Street Eats


Advertisement
Taiwan's flag
Asia » Taiwan
October 8th 2016
Published: September 30th 2017
Edit Blog Post

The Most Incredible Calamari ...The Most Incredible Calamari ...The Most Incredible Calamari ...

... though the presentation is second to none, walking while eating it in this stick form would be impossible - it's impossible to chew through the thick calamari without mangling it, and eventually dropping it on the ground. This was just for the aesthetics - once ordered, they chop it it up and fry it a second time, giving it the crispiest texture imaginable, and the most spicy, savoury flavours with the multiple seasoning salts and powders set out for customers. Easily one of the tastiest and most popular items available among Tamsui's street stalls, but perhaps something we should have skipped - a single serving is huge, and we struggled to finish even 3/4 of it, after having sampled so many other delicious items already. Plus, every calamari vendor offers free samples, so simply by strolling around, you could probably eat about ten bite-sized morsels of the stuff without having to put out even one cent, saving both money, and far more importantly, stomach space for other foods. Or you could be less piggy than us, and just order a few of the larger tentacles on offer, for a more manageable portion size.
Geo: 25.2851, 121.531

The selection of Asian restaurants available in Taiwan is stellar - sure, there have been a few minor misses with our choices, but it's definitely not a spot where you would easily be bored with the variety. Even if, for some strange reason, the Taiwanese dining scene became tedious, there's a whole other world of food to explore - Taiwanese Street Eats, which has a widely-acknowledged reputation for being the best on Earth.

The Taiwanese love their night markets, but in typical Asian fashion, they aren't places for dinner - you come here when you want an evening snack, but only after you've thoroughly stuffed yourself at dinner. You don't so much eat in Taiwan as you gorge, and it isn't limited to the regular dining hours - it's nearly a 24-hour activity, and the night markets nicely fill the gap between dinner and midnight. We had planned to hit up at least two night markets during our five days in Taiwan, but could only squeeze in one - truthfully, we just never really felt eating later at night, due to the heat and humidity taking its toll during the day, and also because there isn't a whole lot of
George Mackay ...George Mackay ...George Mackay ...

... a Canadian missionary. Interesting that his depiction looked quite Asian to us, even though he was not ...
stomach space left after gorging all day long.

We discovered the perfect compromise today in Tamsui, a little historic town just outside of Taipei that offered up a bit of everything that tourists seek - history, sights, shopping, and most importantly, food! Our first exposure to Taiwanese street eats was on our first night at Ningxia market, but we really didn't take full advantage of the plethora of munchies available - we weren't all that hungry, and truth be told, didn't even really need a snack. But today in Tamsui, the goal was to go hard on the street eats, and it essentially became our breakfast, lunch, and early dinner.

Walking along Tamsui's waterfront was wildly entertaining, especially on a Sunday - there was a wonderful carnival-like atmosphere, as seemingly every family in Taipei had made their way out here for a day of fun. We hadn't seen this much street food in one area in Taipei, not even at Ningxia, and were blown away by the offerings. It was difficult to choose at first, as we needed to catch our breaths and figure out what people were even eating, such was the barrage of foods.

Fried chicken, blowtorch beef cubes, spring rolls, grilled sausages, tanks of live seafood, fried calamari, stuffed chicken wings, bubble tea, wood-fired buns, fried quail eggs ... how to choose??!!!?!? I can't imagine that it would be possible to top today's street eats, though we did indulge a little too much - we had already seen the most beautiful fried calamari this morning near the metro station, and had already made up our minds to sample that on the way out. The same strategy applied to a stuffed chicken wing, but we hadn't banked on eating so many other delicious things along the way.

By the time we got back to the stuffed chicken wing stand, we were pretty full, yet we managed to cram one down, despite it seemingly being filled with nearly an entire bowl of rice. We really should've skipped the calamari, but were both glad and sad that we didn't - glad because the batter was so wonderfully-crispy and the calamari supremely-tender, but sad that the portion was so big, that we had to throw out a decent amount of it. That was positively sacrilicious ...

Being our last full evening in Taipei, we had planned on hitting up the Raohe night market to see what goodies they might have on offer, but our over indulgences in Tamsui left us feeling so full, that we weren't even able to eat dinner until just after 9:30 PM. It's sad in a way, but we ended up back at the main train station's food court for dinner - the offerings there are so varied and of such high quality that we haven't felt a need or desire to eat at an actual sit down restaurant.

We almost missed out tonight, however, since we hadn't realized that the food court's 10 PM closing time meant that last call was at 9:30, and we were turned away from the first ramen joint we came across. Luckily for us, the second joint was more accommodating, and graciously took our order and promptly seated us. What would we have done had we not been able find a meal at the train station? Hmmm ... perhaps a visit to Raohe night market might have been in order, after all ...



