We return to Taipei for the last couple of days of our food frenzy holiday. Just near our hotel we see a four wheel drive covered in bread drying out on the bonnet, which is about the best use of a four wheel drive in the city.
Our hotel gives us little pineapple cakes as a new years eve welcome present. These are long life nifty gifty kinda cakes from Patisserie Francis but pretty nice.
We've arrived on New Years Eve so we set out for a wander down toward Taipei 101 where all the fireworks action is set to take place.
Yet another great little night market we find along the way, there's so many of them.
Teppenyaki is popular, it's almost an everyday food rather than the once-every-ten-years food it is back in Australia.
Alison is chugging her way through the entire range of Hello Kitty Beer, flavoured especially for youngsters. It's only 2.5% alcohol but it's cheaper than Phenergan.
Tough work being a sausage vendor.
After twenty years of wandering around Asia we finally feel ready to tackle a street kebab.
The kebab is disappointingly tasty. We don't die either. Always a bonus.
Oh yeah, it's New Years Eve, which is a big deal in Taipei. Tens of thousands of folks head to the centre of town for fireworks. The streets are alive, a wonderful night just to wander around and take in the vibe.
Shawn is still miffed at Alison because she refused to take him to the Hello Kitty cafe. Never to be forgiven. Ever.
Instead of fine dining with Hello Kitty we head here, down on Guangfu South Road.
This isn't Hello Kitty.
Taiwanese spaghetti x2, a dan dan noodle style. Probably what we would have had at the Hello Kitty Cafe.
We hit this oden street stall for main course, just down the end of the same street.
Pick out what you want and the nice lady will chop it up and cook it for you.
Oden selections. We chose green beans, tofu skins, little bundles of noodles and blood cake.
More oden selections.
There were a few stands of carnival food set up where the hoards gathered for the fireworks.
Taiwanese Dagwood Dogs suck, the exterior was way too sweet and the whole thing was a little bit cold. Poo.
Another random street stall.
Deep fried stuff stall.
Evil looking microwave rice hamburgers in the 7-Eleven. Man we wish we had one...
BBQ bike. Would love to have one of these back home.
This ball-catching dog attracted a crowd. No matter how fast you threw the ball he could catch it. He was so quick.
Fireworks time! Almost. The famous Teipei 101 building is the centrepiece for the fireworks and its lit up all pretty.
Taipei 101 gets all explodey with fireworks. It's pretty cool, but we're a bit spoiled for fireworks in Sydney.
The streets were awash with people after the fireworks. We were amazed at how well behaved the crowd was. In Australia there would be drunken zombies everywhere, fights, arrests and folks face down in the gutter. The only idiots we saw were a couple of booze zonked westerners. Every country we visit has something we wish we could bring back home (maybe not the drunk westerners).
New years day in Taipei, pretty much like any other day as far as we can tell.
Random breakfast spot.
We take a punt on this joint for breakfast.
We go for a good, simple breaky of stewed pork mince and bean sprouts on noodles, $30. We share one so we can have more breakfasts, that's our gourmet traveller tip for the day.
A huge simmering pot of pork mince.
We wander the streets in search of breakfast v2.0. There's lots of groovy little back streets.
Did somebody say breakfast?
We take a punt in this place on Nanjing East Road.
It's got an English menu - oh the joy!
Noodle with sesame sauce. It's like spagetti with a lovely creamy sesame flavoured sauce. Waaaaahhhhh.
What's this fella up to?
We're not sure but we'll give it a go.
Some kind of cool tea jelly, it is stored on ice in the cart to keep it cool.
This is like a mochi sweetie. We call it a Tony Abbott.
This street has a couple of uber popular ramen shops, both with big queues. Some things are the same all over, heh?
This vegetarian place looks sensational (we love our veggies) but we have no tummy room.
Some groovy street art, it's 2D folks.
Ye olde barrel and basket shop. For some reason it reminds Shawn of the Abracadabra Bangalow Baskets commercial that was drilled into his head as a kid. Sorry, he had to get that off his chest.
Around the central station area there's some awesome looking Indonesian restos. Wish we had the stomach room...
There's some nifty littley alleys full of food around central station.
Somebody hasn't quite got a handle on this hiding business.
Another great choose-your-own adventure lunch spot.
This food is so good.
Random street stall.
Taipei Donut King.
Alison continues her alcoholic Hello Kitty quest. This time we try out peach.
We chug a couple cheeky bevvies down in the park, to the amusement of local tourists, we're all class.
We waddle over to Ximending which is said to be Taipei's Shibuya or Harajuku.
Ay Chung Flour Rice Noodles pulled a crowd. Another place we wish we found room for. Here's a random blog post on the stuff.
Ximending has a Hot Star Chicken. But so does Sydney now, which kinda takes the fun out of it. By the way Sydneysiders, if you want to know what Taiwan smells like, walk past Hot Star Chicken in Liverpool street, that sweet cinnamon-like smell of plum powder is everywhere in Taiwan.
We both hate bitter melon but we have to try bitter melon juice, which is surprisingly wonderful. Not so bitter, if we had a must-try list, we'd put bitter melon juice on it.
