Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Ham and cheese stuffed fried chicken breast

Not much happened today. But while walking through the Shipai night market, I noticed a stall serving stuffed fried chicken breast. What they do is sandwich ham, cheese and egg between two flatten out pieces of chicken breast. Then they deep fry it and sprinkle it with red pepper powder. It's kinda like Cayenne pepper, but taiwanese. This powder seems to be common around Taipei. This stuffed fried chicken is pronounced Len Dan Ji Zha. I can't find the first chinese character, but I think the rest of it is 蛋雞炸. It's sooo good! It took a while to cook, so I sat down and talked with the owners for a few minutes in chinese of course. I will be revisiting :)

Monday, August 30, 2010


At 4:45PM Taiwan time, we had an earthquake registering a 5.3 magnitude. It lasted about 10 seconds. Since I can't understand the news reports, I dont know if anyone was injured or any buildings went down. But a 5.3 isn't that big and life around here is normal, so it's probably also considered minor here in Taiwan. Much like California, we don't worry about it unless it's over 7.0 magnitude.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Triple threat delicious!

Starfruit is in season! My relative (Hong-Mei) gave me two. So I sliced one up for breakfast.

Then for dinner I decided to try the stewed version of stinky tofu. It's called mala stinky tofu 麻辣臭豆腐. I discovered king oyster mushrooms during my visit to Cingshuei and the night market had some, so I ordered some of those also. However on my quest to find ice slush (冰沙), I discovered a local vender that sells a different variation. It includes Yakult in it. Win! So I walked home with some mala stinky tofu (麻辣臭豆腐) with fried king oyster mushroom (杏鮑菇, xìng bào gū) and passion fruit+Yakult (百香果養樂多冰沙) ice slush. Thats my triple threat yummyness for the evening. For the people reading this that know what these are, Doesn't it make your mouth salivate?

Friday, August 27, 2010

ShiDa (師大路夜市) night market next to NTNU

I visited the ShiDa night market for the first time tonight. It's right across the street from the MTC campus and next to the NTNU campus, so I may be frequenting this night market once school starts. It's a small night market, but still has plenty great food to offer. I've noticed that each night market have additional unique offerings that can't be found at other night markets. So it's important to explore all the night markets. The night market you decide to go to on a specific night, just might depend on what your craving at that moment. A few of the foods I haven't seen at other night markets is a giant desert crepe place. The crepes were the size of my head. Definitly a sharing size! I also discovered a belgium style lounge/pub (serving beer of course), Hong Kong puff pastry stand, Taiwanese beef noodle soup and a burger joint called Evans Burger. Of course the finest catch of the evening is Stinky Tofu! I found a place there that is pretty darn good. I think the best i've had so far. I didn't bring my camera so I don't have any photos to share.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

New refridgerator arrives!

I ordered and installed a new Panasonic 3-door fridge today. The old one was broken and could barely freeze anything. In addition, it was also pretty stained with rotten food and very stinky. I was so glad when the delivery men took to old smelly one away. The new one stands slightly higher and deeper, but I think it has much more capacity. The new panasonic one has a built-in deoderizer too. I hope the new one works out for the long run.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Jinguashi's Gold Ecological Park and Jioufen (Old Street)

I headed to gold ecological park in Jinguashi today early in the morning. The park was a mix of old japanese imperial housing and the miners experience. They tought you how to pan for gold in the panning experience. In the Japanese prince's house, there is an old cement mini-golf course. I didn't know mini-golf existed so long ago. There was also a tour of the 5th mining tunnel (extra cost), but we skipped it. That leaves something for next time. The entire park is situated up in the mountains. There is a long path leading into the mountains which gives a great view of the park below and the seaside. On the way back down, we were tired so we stopped by a douhua (豆花) shop. It's a cold soup made with very soft tofu and clear sugar syrup. Refreshing!

