Here it is: the first of the Asia travel diaries. I have not been back to Taiwan in about seven years, so it was really exciting to arrive and see how things have changed. Although definitely more modern, the general air of Taiwan still felt extremely familiar and nostalgic. Definitely my home away from home.
Our first stop after my uncle picked us up from the airport was a late-night snack:
Although these dishes are typically breakfast foods in Taiwan, they are served all day. Even though we were greeted with sweltering heat and humidity, and the food was all hot, it was still so satisfying. These traditional Taiwanese dishes were the perfect way to start the trip.
Fast forward to the next day: our first full day, filled with exploring some smaller cities and scenic areas. Of course, this is the day I leave my camera at my uncle's house.. But, I did get some shots on my phone.
First stop was the yin yang sea. It is gets its name from the double colored water as the delta and Pacific ocean come together.
Then we visited the Gold Museum where we had the best tofu pudding soup with peanuts.
A short stop away is Jioufen, a town built into the mountain. This is also the city that was used as a model in Miyazaki's Spirited Away, so it has become a huge tourist attraction. Luckily, we visited on a weekday, so it was not unbearably crowded.
The town itself is filled with a bunch of little restaurants, street food stands, shops, and boutiques. We spend the day eating through the whole town. I think we had a total of 18 different dishes.
Look at how this dessert is being made! They shave down the peanut from this huge block. This was an icecream spring roll with ground peanut & cilantro.
Here are some pretty traditional Taiwanese foods:
Then, an afternoon break at Jiuofen Tea House for some traditional tea. We learned how to properly steep tea as well.
And we ended the day by releasing some lanterns into the sky at the next town over.
Day two was spent more in Taipei city. You cannot go to Taiwan without getting shaved ice, so we kick-started the day with some Ice Monster. My cousin says that this is one of the hot spots right now for shaved ice or snow.
mango shaved ice
pearl milk tea shaved ice
red bean & peanut shaved ice
After that we walked around the Taipei 101 area and did a lot of window shopping. The area near Taipei 101 is actually a huge set of connected department stores which are joined by bridges with overhangs. This was extremely convenient with the sporadic raining and was actually quite scenic as well. Look at the view!
For dinner, we had a family gathering at a little traditional Shanghai-nese restaurant. The food was simple yet so yummy and flavorful. (I was not able to take pictures of all the dishes because I was focused on catching up with everyone.) Although not everyone could make it, we still made up 18 people in total.
This is probably one of my favorite moments of the trip because after not seeing my relatives for so long, it was simply so nice to be in each other's company, enjoying good food. The night was filled with laughs and multiple conversations overlapping at a time.
I have eaten at Din Tai Fung before, but a family friend insisted that we go again because there are these new mini soup dumplings that are only served on weekends. So, we began day three with a feast at Din Tai Fung.
original pork soup dumplings
pork & crap soup dumplings
veggie steamed dumplings
dan dan noodles
mini soup dumplings
So delicious! I did not get a photograph, but the mini soup dumplings actually come with a special soup with some egg strips. You drop the dumpling in then eat everything in one spoonful. A very special dish.
After lunch, we explored Song Shan. There was a department store filled with little boutiques selling local-made items and goodies. Here are a few standout items:
really cutie succulents
weird & eccentric pieces
This postcard displays some special dishes that Taiwan is known for. I can proudly say that I have eaten all of these before.
We ended the day with a very special dinner at Stay, michelin three-star chef Yannick Alléno's restaurant in Taipei.
amuse-bouche: sea bass tartare w/ celery foam
pan fried duck breast w/ bellini peach, broad beans, & Dauphine potato
u.s. prime beef cap w/ red wine onion butter & mashed potato
raspberry jasmine tart & chocolate tart
hazelnut cream & praline paris-brest
Part two coming very soon. I hope everyone else is having a wonderful and fun-filled summer wherever they are.