Taiwan: Shihlin Revisited
鲁肉饭 (minced meat rice)
This is one of my favorite Taiwanese street snacks, and it's also the simplest. I introduced Huey Woon to it, and I think she loves it too! ;) Just a bowl of good rice (I love Taiwanese rice, they're of the same breed as Japanese rice) topped with minced, cubed or ground fatty that has been stewed in soy sauce and spices. This stall that I tried was one of the few stalls at Shihlin that opened during the day. They provide very good and spicy chilli that goes well with the rice. At NT 20, it's a steal.
臭豆干 (smelly tau pok)
My second time trying this smelly dish, and although this stall serves the smellier version of the fare, I still wasn't put off by it. This time round, tau pok is used instead of tofu, and it's fried to an even crispier level. Also, this stall serves the tau pok with cabbage instead of preserved veg. I love the crunchiness of the deep fried tau pok, which is totally in contrast to the smooth fried tofu that I tried at Hsi-men Ding. I think I'm really starting to appreciate this local favorite.
台南棺材板 (Tainan coffin bread)
As inauspicious as the name sounds, this Tainan street snack is now a national favorite and can be found in most night markets. It is not hard to understand why this dish is so popular. Essentially, it is similar to French Toast, but filled with savory fillings, such as Black Pepper Beef or Curry Chicken. Thick cut bread is dipped in egg, deep fried, cut along three sides, opened and then filled with the various toppings. Joanna and Joel shared the shrimp one, whilst Huey Woon and I tried the bacon and cheese. It is highly sinful, but very enjoyable, as with all unhealthy foods. It definitely does not look difficult to make... someone should perhaps open a stall in Singapore. With so many toppings, I believe it will attract the Singaporean crowd as well. NT 40 each.
大肠包小肠 (Big Sausage wrapped over small sausage)
Taiwanese sausages are very popular in Singapore. This snack (NT 40) combines the fatty pork sausage that has a sweet taste with a rice sausage. Customers can select the flavor of the pork sausage, for example garlic or black pepper, and the sausage will be wrapped in a glutinous rice sausage (糯米肠), and served with cucumber and radish (something like the German Sauerkraut). It is quite messy to eat, and it would have been better if the rice sausage had been made a little bigger to at least contain the pork sausage properly. Anyway, do take note to stay away from this snack for awhile because the Taiwan health authorities have detected preservatives and chemicals in the factory-made rice sausages that are harmful to the body. If you really must try this, only eat from stalls who hand make their own rice sausages.
Joel and I went to try other snacks from stalls that are not situated at the main night market of Shihlin. In the narrow and less crowded roads off Shihlin, there are also some good finds worth trying. I had the tough crispy version of the scallion pancake (蔥油餅), a flour pancake with many thin layers, made with scallions. I usually have the soft fluffy ones, so this is a first for me. I asked for an egg on top (NT 23, NT 18 without). It was perfectly done, sunny side up and the yolk tasted great with the hard pancake, which is eaten with a fantastic soy sauce and chilli combination. I think this stall should be quite famous as there are newspaper cuttings pasted on the cart (a common tactic used by Singaporeans to locate good food). This is probably the only stall that serves such a variation of the scallion pancake. Thumbs up!
Joel had this kueh like thing that is stuffed with pork and mushrooms (NT 25). I think it's called He Fen Bao. The outer kueh is made out of rice flour (it's actually hor fun skin), like the chwee kueh of Singapore, but instead of serving it with salted radish and chilli like us, it is filled with savoury pork and mushrooms. Very tasty and I enjoyed the chewy soft texture of the rice flour crust.