Leaving the park on a bus back down the mountain, there is an old town called JiouFen. JiouFen has a series of old streets filled with food and souvenir shops. Being a mountainside town though, the streets are on a hill. It's like the san francisco streets of taiwan. On our walk up the street, we saw a street hawker selling grilled snail. I don't know what kind, but it was delicious. At the end of the day, we took a long break at a old tea house overlooking the seaside. A perfect place to sit down with some nice scenery and share several pots of tea and just talk and talk away.

You'd think that the day is over, but once we got back to Keelung, we visited the local Miaokou night market (廟口夜市) there. We had a taiwanese sandwich which was special to Keelung. Also some oyster omelette (蚵仔煎) and desert. We spent about an hour there, then jumped on a bus for a long trip back. It was a tiring and great day, so I slept on the bus all the way back to Taipei. Good night everyone! More photos here.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I have Monies! Thousands!

I'm rich! I have thousands of dollars! $34,000 to be exact. Haha just kidding. It's all in NTD (New Taiwan Dollar). I had to extract this from my bank account in order to pay for my tuition and registration fees for my Mandarin training classes at NTNU or ShiDa (師大). I had to wake up early and make it there before 8:30 to avoid the lines and get an early position in classes. Alot of students had the same idea, so I was not the only early bird there. After registration and an oral test, they placed me in the beginning step 1 group. Realistically I could have scored higher into a higher group, but i really want to start from the basics. It's better to start from the foundation and make sure I don't have any bad habits. For future reference exit 5 of MRT Guting exit is better for MTC@NTNU.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


On my way back from Taichung to Taipei, I got a chance to stop off at Miaoli to pay my respects to my grandfather, joined by many other family members there. I haven't been to his house since I was a very young kid, probably sometime in elementary school. I remember there being an automotive school in the backyard but it looks like it's all been converted to basketball courts and bus storage now. Perhaps it's now being rented out to a school? Anyways, I got to learn how the process works. After bowing three times, we threw a pair of cresent shaped wood pieces. You pray a question before hand and the deceased answers it in how the two wood pieces land. 1 up and 1 down is yes, anything else is no. The answer was yes for the first throw. A very good sign. Afterwards, I also wandered back up to to my grandfather's old study room at the top of the hill. It is not well maintained and has been overrun by nature and the cement is failing. Never the less, I got to walk around, look through the window and experience the view from the roof. I'm so happy I got to visit Xiao Ah-Gong (as my sister and I called him) :). More photos can be found here.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Hehuanshan mountain

Hehuanshan mountain (合歡山) is a 3,421 meter high mountain that is a very attractive destination to much of the people of central Taiwan. The mountain peaks occassionaly receive snowfall during the winter months in Taiwan, a rarity. Today, I got a chance to visit the great eastern peak and enjoy the breathtaking view. The road up was narrow and dangerous. There are no dividing lines and the traffic is two ways. We would have to slip by semi-trucks and passanger trucks with only inches to spare. The guard rails didn't seem to offer much protection from the seemingly 500 foot cliff. The blind corners do not help either. But that road is the only road and the highest paved road in Taiwan. Snaking our way up the mountain, we crossed alot of aboriginal restaurants and markets. One old man was removing a cooked duck from a large clay barrel. Possible slow smoked with wood. I didn't get a chance to eat anything aboriginal, but it looked goood! At the peak and our final destination, there was a building to take a rest and grab some lunch. We ordered some Ramen and took a seat next to a big window overlooking the valley. Hong-Ying said there used to be a small ski lift here and that my Dad used to ski here back when it was operational.

On the way back down the mountain, we decided to visit the "Paper Dome" church. This was the Takatori "Paper Dome" Catholic church that was erected in Nagata-ku, Kobe, Japan after the Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995. The japanese needed to quickly reconstruct a new church for disaster relief. The paper church was later donated and relocated to Nantou County, Taiwan after the 921 Earthquake in 1999. The church and it's surrounding gardens and ponds were beautiful. I would have taken more pictures, but it started to rain. So we cut the visit short and headed back home before we got caught up in the thunderstorm. More photos found here.

