closer to ice cream than shaved ice, and the mango was ripe enough to have the delicate sweetness (even without syrup), but still raw enough to have ample resistance when bitten into. Did I mention it was only $3? Again, I don' think I need to explicitly say this, but it's definitely recommended, and I would eat a bowl here everyday if I could. Well... I'd rotate with Meet Fresh and Tai Yi, but you get the point.

Hrm... last dessert item I had was another thing that originated from Luo Dong. It's found pretty much at every stand along the street that sells ice cream, so there's no point in telling you a specific store name (uh, to be honest, I don't really remember the name of the cart I got it from... I just picked the one with the longest line of people). In any case, it is pretty much peanut candy and ice cream, which sounds really plain... but it's really not. Let's see, for 35 NT ($1), you start with a lumpia skin (the Vietnamese rice roll wrappers), and then you start off with a spattering of peanut flour, the guy then takes a giant chunk of peanut brittle candy and starts shaving off layers of it into a small collector and dumps that on top, then a generous serving of cilantro is cut onto that layer of peanut candy, and finally 3 scoops of different flavors (vanilla, banana, and strawberry were mine) are put in the middle of the roll. He expertly rolls up the wrap and bags it in one swift movement, and voila... a peanut flavored ice cream burrito thing. Sounds terrible I'm sure, but if I've come to learn anything from my summers in Taiwan, it's that things that usually sound gross are usually okay, if not exceptional.

Look at that burrito like goodness, to the unknowing, you'd probably thought I just bought a simple vegetable roll. Upon biting, look at the cross sectional goodness. It makes me happy that the salty flavors of cilantro and the peanut shavings can coexist with ice cream. Refreshing and somewhat different... I really had no complaints. Yeah... brb, still wiping saliva off my keyboard, but definitely recommended.

I went for a nice long distance run today. As soon as I left my apartment, I still had that lingering stinging pain in my right hip, but I decided I could probably run through it. After about half a mile it either went away, or I stopped feeling it. In any case, I ran to the street where 饒河夜市 (Rao He Night Market) is located, then I doubled back to Da An Park, over to CKS Memorial Hall, and back home. Without realizing it, I did a 9.51 mile circuit (I had planned on 7 or so). All in all, a rather good run I'd say.

Oh, the following series of posts all take place outside of Taipei, where I didn't pay for food or housing, so it'll be less reviews, and more so... just pictures.

distance for the day: 9.51 miles
distance biked for the day: 0.00 miles

distance on the year: 399.65 miles
distance biked on the year: 142.68 miles


Anonymous said...

darky says he's never heard of Mango Monster and questions the validity of your statement above. Do you have a rebuttle/can you defend your claim?

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oh snap. I can control the text here?