Growing up eating Shanghainese food all my life*, I do get confused what is the authentic Taiwanese food, and often mistake it as dishes with MSG(monosodium glutamate)* *which is a food flavoring that up boost food’s tasting in which I tend to get food allergy after it. And look like Donald Duck to be exact imitating his thick mouth. This summer I went to Tainan with my cousin for a short escape who is currently in her senior year cramming(enjoying the moment of her life) for university examination in the up coming January. I’d always feel bad for Asian kid for having no childhood life, it’s how I memory my childhood in Taiwan as well, darkness besides the time I was in the Philippines which was a reason those memories are so vivid even up till today.
The stormy summer night of 1895 begins the story of Dosyue(度小月), when a noodle stall started business to overcome the typhoon season for fishing. It’s called Dosyue(度小月) as syue(小月) which translated directly means “small month”, implies the months of July to September was a small month for fisherman as they were not able to maintain living during raining&typhoon seasons, and Do(度) is to “overcome”, concluding “overcome the small month” to make ends meet. It was 10pm we were hovering over the window, and queue was unstoppable with tourists and uni students craving for midnight snack. We ordered the 100 years legend 擔仔麵(pronounce: danˋ-tzaiˇ-mienˋ), noodle with bean sprout, a shrimp, braised pork, parsley, ground garlic, some spoon of vinegar and soup. I was a bit surprised to realize this is not a main course but a snack which can be gulp by 2 spoons for an adult in 60 seconds. Well, where everything was so expensive back in the old days, being able to eat a dish with splendid ingredients is satisfying. There is a Taiwanese proverb saying 「食巧毋食飽」- “Eat fine not eat full”. Well, thank you, it had me and my cousin starving and we ordered quite a few side dishes to end the day. And I love how the bowl illustrates the map of Tainan city.
We went to the first store in Tainan located here:
- Dosyue: No.16, Zhongzheng Rd., West Central Dist., Tainan City 700, Taiwan (R.O.C.) (They have branches in Taipei as well)
- For more info visit: Dosyue website
Clockwise: 擔仔麵(pronounce: danˋ-tzaiˇ-mienˋ), 滷肉飯(pronounce: luˇ-rowˋ-fanˋ, it’s braised pork rice with ground fried fish floss….only in Southern Taiwan they’ll add floss, in Taipei we’ll go by pickles), friend shrimp roll top with shred ginger, octopus balls, the soup are fish balls
They say “shrimp roll” is a must eat while indulging snacks around Tainan. I personally find it okay, wouldn’t say something that astonished me cos it’s just the change of an ingredient, however the texture is very different from spring roll if you’ve only tried spring roll before, go for a shot, and with the other snacks together! Pretty obvious all the food came in small bowls and bowls, indicate we got so stuffed right this second, 3 hours later we were hungry again. That’s the paradise of fun eating snacks all day?
We went to the Chou’s Shrimp Flagship, address here:
- Tainan Chou’s Shrimp Roll Flagship 周氏蝦捲台南總店
- No.408, Anping Rd., Anping Dist., Tainan City 708, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
I guess you are wondering what’s so squirmy on top.
Beside the above shrimp roll being a must, this is a must as well and the soup underneath below.(well, this is a summarize food post of must in Tainan..lol) They are all speciality ingredients from the area- eel. I hardly can find eel noodles like this in Taipei, perhaps can, but the price insane. I recalled this come in NT150, around 5.5USD, a good portion for a person, tasty, chewy, and satisfying! It’s not salty if you are wondering, food in the south are rather sweeter than in Taipei. The other organs that comes in dishes are typical resembling of Taiwanese food. It’s not hard to think when the upper class people had all the meat, what’s left for local people were the organs. To state out here we don’t eat cat or dog, that is crazy, but some parts organs from cow, chicken, and pig. They are say to be good for nourish our health.
We went to this old restaurant at a plaza here:
除了上面蝦捲必吃，虱目魚也是必吃，鱔魚麵也是台南當家但。（其實這一篇就是介紹著台南必吃食物） 這麼一說，其實很難在台北找到鱔魚麵，更別說好吃或是價格相當的。印象中這一盤大概NT150，份量一人份剛好，又可口又嚼勁，十分滿意，當然若以為這一道有點鹹，那可錯了⋯⋯是「甜」，畢竟南部人著名的就是菜餚比北部甜。 其它器官小菜代表著道地台灣菜，也不難想為什麼，畢竟窮苦時代達官貴人吃著肉食，平民百姓只剩裡面的器官可以吃。這邊也特別強調我們不吃貓啊狗，那太瘋狂了，只是會吃牛、雞、豬的些器官。 據說很補身體的！
Milkfish(虱目魚) besides above eel is another local speciality in Tainan. Milkfish always come with soup and clam, careful when eating it- have plenty tiny fishbone. I was surprised they had it with 油條(pronounce: yiouˊ tiewˊ, some website said it’s Fried Bread Stick) as their carbohydrates, since it’s mostly a breakfast food.
