Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Taiwan - Part 1 (Yanmingshan, Beitou and Ximending) + Alpha giveaway

Herrroo y'all! Yes, yes. I know. My posts about Taiwan are way overdue. So before the year comes to an end and whilst I am currently on break, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to start my series of posts on my trip to Taiwan earlier this year.



Egg crepes for breakfast

Here it is and fyi, it is a lengthy post but I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed eating my way around Taiwan.

Mos burger including a bulgogi burger on a rice bun

So the first thing I literally ate as soon as I landed in Taiwan was a burger. I know but hey in my defence, it was my first time checking out a Mos burger.  It was late, I was tired, not much else was opened around that time and I was hungry. The burgers were good (especially the chips and fried chicken heh) but I thought the burgers were slightly overrated. Maybe I just didn't order the right flavour? Am I the only crazy person that thinks this? 

Egg crepes 

After dinner at Mos Burgers, MC and I headed back to the hotel for some solid sleep to recharge our exhausted bodies. The next morning, we felt completely refreshed and was finally ready to start our holiday. We asked the people at the hotel for some breakfast recommendations and they recommended some traditional egg crepe. OMG! THIS was one of the BEST things I had eaten in that entire trip. MC and I loved it so much to the point that we had the same thing again for breakfast the next morning.

These pancakes were freshly made and were super hearty. You can get different types of filling and they are all as good as each other. The crepe was light, slight crispy and went well with the vegetarian fillings. This is a must get when in Taiwan and are very inexpensive. 

Calla Lilies

Calla Lily Festival

After fuelling up for the morning, we started to make our way to the Calla Lily festival at Yangminshan National Park (Beitou District of Taipei) which is around March and April each year. After walking along the brown wooden bridge, you would soon find yourself standing amongst endless number of lily fields with calla lilies standing tall and strong everywhere. 

If you want to take home some lilies, you can either have the novelty of choosing and plucking out your own or you can simply just purchase the ones already plucked. MC and I wanted to take some back to the hotel room but unfortunately, we were going to be checking out the next day so the opportunity wasn't really there for us. Plus it also meant we would have to lug it around all day. 

Next to the entrance of the lily fields are these food stalls that are spreader along the street filled with lots of street food. 

Yangminshan isn't the easiest to get to. Depending on where you are located in Taipei, you would most likely have to catch two buses. I thought the lilies were pretty but didn't think it was worth all the effort to travel up there. I would say that if you have the time then yeah it is worth checking it out but after going and seeing it myself, I wouldn't prioritise it as highly. Don't also forget that the national park is HUGE and there are other places to check out, we just didn't have the time.

Hot Thermal valley

Hot spring river - open to the public

Hot spring river - open to the public

After Yangminshan, MC and I headed down to the Beitou district aka the valley of hot springs. First up was a visit to the hot thermal valley (by hot, I mean 100 degrees). It was so dam hot that you could feel the heat from afar. Look at all the steam coming right off the water! Imagine all the eggs you could cook in it! On our way back down to the main part of Beitou, you will pass by a river where the locals and tourists dip their feet into the water that flows from the hot thermal valley. Obviously it isn't 100 degrees but it certainly is still warm. Such a natural zen environment.

We also took a dip at the hot springs but unfortunately no cameras were allowed in there. It is a public hot spring but it was definitely worth ever cent.

Beef noodles

The line up + other small side dishes

Pork balls with noodles

After having a dip in the hot springs, MC and I were starvinggggggggggg. We found this noodle "restaurant" not far from Beitou's main station (when you tap out of the station, head right, cross the main road and continue heading in that direction - it isn't far from a bubble tea shop). I believe the noodles were less than AUD3 each, including one side dish. This was the cheapest meal I had during my entire trip in Taiwan. Unbelievable. The best thing was also the beef broth which tasted out of this world - so authentic and packed with loads of flavour without it being overly salty. You could tell that the broth had been boiled for hours. 

Beach view from Danshui

Danshui night market

Grilled squid 

Grilled shallots wrapped with bacon

After Beitou, we headed to Danshui for some more food at the Danshui night markets. We got there around 5 pm which had a bit of a crowd but a couple of hours later, the entire place was packed out. There were humans everywhere.

There was soooo much food to choose from but we had to choose wisely because we wanted to try as much as possible without wasting valuable stomach space. One of the couple of things we tried was the spicy grilled squid and grilled shallots wrapped with bacon. I quite enjoyed the grilled squid, was one of my favourite foods from the market. It wasn't too heavy and had quite a bit of bbq flav. The grilled shallots weren't really my thing, way too my shallots.. even if it did have bacon on it.

Ding Tai Fung

So one of the big questions when one travels to Taiwan is whether the Ding Tai Fung in Taipei is better than the one in Sydney? Does it taste the same? Is it worth the queue? Well, before I answer all those questions, I have to say that MC and I were pretty lucky. We had a late lunch and there was still a queue but it was only approx. a 20 minute wait at the one in Taipei 101. Not that bad considering that I have heard of people waiting for up to an hour or more for it.

