creme de la creme - taipei
just back from 7 days in Taipei... we're a few days away from Chinese new year, and the preparations are in full swing! bustling vendors in every district sell foods typically eaten around this time of year. nian gao galore! (sticky rice cakes!) everyone is selling or handing out red envelopes (red envelopes are given - often with $$ inside - for Chinese new year, but also for weddings or birthdays or the like). tons of nuts (literally, see the "dihua street" picture below - the bags on the left are literally four foot high bags crammed with every type of nut you imagine: peanuts, watermelon seeds, almonds, pistachios, etc.)
a few highlights from the trip, in no particular order:
-ximending district: known as the harajuku district of Taipei?? what this really means is lots of shopping, kind of a times square vibe but waaaay more lax, amazing street food (grilled mochi!!! with topping flavors from peanut to matcha to seaweed to cheese), i saw a number of "bing" ie shaved ice shops, and a fun area to explore for half a day
-dihua street (pictured below): normally a super delightful food shopping area, it explodes with vendors around this time of year. this is the place to go to buy dried mushrooms, dried scallops, dried fruit - guava, starfruit, longan, pomelo - you name it, they've dried it! ps if you're around dihua it's worth finding your way to yongle textile market and getting this dope ass oily rice and these amazing taro cakes. get there before 12 and probably before 10:30 because there's always a line and they DO run out. we went our last time in Taipei only to find they'd sold out.
-eating at grandpa's house: my aunt is a fucking wizard who casually whips up a dozen dishes for every meal. watching her cook is something i'd almost buy a ticket for. she's fast and she's furious and it's fabulous. one such meal pictured below.
-found this AMAZING Taiwanese style lunch place aka they have maybe 20 dishes prepared and you go wait in line until it's your turn and then you point at what you want and they add it to your rice and it's all maybe $4? one such lunch is pictured below. the spot is in dazhi, and i don't know the name but if you want to go i'll tell you how to find it. look for the hanging ducks and the line out the door...
-walking in the rain. it rains 7/7 days we were in Taipei. originally we had plans to hit up tainan but mom's ankle wasn't doing well so we just chilled in Taipei. we walked everywhere and used umbrellas and it was a beautiful reminder that a little rain never hurt anyone.
-THE GINGER AND LEMON TEAS!! my favorite spot for that is any "kingyo" just cause i think they do it right. most days i get it hot with no sugar but let me tell you, add 30% sugar (weird, i know, but that's how they measure it) and your taste buds will sing even as you feel the gingery burn.
-longan and ginger tea. i like "tp tea" cause their longan doesn't taste gross and chemically, it tastes like fruit. and cause they can do it without sugar - caution, this drink is unbelievably sweet as it thanks to the badass dried longan...
-monkhead!!! aka custard apple aka one of the most delicious fruits on earth. i can't even say it's like if x and y had a baby because it's uber unique and just fucking awesome all around and i don't want to ruin the experience by saying what it might be like.
-time with momma and grandpa (my grandpa is the cutest being)
-hotpot at addiction aquatic development. actually, addiction aquatic development in general. it's Taipei's answer to the Japanese fish markets and it's an experience that's not to be missed. fresh seafood, grilled seafood, a sushi spot, a hotpot spot, fresh juices, a beautiful market, and tanks on tanks of fresh fish that you peak at if you're into that kinda thing. go here!!!
so in summary: Taipei is an unreal place to eat (very cheap!) and if you make it there please let me know because I've got tons more to share!!