This is the RaoHe Street night market 饒河街夜市 beef noodle soup experience. We went in because the place was packed with people. It was one of the few places that had a store front, running fan, cold bottled water for the foreigners, and AC. As a rule of thumb, a restaurant overflowed with diners is probably a good bet. I was wrong. I think this was the worst meal I had in Taiwan this summer.See the menu behind the man who was staring at the camera? The night market noodle soups are in general about $1 to $1.5 USD cheaper than those in a slightly more up-scale restaurant. Read the other beef noodle post, click here.紅油炒手 Dumplings in hot chili sauce, a famous Sichuan dish. This was good. The sauce on the freshly cooked dumplings that were still tender and warm made the dish. The green veggies balanced out the spiciness.紅燒半筋半肉Braised half tendon and half beef noodle soup. It was tasteless. I don’t know how they stay in business.牛筋和海帶, Beef tendon/kelp/tofu. Meh and blah. We mixed these into other dishes and added a lot more sauce to make them ok to swallow.泡菜, Taiwanese pickled vegetables. Best dish of the night.
The restaurant was busy because they had a store front, tables and chairs, and efficient management of the diners. The wait staff is extremely efficient to usher you in and out. Because of their efficiency, they are able to let you sit down in an air-conditioned room, resting your sore feet from walking the night market. This is the reason why the restaurant was busy. This is how they stay in business by working on the peripherals and not the main product. It absolutely had nothing to do with the quality of their food!
Taiwanese food is almost always yummy and excellent. Having a bad meal is blasphemy in my book. Yuck! 台北市饒河街齒牛香的牛肉麵難吃。真丟臉啊！
This experience took place at
No. 104, Raohe St,
Songshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 105
There is a large population of foreign workers in Taiwan. There are the manual labor types who usually come from the South East Asian countries like the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand. See my post on the Mail Order bride who became a beautician. There are the professional types (the expats) who come from around the world to capitalize on the Taiwanese technology, highly developed infrastructures, language and associations to China. I met a few people like that on this trip. They are from the US, Holland, Colombia, Canada, Switzerland,and the UK. What better way to get to know someone than to bond over a meal or tea?
One of Le Pain Grille’s restaurants, Agnès b. Rue de Marseille, is located near Taipei 101 where almost everything is in English and the food is geared toward tourists and expats.
Ratatouille Provençal $290NT or $10USDThis is a decadent chocolate dessert which if I recall correctly is dark and not so sweet, exactly the way the French dessert would be. Beautiful and smooth. Unfortunately, it’s not on their online menu. This is their pineapple flavored tea which is recommended by my expat friend. It was delicious but not my cup of tea. I don’t think pineapple and tea should be combined. Pineapple in Taiwan is so full with flavor and sweetness and therefore takes away the bitterness of the tea. I don’t like it. For me, it should either be tropical fruit juice or tea. But not combined.
Staying true to the French way, Le Pain Grille has a long list of chocolate drinks. Really really yummy. Never too sweet and dark.
Would I return? Maybe, if I live in Taipei for many months and crave French food. It’s decent. But the set up is weird… They charge for bread and you can’t ask or tap water. That’s not the worst thing… The worst is that they explain it to you like you are three and explain it multiple times.
This experience took place at
1~2樓, No. 16, Songgao Rd,
Xinyi District, Taipei City,
So here is the deal. One can easily get a high quality and delicious meal for two at a decent local neighborhood restaurant with high western standards in Taipei, Taiwan, for about $20 USD. This restaurant below is one of the examples. 藏月 is in the Daan district in Taipei. The decor, service, and food rival those in the NYC metropolitan area. Is it any wonder why I prefer to eat in Asia, live in Europe for the majestic architecture and enriched culture and raise my daughter in the suburbs of NY for the education?A box filled with goodies: from left to right- eggs sweetened, pickled vegetables, and sea cucumber seasoned with vinegar.Tonkatsu腰內肉豬排咖哩套餐: crispy and meaty with sesame sauce and cabbage. Charcoal grilled fish. I believe this was the milk fish.One of my favorite desserts: panna cotta or the caramelized pudding焦糖布丁as the Taiwanese calls it.
Yes, visit Taiwan for the gourmet food that doesn’t shrink your wallet. Visit Taiwan for the variety and freshness of food that satisfy your stomach. Come with me this December for the warm climate and the sunshine. 🙂
This experience takes place at
No. 58, Section 3, Heping E Rd,
Da’an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106
+886 2 2733 8720
This is typical of a “small eats” place in Taiwan. The store is petite with less than 10 tables. The owner and his family work the restaurant. They control all aspect of the operations, from buying and making the goods to serving and cleaning. They are friendly and welcome you with big smiles. The menu is simple: only fish related items – fish balls and fish skin in different kind of noodle soups.The prices range from $35 TWD or just slightly more than $1 USD for dry noodles to $65 TWD or a little more than $2 USD for fish & fish skin with noodle soup.
