Yongkang.

This lush little neighborhood was the last exploration stop on our trip, and I won’t say too much because I still get sentimental thinking about those last moments before heading home. If you’re looking for a slow paced day with boutique shops, cafes and local restaurants, this is the perfect destination. Apparently the niu rou mian, or beef noodle soup, here is a must try, and unfortunately, we weren’t able to have a taste.

If you get the change, give it a try and please let me know how it is; as missing this is one of my many regrets*.

*Note that all of my Taiwan regrets have to do with not being able to eat one thing or another.

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Mister Donut.

Think about a standard American doughnut, now imagine this doughnut is chewy, dense, moist and little less sweet. That’s what Mister Donut tastes like to me. Surprisingly, this franchise originated in the U.S., but is now only found in Asia. So, this is why it was a huge deal to me when we finally found one in Taipei. My favorite style is the “Pon De Ring,” as it is the most Q of the different types. Asian people refer to things that are chewy to the bite as “Q.Q.” and I am a huge fan. On our first visit to the Mister, we each slammed three doughnuts in about seven minutes.

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Cooking bamboo.

While in Yilan, my mom’s oldest and sweetest friend graciously showed us around the city and let us rest at her home. The same home that I think of when I reminisce about past visits. After a huge lunch, she insisted on making us a fresh bamboo dish because she heard about how much David likes the stuff. She is very into eating fresh and natural foods. So, appropriately, she has a little potted garden of string beans, herbs, aloe vera, and even a papaya tree.

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The key is using fresh and thick bamboo shoots that are purchased early in the day during prime pick. Steam the shoots so they become soft and easy to cook.

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Chop the shoots into small slices about the thickness of a pencil, and prepare aromatics.

Dried shrimp is optional, but it does add a nice fishy flavor to the dish. Make sure to wash them thoroughly first.

We also added dried shitake mushrooms that we soaked, softened and chopped up. Additionally, we chopped up some tiny red chili peppers and ginger.

Heat a pan with as much oil as you prefer, but we tried to use as little as possible. Start by browning the mushrooms and dried shrimp.

Add the bamboo and saute for two minutes.

Add the ginger and peppers.

Add salt to taste, and soften for two more minutes. You can add water if you want to further soften the bamboo.

You’re done!