15 Food Places to Try in Taiwan

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I traveled to Taiwan with a foodie so I really did not have to worry where to eat.  My friend, Gail, already had a list of places to try.  We agreed that we would be flexible with the choices. We also wanted to save time.  Gail’s list was more of a guide and not a fixed itinerary. We agreed that if we happen to be around that area in her list we would try the suggested dishes.  On this trip, there were hits and misses but, nevertheless, we were happy eaters.

This list is actually the 15 food places we tried in Taiwan. I took photos of almost all of the food we ate so this post just brings back yummy memories of that trip.

Here are the 15 food places you might want to try in Taiwan:

1. Fu Hang Dou Jiang

As soon as we arrived and stored our things in the MRT lockers, we trooped to this food place in Gail’s list. It was not hard to find because the moment we walked out of the MRT exit to Shandao Temple we saw the line outside the HuaShan Market.  The line was long.  The end of the line was around the corner and the food stall was still on the second floor of the building.   We lined up anyway.  (Both Gail and I graduated from a university where long lines during enrollment was the norm then. All those four years of patiently lining up for registration were not in vain.  Ha! Patience, indeed, is a virtue we both acquired from experience. )

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Gail was the one who ordered the food. There was no English menu so she just pointed her order hoping she got a good one. It was like lottery. I guess she got a jackpot.  We got a hot soy milk dish, a cold soy milk dessert, an egg dish and bread.

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We thought we should have a similar dish in the Philippines since we are all fond of taho. It was yummy.  Judging from the crowd, the place was a hit. What amazed me was that Fu Hang Dou Jiang was established in 1958. I wonder if these lines were this long since 1958.

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2. Convenience stores

7-Eleven and Family Mart were everywhere. We made it a point to check out what they had to offer. I think Gail bought as many milk teas as she can bring to her family back home.  I only bought a regular coke in a can with a cute cherry blossom design. We realized too late that it was expensive. I could have picked some milk tea instead.

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3. Sukiya.

This is actually a Japanese food chain.  There was a branch near our Airbnb rental so it was easily our breakfast place when we want to eat a quick meal. Sukiya has a breakfast menu so we just chose from the selection. We also observed what the Japanese patrons ordered and it seemed they also chose from the breakfast menu.

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4. Fu Long Boxed Meal

This was part of the free lunch in our Klook tour to northeast coast of Taiwan. The box contained pickled veggies, tofu, braised pork, egg, sausage and rice. It was already a complete meal.

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5. Ikea food court

Gail and I both agreed that we should visit Ikea. I wanted to check out their different showrooms where I could see how different spaces are being decorated with Ikea products but, alas, the Taiwan store did not have that showroom. Nevertheless, we were happy to fill our tummies in their food hall.  I got the Swedish meat balls and Gail had the salad.  We shared the dessert and fried chicken. And for some reason, I wanted to eat waffles.

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6. Random breakfast place

We were very early in Ximending because we were afraid that the tour bus might leave us if we get lost and arrive late.  We did not. The meeting place was easy to find. Since we had ample time, we searched for a place where we could eat breakfast.  We found a small eatery that served sandwiches. It was yummy and was enough to fill our empty stomachs.

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7. Jiufen food stalls

It was raining and time for lunch. Food stalls were full. We were hungry. We immediately chose the first stall with available seats for us and ordered whatever they were offering.  We got noodles and meatballs.

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Then we ate along the way. We got peanut ice cream roll and fried mochi.

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8. Shifen random food stall

We did not fly lanterns in Shifen so we looked for a place to eat. We found this eatery and ordered noodles. it was still raining and a bowl of soup was comforting. That fried taro roll is yummy, too.

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I got the beef noodles while Gail got the wanton noodle soup.

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9. Yu’s Almonds

We were dropped at Ximending at the end of the tour. By that time, the shops around the area were already open. We found Yu’s Almonds by chance which was in Gail’s list.  We got a hot almond milk type of dish with some herbal jelly drink.

