Wednesday, August 24, 2016

night market/taiwanese: i still strongly recommend SHILIN NIGHT MARKET 士林夜市

MRT: Jiantan 

Glimpses from last weekend at Shilin night market. It was the first time I visited the relocated vendors since they had moved five years ago from the corner near the MRT Jiantan exit to a basement food court on Jihe Road. Anyone who has been to Shilin knows it's a sprawling, huge night market composed of many winding alleys, shops, street vendors and stands. So I guess it took me so long to check it out since there was plenty to eat from the street vendors outside.

But if you're looking for an air-conditioned place to sit down, you can check it out and don't wait as long as I did. Look for a brightly lit sign and some vendors on the first floor.

Once you go down the stairs, you emerge into a brightly lit, noisy, sensory overload aisle of oyster omelettes, stinky tofu and lots of people. Most of the vendors had signs filled with photos as well as an array of foods on display to point at. Each of the vendors have their own area to sit at, and I ended up just picking one that had an open table since they were all pretty crowded.

Multiple vendors making oyster omelettes by the dozen.

Sunrise Teppanyaki had a bevy of awards and customers.

Coffin bread stand served fat slices of bread stuffed with savory or sweet concoctions. I've actually never tried it before.  

Sweet and salty "da bing bao Xiao bing"

Stall number 20 is the one I ended up grabbing a table at. Bright clear sign, yellow tables and lots of choices. Staring down the menu, the owner handed me an English menu after hearing me speak English. 

English Menu and photos avail to point at and order from. Definitely order the pork braised rice, or the lu rou fan, and the ten bu la or fried fish cake. 

Front row seat to the chef's table 

The food comes out fairly quickly and the table full of food was NT$500. I would recommend everything except the fried tempura shrimp, it was the most expensive and our least favorite. 

Stinky tofu 

Braised pork rice or Lu rou fan-- I quite liked this. I always feel a tad indulgent eating Lu rou fan because it has a lot of pork fat and oil, but this was the right amount of sweetness and saltiness and cooked to an almost melt in your mouth consistency. I liked how it wasn't all fat, but had some ground pork mixed in too.

Our next favorite was the fried ten-bu-la fish cake. Slightly crispy on the outside and had a qq chewy consistency and slightly sweet. 

Be prepared to swim in the crowds on the weekends.

Taiwanese sausage in a sausage 

Famous Hot Star fried chicken g-pai. There was a stand here in the basement as well as outside and near the theater. Lines at all three vendors. 

This translation! 

Along Jihe Road are also a row of games for kids and kids at heart to play. There was one woman who was next to me who was shooting 10 balloons in a row, on the top spinning wheel. Bang, bang, bang, bang.. sharp shooter. 

This number toss game had the best prize-- Pikachu!

You can even find popular items from other countries, like Korean fried chicken, or the latest craze, the rolled up ice cream from Thailand. 

I always make my way to the street vendors on the other side of the night market, near the theater. I love the pan fried buns and the variety of food there. 

The Pokemon Go craze is real in Taiwan. Have you seen the video of the mob of people running in Beitou, reportedly to catch a Snorlax? 

Pepper bun

Shaved ice

I couldn't believe this shaved ice shop was closed!! It looked like it has been closed for awhile. Does anyone know if they relocated or just went on vacation? They are missing prime summertime customer dollar bills!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

dessert/snack : i recommend HARITTS COFFEE AND DONUTS

No. 33, Lane 81, FuXing N. Rd

website: Haritts Coffee and Donuts' Facebook page 

hours: 11AM - 7PM

MRT: Nanjing Fuxing

Price: $ 

Kid friendliness: kids will probably like the gooey chocolate or plain

Visit reviewed: 8/12/2016

I finally made it to Haritts Donuts which I had been seeing it on instagram for months. I just got back from LA where I had indulged in a a number of donut shops (Sidecar & DK in LA and Doughnut Plant & Dominique Ansel cronuts in NY) and craving donuts. 

Haritts is on a one way alley, a block away from Fuxing N. Road. The hand lettered signage on the entrance and on the menu inside gives it an artisanal charm. 

There are a few tables to sit inside to enjoy your coffee and donuts. 

Besides donuts, they sold packaged rusks and coffee and tea.

The donut menu is on the wall, with the same lettered signage in English and Chinese and drawings to show the dozen or so flavors. But not all the flavors were available that day even though we went around 11AM, quite close to opening, only whatever is on display in the glass counter.  They have a monthly schedule of donut flavors, available on their Facebook page (in Chinese only).

When you get them, they are wrapped in paper with cute stamps indicating the flavors on the outside folded flap.

I had to try one right away, so I tried matcha first. The donut was soft and pillowy, lightly dusted with green tea powdered sugar. But it tasted more like a bagel shaped bread dusted with powdered sugar  than the yeasted or cake donuts that we typically think of with we think donuts. Light and not greasy and comes in a dozen or so flavors, though only half were available when we went at 11AM opening yesterday. And you won't find any sprinkle or frosting covered donuts here. 

The cream cheese had a bit of flavored cream cheese inside. There was also a matcha red bean available with red bean inside and a caramel walnut with candied walnuts inside, instead of jelly and custard.

Last minute I decided to get chocolate and I'm glad I did. It had a bit of gooey chocolate in the middle, and was the most sweet of the four I tried. Of course, it's not going to be as sweet as the chocolate donuts from the states, but I guess that's why Haritts works for Taiwan (and Japan, where it's from). It's like a healthier version of a donut that doesn't taste greasy even though it was fried. Also, try to eat the donuts the same day. My best bite was right after buying it-- the donuts the next day were definitely staler and not as satisfying. 

Did I enjoy Haritts' donuts? Yes. Did it fulfill my donut craving? Sort of. Still might have to revisit Voodoo Doughnuts Taipei for a maple bacon bar. But it's not so bad to have an healthier option for donuts to go to. 


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