Snippets of Taiwan

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My first week to Taiwan has passed by so fast! There has been very little down time as most of the time is spent eating, traveling, then eating some more. If you know me, you know that I am so proud to be Taiwanese. Aside from the heat and bugs, I absolutely love Taiwan. There’s just something about this place, whether it’s the ease of transportation or food, the people, or how old fashioned this place is, Taiwan in itself is breathtakingly beautiful. Here’s just a few snaps from my past week all combined into one post. Almost all are food related as I shall be making other posts on activities later.

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This is a snapshot of the shopping culture. Shopping in Taipei is so easy since it’s everywhere. Venders will often be in the streets with their items laid out in boxes for people to go through. The best part is when the police come and the venders quickly gather up their items and run away. Either street selling isn’t exactly legal or the other stores want to maintain a good image without having the competition of the street sellers. But often times vendors will be hollering something along the lines of “Just in, the newest fashion ever,” “Special price, can’t find cheaper anywhere else,” or “Still hot off the boat,” as the vendor above was shouting to get the large crowd. And in that moment of excitement, you buy. I bought two dresses from this guy. My favorite part of this picture is the two men on the left side outer circle, one even holding a purse as they wait for their girlfriend/wife picking through the clothes. Very typical.

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My mom loves this little stand which I guess in the best way to describe it, serves a sweet dessert soup with different toppings such as boba, grass jelly, rice balls, lychee, any of that stuff we would normally just put inside of Boba drinks back in the States. For a bowl, it costs just $2 when converted. I’ve probably been here four times now since it’s so convenient, fast, and refreshingly cool.

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My parents have always had a problem with being much too consistent in what they do (4 of the same cars same color, same ice cream flavor for the past 20 years, same go-to restaurant, etc) and that has been passed down to me. It might be genetics or something. Since I landed, I have had a green onion pancake egg roll with sweet soy milk for breakfast every single morning. There are other options of course but I stick with what I already like. Many breakfast shops are simply set up like the one shown above where customers can quickly order and grab it to go on the way to school or to work. This one is right downstairs from where my grandmother is at so I’ve been coming here every day to eat. They do all the cooking, frying, and steaming right at the very front. Sanitation is not a word they recognize.

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Then there are the actual sit down restaurants. Coming to Taiwan, there are a few basics that you have to eat. A trip to Taiwan would not be complete without a bowl of good quality beef noodle soup. Yea there are hundreds of restaurants in Taipei that serve beef noodle soup, and yea they are probably all good otherwise they wouldn’t have any business. But for amazing beef noodle soup, you ask a local for a suggestion on where they go for their bowl of soup. And for this, we turned to my aunt and cousin. They highly recommended this restaurant and a few of their more popular dishes and so we went. We were not disappointed.

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The meat almost fell off the chopsticks as I tried to pick it up. The broth, although spicy, had a depth and I knew I wasn’t just drinking watered down broth. We paired it with the highly recommended dish, a pan seared pancake that we use to wrap marinaded beef (reminded me of bulgogi) and green onions. This was perfection and flavors on fleek. I would come back just for this side dish.

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Now let me introduce you to my favorite restaurant in the world. I’m all about simplicity with layers of flavor and that’s exactly what this place does. Called “Du Xiao Yue,” this restaurant specializes in a type of noodle soup called dan zi mian. There’s a broth with some meat poured over some noodles and bean sprouts, topped with a piece of shrimp, and that’s that. One bowl only cost the equivalency of $1.60 and a side dish of their fried shrimp roll should almost be mandatory to be ordered because it is so darn good.

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They make this in the traditional form with one man seated with everything that he needs around him. While it is in a modern setting with people refilling what runs out, it’s still unique to see they have kept the simplicity in the making of their dishes.

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Other restaurants have included Din Tai Fung, which specializes in steamed soup dumplings. While this chain is also in US, they make the best dumplings and I couldn’t resist a meal there. The juice from the meats come out when steamed and creates a soup inside the dumplings. Must be handled with care so the dumpling skin doesn’t tear until it reaches your mouth!

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My relatives also took us to eat Thai food and while I almost always shy away from anything spicy, this meal was well worth it because of all the flavors and textures. There were marinated meat, coconut milk curry, smoked duck, curried shrimp on rice cracker patties, it goes on but ugh so good.

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This post seems to have gotten quite long and has made me hungry reliving all the flavors! This is only the appetizer of my trip in Taiwan, there is much more to come!!

 

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