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10. Ningxia Night Market

Taiwan is known for its night markets. We specifically went to Ningxia for the food finds in Gail’s list. For some reason, we could not find the stall on her list since we only had the photo and not the name or the exact location. We just chose a random stall and picked a dish. We took a selfie but later we found out that a passing Taiwanese guy photobombed out shot.  Funny.

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We also tried some fried potato balls with salted egg in the middle.

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11. Mos Burger and Matcha Latte

It was another early day and we were at the train station without breakfast. We wanted to secure our ticket first. Once we got our tickets and schedule, we grabbed something to eat.  This time we chose Mos Burger which I learned is another Japanese fast food chain. We also grabbed a macha latte from 7-11 which we loved.

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12.  Red Bean Tofu Dessert at Zhong She Flower Garden

If you watched my Taiwan video, you would know that we walked from  the train station to the Zhong She Flower Garden.  All that walking made us hungry so we dropped by this small eatery near the garden entrance. If you’re Filipino or have tasted taho,  this dish was like cold taho with red beans.

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13. Japanese Restaurant at the Taichung Train Station

It was past lunch time. We were hungry so I was not able to remember the name of the restaurant. Put me in a Japanese restaurant and I would most likely to order ramen if it is available.  So I got ramen while Gail got some tomato-based soup.  This was yummy.

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14. Ximending Night Market

We were trying to follow Gail’s list. We only got to try 3 dishes and we called it a night.  Shocking.  We were looking for the stall with colorful drinks but we were not able to find it.

A long queue is an indicator of good food so expect us to exercise our lining up skills.  This is Ay-Chung Flour-Rice noodles. They served flavorful noodles with pig intestines. Gail loved it. For me, it was okay. It was filling and it reminded me of a flavorful home-cooked sotanghon.

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We also had this mashed potato topped with corn and bacon bits that was swimming in cheese sauce.

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We found a bench and we devoured this sinful goodness.

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We also got a barbecue-flavored fried mochi.

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15.  Great Food Town- Airport Food Court

I spent 4.5 days in Taiwan and I thought I would be chugging bubble tea everyday.  It was not the case so I made it my mission not to leave Taiwan without trying bubble tea so I really looked for it at the airport before we left.  Mission accomplished.

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These were the different dishes we tried in Taiwan.  We looked like we ate a lot but we really wanted to eat more. We missed the good xiao long bao near the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall. We were in a hurry when we visited the place. We also missed the shaved ice dessert on the list. We also planned to hit the original Din Tai Fung and the quirky Modern Toilet; we just did not have the time.  Oh, well, there is always the next time.

Till next time, Taiwan!

Walk-in Fridge: Safe Food Storage

The wonders of the walk-in fridge!

Have you ever wondered how restaurants, bakeries, pastry manufacturers and other kinds of businesses cope with storing large amounts of food in a way that respects all the relevant environmental health requirements? Well, the walk-in fridge, (or cold room) together with its big brother, the walk-in freezer, pretty much hold the key to how they keep their stocks of food products and ingredients at the right temperature. As their names suggest, these items of kitchen equipment are large enough to actually stand upright in. They can come in a variety of sizes, but all will adhere to fairly strict guidelines when it comes to temperature. Generally-speaking, walk-in fridges will maintain temperatures of between -2°C and 12°C. There are often two different temperature zones in play: a chiller, with temperatures of between 2°C and 12°C, and a colder zone, (-2°C to 5°C). Walk-in freezers, on the other hand, typically keep food at a constant -18°C to -22°C. At these temperatures, food can be stored safely for years.