After trying it, personally I wouldn't wait more than 20 or so minutes for it. Yes the menu has a much bigger variety than the one in Sydney but taste wise, it is pretty much the same! Might as well save your stomach space for a different restaurant or the markets.

Traditional taiwanese breakfast 

Left: Egg with radish cake
Right: Omelette roll
Another popular area of Taipei is Ximending (Wanhua District) which is where MC and I stayed for our final leg of our Taiwan trip. Imagine strips and strips of streets like Pitt Street mall. It is where all the cool young kids hang out or go to do their shopping.  At Ximending, you can pretty much find anything.

One of the things I fell in love with whilst in Taiwan was their traditional breakfasts. For egg lovers like myself, you will come across the issue of deciding what you want to choose from because there are so many options. One of the popular breakfast joins in Ximending is Hong He Soya Milk (obviously famous for their soya milk, duh) on Hankou Street. You can't miss it because there is always a massive crowd waiting around. If you are looking for a super hearty breakfast then this is the place to go and of course, you must get yourself a cup of their famous soya milk served either hot or cold. The other best thing is that these meals are really inexpensive. It is like around 5 bucks pp for a dish and a drink. Winning. 

Traditional taiwanese breakfast including oyster egg omelettes and more radish cake
Goose from Goose Cuisine - another must have when in Taiwan

Threaded noodles with pig intestines

Another popular place in Ximending is flour rice noodle soup, Ay-Chung Flour rice noodle which is another famous must-eat street food dish. When I stumbled across this place, I saw this massive line  and though oh wow, it must be good (but then again, I have been told the Taiwanese love the queue up for things). It is essentially specialises in one thing, threaded noodles served in a vinegary soup, bamboo shoots and.. pieces of pig intestines. I actually didn't know it had pig intestines until after I got it but that is a whole another story. For those that are curious pig intestines tastes like mussels.

Making taro ice cream wraps on the streets

Taro and peanut butter ice cream wraps

Shaved mango ice

Another popular dishes / must have's when in Taiwan is the taro and peanut butter ice cream wraps and shaved mango ice. The taro and peanut butter ice cream wraps can be found mostly at Jiufen but they also have it around Taipei. The taro ice cream wrap is essentially a thin crepe wrapped around taro and peanut butter ice cream, coriander and shaved peanuts. I know, it sounds completely weird right? Coriander with ice cream??? really?? MC and I heard heaps of people rave on about this so we had to give it a go and surprisingly, it worked. The sweetness of the ice cream went well with the peanuts and the coriander added a refreshing touch. Perfect for a hot summer day. I do not think this is a dessert for everyone but I would strongly suggest trying it before judging it.

Stay tuned for more posts about Taiwan as MC and I eat our way through the country but before then,    I am also giving away a $50 voucher to Alpha as part of my 5 year anniversary giveaway with thanks to Wasamedia.

Feasting at Alpha
Photo credit to Wasamedia

The gorgeous decor at Alpha
Photo credit to Wasamedia

More feasting at Alpha
Photo credit to Wasamedia

All you have to do to enter is simply share some love by letting me know in the comments section what would you order if you won the $50 Alpha voucher. For me, I would to get my hands into that spinach cheese pie.. so heavenly..

Competition closes 9 pm AEST on the 29 of December 2014.

Good luck y'all and gotta go eat!!

13 comments:

  1. i love egg crepes for breakfast, the ones with pork floss are the best! and i would love to try that spinach and cheese pie!

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  2. Oh man I wanna go to Taiwan now! Now you also got me curious about the egg crepe. Hmmm you'll have to order a beef type burger at MOS next time and that's prolly why it didn't live up to the hype for you.

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  3. omggg loving all the food pics!! Would love to try the taro and peanut butter ice cream wraps mmmmm

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  4. Ooft Taiwan has such an awesome range! I want to try that shaved mango ice asap :)

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

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  5. Looks like you had a blast in Taiwan! I'd defs be keen to try the loukamades as an avid sweet tooth :P

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  6. Chocolate hazelnut baklava FTW! Anything Nutella-Esque is a clear winner!

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  7. Sweer & Sour Sticky Pork Spareribs with Fresh Chilli and Spring Onions - cooked authentically - Sweet As!!!

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  8. yum so much street food! Also I agree on mos burger, way overrated. Neither Jas or I were impressed

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  9. Hi.
    May i know that sunset photos were took by yourself?
    Because i want to stay at Alisan House after see your blog.
    I want to see sunset of alisan and sunrise at Zhushan(part of Alisan). I want to make sure to get best way to see sunset and sunrise.. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hi.
    May i know that sunset photos were took by yourself?
    Because i want to stay at Alisan House after see your blog.
    I want to see sunset of alisan and sunrise at Zhushan(part of Alisan). I want to make sure to get best way to see sunset and sunrise.. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Shinta! Yes, all the photos unless credited, are all taken by myself. I highly recommend staying at Alisan House and going up to the roof top to see the sunset. The clouds don't always appear. My friend went recently and it was quite foggy so it really depends on the season when you visit. I went during April. Sunrise was stunning but I personally though the sunset was better.

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