Thursday, November 14, 2013

Tainan Must-Eat Snacks 台南小吃

Unlike Taipei (台北,Northern Taiwan) and Taichung (台中, Central Taiwan) that boast many more modern restaurants with new and creative cuisine concepts, the southern part of Taiwan - Tainan 台南 which is also one of the oldest cities in Taiwan,leans itself towards old-time nostalgic delights 古早味 including the food and snacks. Besides milkfish and eel noodles, there are many other supposedly must-eat Tainan snacks 小吃. However, with just a few days to spare, I have decided to "reserve" my appetite (and stomach) for those snacks (I think) I would enjoy e.g. milkfish porridge - which I did enjoy and enjoyed very much; and those which I would like to try for once e.g. eel noodles. Some other snacks enjoyed in my recent Tainan trip include:

1. Peddler Noodles or Dan Zai noodles 担仔面

Dan Zai Noodles @度小月担仔面

The portions may be small and noodles looking ordinary but it is big on flavors. Al Dente noodles topped with braised minced pork, perfectly cooked prawn, tender bean sprouts, fresh cilantro, tangy black vinegar and sharp minced garlic served in a deep and flavorful broth that has been cooked with prawn stock  From a Singapore perspective, it will be like a combination of Singapore Prawn Noodles (Hae-Mee) and Minced Meat Noodles (Bak Chor Mee) in a single dish.

Du Hsiao Yueh Dan Zai Noodles has been serving Dan Zai noodles for more than 100 years and its original century-old store 百年老店 is situated along Tainan City, Zhong Zheng Road No. 16. This store is tight on space and we were squeezed to one corner, beside a beverage fridge. If you want to have some spacious comfort while dining, you may want to consider their other newer and bigger store at Zhong Zheng Road No. 101.

Stall address:
度小月担仔面, 台南市中西區中正路16號, opens at 1100am. This is the first original century-old store.
Other locations, refer to Du Hsiao Yueh website

2. Shrimp Rolls 虾卷

Chou's Shrimp Rolls @ 周氏虾卷

Don't they look like Goreng Pisang (Fried Banana Fritters)? These shrimp or prawn rolls are indeed shaped similar to those long banana fritters. The rolls are crispy on the outside and filled generously with shrimps, minced meat, fish paste and vegetables (Chinese celery and scallions) on the inside. The shrimps are definitely not over minced in the filling as you can still bite on plump and springy shrimps. Over-minced shrimps tend to lead to rolls with pasty inside and the texture and bite is lost as a result of over-mincing the shrimps in the filling for shrimp rolls.

Chou's has been around for more than 50 years, and has successfully transformed a street snack like shrimp rolls into a brand name that is now used to market its modern, air-conditioned eateries.

Stall address:
周氏虾卷, 台南市中山路125之57號, 新光三越中山店斜對面, 1000-2300hrs
Other locations, refer to Chou's website.

3. Bean Jelly or Tofu Pudding, 豆花

Left: Traditional soy bean pudding; right: bamboo-charcoal flavored pudding. @同记安平豆花

It was a hot and super humid day in Tainan and the chilled bean jelly cooled us down quite a bit.

Tongji Anping Bean Jelly 同记安平豆花 is famed for its refined, super smooth and silky melts-in-your-mouth texture. Insisting on using traditional method that yields aromatic, smooth and healthy bean jelly, Tongji Anping's bean jelly is made from organic, non-GMO soybeans and does not use any chemical gelatinizing agents in the pudding-making process. It is a healthy and delicious dessert anytime.

The bamboo-charcoal bean jelly is made from black soy beans and bamboo charcoal. Beside taking on the grey shade of charcoal, it tastes exactly like the traditional soy bean pudding with absolutely no additional flavors of charcoal.

Stall addresses:
同记安平豆花, 中山路125-58號, 新光三越中山店斜對面,1000-2300hrs (this store is very near to Chou's Shrimp Rolls above, in fact just few steps away)
Other locations, refer to Tong Ji website.

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