How to store food safely

Fridges and freezers, of the walk-in type or any other, need to be used correctly to ensure they do their job properly. With this in mind, one of the most important things you can do is to keep a careful eye on your appliance’s temperature. Domestic fridges and freezers don’t always have their own digital displays – in this case, invest in a thermometer and check it at least once a week. Keep fridges clean by wiping up spills – this will help keep bacteria at bay. It is also extremely important that food that needs freezing or refrigerating is safely stored away as quickly as possible. Nothing destined for cold storage should be left at room temperature for more than 2 hours. In warmer weather, this time limit is reduced further. Finally, neither fill your freezer too full – this prevents proper air circulation – or leave it mostly empty either, as it will have to work harder to maintain the proper temperature in a nearly empty space.

5 Tips for Ordering a Custom-Made Cake

When it comes to specialty cakes, it’s easy to get so caught up in the big picture that you forget about the little details. Who’s thinking about serving sizes when you’re trying to find the perfect cartoon dinosaur for Little Jimmy’s fifth birthday? But you do need to consider these things if you want the cake to be a success, so before you dive too deeply into the land of pterodactyl photos, here are five tips for ordering a custom-made cake.

1. Size

How many people do you need to feed? Think about portions instead of diameters. For example, instead of ordering a 10-inch cake and just hoping that it will be enough, tell the bakery that you’re inviting 15 guests. They should be able to suggest a size to accommodate your company.

2. Shape

Shape is important for both fashionable and functional reasons. In terms of style, a cake with an actual dinosaur tail is more exciting than a round cake with a dinosaur face on it; as for portions, the shapes and layers of your cake will determine how much you’ll have to go around.

3. Flavor

There are many different options for the body of your cake, including:

– White
– Yellow
– Chocolate
– Banana
– Carrot
– Red velvet
– Graham cracker

You can also request special blends and layers if you can’t decide on just one flavor. Ask your bakery for more information.

4. Filling

You can dramatically increase the tastiness of a cake by adding some filling. While ice cream is probably the most mainstream option, you can choose from dozens of options that include fudge, buttercream, custard, mousse, cream cheese and a variety of fruit fillings. The sky is the limit!

5. Icing

Last but certainly not least, the icing is the best part of the cake. You don’t even need to be told that you’ll have all kinds of choices in colors, flavors and textures, especially if you give the go-ahead for extra toppings like nuts and sprinkles. Just make sure that your icing tastes as good as it looks. Some decorative fondants can sacrifice flavor for style.

These are just a few helpful suggestions for ordering specialty cakes Chicago IL. Whether it’s a birthday, anniversary, holiday, graduation or promotion, a cake can be just what you need to celebrate life’s biggest moments!

Hits and a Miss in Valentine Cooking

Valentine’s day may be for lovers and being a singleton, it is easy to dismiss it as a regular day. However, Valentine’s day is also about love and I have loved ones around me so I try to make the day a little more special. To be precise, I do something special with food.  In the past, I have made popsicles and cooked a meal.

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This year, I planned to prepare breakfast, cook a meat dish,  make a salad and bake a cake.  However,  I had to finish a report so I ended up doing everything in batches. It was a good thing because Valentine’s for us extended until the 15th.

I ‘multi-tasked’  our lunch on the 14th. I was still doing the report and it was already  10 a.m.  I cooked the pork belly in the pressure cooker to soften the meat.  After which, I marinated the meat in a korean barbecue sauce. I cooked the marinated meat in the turbo broiler afterwards. I picked this type of cooking because I do not have to look after what I am cooking.  I just let the timer run and it rings when the food is done.  Voila! Say hello to our Valentine lunch. This was a hit.

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I was able to finish the report on the 14th so by February 15th, I was free! I woke up early to make breakfast.  I planned to make ‘egg on a cloud’. I saw that  Tasty video and it looked easy. Boy, was I wrong! These do not look like the one on the video.

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Yes, you can start laughing. The egg white looked fluffy in this picture but it tasted like paper.

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We tried to analyze what happened. It really looked like they were eggs on the cloud while they were in the oven. However, I left the eggs there when I turned off heat because I left the house to buy bread.  I did not want to leave them outside for fear there might be flies and other insects landing on the eggs. Maybe that caused the egg whites to continue cooking.  It is safe to say that was a fail.

