Sunday, 17 May 2015

Asia 2014: Taiwan - Day 3

Catch up with our first two days in Taiwan! 1, 2.

For our last full day in Taiwan, we decided to try out the Michelin starred Din Tai Fung (鼎泰豐), before viewing the sights of Taipei, from Taipei 101. The forecast was not looking great, but since Kin had never been, we thought it would be enjoyable if we visited together :)

As we overslept and missed breakfast on this morning, our first stop was at the above bakery; Saison du Soleil, which I think was a higher class version of my beloved Yamazaki bakery. The bread certainly did not disappoint.

We then headed over to Taipei 101, which houses both the Taipei 101 observatory and the famous Din Tai Fung (鼎泰豐), popular for its steamed dumplings.

The interior of Taipei 101 shopping mall was certainly luxurious and 'upper class'. We didn't have time to see what stores were available - we headed straight to Din Tai Fung (鼎泰豐) and braced ourselves for the imminent wait typical of Michelin restaurants.

The restaurant was located in the basement of the shopping centre and had a system that worked well - a large sign that let you know how long you could expect to wait, as well as a screen that displayed your ticket number and how many tables were before you.  I see this so much in Hong  Kong as well; sometimes I don't understand why they don't have that in England. It can get frustrating waiting for what feels like hours - it could be the deciding factor between staying for the table or going elsewhere!

We were also handed a menu and a check list when we received our ticket for the wait. This was also really useful because it meant we could spend the half hour seeing what food was available, and Googling what the top 'must-try' dishes were!

Don't worry if you can't read Chinese - the menu has English, and pictures!

How adorable is this statue (and Kin)? :)

Eventually, we were seated and our check list was taken by a member of staff.

I loved how they had an open kitchen so I could have a good snoop!

The chefs had amazing teamwork - I have never seen anyone make dumplings as fast as they did!!

And now, for a couple of the dishes we tried:

Shanghai style soy sprouts (寧式黃芽菜) - NT$90

Traditional pork xiaolongbao (小籠包) - NT$100

Green squash and shrimp xiaolongbao (絲瓜蝦仁小籠包) - NT$160

Noodles with sesame and peanut sauce (麻醬麵) - NT$100

As above - mixed.

House steamed chicken soup (元盅雞湯) - NT$200

Shrimp and pork wonton (乾拌蝦肉餛飩) - NT$160

Black sesame paste filled steamed buns! (芝麻大包) - NT$70

Our lunch came to a total of NT$880, equivalent to roughly £20! Pretty good for a Michelin starred lunch after which we felt quite full!

We then headed for the Taipei 101 observatory. The sales desk had a sign in both English and Chinese informing visitors that due to cloud coverage, it would not be possible to see too far beyond the observatory itself. We decided that it would be unlikely for us to come back any time soon, and it would be worth it since we had already come all the way from England; especially since Kin had never been.

We queued up patiently for the lift to take us to the 89th floor for the indoor observatory, and also stopped to take a photo for a possible souvenir. We didn't intend to both wear green that day - it just happened, but somehow Kin's top morphed into part of the background through their green screen!

Once we boarded the lift, we hurtled to the 89th floor within the space of 37 seconds. That's 382 metres in 37 seconds. We actually felt the pressure in our ears and it was strange in that it never felt like we actually moved at all!

The view was actually still pretty good!

We also took a look at the damper that kept the building still during typhoons!

This giant damper actually swung up to 70 cm on each side, during the July 2013 Soulik typhoon!

After we had explored more about the function of dampers and I'd posed with enough damper babies as I could, we headed towards the exit where an exhibition of jade and coral sculptures, and expensive jewellery awaited.

Luckily, we made it through this area without being approached by any sales assistants. We queued up for the lift and hurtled back down to the shopping centre with a beautiful starry display above our heads.

By this point, it was fast approaching dinner time. With our minds dreaming of the potential foods available, we set off for Shilin Night Market, where we planned to stuff ourselves silly with all the Taiwanese food we could get our hands on!

The first part of our dinner was made up of these delicious barbecued skewers - we chose five different meats and continued on our way whilst munching on our 5-for-NT$100 starters.

The lady was friendly, and quite apologetic when I asked her for the change that she mistakenly thought she had already given me.

In terms of the order of courses, it was a little chaotic. As soon as I set eyes on the 豆腐花 (tofu pudding) store and all the toppings that you could choose, I was set on having it there and then. Who cares when you're supposed to really have dessert!

豆腐花/Doufuhua is essentially a soft tofu jelly in a syrup soup. I chose to have it with a couple of favourites; mochi and jelly! As it was summer, the dofuhua was served chilled with crushed ice. I personally prefer it when served warm in the winter. It's one of my favourite winter dessert soups along with mochi!

The smell of the next stall caught our noses long before it caught our eyes. For NT$50, we purchased grilled squid that was seasoned according to the several choices available.

This stuff was seriously amazing. Not too chewy, and perfectly crispy. The seasoning was also not too salty and really hit the spot. We were so tempted to get another tray, but decided to leave the remaining stomach space for any other yumminess that we might find.

This stall was insanely popular... We did see people buy some, but I'm pretty sure the crowding was due to the gimmick that they were selling, rather than the actual food itself.

We didn't make a purchase since I don't like pineapple cake, and we felt our money would be better spent elsewhere. You can actually buy these boxed up as gifts, if anyone is looking for a crude/funny souvenir to gift their friends/family..!

The next dish is something that we stumbled upon completely by luck. We were wandering around thinking what we should try next, when we saw a massive queue for this extremely tiny stall situated in front of a temple. I'm so glad that we're both so curious in nature - this was easily the best thing I had in Taiwan, hands down!

From the name of the stall, I gathered that it was a small sausage wrapped in a big sausage, and the sausage itself looked just like a standard 'fat' sausage in England. What we didn't know was that the inside was a pork sausage, whilst the outside was a glutinous rice 'sausage'!! We ate it so quickly, we completely forgot to take a photo... and we heavily regretted not having bought a couple more. It was delicious, and only NT$50!

One of the other dishes from that evening was the beef barbecue. This looked pretty amazing, but in reality it was nothing special.

Look how awesome it looks when it's cooking!

There were also several clothing and sports stores which we browsed - there was a bag that I wanted but the store owner refused to discount it, so I had to leave it behind. It wasn't worth the asking price, but I would have been willing to purchase it with a discount.

We headed back to the hotel around 9.30 pm that evening since we still had to pack and get ready for our last day in Taiwan. I highly recommend visiting all the night markets that we visited, but at the top of my list in terms of stalls would definitely be the pepper pork bun and the big sausage in small sausage!

Thank you for reading. Day 4 of our day in Taiwan will be up soon!


Disclaimer: The amazingly beautiful and professional shots featured in this blog post are not my own. They have been used with kind permission from Kin :) A few belonging to myself appear, but the majority do not belong to me.


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