Additional photos below
Photos: 33, Displayed: 25


Advertisement

Red Castle ...Red Castle ...
Red Castle ...

... Tamsui has some jarring architecture, with the odd building standing out due to its conspicuous style - a Victorian-style brick building is wonderfully out of place, and is yet another atmospheric food and beverage destination in Taiwan.
Tamsui Customs Officer's Residence ...Tamsui Customs Officer's Residence ...
Tamsui Customs Officer's Residence ...

... Tamsui was a neat place for a stroll, on a few different levels - the food is always a highlight in Taiwan and the waterfront had a wonderful carnival-like atmosphere, but the interesting colonial architecture might have been the most unique aspect. The local musician playing tunes on his Spanish guitar provided a nice soundtrack as we strolled the grounds of this Spanish-inspired little villa ... definitely an unexpected experience in Taiwan.
Tamsui's Cultural Park ...Tamsui's Cultural Park ...
Tamsui's Cultural Park ...

... a former Shell warehouse converted into another cultural center - a neat place to stroll around for a few minutes, but it was fairly quiet on a Sunday morning. Once again, the Taiwanese demonstrate their aptitude for taking derelict spaces and converting them into something useful.
Bad All Around ...Bad All Around ...
Bad All Around ...

... a calligraphy installation at the Tamsui Art & Culture Park asked visitors to sign their Chinese names in their best penmanship, using a traditional Chinese brush. Which is the worst fail, that Benita wrote her name in the wrong order, or that I had to "creatively" write mine in English? At least I was original, as I was the only person to write in English!
Fried Quail Eggs ...Fried Quail Eggs ...
Fried Quail Eggs ...

... really, served like this, they are just eggs - but being able to stroll around the waterfront while eating a skewer of tiny little eggs is something we couldn't pass up.
Freshest Seafood Buffet Possible ...Freshest Seafood Buffet Possible ...
Freshest Seafood Buffet Possible ...

... walk up to the tanks, pick what you want, how much you want, tell the workers how you want it cooked, they weigh, you pay, and you eat. Get any simpler or more delicious than that?
Hot and Humid ...Hot and Humid ...
Hot and Humid ...

... Taiwan's heat and humidity have been taking a beating on us so far - after a short uphill slog to the Red House, we were dying of thirst. Luckily, you never seem to be more than 50' away from a bubble tea joint in Taiwan, so we were able to quickly quench our thirst with this passion fruit bubble tea with pearls and lychee jelly. Tart, cold, and refreshing!
The Smell of Charcoal Drew Us In ...The Smell of Charcoal Drew Us In ...
The Smell of Charcoal Drew Us In ...

... it may not look like much, but this simple bun was the best thing we ate in Tamsui - I doubt we would have even looked this at this shop had it not been for the delicious aroma of food cooking in a charcoal-fired oven. Wonderfully golden-brown and sprinkled with sesame seeds on the outside, inside we found the most incredibly-juicy mixture of pork belly and vegetables. So juicy, in fact, that when I bit into it, hot meat juices gushed out and splattered all over my pants!
Crispy Shrimp Rolls ...Crispy Shrimp Rolls ...
Crispy Shrimp Rolls ...

... served with two sauces - a garlic soy glaze, and a Thai-style sweet chili sauce.
TFC ...TFC ...
TFC ...

... Taiwanese fried chicken - while quite different from North American styles, I would put Taiwan's versions up there with any other. The Taiwanese are masters of the deep fryer, producing some impossibly-crispy foods - this may not have been the best we've had in Taiwan, but was still fantastic, seasoned with just a little bit of lemon pepper.
Grilled Sausage ...Grilled Sausage ...
Grilled Sausage ...

... I think there was a bit of squid in this pork sausage, which had a texture somewhere between a hot dog and a Vietnamese beef ball, and a slight hint of sweetness. The angled cuts weren't just for presentation - this resulted in some crispy charred bits, offering up a nice textural contrast to a normally-spongy sausage.
Massive Stuffed Chicken Wing ...Massive Stuffed Chicken Wing ...
Massive Stuffed Chicken Wing ...

... thinking it was a Thai-stuffed chicken wing, we were all over this one! It ended up being something different, however, as it was stuffed with sticky rice. Good, but far too heavy and filling for us at this point, after having sampled so many other foods - it was almost a small meal on its own. We would've liked if these guys just served plain chicken wings, as they were masterfully grilled, perfectly browned and glazed - that way, we could've eaten a number of them, instead of just the one!


Tot: 2.706s; Tpl: 0.021s; cc: 10; qc: 29; dbt: 0.0381s; 2; m:saturn w:www (104.131.125.221); sld: 1; ; mem: 1.4mb