After breakfast, I prepared the salad. Since Waldorf salad is best eaten cold. I made it first so I can chill it in the fridge. We love the Waldorf  salad that a family friend makes and since we have walnuts sent to us by my aunt in Canada, we wanted to try to make Waldorf salad. The Waldorf salad is said to be invented by the maitre’d of Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. It is a simple salad made of apples, grapes, celery with lemon and mayonnaise for the dressing and topped with toasted walnuts. My version used cucumber instead of celery and calamansi instead of lemon. I also added yogurt and cashew nuts.

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For me, it tasted good. For my aunts, they wanted to add cream and sugar. I guess they are used to the salad dressing we often make.

The highlight of day is the caramel cake.  I wanted to bake a cake likes Estrel’s so I found Corinne’s blog. She shared a similar recipe from her aunt.

I love how my chiffon cake turned out. I used to burn my cakes because my old oven did not have temperature control.

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This is what it looked like when I poured the caramel icing.

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The Swiss buttercream frosting held up, too. I just need to practice the consistency of my swirls.

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It is a pretty cake (if you look past the imperfections).

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Beyond the aesthetics, the true measure of good food is the taste.  My aunts liked it. One aunt said that the buttercream is too much to her liking. My cousin also said that a thinner layer of buttercream will do. But I secretly love the buttercream. Real butter (as opposed to margarine) is divine! The buttercream hardened in the fridge when we stored the leftover. When I wanted to eat the cake, what I did was I let the cake rest beside me while I work and eat it when the butter softens.  Yum!

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This is hit.  But… I might not make this cake anytime soon. It took me 6 hours to finish from baking the cake to frosting it! But this will definitely be my go-to cake for special occasions.

By the way, belated happy Valentine’s day! Hope you all had a good one.

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Enjoy a Healthy Alcoholic Mixer

There is a new line of low carb alcoholic mixers on the market, especially VLING, which are exciting alternates to traditional mixers. Not only are these low sugar and low calorie and have no caffeine, but they are also electrolyte-infused to deliver the nutrients that promote the hydration that is so important when you want a healthy drink experience.

Those Hydration Mixers are also great tasting and are available in tonic, soda, citrus, and cranberry pomegranate and can be added to your favorite drink recipe.

Why to Stay Hydrated

Alcohol diminishes the body of essential nutrients that are related to hydration. If you stay hydrated all night long as you are drinking, you should be able to avoid the typical hangover symptoms of headache, nausea, sensitivity to light, poor motor skills, achy muscles, diarrhea, and other symptoms.

Since alcohol strips water from the body, it is important to prevent dehydration. Brain tissues are mostly made of water, so dehydration has the effect of shrinking those tissues, which creates the painful pressure of headaches and hangovers.

Make Better Choices

Choose a liquor drink that contains some water and/or a hydrating mixer. Some whiskey experts feel that adding water also brings out the alcohol’s deeper flavors. You can add a bit of wine to a glass of water, which will help prevent dehydration and keep those pearly whites clean.

With tomato juice, plenty of ice, and a celery stick as garnish, a Bloody Mary can actually help hydration. Be sure to stick with low-sodium tomato juice as some brands, especially commercial Bloody Mary mixes, are filled with salt, which makes dehydration worse.

The tropical Pina Colada can help out with hydration with lots of ice, coconut water, fresh fruit, pineapple garnish, and just a single shot of alcohol.

Coconut water contains essential minerals and vitamins like potassium, calcium, phosophorus and magnesium and has fewer calories, less sugar and sodium, no artificial flavors, and more potassium than a sports drink and many mixers.

Get fancy by blending booze with sparkling sodium-free carbonated water. The bubbles may cause you to drink less than you usually would.

Instead of snacking on high-fat sodium-filled foods, refresh yourself with hydrating veggies and fruits. Watermelon, celery, grapes, melons, berries, cucumbers and grapefruit are examples of those that contain lots of water that can hydrate you nearly as much as a glass of water.

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