The dark vinegar, Sha Cha sauce, chili and white pepper. You may create the perfect taste yourself with these condiments.Fish balls with meat in the middle, fish and vermicelli noodles in fish broth
Tofu steamed in sauce.
Less than $3 USD gets me a warm, yummy and fulfilling noodle soup plus steamed tofu that are brought to my table. In the NYC area, $3 gets me maybe a slice of cheese pizza or a bagel with cream cheese while I wait in line to order. How I miss the taste of Asia and the easy and cheap access to food.
Happy Thursday, Hardworking and Slaving New Yorkers!
This experience took place at
Taipei City, Taiwan
This is a popular cake, made fresh and warm in a street cart, for all to snack on. In my case, I eat it for dinner and breakfast. You can find street carts like this in different locations in the cities of Taiwan. This style is called the outer space cake and this vendor is called the chicken boss. Here is his Facebook page, 雞老闆太空棒. Here is a casual conversation with the chicken boss. He works two jobs but loves this job because he controls his own schedule.
This takes place on the street of Taipei.
I am leaving tonight to go to NY. In the past few days, I have felt the love of the Taiwanese people and embraced my motherland. I love this little Island. I love the good and the bad. It now feels really sad to leave home. I am already homesick.
But I also realized that since I don’t feel authentically Taiwanese, I needed to have an improvement plan for me to work on while back in NY. Here is my action plan, projected timing and current performance.
Too bad that I don’t have time to figure out how to insert a table into WordPress. My apologies if the chart isn’t easy to read. 🙂
Today, I prepaid my Taiwanese phone bill for a year; I paid my Taiwanese credit card bill in full; I wrapped up all bank related items. The suitcase is on the floor ready to be packed.
In a month, I learned how to swim. I made new friends and created new opportunities. I yelled at Taiwanese men for their rude behaviors. I pounded on a car when the driver backed into me in the school parking lot. I stood in the middle of the street crossing in rush-hour-traffic to teach the aggressive drivers a lesson and gave them the finger. I confessed how little I understood the language when I was trying to purchase a mobile phone. It was a very humbling experience in front of the irritated young man. I learned to whip someone using both English and Mandarin. I ran down Heping Dong Road when I needed my serenity.
I am leaving in a few days to return to NY, a place where I have a house, an apartment and a job but not where I always feel I belong. It certainly isn’t where I would rest my weary soul. I am leaving from Taipei where it’s temporary and yet consistently permanent. Not really my home but it sometimes resembles one. At times, the characteristics of Taiwan shows me who I truly am. At other times, I am such a New Yorker that the Taiwanese people look at me in confusion. This is the woe of a child who left her birth country during the critical years of her development and adopted a new one for survival. Her identity is split right in the middle. Her heart belongs to no country and no one.
She is a gypsy.
Can you hear the sorrow of being a gypsy?
This is both a weird and a heart-warming story.
Taiwan, being an economic power in Asia, gets domestic workers and mail-order brides from south east Asia. There is a clear social economic status differentials between those from south east Asia and the Taiwanese. By chance, I met a mail-order bride from Vietnam when I went to get a pedicure and exfoliation at a Thai Massage place. Her name is Little Red. She is now 28 years old. She married a Taiwanese guy who was 30 when she was 18. Little Red has been in Taiwan for ten years now.
Little Red spoke Mandarin with a heavy accent. I could not place her accent so I asked where she was from. Because I also have an accent according to the local Taiwanese, she and I bonded over our accents and she told me her life story…
She married the Taiwanese man to get out of her impoverished village north of Ho Chi Minh City. Because she has a skill as an aesthetician, she has always worked outside the home and was never made to take care of his family, cook and clean. He treated her well but was unwilling to have children with her, hence leaving her with no protection later on in life. He already has a son from a prior marriage. She ended up divorcing him because she said they are not destined to be together. Little Red said, “沒有緣份！”
Little Red is strong, determined, and wants a better life for herself. Her ex-husband was kind enough to her, according to her. But she wanted more. Little Red made me think of all the women in unhappy marriages or even abusive ones. Divorce rate is more than 50% in the US but is only about 33% in Taiwan. Asia has a very conservative stand on divorce. Think of what she did in such a conservative society with no family backing her up! Little Red is strong despite her upbringing and a lack of education. She learned Mandarin; she has a skill and she is not afraid to make a new life. I admire her!
Now the weird part: My exfoliation apparently was for the entire lower body. That’s correct: my Mandarin is not that strong when it comes to cosmetic vocabulary. So she made me take off everything below the waist and had me put on a diaper-like black paper panties in a hot little room.
The second weird part: I forgot to wear my sandals for the pedicure and was in a rush to leave to pick up my daughter at camp. Little Red took the sandals off her feet and gave them to me to wear so I wouldn’t mess up her work on my toenails.
I could not say no. Out walked my bright orange toenails in Little Red’s brown sandals, still warm from her feet.