eating in taipei – and taiwan, in general – is an education in the merits of spacing your calories out throughout that day. come to think of it though, it’s not calories you’re so much bothered with so much as stomach space.
here’s something lighthearted for the weekend – a wrap up of some things I learnt on this trip:
the city is beautiful at night – and it’s incredibly difficult to take photos from the back of a speeding tuktuk (but it’s an experience to behold, and really – passing all those cars stuck in the jam is extremely satisfying).
we were drawn to this store by the delicious smell of fat on a barbie – this man was sat outside a temple where a ceremony was taking place, fanning rather voraciously at a fierce flame and the sticks of marinated chicken above it.
when the ceremony was over, lots of temple-goers started crowding about to order these sticks of satay – which is when the partner decided to get a few to try. very tasty, fatty and tender pieces of chicken poked through a bamboo skewer, these were reminiscent of the satay we get in singapore – just as greasy, possibly more so, our three sticks were quickly stuffed into some brown paper and we bent over the streets eating so the oil didn’t drip onto our clothes.
not something you’d want to eat all the time, or very often at all – very much unhealthy, these things – but very local and endearing for that, as is most street food (I probably would find it difficult to say the same of fried insects and balut).
we were drawn to this store by the smell of delicious grilled meat on charcoal – vietnamese grilled meats almost always have a touch of sweetness in their marinades, so they caramelize very nicely and make it known to you by way of the maillard effect.
this lady was grilling tiny patties of meat – slider-style, if you’re being hipster – on a tiny grill next to her store, forming them as she went along from a large bowl of mince. we ordered a banh mi – which is a vietnamese sandwich made with pickles, fresh vegetables and certain meat options – and it came with four gorgeous patties slid between a crusty french loaf atop pickled radish and carrot, as well as some crisp lettuce.
street food at its best, and cheapest.
p.s. meds noticed the google results on the side of the store – which led me to find out that this might be saigon’s best banh mi at 37 nguyen trai! what a good find, and so brilliant that she noticed – really made this foodie’s day!
just to follow up with ben thanh, here’s the other market that people bandy about in ho chi minh: binh tay. they sound phonetically very similar, so be careful what you tell the taxi driver – my dad tripped up on his instructions a few times.
despite our years of coming to ho chi minh, this was our first visit at this market and probably our last.
I don’t usually do this, but I just came across this amazing video about the wonderful food scene in china as made by the perennial plate.
china is remarkable for its sheer size, and an accompanying vast array of cuisine, all distinct in their various regions and styles. I had a great time when I went there last year, and I ate so well; I used to be rather disdainful when it came to going to china when younger – there is something about being a young asian exposed to american television and finding that cool that nurtures this sort of fallacy, but now I realize just how amazing the place is. and it doesn’t hurt that the food there is still of such great quality and diversity.
here’s the video, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. and if you’d like some recommendations on where to eat in china, here are my suggestions.