Taiwan May 2010 Day 1 – Outbound for Taipei
We visited the Butterfly Garden located within Terminal 3 Transit Area and had lunch at Hard Rock Cafe at Terminal 3 before boarding our 4.5 h flight on Jetstar to Taipei!
Lunch at Hard Rock Cafe located within the Transit Area of Changi Airport Terminal 3.
Kool lookin’ “wall” of electric guitars
“Piano Bar” at Hard Rock Cafe
Fish ‘n Chips from the set lunch menu seems to be the best choice. Comes with standard corn starch soup. I thought the entree coleslaw is quite nice though.
Small portions but rather chunky pieces of fish, which tasted like sea bass. A welcome change from the cheaper sutchi catfish passing off as dory,
fish ‘n chips
dessert was a serving of strawberry mousse on sponge. Palatable but not memorable. Well… can’t expect too much from a S$9.90 set lunch!
A quick check-in to City Inn Hotel located near Taipei Main Station. The standard room is rather small by standards and is designed in a minimalistic sense, with the sleeping area partitioned by frosted glass from the bathroom.
After dumping our luggage at the hotel, we took a bus to 南机场夜市, located along 中华路 after 和平医院. Unlike the usual 士林夜市 or 饶河夜市, 南机场夜市 is a 在地人才可能知道的夜市 “known to locals only” night market. Even the receptionist at the hotel corceige didn’t know about this place when we asked for direction confirmations!
Rows of food stalls along the sides while motorcycles and scooters zoom by. The small alleys are not cordoned off from traffic like the other 观光夜市 around Taipei . Being a 在地人才知道的夜市，we seem like the only tourists around there!
First on our menu is 钰师傅上海生煎包. A stall which has been around the area for more than 30 years, some Taiwanese foodies claim that Chef Yu’s version of Shanghai Pan Fried Buns are better than the famous 原上海生煎包 at 士林夜市.
Looking at the crowd gathering around the stall, it seems to be good!
A pan full of buns quickly being snapped up!
And while one pan is frothin’ and cookin’, another is quickly being packed with anticipation!
The boss showing us his “babies” to much delight and pride.
A box of 6 dumplings
Cabbage and shrimp filling
minced pork with spring onion filling
Another highly raved stall at 南机场夜市 by the internet foodies, 基隆黑轮综合甜不辣. Both these snacks have their origins in Japan. “黑轮” in taiwanese dialect is how the locals pronounce “oden” while “甜不辣” is phonetically similar to “tempura”. They were probably introduced into Taiwan during the Japanese occupation but have since acquired a new colloquial ethnicity, which is very unique to Taiwan.
A wide selection of delectable goodies to choose from!
Judging by how busy the three women are behind the stall counter, it has to be good! They work factory workers on a conveyor belt, each having their specific role.
来来水饺馆 is another favorite amongst locals. This shop which specialises in dumplings have been around for more than 30 years and still counting. Its constantly packed with people looking around for seats.
There are other dumpling stalls and shops that spring up but 来来水饺馆 seems to be drawing the largest crowd!
Sour and spicy soup (酸辣汤)
A plate of 10 minced pork dumplings
A starchy base filled with ingredients like cabbage, tofu, carrot, egg, black fungus, shredded mushroom.
Workers packing and bagging non-stop, operating like clockwork, one kneading the dough skin whilst 3 of them fill ’em up with filling and off into a huge pot of boiling water it goes!
Note the molehill of filling!
Next on the list is 好佳蚵嗲. 蚵嗲 is basically deep-fried oyster cake, much similar to 福州蚝饼 we find in Singapore. But the Taiwanese version is packed with cabbage and spring onion as well, minus the peanut we find in 福州蚝饼.
We ordered one 蚵嗲, cut into 4 pieces
Thin crust stuffed with ingredients
Dipped in a specially made sauce. I had the spicy version.
脆皮花枝包 is another popular item, which is basically squid paste deep fried in beancurd skin. Sounds like a hybrid of ngoh hiang (五香) and sotong youtiao (苏东油条) .
The filling is very succulent and tangy. Probably added with fish paste as well. The squid paste is very coarsely battered and one can still taste bits of squid which adds on to the texture!
3 basic ingredients to make 蚵嗲 – a flour batter, which was probably added with whole eggs, salt and pepper to taste. A mish-mesh of chopped cabbage and spring onion, probably flavoured as well with salt, which also helps to drive out excess water (osmosis!) and finally big fat oysters!
A spoonful of batter is first added to the metal ladle. The former was first dipped into oil to prevent the batter from sticking onto it. Cabbage/spring onion is then added, followed by oyster and then packed with another round of cabbage/spring onion.
The top is then quickly drizzled with batter and off into a wok of hot oil it goes. The oil has to be sufficiently hot so that the batter hardens to form a crust rapidly. This seals in the ingredients, keeping the insides moist and soft while the crust is crisp! When its ready, the oyster cake “lifts off” by itself from the metal ladle (like an UFO!) and is then given a few ceremonious flips and out it comes!
Love the presentation but we ain’t fans of 滷味 in particular and decided to give this stall a miss.
Another “must-eat” on the foodies’ list! 好吃炸鸡. Try this and you wouldn’t want to eat another other stall anymore!
Apart from fried chicken, they sell every other thing that can be deep fried! From the usual cuttlefish balls, sweet potato, calamari aka squid rings to more exotic stuff like 猪血糕 which basically translates to “pig’s blood cake” . Our advice is they should do fried banana fritters aka “goreng pisang” as well! Should sell like hotcakes!!!
One of the best fried chicken we’d ever tasted… and its damn cheap! 4 for NT20! Where else on earth can you strike a bargain like this!?
The batter reminds of KFC’s crispy version, just that this is much better! And its not the least oily… All boils down to good temperature control and a good recipe I guess!
An ojisan selling kebab
Some non-food stalls are still open at night, this one sells shoes
Another one selling shoes
Teppanyaki stall (铁板烧)
Famous fruit drink stall at 南机场夜市 operated by an obasan and her two daughters. She’s famous for several things. (1) Offering some portions of fruit juices of other flavours while the customers wait for their offers to be blended, (2) she’s never seen without her hair being “set”, (3) her daughters and her all very chatty and in all smiles at all times, well… apart from in this picture at least!
Our venture for the night, 永康街芋头大王. A franchise outlet from Yong Kang Street where many famous eateries like 鼎泰豐, 冰馆 made their humble beginnings. They are well-known for the yam-based desserts and that’s what we are here for!
Two queues at the front counter, one for takeaways and one for in-store orders. We managed to get the last portion of their signature dish, 芋头牛奶冰. Lucky!
永康街芋头大王, 芋头牛奶冰, 红豆牛奶冰, dessert, ice, yam, red bean
A wide selection of toppings for those who opt for variety by choosing the 任选四种冰．Starting from the front row, there’s almond jelly, green bean, barley grass jelly aka chinchow, oatmeal (yes! oatmeal!), kidney beans, yam, 爱玉 jelly, 芋圆, mango, honeydew, red bean etc!!!
Last portion of 芋头牛奶冰 of the day and its ours! Despite being the last, quality is still ensured.
红豆牛奶冰, another favorite amongst dessert lovers. Cooked to the right degree of softness and sweetness. YUMZ!