Monday, October 31

Ay-Chung Flour-Rice Noodle (Sticky Noodles), Taipei


Another must-try in this culinary center is this sticky noodle made using traditional Fujian longevity noodles, with either oysters or intestines or both (I know this does not sound very appetizing to some, but trust me its delicious). It’s almost like a stew, and is eaten with a dash of black vinegar, hot sauce (be warned, this place has a very lethal hot sauce) and a generous sprinkling of Chinese parsley. There are many such stands throughout Taiwan but the place to go eat this is Ay-Chung’s at Hsimenting (nearest MRT Hsimenting). Its not surprising to find long queues at this shop that has no seats. And diners literally slurp the noodles up, while on their feet! It costs NT$35 (US$1) for a small bowl and NT$50 (US$1.50) for a large one.

Saturday, October 29

Tong Yuan Dessert, Taipei

Chung Hsiao Fushing, Lane 216, No. 38
T. 2777 2056

Tong Yuan Dessert is usually the next stop following Wei Lu (I have a routine going on this food trail). It’s a short walk from the hot pot restaurant and the desserts here are great for cooling down the steamed up palate. Tong Yuan serves an interesting array of desserts that is very similar to chng tng in Singapore. But only in Taipei do you get to select the combination of ingredients that goes into the dish. The items available are mindboggling but my favourites (its NT$45 for up to four ingredients) are the steamed sweet potato and yam, mu er (a crunchy fungus) and the chin chow (a dark jelly with a mild herbal taste), they drown this is a light sweet syrup and ice. You can also choose to have this hot (this works particularly well in Winter).

Wei Lu (Manchurian Hot Pot), Taipei

Ren Ai Road, Section 4, Lane 345, Alley 4, No. 6. T. 2752 9439

This is one of my all time favourite hot pot places in Taipei. Tucked away in an alley, it serves one of the most unusual tasting stock I have tasted anywhere. The specialty here is the suan chai pai rou guo or pickled vegetables with pork hot pot. Manchurian in origin, the hot pot is served in a traditional pot, with a mile high funnel and steamed up using charcoal. The soup is filled with loads of pickled bok choy and thinly sliced pork, crabs, and tofu lending it a mildly sour taste. It’s a very refreshing change to the other favourite, the spicy mala soup. You can order an assortment of thinly sliced meats (beef, chicken, lamb, pork), vegetables, noodles and tofu (the frozen ones have a particularly interesting texture that soaks up all the flavour of the soup) to add to the pot. But what brings out the flavour even more is the array of condiments – Chinese parsley, sesame paste, chilli, Chinese wine, vinegar, crushed garlic and ginger - that you can mix together to create your very own dip. Heavenly. I make it a point to swing by this place every time I am in Taipei. I have not had this in the middle of winter as yet but I can only imagine that it would be divine.

Yong He Dou Jiang Da Wong (Soya Bean Drink and Snacks), Taipei

Fushing South Road, Section Two. T. 2736 7560

It may be a famous 24-hour eating hole but my favourite time to go there is in the late morning. To be greeted with a bowl of steaming hot soya bean milk and freshly fried you tiaos (dough sticks similar to churros but minus the sugar) is a great way to start the day. Try dunking the you tiaos into the hot milk – it soaks up the milk so that its altogether moist, sweet and offers a bit of a crunch all in one bite. The soya bean milk comes either sweet or savoury – simply order to your liking. Other breakfast items I love here are the dan bing (a thin pancake, almost like a crepe, with egg), fan duan (a sticky rice roll with you tiao and pork floss stuffing), fried carrot cake and on occasion, the xiao long bao (steamed meat dumplings). Yong He is quite an institution in Taipei with many branches and an equal number of copy-cats. Make sure you visit the mothership on Fushing South Road.