Food Tainan Taiwan

Food Guide: 5 Authentic Taiwanese food in Tainan

Tainan December 24, 2015
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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.

從小到大吃著上海菜長大*,我常搞不清楚道地台灣菜是什麼,也常將它混淆為由味精的食物,一種增添食材風味的味素,而我每一次吃完含味精的食物都會嘴腫的跟唐老鴨一樣。這個暑假我跟表妹去台南,來一趟高三地獄生活前的遠足。從小到大都覺得亞洲小孩很可憐,沒有快樂兒時回憶,我想這也是截至目前為止小時候在菲律賓的生活一直很鮮明似昨日一樣的原因。

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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:

1895夏日夜晚,寫了度小月百年老店第一頁的故事,一家麵店因夏日雨季、颱風季不易漁民出外捕魚的小麵店攤史。小月意指7-9月漁民不易捕魚的月份,為了「度」過這「小月」而開啟了度小月來補償點收入。我們晚上10點多到,透過窗戶看著師傅準備一碗一碗的麵,每想到月夜了外面還是大排長龍,不外乎遊客還有來覓食宵夜的大學生。我們點了百年經典「擔仔麵」,主要成份為:麵條或米粉、豆芽菜、香菜、蒜泥、五印醋、蝦仁、少許湯汁以及獨門肉燥。但挺驚訝的是這盡然不是正餐,只是小點心,更別說大人可以以兩大口60秒的速度將這一碗完食。套一句台灣諺語說著「食巧毋食飽」,當然留下兩位飢腸轆轆的孩子們,更是再加點更多的點心來填飽餓著的肚子。我最喜歡的是吃完後碗上繪著台南地圖這小小精緻細節。

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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

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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:

「蝦捲」也被列為台南小食必吃。個人沒有被特別驚豔到,當然除了食材之外,對於只有吃過春捲的人一定要來嚐嚐,因為這外觀似跟春捲一樣,但口感與食材完全不同!當然也不要忘了點些其它小點一起增添菜色食用!明顯地每道都是小碗小碗來著,當下都吃得很飽,但三小時過後肚子會喊餓。有一種天崩地裂感,但這不就是小吃的趣味嗎!

IMG_2767Clockwise: pig heart with fried ginger and sesame oil(麻油炒豬心), pig kidney with fried ginger and sesame oil (麻油炒腰子), eel noodle (鱔魚麵)IMG_2771IMG_2770IMG_2769

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:

我想你在想那似在扭來扭去的食物是什麼。

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!

我們到台南圓環最著名的阿輝炒鱔魚。

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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.

除了鱔魚是台南特產,虱目魚也是台南一大特色。虱目魚總是加在湯裡配著蛤嫫吃,但要小心有很多小魚刺。我很驚訝盡然配著油條一起吃,畢竟油條不是早餐吃的嗎

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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)

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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!

新鮮牛肉餐廳也是來台南要去嚐嚐的地方。每天早上,老闆會挑選當天最好的牛肉上桌呈現各式牛肉料理。台南有很多類似餐廳,我們這一次去的這一家靠近安平古堡。牛肉愛好者來當台南一定不能錯過新鮮牛肉可以被做成幾種料理!

Other highly recommend places that I had tried on:

  • Zhengxing StGuohua 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.

除以上之外,還有推薦去

  • 正興街&國華家:藏著更多台南美食,一定會讓你胃滿載而歸
  • 蜷尾家冰淇淋:它們將品牌定位在義式冰淇淋,前陣子更是參加世界義式冰淇淋大賽東北亞區抱回亞軍。一大特色為嚴選台灣特產注入在義式冰淇淋活力裡,大家每次都又驚又喜這一次會嚐到什麼口味呢!除了正興街的小店,在安平附近更是有一間宛如博物館的藝術空間呈現品牌故事,當然有更多冰淇淋選擇等我們來享用!

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.

上海菜:外公來自上海南通,從小在台灣吃著江浙菜長大。從以上介紹可發現台菜都是一道一道很多的小菜組成。那上海菜呢?有「魚米之鄉」之稱的上海,富饒土地與海口優越地理位置讓上海的菜色琳琅滿目,桌上更是一道一道所謂的「大菜」,像是東坡肉,處此之外非常講究擺盤與食材的使用。

I hope you enjoy the post, and tell me what you think about the authentic Taiwanese food!

