Sunday, October 2, 2011

A list! (of things I'd eat if I had a week in Taiwan)

Grass jelly & almond tofu (水龜伯古早味冰店)

Number 1 priority: eat shaved ice desserts. All day. Everyday.

Maybe this post is long overdue, but when a friend of mine told me she was going to visit Taiwan for the first time in a bajillion years, I finally had the impetus to put together a list of "things I would do if I were going to Taiwan for a week that would bring me great arousal that does not include intercourse." If there's one single you should know about me - I enjoy enumerating everything that can be enumerated. Yep. That fact pretty much defines me as a person. But while I really like making lists, I absolutely hate "best of" and "top 10" lists... especially in food blogging. Why? Because food doesn't work that way. Food is personal. If I made a "top 10" list of the tallest buildings in the world, it would be indisputable. If I made a list ranking the best TV dinners in the world... I bet most people would not see eye to eye. So... if you're reading this, take it with a grain of salt. Don't think of it as a must-do list ranking the shit out of the top foods in Taiwan. Just think of it as a rough guide to what an idiot would do if he flew halfway around the world for food. That's all it is.

良品牛肉麵 (Liang Pin Beef Noodles)

1. 良品牛肉麵 (Liang Pin beef noodle soup) - Do you want your mind BLOWN? Do you want your shit rocked? Like I said in my old post, if I committed some awful awful heinous crime and was sentenced to the death penalty... and I had to choose my last bite on this earth. It would be this shit. OG, hole-in-the-wall, never good enough to win 1st prize at the annual beef noodle soup competition... all good descriptions of this place. Don't be deceived by that BS competition run by the Taiwanese government - the combination of dope-ass beef broth and sick hand-cut noodles makes for a satisfying bowl of sensual flavors that I have not been able to top since I first tasted it.


木須炒餅 (mushu scallion pancakes)

2. 一品刀削麵 (Yi Pin knife-shaved noodles) - Do you love scallion pancakes? Ever wonder what it'd be like to eat them in noodle form? Fuck yeah you do, and of course you have. Stir-fry that shit with some mooshu pork, feed it to your grandparents, and they'll be so excited they won't even need Cialis. Just think about it, knife cut noodles with mooshu pork is already delicious - if you sub out the noodles with deep-fried strips of fragrant dough... it's just infinitely better. Why this doesn't exist in NYC... I'm not too sure. But if you're in Taipei you should go eat it.


3. Ice Monster/永康15 - I don't have a post about this, nor do I have a picture of their offering, but this is probably the most famous shaved ice place that Taipei had/has. I've only had it twice, and one of those encounters resulted in hours of ass-end loving with the toilet, but goddamn if they don't churn out an awesome bowl of mango shaved ice. The original owners had a dispute and ultimately closed shop, but 永康15 opened in the same spot in 2010, and the "Mango Avalanche" tastes pretty much the same as the original mango ice. Which is to say sick as hell. If you don't mind a different kind of "juice cleanse" then you should probably go try their dessert.


4. 臺一牛奶大王 (Tai Yi Milk King) - What? You don't want to eat fruit on your shaved ice because it's totally healthy sounding? Werd, I know where you're coming from. Sometimes I just want to eat crushed up ice with red beans, condensed milk, and syrup. None of that vitamin bullshit. In those cases I go to 臺一牛奶大王. Maybe it's not the most hygienic place in Taiwan, and maybe it's not the best looking storefront, but whatever... these bros have been around since when my mom was still a kid. That's a long time ago, seriously. Almost everything's less than 100 NT and they'll pile carbohydrate laden shit on like it's a joke. Go with the classic red bean/oatmeal/mochi combination. That stuff is out of this world dope.


