I'll be in Taiwan for about 10 days in January, and I need advice. I used to live there when I was in middle school. Moving from the U.S. to Taiwan was a shock; my hamburger loving, Chinese-food disliking palate made adjustment difficult (besides the obvious cultural and language issues), and I actually lost several pounds my first year (if you can imagine losing several pounds in a 10-yr-old). But, in my 4 years there, I picked up a love of Taiwanese food that I keep to this day.
I have a ton of wonderful food memories, and I bet you do too. What I'm looking for is your favorite foods in Taiwan, and where your favorite places are to get them. Some of my favorite foods, and where I used to get them:
- boiled dumplings and hot-and-spicy soup (in the mini-market area near the Farmer's Hospital in Taipei)
- wonton soup (the Taiwanese version with really thin, light wrappers and very flavorful filling, in a small ice shop in Taoyeun)
- beef noodle soup (favorites from 15-20 years ago are Old Chang's Dan-Dan Noodles in Xen-Ai Rd, and a large open-air stall near the Pei-Tou market with lots of tables set up in the open)
- meat/fish paste combination (xuo gung) in a thick broth w/noodles (20 yrs ago, there was a great place in the temporary market near Pei-Tou underneath the construction site of the light rail)
- 4 Gods soup (intestine and various herbs in broth, at the same vendor in the market)
- stinky tofu (20 yrs ago, an old former soldier had a tiny pushed stall in an alley-way in Peitou. The tofu was beautifully crisp, the sauce was so savory and garlicky, and the pickled cabbage was perfectly complementary to the tofu; more recently, I had very good stinky tofu at a place in Shih-lin night market where I waited 30+ minutes in line)
- literally, "meat balls" (xuo wan); a pork/bamboo/mushroom mixture in a large gelatinous dumpling that is deep-fried, then cut into pieces and sweet/spicy red sauce poured over it (at the same vendor in the temporary market)
- salt water duck (or goose) (don't know where we used to get it -- but oh -- it was amazing!!)
- Taiwanese breakfast -- sao-bin-yiao-tou dipped in sweet soy milk (there was a terrific place at the base of Yangmingshan which made its sao-bin fresh in an oven after you ordered it, also made a great egg "pancake" (dan bing))
I'm hoping to get to relive some of these, and make some new food memories, too. Where are your favorite places for your favorite Taiwanese foods? We'll probably travel a little up and down the island too, so don't limit your choices to the Taipei area.
Thanks for indulging me, and I hope I get to hear about a lot of your favorite places!