Delicious Randomness: Snack Till You Drop!

Posted by on Sep 17, 2010 in Eating like an Emperor - in Taiwan | 1 comment

Heyyyy all. So. Delicious randomness. What does that mean? It means, salty, sweet, fried, iced….Taiwan street food smashed into one long post! So let’s get started, and hope you guys like my occasional random pictures. First up is this delicious grass jelly milk drink. A sort of milk tea, they add plenty of sweet cream and grass jelly to make the overall taste a light sweet milky flavor with a bit of tea thrown in. Yum yum. Next are these mini pancake treats with various ice cream mousses inside. My sister and I were walking the streets of Taipei, Gong Guan when we saw this vibrantly green store. Immediately we were all “Stop! We must get these!” but alas, the adults ahead just kept on walking in oblivion. Luckily, I was able to snag them the next day, and thankfully I was able to remember to remember the shop location. Mmmm, they were cold and frozen on the outside, but melted as you ate it, and had a soft chewy texture. The mousse had a nice whipped airy consistency. Here they are: green tea&red bean, taro&mochi, and cranberry&vanilla. Oh, and we also had this great soup with fish balls stuffed with meat. The store we went to is supposedly famous for this soup, and I can definitely understand why. Although it looks plain on the outside, the soup is well flavored and has a meaty flavor to it. The balls also have a chewiness on the outside, but the inside is juicy and fatty with plenty of meat. Just the juice dripping out of the balls was good enough for me! Next, we have sweet and cold little chewy balls made out of powdered rice and turned into a chewy sort of jelly. They were filled with green bean and red bean. A strange first for me, as they were cold, but not hardened. Very interesting. And here’s the cute little birds and rabbits a lady was selling right nearby! Okay, now let’s get to…fried food! Now everyone loves fried food (unless you’re a health fanatic, in which case I sympathize) and once again the food I’m going to introduce is balls…fried that is. Hm, it feels like all the foods so far have been circular haven’t they? Anyway, these were absolutely addicting. First, they make two different types of batter: yam (purple), and sweet potato (orange). Then they fill the batter with taro mochi, roll them into bite sized balls, and proceed to fry the life out of them. The result is hot, chewy, gummy, sweet, and most of all, fried. No need for anymore words to explain this. Alright, I guess I’ll continue my babble next time…look forward to tons more little snacks soon! By the way, I decided not to title it as my street food series since a lot of the foods I talked about weren’t exactly sold on the street, but rather in stores, so hope you guys like this new post! Peace~ – Jas Photos taken and provided by Jasmine...

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Soup Dumplings

Posted by on Sep 12, 2010 in Eating like an Emperor - in Taiwan | 0 comments

On Yong Kong Street in Taipei, Din Tai Fung’s original restaurant can be found popping out steamer after steamer of their specialty all day long – soup dumplings. Although a bit pricier than what you might find at other stores, this place is still worth a visit for the Taiwan tourist. With stores located all around the world, this shop is not only well known but they know how to attract the tourists. A small gift shop selling various accessories with their mascot is right in front of the shop, giving the people waiting on line plenty to do until they’re seated – not to mention possibly emptying their wallets before even eating. Inside, the restaurant is surprisingly big and of course, packed. The middle of the floor is occupied by the kitchen. Glass panels make it so that all curious customers can peek in on the busy chefs and attempt to invade their personal space. Or at least try to win a staring contest while making sure nothing’s slipped into the dumplings. I kid. Seeing as how all the other tables are busily gorging themselves on various assortments of soup dumplings, we decided that a steamer per person (ten dumplings each) should be more than enough. First off, the vegetable soup dumpling. Let me just say that I have no idea why we ordered this. Sure, it wasn’t all that bad. The inside was stuffed full of finely chopped veggies. The skin itself wasn’t too thick and didn’t fall apart once you poked it either. But where’s the soup? And that’s just it. There wasn’t any. So, I’d like to throw in my two cents and suggest that this thing just be called a dumpling without the misleading ‘soup’ attached. Even though the first steamer left me a bit disappointed, I was quickly put at ease when the second steamer arrived. Now these were the real deal. Though it broke my heart to do so, I poked one open just so that you lovely readers could get a better look at it in all its delicious glory. Lightly seasoned meat, skin that was nice and thin – the little knot at the top didn’t even taste too doughy – and most importantly, the soup. One poke said it all when the precious little spoonful of meat broth spilled out. Things were looking up and the last steamer didn’t disappoint either. What do I like more than an original soup dumpling? Soup dumpling that has tender bits and pieces of shrimp in it, that’s what. When the container came, I was feeling a bit skeptical since I saw that these dumplings had been shaped the same way as the vegetable ones. These fears were soon put to rest. Do you see that? That’s not bits and pieces of shrimp. That’s a whole entire shrimp hiding in my dumpling! Not to mention it’s still got a decent amount of juice lurking inside it too. Now how could I not get excited by this? Compared to the original, these were lacking in the soup department, but what they were missing I felt was completely made up for by the shrimp. All in all, the place really isn’t that bad and I was pretty satisfied at the end of the meal. Full actually. With the prices though, I probably wouldn’t go back too often despite their fame. If anything, this is a one time thing just for curiosity’s sake. By the way, for the tourists under the age of twenty, you’re viable to apply for a Youth Travel Card. If you pull...