生煎包 crust

5. 生煎包 (a.k.a. tiny fried buns) - The gist of this section is that you should get them. Wherever you are in Taipei, they're probably fucking delicious. Yes, even that shady-ass old man selling them out of his tiny kitchen. Don't worry, he's most likely not a pedophile. I think. If you want suggestions on where some of my favorites are... DO NOT WORRY - located in 士林夜市 is a kinda famous shop called 原上海生煎包 that sells them 10 NT (like 30 cents) a piece. They are traditional style, and 9 months pregnant with pork juices (ha, I didn't mean for that to sound gross). These are OG style, totally legit, and mega-cheap.


If you prefer your fried tiny buns with a little less pork and a lot more cabbage, then there's another pretty famous stall called 許記 in 師大夜市 that makes a vegetable pork version that's totes adorable and also epic cheap. Like 6 NT a piece cheap. Bonus: the skins are almost as thin as soup dumpling skins, which is pretty fantastic.


天婦羅 (tian fu luo)

6. 基隆廟口(Keelung Temple Street) - I know that Taipei is the tits, and that if you only had a week, there's more than enough stuff to keep even the most ADD riddled kid entertained... BUT, if you have a chance to visit 基隆, I would. It has this sweet-ass street that's basically stall after stall after stall of food. They're famous for their seafood (obvious reason is obvious), so they pimp out incredible versions of tempura (or 甜不辣/天婦羅 whatever you want to call it), but come on... don't tell me you're not seduced by mention of a "nutritious sandwich" - a sandwich built on the platform of doughnut bread, Kewpie mayo, and hotdogs. Yeah.


7. 燒餅油條 from 阜杭豆漿 (Fu Hang soy milk) - Before I talk about how great this place is, I just wanted to reinforce the fact that fried crullers go inside the bread thinger. That's how it goes. Anyway, if you're looking for Taiwanese breakfast, there are few places that do it better than 阜杭豆漿. It's made fresh every morning - with an epic number of senior citizens keeping turnover high - and it is legitimately delicious. I would place it on a whole 'nother level from your standard roadside generic "永和豆漿" place. Their fried cruller/bread combo is pretty spot-on, but if you really want your mind blasted... get their soy milk. It has a pleasant "nutty" aftertaste that you won't find anywhere else.


Makin' pepper buns

8. 福州世祖胡椒餅 (HUGE BUNS OF PEPPER PORK) - Holy shit, have you ever wanted to eat giant buns of peppered pork? Probably not, since it's not something that you come across in the US very often. These things are basically just like over-sized meat buns... except instead of a pillowy soft exteriors, they replace that with a baked bread shell dotted with sesames and other sexual flavoring things. Then, instead of having plain pork and chives or whatever inside, they step it up and shove in a bunch of garlic, peppers, and scallions to make it slightly spicy. Also they're essentially cooked in a trashcan fire. Which I guess makes it better? To me it does anyway. The point is, if you like having your proteins encompassed by carbs, then you should eat this too.


peanut flour & cilantro variation

9. Stinky tofu from 深坑 - This probably isn't a suggestion for everyone - by which I mean, if you're a complete priss about eating things that taste rotten, you probably won't like this suggestion very much. Anyway, I realize that you can get stinky tofu pretty much anywhere in Taipei. Why the hell would you take a bus to the boonies to get rotten soy product? Because it's ape-shit delicious here. That's why. 深坑 is pretty renowned for making tofu, and when it comes to putting mold on good tofu, they're pretty good at that too. If regular stinky tofu ain't your jam, maybe the ones at 金大鼎 will stimulate your taste buds a bit more. Instead of straight frying it or putting it in soup, they basically treat it the same as pig's blood cake - coating it a sweet sugary soy sauce, rolling it around in peanut flour, and dressing it with cilantro. The end result is a somewhat sweet and savory flavor profile that has the scent of a slightly pungent wet fart. Maybe you don't like that. I don't care. I do.


