Friday, April 25, 2014

Taiwan Day 4: Tamshui and Din Tai Fung in Da'an district

Taiwan day 4 begun with a trip to the fishing wharf of Taiwan aka Tamshui or Damshui. We took the MRT here and it was a long route indeed, approximately 40 minutes. Arrived at about 11am and the place was empty, not many locals in sight and some shops only open later.

En route to Tamshui, we had a quick glimpse of Taiwan's less developed side, which, truthfully, reminded me a bit of Hong Kong, minus the hustle and bustle. Instead, there's this strange calmness greeting me as we entered this cooler horizon.

Tamshui used to be a fort built by the Portuguese when they came to the East. It is strategically located next to the sea and there are abundance of marine produce here (check out the stalls selling fried cuttlefish, fish, crabs and prawns!). Oh and feel free to cycle around, there's heaps of space for everyone:)

Being the adventurous yet scrooge-y travelers that we are, we decided to not get fried squid at Shilin night market as it seemed costly that time and instead, wait patiently until we get ourselves to Tamshui. Yep, managed to buy one of these and it was yummy! Be mindful that Taiwan serves up a lot of fried delicacies so be sure to bring something to help soothe a potential irritated throat:)

San Diego fort is one of the older, still existing forts located about 15 minutes by foot away from the MRT station. Each individual quarter is well maintained despite the establishment undergoing some rough patches during the war period as well as nature, of course.

After a visit to the fort, we headed to the CBD precinct to catch the train home but (there's always a but) we got caught up in our foodie adventures after stepping foot in that area. There are quite a number of traditional bakeries here that have successfully attracted the tourists as well as more than a handful of bubble tea shops. I have yet to find the best, mind blowing bubble tea shop in Taiwan, probably because I don't seem to patronize any particular shop and so, did not really get the chance to taste their speciality :S

We stumbled upon this shop that sells this fascinating egg chiffon  cake which is extremely fluffy, warm and yummy. Could not have asked for anything more on a cold day in Taiwan. The baker was friendly enough to let me take a picture of his produce before he cuts into it.

Not surprising that Tamshui has it's own market which sells a variety of souvenirs, snacks and just your every day goods. A long trip back to our hotel and after resting in our room,we prepped ourselves ready for dinner nearby at one of Taiwan's most popular restaurants, Din Tai Fung (DTF). There are plenty of DTF outlets in Taiwan but I reckon one has to still wait in line, regardless of which outlet you choose. It is that popular among the locals and tourists alike!

Xiaolongbao which is akin to a dumpling but the pastry is delicate as well as paper thin and each of these tasty morsels have about a tablespoon of soup wrapped in it. Such a treat to have and service here is top notch and efficient? Is it over hyped by social media? Definitely not. Each plate does cost slightly more than what I would have paid for in Malaysia but the texture is so much better here. Kudos to the skilled chefs behind this.

We also tried their beef noodle soup which has a very nice aroma to it and the noodles are handmade. It is a very distinctive noodle texture and worth a try if you do visit DTF.

We had our plates cleared for our taro bun dessert. The waitress cleared our plates and brought out new plates for us to use, just to savour our little dessert. Happiness indeed.

We walked further down the road and decided to turn back but before we head to our hotel, we brought ourselves to Ootoya Japanese restaurant, just to suss out the Japanese goods here, that is. Service is efficient and friendly. Portion size is huge for what we paid (from memory, it was about aud$15 per set).

Each set has a bowl of udon noodles topped with grated radish, pickles and a steaming hot bowl of rice topped with whatever topping you picked. Not to mention a cup of green tea to wash everything down. Everything was well prepared and presented beautifully to us. No signs of broken utensils or sauce dripping down every bowl.

The restaurant also had green tea ice cream on their specials menu to which, I could not resist ordering for myself. The ice cream in Taiwan is phenomenal. Silky smooth, creamy and soft. This cup was filled with a dollop of green tea ice cream, vanilla ice cream, a generous dollop of red bean mix and a squeeze of whipped cream on the side. It was the perfect treat to end the night:)

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