Monday, August 16, 2010

CingShuei township of TaiChung County

Today I tagged along with Hong-Yin's two friends for some photography in an old, half abandoned fishing village in CingShuei township. Not very many people know about this place, and it was quite deserted except for a few people still living there. It was down a small unlisted road, under a large overpass and around a few corners. I couldn't have found this place by myself nor could I find it again without their help. This little village used to be seaside maybe 50 years ago. But the coastline has retreated since then. There are still alot of evidence of times past left behind. We found old fishing nets, steam baskets, "toilet" buckets, ceramic insulators for low-voltage wires, wooden chests, dove cages, straw brooms, and bicycles. Some of the older shacks or dwellings (can't really call them houses) were made of bamboo and mud mixed with straw and rice husks. We even found a dwelling made of mud and clay from the ocean because of the tiny crustation shells stuck in it. If you look more carefully at the construction, you can see the early versions of our rain gutters, chimney stoves, shingles and sewer system. Also, most of the residents must have been dwarfs, because the roof line of the mud dwellings are around 5 feet. This makes some of the door heights under 5 feet, not to mention the narrow width. We finally took a break around 1PM for lunch. It was HOT and HUMID! More so than Taipei!

For lunch we ended up at a spectacular looking restaurant in Dajia township for which i do not know the name. In general, it was one big lily pond with patios and enclosed glass rooms all suspended over the pond. There are lush green trees and plants and colorful flowers growing every which way. And frogs croaking over the babbling waterfall. We had slowly braised pork belly (東坡肉), cold noodles with crispy taro and asparagus, and shrimp and pickled vegetable rice with black papper to list a few. For desert we enjoyed Aloe leaves dipped in honey. Now both my camera and belly is full.

Finally we drove further north to Yuanli township. There, we visited an old traditional chinese "rich person's home" converted to a bed and breakfast. Basically a courtyard surrounded by a single story U-shaped house. Unfortunetly, they were closed for the day for the tour and history lesson. But they let us explore and take pictures on our own. The courtyard used a lot of colors and special clay engravings. But the jem of the place was the old traditional kitchen with two wood burning brick stoves. Hanging along the walls were traditional bamboo and clay tools of the kitchen. Walking out of the place and seeing the old wooden table and chairs, you could just imagine everyone gathering together for dinner in the open air of a warm Taiwan summer night. Until tomorrow, Wan-An! More photos can be found here.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sanyi township of Miaoli County

Today, I'm been invited to spend a few days with another family member (Hong-Yin) in Taichung (台中; literally "Central Taiwan"). We stopped over at Sanyi (三義鄉). It is famous for its mudiao 木雕(woodcarving) industry. Driving up the mountain we encountered an old railway station that was built there by the japanese. Nearby you'll find a street market called the Sanyi old street. Next stop was the Longteng broken bridge. The remains of this red-brick viaduct are located deep in the hills, about 4km past Shengsing Village, along country road 49. The bridge was built in 1905 and collapsed in 1935 when the Hsinchu Earthquake rocked Taiwan. There isn't much to do there except to relax at a small cafe. If your walking up this road, you may just need that break. It was a nice site none the less.

Our final stop was Chateau in the Air. It is a large house built by an artist from old iron, wood and cement. The parts that aren't covered in vines have cute stone animals decorating the walls. Inside you'll find it converted to a large cafe serving deserts, teas and coffee. The website for it is www.chateau-in-the-air.com.tw. It was great to get out of the city and start seeing the lush green Taiwan country side.
More photos can be found here.

Friday, August 13, 2010

I'm so fat my belt broke!