Almond cream bear donut

10. Fast Food - I know what you're thinking: "Seriously? Are you retarded? I didn't fly halfway around the world to eat at McD's and shit like that. I'm done reading your stupid blog. Goodbye." I did hit my head today, but that's not why I'm making this suggestion. Listen, don't be one of those assclowns with sticks in their butts who frown on fast food. Maybe you're disenchanted with Burger King in the US, but let me tell you something. In Asia? They don't fuck around when it comes to fast food. Whether it be egg tarts from KFC, shrimp burgers from Mos Burger, or bear doughnuts from Mister Donut, Asian fast food is legit different, and in many cases baller as fuck. I mean, where else in the world could you ever find doughnuts shaped like motherfucking bears? Nowhere. That's where.

So there's that - a list of things I would eat if I had a week to spend in Taiwan. Not that this list is comprehensive at all of the things I'd like to eat (I purposefully left off the obvious suggestions like 鼎泰豐, 淡水, and 士林夜市), but it's a start. If you don't agree with something on here... that's fine. I don't really care. This was originally meant as an email for my friend, not a post, but others have asked... so I figured I might as well copy + paste my ramblings for everyone to see.

tl;dr - if you're in Taiwan, this is shit that you might like to eat. By which I really mean, this is partial a list of things I would like to eat if I were in Taiwan. You should listen to me, I'm Chinese. Fact.


joanh said...

Love it. I've always avoided "must try" lists too but get asked that question ALL the time, so I'll probablu have to do it eventually. And if I did, Tai Yi would definitely be on there.. And KFC egg tarts. And more shaved ice.

Robyn said...

THANK YOUUUUUUUU, YOU DA BEEEEEST! I'm going to get some fried cruller action in the morning.

Nicholas said...

joanh - yeah I really hate lists. This is moreso just an email that became a post, so I feel like that's okay.

Robyn - fried crullers are great and all, but you really should try to get fu hang's. They're league's better than the average place.

to everyone asking why #{insert_famous_place_here} isn't listed - because this is a list I made for a friend. I kinda assumed people would make really stupid suggestions of mad famous places. No I don't think Ding Tai Feng is worth going to.

Patrick said...

What about those sizzling pepper steak, noodles, and eggs? I love that stuff! but i guess its more japanese but taiwan kind of made it its own!

mmm and ba-wan! can you believe I havent been back to Taiwan since i was in 6th grade... I dont even want to tell you how many years that is haha

Danny said...

damn i need to go to Taiwan. haven't seen the motherland in too long...

Nicholas said...

Patrick - yeah I don't think I'd eat that if I only had a week in Taiwan. Sorry! Haha, it's just not that awesome to me.

Danny - haha, let me know if you're gonna go around new year bro.

Terry said...

this is a great list! definitely agree.

Jasmine said...

This post is hilarious, especially since I've tried most of the things you mentioned. The scallion pancake noodles sound delicious.

Personally, I'd add grilled chicken butt to the list haha.

Come check our food blog sometime!

thefattyreader said...

love it...especially the scallion pancakes in noodle form. sadly never saw that while i was in taiwan...sounds like a life-changer.

Nicholas said...

Terry - thanks Terry, I didn't want to mention all the famous places, but honestly I think I'd prefer this stuff anyway...

Jasmine - it's hard to explain to people who haven't had it before. Although I don't know if chicken butt would be in my top 10...

thefattyreader - werddddd, yo - if I find in NYC I think I'd cream myself. I'm still looking :(

Unknown said...

This was an F'ing brilliant article, I'm heading off to Taiwan... this maybe my guide to knocking down food.. thanks for the list!

Ivan said...

Stinky Tofu is not rotten, it's fermented!

I do wish SG'd lift the ban on Pig's Blood Cake (and Duck's Blood Cake too) though. I miss it terribly.

Katarina said...

In Taipei now, overwhelmed by the overload of good food, so thanks for the list even if you hate them. Lists are bomb.

In fact, you should keep a list of your favorite/most popular posts in your sidebar! :)

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