There's not much food porn for this little bit. Scroll down to the stinky tofu part if you'd like.
I had breakfast next door at a familiar place called Dante Coffee. I wanted to see if the sandwich was as good as last time I had it. The coffee shop sells both half portions (one slice) and two portions (two slices). It wasn't difficult ordering from the menu. I just pointed to the photo and paid. The lady said something to me in Mandarin. I had no idea what she said. I just nodded. Mhmm...
When I picked up my sandwich and sat down, I gazed at the slice for a few minutes. The photo above was taken from last visit to Taiwan. The layers were there, although both slices looked as dry as the bottom slice in that photo. I took a bite and it was the same combination of sweet success. The fluffy sweet Taiwanese bread played against the ham and the saltiness of the cheese. I wish there'd be more ham. Overall, the breakfast sandwich was as good as I remembered it to be. I still need to recreate this.
My late lunch, in the form of beef noodle soup, was found at a restaurant near the City Lake hotel. Located steps away from the Huzhou station, I could've wandered off further but I didn't feel like an adventure. After all, I stayed at the hotel to rest and recharge.
With the help of the front desk, I picked up a map that listed and marked out where the nearby restaurants were. I asked for beef noodle soup and the lady pointed at a beef noodle soup restaurant on the map, so I took a little stroll across the intersections. The restaurant was small and quite, but I knew that I was in the right place as soon as I sat down. There were old people and younger couples enjoying bowls of beef noodle soup. Bingo!
I was given the menu and stared back at it. There were a few pictures but the menu was in Mandarin. How lovely... I eventually settled on the smaller bowl of beef noodle soup and a half order of dumplings. As for the tea that I was given, IT WAS WINTER MELON TEA! You don't know how excited I was. It tasted like every other winter melon tea I've had, but it was a gazillion times better than the muted stuff restaurants usually serve.
While I nervously waited for my food to arrive, I watched the other people in the restaurant. An older gentleman took a break from his bowl of noodle soup and walked up to a corner of the restaurant, where there was a drink dispenser. He refilled up his cup and his wife's cup full of, what I can only assume was winter melon tea. Oh my! I happened to finish my cup a few minutes before he got up. I looked up at him as he walked back to his table, then looked at my empty cup, then up at the drink dispenser. I grabbed my cup and walked over as casually as I could. I tried to hide how giddy I was when I approached the dispenser. My cup was filled with the mysterious tea. I triumphantly walked back to my empty table and took a sip. Heaven -- sweet thirst-quenching heaven!
As I got up to fill my cup again, another middle-aged couple walked in. They must've been regulars because the owners welcomed them in and began having a loud (but happy and non-aggressive) conversation with them. Then the lady said something which was equivalent to, "I'll have the regular." The owner disappeared from the dining room and the lady walked to the other corner of the restaurant where there was a table of condiments. She picked up a bowl and filled it with something. Looked like veggies, hot sauce and vinegar or soy sauce. She brought it back to her table and then waited for food.
I must've looked like a tourist. Definitely. I had been sitting in the restaurant for a good ten minutes, staring at the menu and looking around the restaurant. I walked up to the condiment table an grabbed a dipping dish and scooped out some pickled mustard greens. There was a bit of minced garlic mixed in their finely chopped condiment. I picked up the bottles of mysterious sauces and smelled each one to find the soy sauce. I poured a bit into another dipping dish and then headed back to my table like a boss.
As I was on my way back, a lady carried a bowl of beef noodle soup to my table. Waaaaah! It was the equivalent to a medium sized pho bowl, but it's pretty large considering some of the serving sizes in Taiwan. The bowl of noodle soup was like an artwork.
I took a sip of the soup and it packed a lot of flavour. My mouth is watering up as I'm reminiscing. It was beefy and rich, with hints of spiciness. There was quite a lot of depth, but it wasn't as good as the first time I had Taiwanese beef noodle soup. The noodles had a bit of chewiness and was very tasty. And the giant chunks of beef? They were so tender and were packed full of concentrated spicy beef soup. Simply amazing. Then I added some mustard greens to the fold and it tasted even better!
The dumplings were alright. Nothing spectacular. The beef noodle soup was clearly the star. I paid less than $4 Canadian for all of that. Awesome. Taiwan is awesome.
This is the iconic Taiwanese night market snack. It’s Jimmy’s favourite and now Andrew’s too. They both couldn't get enough of it, and I don't blame them.
One night, we picked up some snacks on the way to a relative's house. The stinky tofu we got was bought at a small stand close to where we were staying. Actually, the stinky tofu actually wasn’t very stinky at all, unlike the pungent version I came across at the Shilin night market the last time I was in Taiwan.
It tasted totally different from what I was expecting. I was getting ready to be smacked with a revolting flavour, but instead, the stinky tofu had a tame flavour. It was like a garlicky version of fried tofu puffs. The pickled cabbage and sauce made the stinky tofu slightly soggy, but -- to the delight of Jimmy -- there were still bits of crunchy tofu left. Lucy said that the stinky stuff tastes the same. Based on her past experiences, she said that the snack tastes different from what is smells like.
And this was the fragrant bubble milk tea. These drinks were on a different level from the ones we get back home in Canada. CoCo really needs to expand over to Canada.
I could live without stinky tofu because I wasn't raised up with them. If you haven't tried it, I suggest that you give it a bite if you find yourself visiting Taiwan.
<< Arrival in Taiwan
Seafood Dinner in Taipei, Taiwan
Sun Moon Lake Cabin
More links from the Tea in Asia 2011 trip:
- Arriving in HK: Hello from Hong Kong!
- Day Trip to Macau: Window Shopping in Macau
- Arriving in Guilin, China: Breakfast and Tea Tasting
- Arriving in Shanghai: Muslim Restaurant