- A Han Sienˊ Chou (literally mean A Han’s Congee 阿憨鹹粥)
- No.169, Gongyuan S. Rd., North Dist., Tainan City 704, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
Clockwise: Fresh beef soup, beef heart with fried ginger and sesame oil (麻油豬心) stir-fry beef with onion(蔥爆牛肉), i forgot which part this is, and braised pork (it’s obvious the meat here has much fat)
Beef restaurant is a thing in Tainan too. Fresh out the market, where the owner picks the best beef of the day to make the best beef meal. Here’s all parts of beef to serve on table. There’s quite a lot similar restaurant in the area. We went to this one close to Zeelandia. Beef lover should deft stop by and see how many kind of beef dishes can be made!
- 文章牛肉湯 (wenˊ chang beef soup)
- No.590, Anping Rd., Anping Dist., Tainan City 708, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
Other highly recommend places that I had tried on:
- Zhengxing St& Guohua St.: a street stalls and stalls of food, it’s a satisfy being there
- one of the most well-known is Ninao Gelato (蜷尾家冰淇淋)– they call themselves gelato not ice cream, even attended Gelato World Tour Asia and brought back silver place home. Everyone always anticipate today’s flavour as they always use Taiwan speciality, and we are always in for surprise! Besides the small stall on Zhengxing St, there is the Ninao Gelato space that looks like museum in An-Ping, near An-Ping fort, which we passed by, sadly didn’t know what’s in there from the outlook, however has a wider range of ice cream and talks about the brand concept with the minimal architecture ambiance.
Side note about MSG and the differences between Shanghainese & Taiwanese food
*MSG(monosodium glutamate)- heavily use in Chinese cuisine. The way to recognize there’s some dose of MSG in the food besides being a Donald Duck or itch and scratch like I do, is the shiny reflection from the food, cabbage always reveal it’s inner part easily. The way I cope with this kind of cuisine besides trying to avoid some gathering(I know it sounds silly as I am a Taiwanese, and how can I avoid eating Chinese cuisine) and asking the restaurant do they add MSG(which they always say they don’t, and I would intimidate them I’d turn into a Donald Duck immediately plus never gonna come here ever again and say the word out loud you have MSG…i know i sound ridiculous,but hey…it’s not fun having skin allergy!), I’d always drink tons of tea or bring a tank of water, precisely 600-1000cc and filled myself up by washing it out in going to bathroom. In this case, it helps 50% and reduce the itchy feeling, only once in a blue moon I got away with it, unfortunately the other 50% comes with itchiness, swollen+breakout skin, and scratch for a week.(see why i threaten them..lol) OR have a bowl with water and wash food as if your brush awaits you to paint the name of the restaurant that has MSG.
味精：大量使用於中國菜。如何判別有加味精，除了像我一吃到就腫的跟唐老鴨一樣或一直抓癢，另外就看食物反光的程度，像白菜就很顯著。如何避免吃到味精，除了避免類似的聚會，但我知道聽起來很蠢畢竟在台灣怎可能避開中式菜的機會，另外就是會問餐廳有沒有加味精。但當然餐廳通常都否認沒有加味精，而這時我也會特別的強調如果你加了我一定會知道，因為我等一下嘴會腫的跟唐老鴨一樣且我再也不會再來這裡用餐，當然也大聲的說這一家餐廳有加味精。聽起來很誇張，但⋯⋯皮膚過敏的孩子可不好惹的！ 另外我也都會喝大量的茶，或自己帶一瓶600或1000cc的水邊吃邊灌水，讓味素快速離開身體。 當然以上可以協助一半過敏碰到的搔癢之感，但若不幸中標了，那就會有一週多的過敏不舒服日，由此可以知道我為什麼每一次都會威脅餐廳了(呵呵)另外一招：準備一碗水，食物夾到嘴巴前全都過水吧，至少可以過掉一半的味精。
**Shanghainese food- my grandpa is from Shanghai, and I grew up eating Jiangsu and Zhejiang, China district cuisine in Taiwan. From above intro I believe there’s a better understanding what does Taiwanese food look like: lots of small dishes. And what about Shanghainese? Shanghai aka “魚米之鄉” meaning “a land of plenty”, rich in agriculture back in the old days where good food are being serve, always as a whole piece to be exact-like the well-known Dongpo pork , delicacy in ingredients usage and layout.
I hope you enjoy the post, and tell me what you think about the authentic Taiwanese food!