Food from Overseas (Part 2)

Taiwan

Taiwan was a lot of fun. The food was cheap (not to mention the shopping) and it was a cleaner, more polite version of China. In fact, it reminded me a lot of Japan - and when I voiced this to the locals, they informed me that Taiwan had spent fifty years under Japanese rule so had a lot of Japanese influence.

Taipei has department store food halls and very good food courts.

Here is one meal from a food court that cost about four AUD:


Yummy! And this was quality food, not processed fast food.

Even the bowl of veggies was huge!


And of course, the crispy pork thing:





There are also street markets in Taipei which have a great variety of food.


This was a sort of oyster pancake that was very popular. As you can see, they drench it with sauce and then you just get a fork and break off bits to eat.



Noodles were always yummy in Taipei. This was a small bowl from a street store that cost me maybe 1 AUD? It tasted a lot like Mi Goreng!


Okay, the above photo is a bit blurry but can you see what it is? Tiny crabs cooked salt and pepper style! These were yummy. But that plate was deceptively big and after about eating half of it, my lips began to go numb from the intense salt overload.

Of course we checked out restaurants in Taipei as well. One night we went to a popular Japanese restaurant that was recommended by a local friend. We had to wait a while for a seat but I learned during that time that their 'burger meat' patty was the thing to try.

When we sat down at a table, my local friend began to instruct me about one of the more interesting things at this restaurant. You are provided with a small bowl of sesame seeds - you have to grind the seeds yourself and then add oil to make your own sesame oil.


Grinding those seeds was hard work! I complained about my hand getting tired to which my friend replied 'You have to work hard if you want it fresh!'

There were also a number of complimentary side dishes - on which you could get free refills!


For example, black beans and I can't remember what the thing next to the black beans are but I do recall us asking for a refill!



We poured dressing into this and tossed it

Obviously I ordered the burger meat for my main:



One of those crumbed ovals was the burger meat patty. It was very filling and tasty.


Part of our Taiwan trip was spent in Hualien, which is located on the east coast on Taiwan. It is a very small city and only a half hour flight from Taipei. That half hour domestic flight was one of the most turbulent flights that I've ever been on! The plane was 2 seats by 2 seats and the overhead compartments rattled fiercely every two minutes.

It was pretty cool flying into Hualien airport - the airport is right by the water so we came down very close to the breaking waves. We were also instructed that no photos were to be taken because Hualien airport is also a military airport.

The main reason that I wanted to visit Hualien was to see the amazing Taroko Gorge. It is a natural gorge that produces marble and turning that marble into different products is a livelihood for the Hualien people.

The Taroko Gorge national park is so beautiful, the natural beauty is breathtaking.





It is a bit hard to gauge from those photos how big the marble rocks at the bottom of the gorge are but most of them were as big as a car. The running water was crystal blue and the mountains soared high into the sky. I have never seen anything like Taroko Gorge before!

We went to the Gorge on a tour bus, which worked out really well because they took us around the national park (which is huge) to see lovely spots and we had free time to walk around. For morning tea, we stopped off at a cafe in the park. The weather was very cold so we ordered a pot of tea to share - and it was their speciality tea, rosehip and blueberry.



A candle flickered underneath to heat the pot of tea. Cute huh?

Lunch was included on the day and it was a traditional Aboriginal meal. They refer to the original inhabitants of Hualien as Aboriginal people.


And it was a big meal!


Marinated mushrooms on the left



Bittermelon soup


Bamboo rice!! If you look back at the first photo, this was served in a closed bamboo stick. You had to crack it open to get to the sticky rice within. This is a traditional Aboriginal dish.



Scoop of cold mashed potato


Pork katsu


It was so filling!!!!

Another day in Hualien was spent on the coast side, where fisherman make their livelihood. We had a seafood lunch and one of the dishes was this:




Snails! But not cooked in a method that I had seen before. Previously I had only eaten them french style, in their shell.

We were told that during the Japanese occupation, the Japanese soldiers would seize the livestock of the Hualien people so they had no meat to eat. Thus they began to eat snails to get protein.

They were actually very tasty - cooked in a slightly spicy sauce, the meat was a little chewy and rubbery but you couldn't really tell they were snails from taste!

Stay tuned for some food snapshots from Hong Kong - where I had snails again but they weren't nearly as nice!

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Food from Overseas

Hello readers!

After two long months of travelling, I am back in beautiful Sydney town. Absence surely makes the heart grow fonder, yes?

I've actually been back for a while but haven't had the time to blog since I've started full time work. So apologies for the delay!

My trip was divided into two parts: Asia and then the United States.

Let's start off with a quick look at some food that I ate in Shanghai.

Warning: only click 'read more' if you're ready for a pic-heavy post!



We stayed at Le Royal Meridien with a room rate that included daily buffet breakfast.

This was quite possibly one of the best buffet breakfasts that I had ever been to! While my travelling companion snoozed away in the morning, I made sure that I was down there, trying as much as possible! There was an omelette chef, a sushi chef, a person dedicated to slicing and replenishing the fresh fruit...

Here is an example of what I ate at breakfast.



A good daily buffet breakfast is one of the highlights of travelling and this hotel put out an amazing spread.

I did try some traditional Shanghainese dishes....


Can you believe that I only had xiao long baos once in Shanghai??? Crazy!


The above were some sort of glutinous, slightly savoury puddings. I didn't really like these and my Shanghainese friend gave me a verbal bashing for daring to dislike them.



Yummy noodle dumplings

One of the more interesting things that I ate was this:



Deep fried crab on a stick!

They were sold by a street vendor at the People's Square. Bathed under a glowing yellow light, they looked like they would be piping hot and I couldn't resist.




Unfortunately, it was practically inedible. This wasn't a soft shell crab, it was hard shell! Not only that, it was cold. Fail.


Although I was in China, I still looked for my favourite type of food - Japanese.


Above is a bowl of ramen that looks great but didn't taste great. It was lukewarm, the ramen noodles stuck together and it was just bleurgh.

At one restaurant, I ordered a California roll and was amused by the presentation.


It also came with a plastic hand glove! No mess!



As it turns out, this wasn't a traditional California roll as it had kiwi fruit in it!!


Lastly, one night we went out to a Japanese all-you-can eat restaurant. Think Suminoya, but without the grill. It cost a measly 30 AUD each and we went nuts with the ordering. Here is a small sample of what we ate that night...


Mango ice cream


Green tea ice cream




Deep fried oysters

Agedashi tofu


Deep fried sweet potato?





Drinks were included with the set price...including alcoholic drinks! I think that green thing with melon vodka and that short glass was peach milk vodka???


Sukiyaki hot pot

If I ever go back to Shanghai, I would definitely hit up that all-you-can-eat place again - talk about value for money!!! If memory serves me correctly, there wasn't even a time limit!

Stay tuned for the next instalment of Taiwan....

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