Eating in Jiufen

Eating in Jiufen

After getting a delicious breakfast at Fu Hang, one of my uncles took Steph and me to this tourist attraction just outside of Taipei called Jiufen. It’s an area that’s on the side of a tiny mountain and there’s a little alley way that’s full of food and souvenir shops. It’s a pretty popular destination and luckily my uncle was able to drive us.

We started off at a popular stall that served up fish balls. It was a no frills kind of place and they had long tables with tiny benches so you had to share the space with other diners. They had a small kitchen which basically faced the alleyway and all the tourists who walk by can see what they have to offer.

I guess they specialized in fish balls because look at how ginormous that thing of fish balls are! They got a big mound of fish balls just ready to go into the big vat of water for cooking. You could probably fit a human being in that cauldron, that’s how big it looked.

The fish ball soup was satisfying. It’s just a very simple street food type of dish. It doesn’t cost too much and isn’t super fancy. The broth tasted like a basic Chinese chicken broth/stock and there were a few bit of cilantro on top. I guess Taiwan falls into the part of the world that doesn’t think cilantro tastes like soap. It tastes more like happiness.

Steph and I also shared a small bowl of mung bean noodles. Most Americans are probably more familiar with the Korean version of mung bean noodles, japchae, but it really is the same thing. I think more often in Taiwan, you find these noodles in soup. Quite often at my parents house, we’d eat it as the conclusion to hot pot. Usually we’d cook it once the broth has been flavored. At the fish ball place they create flavor with some thick soy sauce, fried shallots, some other sauce, and cilantro.

We walked through the alley of touristy shops and came upon another busy shop selling these glutinous rice type of thingies that look like mochi. But instead of being a sweet thing, these are filled with shredded pickled daikons. I remember not liking this as a child, but it was fun to eat. My aunt wasn’t a fan so I guess it’s an acquired taste.

They don’t skimp on the filling and it was like super packed full of the daikon. I want to say this kind of thing was mostly for special occasions but honestly I don’t remember too well. It’s definitely interesting and Bourdain sure as hell didn’t eat this when he did the layover for Taipei. So it’s definitely a super local item to try if you get a chance.

We finished off with some shaved ice. This wasn’t as snowy as Shilin Nightmarket, but it was good for a different reason. One of the toppings we got was this candied sweet potato thing. You can see that it’s the yellow thing next to the pile of grass jelly. The candied sweet potatoes are a little chewy and sweet. Perfect topping for shaved ice.

I leave you with a picture from Jiufen. The mothership has some good looks, as I like to say. I’m going to try and go back again soon, or at the very least, not wait two decades before my next visit. One thing that I learned on the trip was that I got some good people back on the mothership and family always takes care of you. I actually am not finished with vacation posts and my goal is to blast through as much of it until end of the year…

Posted by Danny on December 23, 2013 at 10:10 pm

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