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18 Comments

  • Reply Heather Lisa Noire January 15, 2016 at 11:22

    That food looks so good! I really love your photos and blog! xx http://www.bauchlefashion.com

    • Reply Tiff January 19, 2016 at 13:09

      Awh, thanks Heather for the nice compliment, i hope you enjoy more what this blog brings 🙂 x

  • Reply Maddy January 6, 2016 at 13:39

    Oh my gosh, this food looks incredible! I was in Taiwan in August, but only on a layover for one night. I wish I could have actually stayed in Taiwan for a few days so I could try all of this food. It sounds so delicious! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • Reply Tiff January 6, 2016 at 21:54

      Wow, hopefully the layover is longer next time or plan a trip here along with other Asian countries. I am sure both of you will have loads of fun in Asia, and all these unique authentic dishes!!! x

  • Reply Xin January 4, 2016 at 12:20

    Wow your post is making me hungry!! Love those foods!!

    xx
    Xin

    http://xincerely.blogspot.com

    • Reply Tiff January 6, 2016 at 21:44

      well, perhaps that’s the point Xin 😉
      Hope you come and try some next time you are in Taiwan! x

  • Reply Sileas December 27, 2015 at 22:41

    This is such a great food post again! Although most food looks rather exotic to me I’d love to try them all. Anyway I love Asian food in general, so that would be such an enjoyable experience for me!

    • Reply Tiff December 27, 2015 at 22:46

      hehehe, exotic means you are exploring out of your comfort zone 😉
      i always tell friends: just try it, it’s alright if can’t finish it cos you don’t like it, but at least you have that one bite and know what’s it like 😀

  • Reply Mitzie Mee December 27, 2015 at 01:42

    MSG seems to be really hard to avoid in certain Asian cuisines, but it isn’t nice of a restaurant to claim that they aren’t using it, if they are, and causing you to end up with an allergic reaction. I visited Taiwan on several occasions but it’s been such a long time ago, so I don’t recall the taste of Taiwanese food. There’s a Taiwanese restaurant in Dubai, which I really like. It’s called Taipei Dao, and I’m not sure whether it’s authentic Taiwanese, but the food there is amazing:)

    • Reply Tiff December 27, 2015 at 22:40

      you totally know what I mean Mitzie! it’s really really hard to avoid, and some I believe they have no clue since they are not the one cooking, but sigh. some restaurant are getting better these days, or I just avoid them or bring my tank of water 😐
      ha, it’s alright if it’s not authentic Taiwanese, much essential is they are good food!
      still there’s dingtaifung from Taiwan in Dubai! my Emirates friend and her crew always munch it when they miss home 🙂

  • Reply Vicky December 25, 2015 at 07:11

    The food looks so good! Wish I could visit Taiwan one day.

    Have a Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday!

    Vicky
    https://vickysscrapbook.wordpress.com/

    • Reply Tiff December 27, 2015 at 22:35

      Do come and visit Taiwan one day Vicky!
      Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday to you, hope you are celebrating the fun season with love ones! 🙂

  • Reply Tiffany December 24, 2015 at 20:37

    ah i love this post tiffany! the only place place I’ve tried in your list is 度小月, i should definitely start exploring more authentic Taiwanese food!
    Merry Christmas! have loads of fun during the holiday! 🙂

    • Reply Tiff December 25, 2015 at 01:51

      Try some when you are back for the holiday 🙂
      Merry Christmas Tiff, enjoy your Tokyo vacation !

  • Reply annie lee December 24, 2015 at 18:43

    i’m sitting in a cafe where aircon is blasting my head off and i have to be honest, that bowl of soup looks so TEMPTING!! tiff, your posts are making me think i have to visit taiwan soon.. so much yummy goodness!

    • Reply Tiff December 24, 2015 at 23:06

      Oh gee…what does “blasting your head off” mean, i laughed so hard at your comment Annie!
      Yes, put Taiwan on your list, there’s a lot to discover 😉

  • Reply Elizabeth T. December 24, 2015 at 14:23

    Oh gosh, Tiff, your post just made me so hungry, and it’s already 10:30 at night haha 😛 擔仔麵 and 滷肉飯 are my absolute favorite, and I always order it whenever I go to Taiwanese restaurants (which is often) haha! Taiwan has the best food ever, and I don’t think I can ever get tired of it <3 Really enjoyed reading about all of the authentic Taiwanese foods! Can't wait to visit one day! Have a warm and safe Christmas with your friends, family, and loved ones!

    XO, Elizabeth
    http://clothestoyouuu.com/

    • Reply Tiff December 24, 2015 at 23:14

      Oh my Elizabeth, perhaps you’ll dream them in your sleep? That sounds really good to me! Ha 🙂 Woo..did you order a lot of side dishes like i did, 擔仔麵真的好吃不飽噢~ 🙁 I love 滷肉飯 a lot, and A LOT when I was little. One summer I ate so much that my mom can’t recognize me at the airport 2 months later 😛

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