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Taiwan Street Food: Part 3! (plus my 7-eleven ramble)

Posted by on Sep 9, 2010 in Eating like an Emperor - in Taiwan | 1 comment

Hey guys, sorry I haven’t posted for awhile. With my birthday and school coming up, I haven’t found the time in the past few days. But not to worry! I’m back in the mojo, and would like to start off this post with a great big THANK YOU! to my dearest big sis for putting so much effort for making my birthday special. Not only did she make breakfast and a delicious cake for me, she also blackmailed tons of you guys for your birthday well wishes. (Thanks guys!) I thought I would revisit Taiwan’s awesome street food, as I miss it so much more now that I’m back in New York. First up, I have to point out that the 7-eleven’s here in the US are nothing, NOTHING, compared to the ones in Taiwan. The Seven’s in Taiwan come fully equipped with: ready made food, microwavables, an ATM, a post box, a movie ticket machine, magazines, face wash, ointments…you name it. Man, I miss the Sevens. Here’s a taste of what I got there last: Tea eggs. Although I technically didn’t buy this in the streets, they are sold pretty much everywhere. What I noticed about the ones in Seven are that they are all cooked thoroughly with the delicious tea sauce, allowing the flavor to fully seep through the skin and into the yolk. When they are cracked and easy to break open like this one, you know that it will be a tasty little treasure. Mmmmm. A variety of sandwiches made fresh everyday and packaged to the stores. These come in flavors that usually aren’t found in America. They have more asian flavors, such as shrimp, or egg salad with tuna. The one I had was very satisfying, and the fillings were stuffed to the brim, so no skimping there. Milk! The milk in Taiwan usually has a much sweeter flavor than what we Americans are used to. Since Taiwanese usually prefer sweeter drinks, the milk made in Taiwan usually has sugars added in it, which I don’t particularly like. However, Dr. Milker doesn’t add those sugars, resulting in good, rich, natural milk. Quite a find. Oh, and my friend kept raving to me about this particular brand of pudding made in Taiwan, so I had to try it: Honestly? Not bad, but I can make better pudding than this. =] Alright, now that the 7-Eleven ramble is over, let’s get back to the real street food. My Uncle took us to this little shop one time that was famous for its shi sen soup (large intestine soup with four kinds of grains). I can see why the place is well known, as the soup was good, and they even gave free refills of the soup as long as you didn’t finish all the grains and intestines. The soup was well flavored, with enough wine to keep it from being tasteless. We also had a rice bun, a meat bun, and more importantly, Peanut Milk! Sadly, I forgot to take a picture (gasp!) but I remember it perfectly nevertheless. Being the first time that I’ve tried peanut milk, I automatically assumed it would be thick and goopy with chunks of peanuts. Boy was I wrong. The peanuts are crushed so fine and mixed so well in the milk that it just tastes like peanut flavored milk. Pretty thirst quenching as well. So good that I regret only having half a cup. Here’s another little snack that I enjoy: baby tomatoes stuffed with sour plums. The sweet yet tart chewiness of the plums go amazingly well with...

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Taiwan: The Kingdom of Fruits

