Tainan: Food Capital of Taiwan

Winter Melon Tea at Two Silver Cents Traditional Winter Melon Tea Shop (link).

Next, how about something substantial?  What you see below is an oyster omelette. It’s a spoonful of oysters tossed on the griddle with an egg cracked over them, a hand full of lettuce and bean sprouts, a huge dollop of sweet and sour sauce, and what was described to me as “gluten”. Just…gluten.  I’m not sure what it was, but it was tasteless and chewy and probably isn’t safe for anyone with celiac. It also looked like placenta, so you should probably also skip it if you have an active imagination and a weak stomach.

Let’s break down this dish: the pink stuff is a mild sweet-and-sour sauce, the yellow is egg,the gloopy white stuff towards the bottom right is gluten, the bubbly grey and black things near the top right are oysters, and bean sprouts and lettuce (I think) are seen throughout.

It was filling. Really filling. Whatever the “gluten” is, it sticks to your ribs. But there’s always more food to be had in Tainan, so we move onward. There is a theme that you’ll see developing: most of the food here looks disgusting and tastes incredible, or sounds bizarre but is actually tasty. Case in point: tofu pudding. The bottom bowl, the one that looks like clay floating in mucus?  Not too sweet with a delicate lemony taste. Would certainly order again.  Tastes nothing like clay floating in mucus.

This next thing I didn’t actually eat.  It’s a style of ice cream cone that apparently came from Korea.  Chocolate goes in one side, and vanilla in the other.  This shop had long lines out front and a rack of rejects for photo ops.

Thanks to Elly for taking pictures of me!

The man in the next picture is using strips of peanut brittle dough to make rolls.  Who decided that peanut brittle should be crushed into meal, rolled around cilantro, and sold?  Who knows, but they were onto something.  The stuff’s pretty good.

Next up are fried shrimp rolls.  Pretty self explanatory.  We got them hot and fresh and they were still appealing, even after an afternoon of grazing.  (I learned later that they’re not pescetarian friendly. No biggie, but you’ve been warned.)

The next two pictures are of the same dish, and my favorite.  It’s some sort of wrapper (rice, maybe) with peanut brittle dust sprinkled on, cilantro on top of that, and then three scoops of ice cream.  (Taro, plum, and pineapple, for the curious.)

In the making

The combination sounds bizarre, but it’s actually really, really good. My only gripe is with Taiwanese ice cream, because for some reason it’s always more icy than creamy. But you can’t  get taro ice cream in the States, so I’m not complaining too much.

After a few hours, you get to a point where you just can’t cram anything else into your stomach. Don’t let the pictures (or my descriptions) scare you.  If you’re in Taiwan, Tainan is worth the trip.  In the future, I hope to expand upon this post and try to recreate some dishes from Tainan and the rest of Taiwan.

Listening to: Comeback Kid by Sleighbells

Lunch Break Reading: The “Do Something” Principle

Note: An alternate version of this post was originally published on my travel blog.

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