Today is the first time I cooked at home. Well, not exactly cooked, just a fancier version of instant noodles. I cooked some instant Oyster noodles (蚵仔面线) minus the oysters. Boil some water, add dry noodles and seasoning, then mix some corn starch in a seperate bowl of cold water. Then combine. See..fancy instant noodles :)

Anyways, a few hours later my belt busted. Was it the fancy instant noodles or because it was made in china? Yes, thats right, it's not my belly's fault and I'm not fat! I tried going to the neighborhood tailer to see if he can fix it. No dice. So being Friday and all, I decided to head back to ShihLin night market for a new belt. But first, a haircut.

I've been procrastinating on cutting my hair because of the language barrier. Now or never right? Well after some very bad chinese, i got it cut. Not the style I was looking for, but I think the hairstylist gave up and just did her thing. Umm...what did you do to my hair!? haha just kidding. It took me 30 minutes in front of a mirror to get used to it.

So back to the ShihLin night market and my search for a new belt. I finally found one I liked, and bargained it down from $1080 to $600. Later I learned that i probably could have bargained down to $300. oh well, $10 to help the Taiwan economy. Continuing with some window shopping, I discovered there are a lot of T-shirt stores. They have some pretty cool T-shirts to offer. Mostly english gibberish with a picture of an anonymous hip-hop looking dude posing like a ganster. I ended up purchasing a turqoise Pringles mockery for $7.50.

After an hour or two of shopping, I decided to head back to the MRT station. On the way back, I paid closer attention to the food they were selling, well.. because I was hungry. With all the awesome food Taiwan has to offer, I'm always hungry! I noticed a small japanese grandma selling Okonomiyaki from a stand. Okonomiyaki is a japanese omlette or pancake containing various ingredients. It's mainly asociated with the Hiroshima region of Japan. I've got to try this next visit. Walking on, I also noticed a stand selling fresh squeezed passion fruit juice (百香果). One of my favorite fruits. I love nibbling on the little seeds floating in the drink like pearls in milk tea. So I purchased a big cup for $40 TWD and promptly headed home before my eyes spy more food to make me fat. There really is still so many food options yet to be discovered. And you can always look forward to be blogging about it.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

OMG! Chou Dou Fu!!! 臭豆腐!!!

So deciding i'll be going back to ShiPai night market, I memorized the chinese characters of 臭豆腐. Add three more words to my chinese vocabulary :). Once at the night market, I was able to spot three stalls that served it. I ordered one to go, plus some popcorn chicken and strawberry ice slush. $140 TWD or $4 USD [insert big grin]. In addition, tonight was the first night that wasn't hot. It almost felt alittle cold. Of course it's probably still 82 degrees + and i'm sure it's only temporary until the season really starts to change around October. But for now, it's a relief.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Deep fried goodness @ ShiPai night market

So tonight i've decided to walk over to the local ShiPai night market as see what they have there. It ended up raining, but cleared up a few minutes after leaving the house. My main goal was to find a local vender for shou dou fu (臭豆腐) aka stinky tofu. I love that stuff! Alas I couldn't find it, but I did make another discovery. A deep fried stand serving sweet potatoes and popcorn chicken (鹹酥雞). I started craving fried sweet potatoes when I first discovered it at the TongHua night market two years ago. I haven't found it at any other night market since including the big ShihLin market. So i bought some as well as 32oz. of "Red Tea" (紅茶). That's a big american serving size for Taiwan! I'll be returning to continue my search for stinky tofu!!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Finally, Din Tai Fung!

Din Tai Fong is near the top of my list of restaurants to visit during my stay here in Taipei. So finally I got a chance to go there with my family (Hong-Mei and her husband). Their Xiao Long Bao (also known as soup dumplings) is amazing. We had two types, pork and crab filled. I'll let the photos speak...

Finally, they found me a local night market closer to my place of residence called ShiPai. Less than a mile walk. If I discover any delicious food, i'll be sure to post and share. Good night everyone!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

NY Bagel in Taipei?

