12 December 2013
Shihlin Taiwan Street Snacks ~ Devonshire Street Tunnel, Haymarket
We are off to Taiwan for three weeks of beef noodle soup adventures over Christmas and New Year. There will be a few posts trickle through while Richard Wilkins hosts the show for us over summer but not much really until we get back. In the meanwhile we thought we'd try some of the specialities of the Taiwan night markets to get us in the mood.
Shihlin Taiwan Street Snacks doesn't have a large number of items on its menu, and nearly all of them are fried. This really is snack food and not every day food, the sort of thing you would munch on as a treat.
XXL Crispy Chicken, $7.50. Take a piece of chicken breast, flatten it out, coat in crunchy crumbs and deep fry. Sprinkle liberally with chilli powder and pepper and slice into pieces with a pair of scissors. Eat with supplied skewers so your fingers don't get coated in pepper chilli dust. This batch could have used a minute or two more in the fryer, but you'll get a good fried chicken hit if needs be.
The only thing not fried on the menu is the Hand made Oyster Mee Sua $7.50. Thick gravy like soup with small thin short lengths of noodles, topped with fish floss and three oysters is very spoon worthy. If they ask you if you want vinegar and chilli make sure you say yes, they add an extra zing and depth of flavour.
The first mouthful of this meal was a little strange, the flavours don't really hit you at first. The oysters copped the brunt of the vinegar splash, and were soft and neatly chewy. This dish is known also as oamisoir or oyster vermicelli, well known in Xiamen as well as Taiwan.
A sign at the counter recommends you eat this soup with a spoon and not chopsticks 'just like the Taiwanese' which is wise advice.
A temporary special, Crispy Salt Pepper Mushrooms $5.
Handfuls of long enoki mushrooms are hand mixed in batter and dropped into hot oil. Covered in the usual peppery flavour, they are crispy and mushroomy good.
Crispy Egg Floss Crepe. Floss is one of those strange food wonders, fluffy tasty threads of flavour, a little meaty in taste as well. There is a sweetness to this dish, possibly from the sauce. There is no pork or lard used in the making of these dishes, so the flavour base is a real tasty mystery.
Sweet plum potato fries, $5.00. There's more than this in the serving, a good handful but you don't need a lot to be satiated. They are thick batons of sweet potato coated in batter and deep fried so the potato goes tender. The chips are coated in a sour plum flavoured powder and pepper, a strange and intriguing flavour. It's a hard core chip experience.
Shihlin Taiwan Street Snacks is at Shop 4, 827 George Street Haymarket, at the ABC/UTS end of the Devonshire Tunnel. Ph 1300 525 090. http://www.shihlinsnacks.com.tw/au/index-au.htm There's a discount for ABC staff, UTS staff and students and transport workers.
This is a new franchise spreading across Sydney, with another store in Kingsford and in the new Central Park on Broadway. Stranger still, this franchise started not in Taiwan but in Singapore about eight years ago, with branches in Indonesia and Malaysia, but not Taiwan. I guess they have the real thing there.