Posted by on Aug 20, 2010 in Eating like an Emperor - in Taiwan | 2 comments

Due to a lack of stable internet, S.S.Munchies has not been able to update with new posts for quite a while now. So, while I still have a steady stream of access, I’ll leave you all with a quick post about one of Taiwan’s specialties: fruit! Everyone loves fruit! Okay, I suppose I can’t speak for everyone but I know that I love fruit…even the ones that I’m allergic to. But an itchy throat doesn’t mean much to me as long as I’m rewarded with sweet juicy deliciousness. Thus, I persevere and continue to stuff my face (my specialty). =] Fruit in America just doesn’t compare with those of Taiwan’s. Here, everything is fresher, bigger, and ohmygawdelicious! From the common pear to the exotic Custard Apple, I’m more than happy to eat a meal that consists of fruit and only fruit…Oh wait, I already do that. Silly me~ Unfortunately, this will only be a small sneak peek at the wide assortment of fruits available in Taiwan due to: My being shamefully unprepared with a camera many times when stuffing my face, and Certain fruits are either out of season or not yet in season Nevertheless! Here is a small introduction to fruits that I’m sure everyone has tried before, and some that you may not yet have had a chance to.  Starting off with the Custard Apple, as mentioned above in my program, this fruit is quite unique. Named after Buddha’s head due to its strange shape, it falls apart easily in your hands (which can sometimes be inconvenient) but the taste is an awarding sweetness, pleasantly similar to that of custard. There’s quite a lot of seeds and it can be almost a hassle to eat, but makes a good snack for when you’re just sitting around watching television or something. The Dragon Fruit, also known as the Pitaya/Pitahaya orhuǒ lóng guǒ (火龍果) in Chinese [literally translated as the Fire Dragon Fruit], is the fruit of a cactus. Which cactus? I haven’t a clue, but I imagine its flowers are rather impressive little creatures. All I know is that despite the outside of the dragon fruit looking like a hot pink, underdeveloped artichoke of sorts, the inside is a monochromatic contradiction to the brazen colors of the outside rind. The fruit is made up of supple white flesh, flecked with a scattered design of black poppy-like seeds. With a mouth-watering, light, sweet taste, the texture of the flesh is soft and creamy. I’m told that the Dragon Fruit is highly concentrated in Vitamin C, minerals, and a high fiber content…not like any of that actually crosses my mind while I’m busily peeling its rind. Next up is the pineapple, but not just any pineapple! This one’s albino. The pineapple is seen as a symbol of luck and prosperity in Taiwan. This is due to the leafy parts of the pineapple looking similar to that of a crown, as well as it being called ‘ong lai’ in Taiwanese which is pronounced closely to the word ‘prosperity’ (wong lai). The white pineapple is supposedly sweeter and juicier than the regular yellow pineapples. I was a bit skeptical at first until I took a bite. Then another, and another, and another… Last but not least are the Fragrant Melon (xiang gua) and the beloved mango. I have to say, I wasn’t a very big fan of the Fragrant Melon, but then I realized my mistake was that I never had it when it was fully ripe…or overripe even. When the melon’s not yet ready to eat, it tastes like a cucumber...

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The Very Thai Restaurant & Bar

Posted by on Aug 6, 2010 in Eating like an Emperor - in Taiwan | 1 comment

After a day of satisfying shopping that left hearts filling with excitement at new purchases and breaking with loss as precious bills departed from the wallet, we wrapped up the shopping bonanza with a visit to the Very Thai Restaurant & Bar. Located on 319 Fu-Shin North Rd., Taipei (just in case anyone ever visits Taiwan and wants to check it out) the restaurant’s interior is rather modern and even classy. Mostly a dark environment, the place has a slight elegance to it and you feel as if your very own table is private despite the other patrons around you. Quite nice, especially with the curtains that can be drawn to ensure that special ‘private’ feeling. So anyway, enough about the surroundings and on to the good stuff. First up, the Ipomoea aquatica…or the Water Spinach, Water Morning Glory, Water Convolvulus…okay! Geez, I’ll stop quoting Wikipedia and just go with the good old “Hollow Heart Vegetable” in Chinese [空心菜]. Cooked in shrimp sauce, these veggies didn’t need any extra oil or salt to liven them up. The first bite hit my tongue with a blast. I’ve always liked the hollow heart vegetable but the shrimp sauce really gave it an edge. The distinct flavor of the little crustaceans were quite strong, the vegetable still had a crisp and crunchy bite – not overcooked. However, my second bite had me quickly realizing that this was a dish that needed to be accompanied by rice. Next came the seafood salad. Accompanied by squid, scallops, and shrimp – all marinated in a mildly tangy spicy/sweet sauce – this was a simple dish of tomatoes and onions fancied up with a bit of scallion and cilantro. You could still taste each individual bit from the salad, nothing really overpowered the other. Very light, very simple…I had seconds. =] At first glance, I thought that these were just regular old Indian pancakes or even scallion pancakes (without the obvious green speckles showing everywhere) but one bite told me that these were shrimp pancakes! How odd…and delicious! The little bowl of sauce was a sweet little concoction that sat as a nice glaze atop the salty pancakes. Not too salty and not too sweet, these pan-fried shrimp pancakes had a thin crunchy ‘crust’ with a soft and chewy center that had the unmistakable texture of shrimp. I always forget that Thai curry is a bit special and different from what I’m used to eating from home. A special ingredient that for some odd reason never crosses my mind until I’m eating it once again – coconut. Personally, I like my curry to be a bit more on the chunky side. Potatoes, carrots, meat, etc. Taking into consideration that Very Thai is a restaurant that tries to serve traditional and authentic Thai food in a modern way…I forgave them. After all, while the curry itself was mostly sauce with four chicken legs and three chunks of potatoes, the sauce is really what’s most important…and it was good. The sweetness of the coconut was refreshing, though not so sweet that you couldn’t taste the curry itself. Chicken was tender and cooked long enough that the taste of the curry had permeated it, and the potatoes? There could’ve been more. A small plate of pickled vegetables was served on the side with the curry, but I didn’t find anything too special about it really. The lemon fish – although staring at me blind eyed and slack jawed – was probably my favorite dish by far the entire evening. I know I must have referred to the other dishes...

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