Today, I joined my cousins again for a lunch at NY Bagel on Section 4, RenAi Rd. It's a multilevel 24 hour american style diner. It has pasta, salads, steaks, burgers, milkshakes and of course bagels. I'm comparing it to Noah's bagels from the Bay Area, but it's nothing like it. Noah's bagel is more or less a fast food place, limited tables, mostly order-out. NY Bagels Cafe Taipei is an elegant sit-down restaurant. They had a eclectic menu and I had difficulty with choosing what to eat. So i decided with a steak & pasta (i forgot the name).The meat was cooked perfect, but the taste wasn't quite there. Perhaps it's just the difference between asian cow and texas cow or the type of fire they use. Either way, I still enjoyed it. And being 24 hours, is a great place to eat when the Taipei night life shuts down after 2AM.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Taiwanese crepe thing

Just picked this up from the ShihLin night market. There was a long line of people waiting for it, so i figured it's gotta be good. Turn out to be a deep fried cake, crushed and rolled up in a thin flour crepe. They come in several flavors. I chose curry. When they make it, they roll it up, then whack it a few times with a mallet. Tastes awesome! Does anyone know what this is?

Edit: My cousin says it's 大饼包小饼

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Bitan bridge over Xindian river

I took some time out today to meet up with a family friend. We took a long MRT train ride down the Xindian line. Xindian is the last stop. The location is famous for it's 75 year old wood suspension bridge. It used to swing way more years ago, but now it's been strengthened with cables and metal support beams. Maybe because of too many complaints from people with weak stomaches. There is a legend that several swimmers have been sucked under and disappeared into the whirlpools in the river. I didn't feel like hauling my big DSLR out...a mistake. So my point-n-shoot sufficed.

This is a wall made out of personalized bricks. One for each person that donated. At least that what i assume. Here's one of two little piggies :)

For a 3pm snack we ate some peanut crumble covered blood cakes (豬血糕) and sour cabbage stuffed stinky tofu (臭豆腐, Shou Dou Fu). The tofu is actually fried then grilled and basted. Yumm! And for desert some shaved ice with red bean and other deliceous toppings. I think that about rounds it off. I'm heading out to the ShinLin nightmarket again suckers!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

My new tripod

So I finally purchased a new tripod. I went back to the photography district, explored alittle more, got lost...twice. Then found the same store and took their deal. $124 for a Benro aluminum tripod with a Giotto ball head. Benro is a Chinese company. Giotto is a Taiwanese company. The ball head holds 13.2 lbs, a quick release plate and a tri-level bubble leveler. US Market value is probably around $350. Win!

While exploring I had to cross the street in an underground tunnel that apparently no one uses and the city forgot about. It was dark, damp, rusty, damaged, drippy, mildewy, smelly, bug infested and downright nasty. So I took a picture LOL.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Photography district @ Taipei Main station

I got the time to visit the photography streets west of the Taipei Main MRT train station. I didn't bring my camera, but I'll snap a few next time. There are ALOT of shops. Some offering only high end name brand stuff. some offering cheaper offerings. I was looking for Benro (China brand), so i skipped the shops with Manfrotto and Gitzo. Also I was looking for colored flash gel packs. They didn't have anything close to that. Oh well, maybe i'll just make my own. In order to get there, I had to walk through the Taipei Main station underground metro mall. It's Huge! Excellent place to walk around, eat, shop, or watch the high schoolers killing time breakdancing and other sorts of group dancing.

Finally, I think i'm getting used to the heat. 100+ degree day with 90% humidity, sun is out and no breeze. Didn't have much of an issue. shorts would have helped though :(

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Huashan brewery, urban decay

Started out the day with a cup of spicey Xian Dou Jiang (咸豆浆).

Then some exploration into local Taipei urban decay of an old brewery. It's now called the Huashan 1914 creative park. On Weekends they have mini K-cars parked there serving small snacks. During the evening it's a good place to pick up a leaded drink.

Then finished the day off at a nice Japanese restaurant. It was a cool place. Live band suspended above the bar. The place used to be an old theatre. They had a boat of Uni pile don Uni, my favorite! and only $11, I love Taiwan!