Thursday, March 25, 2010

饒河夜市 (Rao He Night Market) yet again

I've written about 饒 河夜市 (Rao He Night Market) before, but I promise this post'll be way heavier on the pics and content. In any case, I remember walking down the stretch of road the first time thinking that I'd definitely come back. There was way too many stands of differing street foods that I wanted to try, not to mention the fact that my wallet only had about 300 NT the first time. Sadness. Anyway, on a return trip, if I recall correctly, after work from Academia Sinica, I made sure to get my fill of the precious delicious. Oh, I also made sure my wallet was semi-filled before leaving for work that day, I'm fairly sure of that given the amount of food I ate. Naturally, I did the whole dessert before dinner thing, at the cart you see in the upper left. Nothing special about it, but it was the first shaved ice place I came across, and the mango ice was crazy cheap at 60 NT ($2). Considering they're normally well over 100 NT, I was tempted to get 2, but I listened to my brain over my stomach. I figured I should leave room for other things since, let's be honest, water takes up a lot of room!

There's the dish in all its glory. Like I said, nothing really special, just mango ice in its regular incarnation. OH WAIT, it was kinda different in that it had almond flavored jellies! The little white cubes you see interspersed throughout the dish were a nice textural contrast to the soft chewy mango chunks, as well as a refreshing palate cleanser in between bites of insanely sweet mango syrup. I think the red things were strawberry flavored jellies, but there were so few of them that I swear they fell in accidentally. Oh wells, 60 NT well worth it.

I happened to come upon a place called 齒牛香牛肉麵 (Chi Niu Xiang Niu Rou Mian) loosely translated as... um, I'm not going to try and embarrass myself with my poor Chinese skills right now, but my mom remarked that the name was a pun of sorts and was really clever. If one of my readers wants to help me out here, that'd be most appreciated! Supposedly it's pretty famous, so I thought I'd at least try it out.

I got lazy over the Summer, and I realized (way too late) that there was no way that I'd remember prices for everything I ate, so I actually got into the habit of photographing the menu. Makes it easier to figure out what they have too. In any case, 120 NT ($4) for a bowl of half tendon half beef noodle soup. Not overly cheap, but they are famous, so you're paying for a bit of that.

I have to admit, their reputation is well deserved. The meat is indeed half and half, stewed to fall apart tender. Their knife cut noodles have an uncanny evenness to both thickness and texture. I'm not entirely sure how they did it, or if it's a good thing (since I very much enjoy the nonuniform profile of homemade noodles), but they didn't really detract from the rest of the bowl, so I guess they were... okay. The broth though, was something heavenly. Although I won't put it as my favorite in Taipei, it has a certain rich quality to the beefiness. It's one of those shops which you can smell from halfway down the street, undeniably identifiable as beef noodles. The soup was a bit oily for my tastes, ~weird... I know, but it was still a significant positive in my book. Overall, it's definitely a memorable dish that I'd go out of my way to have again.

Also got a bowl of beef dumpling soup. Same story as the beef noodle soup, excellent broth, but a less than great dumpling. When I say that, I mean they're definitely good pork and cabbage dumplings, but I wouldn't say they're standout. They do nothing to make you hate the remainder of the dish, but they don't add much. Meh, cheaper than the beef noodles at 70 NT (slightly over $2) so definitely a good value.

I'm not 100% sure why, since no one else got them, but the waitress brought us 8 free dumplings. At first I thought they were brought to the wrong table (when my Spidey sense conscience took over), so I told them. She said they were free, and who was I to argue. I'm pretty sure it was because I was talking in English on the phone. Somewhat of a side note, if you're in Taiwan and you look Asian, speak in English. They love that crap for some reason.


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