Again, so much food, not enough room.
We rearrange our stomachs to make some room for some Taiwanese desert, this place is popular.
A sweet peanut soup and a cold taro desert with the added goodness of rice dumpling balls and creme caramel.
The peanut soup has some red beans underneath.
Pssst, hey bud.
Ximending. The Sony Shop is around here somewhere...
It's time to move from our fancy hotel to a backpacker hostel. Sigh. We do it on foot.
"I think the two-leggers dropped some pork mince here about three years ago. Hmmm still smells good."
No photo can convey the wonderful vibe in some of Taipei's backstreets, the place really comes alive when you get off the main roads, there's a real warm community feel to some streets.
We take our only proper (almost) Western meal on the trip: a couple of burgers from Mos Burger, which were gross. We noticed the logo for Mos Burger is red in Taiwan.
Corgi bikie. Do you think he's embarrassed by the Hello Kitty helmet?
Our hostel digs are good and the staff are super friendly, but we were sad to leave our fancy-ish hotel. On the upside we've moved to a residential area, we're keen to take in some everyday Taipei. The Yanping North Night Market is just around the corner, we've covered that in another post.
One dish we never found the right time to try was stewed pork knuckle. Apparently this place is famous and has queues all day. We are lucky to catch them at a quiet time right before closing.
Our dinner about to be chopped.
A feast of pork simmered in a sweet dark sauce, plus lightly pickled cabbage on the side, and of course some rice and pork mince.
The pork is rich and fatty. It is cooked for over four hours, the cooks get up at 6.00am to start cooking the pork for the day and then close around 8.00pm. What a day.
Our cheery host. This place is up from Yanping Road markets, on the corner of Mignan Road.
We head up into the hills to go to a public hot springs in Beitou, which turns out to be wonderful. It's kind of like going to an old fashioned Australian public pool, only there's lots of hot little pools instead of one big cold one, and no diving board. Folks of all ages are there but it's the old folks that love it the most. We would have taken a photo but you can get arrested for that kind of thing.
A banana cream cake thingy from the 7 Eleven. Why are 7 Elevens so much better in Asia?
See, there's trees and everything in Beitieu. It's a calming sort of place for a day out of Taipei.
If you're too cheap to pay the couple of bucks for the public hot spring, or sell a limb for the fancy private springs, you can take a dip in the creek. The pools cost about $80 for entry and $20 for a locker. Don't forget to have a shower before you get in or the pool attendants (old folks who run the pool side goings on mafia style) will yell at you.
Relaxed from the hot springs we head back to the Q-Square city shopping centre, a place we'd spotted earlier. We're a bit old for the teen styling room.
It's pretty fancy in here. It seems to have taken over Taipei 101 for the fanciest mall in town.
There's a bunch of food counters that give the place the feel of a depachiko, the famous Japanese department store basement food halls.
The place we came back for is this vegetarian joint.
There's a cooked-to-order menu but we're here for the choose-your-own-adventure buffet.
Look at that food!
Alison's meal. Bright green edamame, crisp green beans wrapped in nori, tomato, eggplant, mushrooms and tofu. There's no eggs or alcohol used in any of the dishes, so it is vegan and halal.
Shawn's din dins. This place is veggie heaven.
We walk a few kilometeres towards our hostel and build up an appetite, this little snack shop\bakery (a snakery?) takes our fancy.
Sesame spring roll.
Black sesame pretzel.
I ain't movin' for nobody.
After three weeks of eating our way through Taiwan we're still finding amazing street food. This stand does like a shaka-shaka chicken.
Select your goodies and the nice lady places them in a mixing bowl.
She cuts everything up into bit size pieces...
Then sauces and spices them up.
It is served in a formal plastic bag, ready to eat. It's like a super fresh, spicy chicken'n'salad. Awesome.
The romantic view from our park bench dining table.
We've eaten donuts on the side of the road all over Asia, Africa, everywhere, and they always suck. Stale and bready with not enough sweet. And this one is no exception. You would think we had learned by now...
Near our hostel down by the river there's some buzzy little old school Chinese market streets selling flossed, dried and preserved goodies. The old folks love it.
Art gallery pussycat.
Ah, there's a river!
We run out of daylight and look forward to exploring the river walks on our next visit. Folks are out jogging, cycling and wearing out the kids. Lovely.
One of those little cultural oddities is the garbage truck. The garbage truck plays a happy kiddy tune like a Mr Whippy ice cream truck. Folks stand out on the footpath with their garbage waiting for the truck and chatting to the neighbours, it becomes like a cheery community gathering.
At the airport we get a final feed...
You know, we hate to admit it, but the 7-Eleven cheese dog is a little bit wonderful.
There's a nifty foodcourt underneath the airport with Burger King, ramen hot pots, economy meals and duck rice options and there's a couple of convenience stores as well.
We got some lunch but forgot to take a photo of it...
Seeya Taiwan, and your big poking-through-the-clouds mountains, we'll be back.
We love Taiwan, Hello Kitty Beer and 7-Eleven cheese dogs.