Friday, June 22, 2012

Food in Taiwan

The best activity in Taiwan is eating. In a way perhaps unlike any other culture, the Taiwanese have developed a special relationship with food--and they are always eating it, even when they are not hungry. While in the southern part of Taiwan, I took advantage of the nice mixture of traditional food choices with those options from western-style and other overseas dishes. This is a bar-restaurant in Hengchun called Goat's Restaurant. It is owned by a man nicknamed Goat and his wife and family. Goat likes Bob Marley and he and his wife decided to leave their jobs in the city to open this place in Kending.  

The food is good. It is simple Taiwanese-style (southern Chinese flavors and lots of seafood) and the chef executes the dishes well. I had stir-fried pork with basil. Basil is really common in Taiwanese cooking. They combine it with stir-fried dishes using pork, chicken, shrimp, clams, crab, and sometimes beef. They also deep-fry it with fried chicken and put it on salads. 

The food at Goat's place is good and I was comfortable there. I even got to see Game 1 of the NBA finals between The Oklahoma City Thunder and the Miami Heat. It was nice, but I knew that it wasn't the traditional Taiwanese dining experience of Hengchun (the main town near Kending) and that was what I was after. I asked Goat where I could go to find that kind of place and he directed me to Xiangcun dongfen ya (Coutnry-style duck vermicelli noodles). 

The exterior looks like any non-assuming eatery front seen throughout Taiwan. This is the real headache in looking for the really good food: many of the stores look very similar. I recommend asking a couple of locals before deciding where to eat. Most of the time any given restaurant in Taiwan will deliver, but there is always the off chance you could end up with something you didn't want.

This is the main dish, the dish they are famous for serving. It is a bowl of vermicelli noodles with a helping of roasted duck meat and other spices.

I got mine with a plate of xiaocai (little snacks--tea-steeped boiled egg and sliced tofu jerky with ginger).

This is a meal for champions.

After the noodles I still wanted to try more things, so I headed back into Kending to a spot near my hotel called Beer. Because it had such a creative name, I thought it wouldn't hurt to check out the inside. The typhoon made sure that I was the only soul in the restaurant.  

They served a fairly limited menu; most of the dishes were Japanese style kebabs. I ordered the bacon-wrapped scallions and the cumin chicken wings. Super tasty and a nice way to end the evening.

The next day the rain was sporadic and I was able to get a couple more shots of the scenery before I had to leave. Kending is very beautiful when you can see it. The water is warm and clean; the people are friendly. I really like it here. 

For lunch I went back the traditional Chinese-style food that is ubiquitous in Taiwan. This is Peking Duck. It is not necessarily a Taiwanese dish, but it is popular.

 The way to eat this dish is by using a small tortilla and filling it with a bit of meat, the sauce, and scallions. You roll it up like a burrito and enjoy.

My kids love this stuff

It was a nice day.



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