Notable little trips: Taiwan.

It’s been two months since our trip, and I can’t believe how time flies. The first week home, I spent each jet lagged hour thinking about what we should be doing if were still in Taiwan. In honor of my reminiscence, I’m sharing some special occasions and destinations from our trip that I didn’t cover before. Again, feel free to ask questions!

Taichung City for my cousin’s beautiful wedding reception. My dad is from Taichung, and I’ve spent weeks there during visits when I was younger. Though we only stayed for the reception, we had the opportunity to drive around the city and grab some sweet delicacies  at the famous Jiunn Meei before our drive back to Taipei.

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Congratulations! I am still elated for you both.

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Taipei Zoo. I have been here three times now and the zoo’s size and detail amazes me every time. Be prepared to spend at least a few hours here, and if you hustle, you might be able to see every site. Don’t miss the lazy pandas, lounging hippos and nerotic guinea pigs (yes, there is a guinea pig and small mammal exhibit); they’re my three must-sees for each visit.

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Ximending Neighborhood is a popular area where young people congregate for entertainment, shopping and food. The atmosphere is similar to that of a Night Market, but there’s more room to loiter and rather than local finds, the shopping is focused on mainstream fashion and Japanese-inspired trinkets. This is also a great neighborhood for International fare like Italian or Japanese food.

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What we ate: Taipei.

I’ve shared a lot of what we ate so far, and here is the rest! Enjoy, savor and ask me questions about any specific dish, such as location, restaurant name, etc.

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Tender Chinese Broccoli. The dish offered at our Dim Sum restaurants pale, literally, in comparison.

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 Tomato and egg, a classic Chinese dish.

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Sliced goose served cold.

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Miso Mackerel.

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Pepper steak with Chinese water spinach on the bottom.

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Clam with fresh basil.

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Does anyone know what this vegetable is?

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 Pan fried squid.

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Sesame paste noodles.

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Hot pot…

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…and barbecue.

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Home cooked spare ribs.

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Katsu chicken and curry sauce.

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Seared salmon from the grocery and home goods store under SOGO shopping center near Zhongxiao Fuxing Station.

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Sichuanese boiled fish, or “shui zhu yu.”

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“Twice Cooked Pork.”

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Chinese water spinach.

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KFC. Best fries.

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Cantonese barbecue pork over egg noodles.

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Sweet and sour pork.

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Italian food and “ristorantes” are popular in Taiwan, so we had a romantic little dinner of pizza and pasta while we were there.

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Corn soup. Taiwan does the best corn soup. It’s not even Italian (is it?), but I had to try it, and it was so delicious.

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Vegetable pasta.

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The Spicy McChicken made a brief appearance in the States when the McC was first launched, but now it seems you can only find it in Asia (I saw it in both Taiwan and Hong Kong).

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Udon noodle soup with a customized selection of tempura. You walk through a mini buffet line of assorted tempura (shrimp, vegetables, sausage, etc) and pay by the item.

What we ate: Daxi & Shenkeng.

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The line for this braised snacks stand in Daxi was the longest, so we knew it was the one to wait in.

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An assortment of braised tofu, tofu skin and boiled eggs.

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Our plate consisted of a few varieties of braised tofu and boiled egg. The tofu tasted incredibly fresh and was not tough or chewy, which can happen when tofu is braised either too long, on too high a heat or with insufficient liquid. Their egg was my favorite. The yolk center was creamy and gelatinous (in the best way possible) because they took the time to properly slow cook a simple egg: something I don’t have the patience for.

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Fresh mochi rolled in finely ground peanuts, a snack that is both sweet and savory.

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The restaurant where we had dinner in Shenkeng.

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Sauteed cabbage.

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Sweet and sour soup with soft tofu.

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Braised soft tofu. Daxi is popular for denser tofu varieties that make for good snacks, and Shenkeng offers softer varieties that work well in dishes.

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Fresh bamboo braised in pork broth.

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Fried fish (not a very detailed description, but I don’t recall what type of fish this is) in chili garlic sauce with soft tofu.

Daxi & Shenkeng.

Near the end of our trip, we spent a day exploring the “Old Streets,” or “Lao Jie” near Taipei: Daxi Old Street and Shenkeng Old Street. Both are famous for tofu, the latter more so than the former, and we were able to try a few preparations and variations throughout the day. Daxi Old Street is lined with snack eateries and wood product shops that operate within the intricate frames of its original and historical architecture. Shenkeng Old Street is a great place to stop for snacks, tofu-centric restaurants and modern trinket shops.

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Daxi Old Streets.

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Original building facade.

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Two of my favorite cousins, Debbie and Ben!

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Chiang Kai-Shek’s residence is about a 15 minute stroll from the Old Streets. If you’re interested in exploring the interior, you can sit and enjoy a beverage at the tea and coffee shop opened inside.

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Shenkeng Old Streets.

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And then I spotted him…. No, not David, “him.”

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I was beyond elated to hold this goofy guy.