Some people eat to survive, I eat because I love food. And when I travel, food is one of the most important parts of the whole experience. How can you know that you went somewhere if you just ate the same things as you do when you are home? Food is the essential part of every culture, is part of many rituals, celebrations, and also of everyday life.
I have read so many times that Taiwan is the food capital of Asia, that they have the best food, the most amazing night markets,… Only superlatives. So my expectations were pretty high, even though I wanted to keep them down a bit, because my experience with Chinese food (I know Taiwanese food is not the same as Chinese, but this is as close as you can get to it if you live in Slovenia) has never been good.
On our very first night in Taichung we went to Zhongxiao Road Night Market. It is small, very local nightmarket, close to the Taichung Cultural and Creative Industries Park. We were tired after being on the road for the whole day and very hungry. Walking down Zhongxiao Road and being surrounded by food stalls filled with foods we did not know and no one who would be able to explain to us what it is, was quite overwhelming. We kind of gave up, stop at one that had many people around (for me lots of people in a restaurant or in front of a food stall means good food) and tried to figure out how to even order. I know that some travelers feel the need to blend in completely and not to look like a tourist, but since we were the only non-Asian people there it just did not make any sense to pretend we are anything more than just two lost and very confused tourists. Thankfully one guy spoke a bit English and we managed to order some things to eat. Except from tofu, broccoli and cabbage we have no idea what we ate. 🙂 We got a whole bag of food for around 2,5 EUR. It was not the best food we had in our time there, but it filled us up and cabbage was really good.
When you are in Taichung, you will probably go to Chun Shui Tang, the original store of Taiwanese pearl milk tea. It was founded by Mr Liu Han-Chieh who came up with the idea of cold Chinese tea in the early 1980s. Few years later his manager put sweetened tapioca pudding into her ice tea. It became a huge hit and soon it spread all over the world.
On our first visit to Chun Shui Tang we tried mango pearl milk tea and steamed handmade crystal pork dumplings, which came in the most amazingly delicious sauce ever. They were quite tricky to eat with chopsticks, as they were both slippery and it was our first food there we had to use chopsticks to eat it. And when you order tea you can choose how much ice you want and how sweet you want it to be. We always decided to on 30% ice and 30% sweet and it was more than enough.
Next time we went there for lunch and we ordered Japanese Barbecue Pork Set and Spring Onion Teriyaki Chicken Leg Set. They both came with ice tea. We decided to try Iced Oolong Tea and Iced Tieguanyin Tea. The set with tea was 280 NTD (around 7,8 EUR). Pork was mostly bones with a bit of meat on it, but the sauce was again delicious.
If you want something sweeter than ice tea you have to visit Miyahara. Once eye hospital is now turned into shop selling house brand ice cream, chocolate, tea, pineapple cake (which was the best we tried there), cookies and everything very pretty which makes it an ideal spot to buy your (expensive) souvenirs. The whole store is like you just step into a scene of Harry Potter. High ceilings, shiny floors, wall book cabinets, medicine chests, stairs,…
But what brings crowds here is their huge selection of ice creams. They have 18 varieties of chocolates, 17 types of tea ice creams and all kinds of fruit flavours. We decided to order triple ice cream with waffle which was 235 NTD (around 6,5 EUR) and we also got three toppings to chose. For the flavours we chose one tea (Oriental Beauty), one chocolate (Carribean 66%) and one fruit (Kyoho Grape) and for the toppings: waffles, rum raisins and pineapple cake. It was a huge portion and we barely finished it. Tea flavour was a bit watery (but that was kind of expected), chocolate was not so creamy as we are used to, but the Kyoho Grape was really good.
Have you been to Miyahara in Taichung? What was your favourite flavour?