24 June 2014

Street Food Tour of Taiwan ~ Let's Tainan!

We visit Tainan, Taiwan's food and culture capital, to drink Spunk and get arrested. Sorta.

Walking up from the Tainan train station we diligently follow all directions to our next hotel. According to our hotel's website our next place of abode is located right about where that hammock is, in an alley that doesn't exist, or exists in another dimension.

We know we're in the right neck of the woods but can't find that dang hotel. We ask some friendly neighbours for directions but they don't speak English. The corgi speaks English and can also fly a plane, but he was distracted with his upcoming astrophysics exams.

We're so stuck that Alison asks for help at a police station. The police are super friendly, offering water and a chair while they search for the hotel listed somewhere. They crack the case and chauffeur us to the hotel in a cop car. What an entrance! No sirens though.

And what a hotel!

The 1967 City Central Hotel is truly and wonderfully and utterly bizarre. They've gone for the whole arty boutique hotel thing and thrown absolutely everything at the canvas. It's been kitted out with every piece of ye olde finery they could order from the Shenzen Ye Old Finery Factory catalog. They splashed the walls with every colour in the Dulux catalog, and threw in some extra moody mood lighting for good measure. Mr Shawn's absolute favourite touch is the plastic moose antler chandelier. Priceless.

Having said all that, it was a great hotel - we had a full serviced apartment with our very own washing machine, a dream when you're on the road. Staff were exceptionally nice and there was as much free candy as you could eat from a lobby candy bar. We'd stay there again in a flash.

A drink of Young Come anybody?

Or maybe some Spunk Drink?

Tainan is the opposite of the city we left this morning, Kaohsiung. Kaohsiung has wide streets and a spacious, relaxed vibe. Tainan is all buzzy with narrow streets and life accelerated. It's popular with tourists, there's great food and ye olde temples.

Gouhua Street, a market street with some popular and old food stalls.

Sidewalk resto. Egg, bread, noodles, deep fried things.

Sidewalk dining. Along the pavements between the main temples are endless restaurants, many have been serving temple visitors for decades.

Preserved pineapple.

Drive-thru economy rice.

This resto was on Guohua Street, a famous ye olde food street. We give it a go because the ladies are so lovely.

Condiments. Kind of Irish flag coloured.

We order what everyone else is having, we've go no idea what it is.

Turns out to be a super stodgey, thick rice dish in gooey gravy sauce. There's small pieces of meat studded inside.

We also get a rather amazing fish ball soup. Once again, it's the simplest dishes we found the most amazing in Taiwan. The dumplings were roughly created, like fish ball gnocchi. The broth was tangy sour and sweet and loaded with shreds of ginger.

Random streetside resto, looking eggcellent.

Random resto.

Purdy backstreets.

Ye olde shoppe.

Wander around the back alleys of Tainan and you may stumble upon temples which are apparently centuries old. These temples on the backstreets are a nice place for a rest and some navel contemplation.

Tainan is buzzing at night.

Street food! Oh no, maybe it's a lottery truck.

Mmmm, tacky.

There's flasher restaurants as well. Not restaurants for flashers. We mean sligthly more upmarket restaurants. Do flashers hang up their coats in restaurants? This one appears to be Japanese, or influenced.

This sweets stand was open late into the night.

We ordered our breakfast the day before, part of the room package. It was left at our door in a French shopping basket. An egg and cheese bagel and toast with condensed milk from one of the endless bubble tea places around town. Cold ice teas and coffees to get us started.

Mr Corgi thinking about his Nobel Prize acceptance speech. And poo.

With the help of some locals we manage to get a bus out to the burbs.

We head out to Anping. There's some forts, old temples, walking streets and busloads of tourists.

I'll 'ave ya.

Tops aunties shucking oysters.

Just away from the main tourist 'ye olde' town is a small street with a few eating places. Around the area of Anping Road and Pingsheng Road, the main road in and out of town.

We're not interested in all the temples and castles and crap out here, we're here because Alison has a weird craving for Chinese skeddi.

And Chinese skeddi we find!

Noodles with meat mince and cabbage, add chilli to taste.

We also hook into some beef soup. The thinly sliced beef is dipped into a bowl of shredded ginger and a sweet plum sauce.

From our seat we peer into the adjoining restaurant. The chef lady is so friendly we just have to order something off her.

Deep fried fish sticks with wasabi and a sweet dipping sauce. Good stuff, interesting to see the Japanese influence with the pickled ginger slices as well.

Alison's best friend. Your best friend. Everybody's best friend.

The walking streets are filled with tourist shops and are fun to walk around with hoardes of fellow tourists. Must be crazy here on the weekends.

Waffles in fun shapes. Give the kiddies a pistol.

It's only a few kilometres to our hotel so we walk back via the river...

...taking care not to ride our old fashioned bicycles into the water and get our flares wet.

Hella groovy movie poster ad banner.

No trip with Alison and Shawn is complete without wandering through light industrial areas.

What you looking at? Oh, my naf yellow suit. Fair call.

Back near town there's a gaggle of ladies queuing up for mystery munchies. What could it be?

It's a cake shop - plain cake fresh out of the oven.

Heading back into town.

Random resto.

Can't a bloke have a drink in peace?

Scooters go on forever.

What a great restaurant name.

The main road near home. Nearly there.

Super friendly labrador near to the hotel.

We brave the cold and wish we brought our thermal undergarments.

We're not sure what this shop was but we like it. A couple of doors down we were invited into some fancy gathering of young artsy folks. We got all excited thinking a band was about to play, but it turned out to be a spoken word gig, a Pecha Kucha. We've never been so sad that we couldn't speak Chinese, it looked like so much fun.

Filming break dancing. Breaking bad.

Tonight we fill like a sit-down dinner so we wander over to a restaurant we scoped out the night before.

Actually the night before we just snuck in here to use the toilet, but the menu looked so good we came back.

The place is like a tent on the sidewalk attached to a kitchen, so it is still street food in a sense.

English menu - yay!

Marinated peanuts to start with.

Pan fried white water snowflake.

Grilled bamboo shoots.

We try out some local sausages, we've grown quite partial to the porky goodness.

A black blood sausage, a tiny mound of pepper to flavour.

Three cup chicken, a big serve of chicken pieces and generous amount of sliced ginger.

On the way home we see a night market with one fruit stall open at 11pm, seemed a bit hopeful.

Random tops old Chinese shop.

Morning! We check out of our bizarro world hotel and get a streetside breakfast on our way to the train station along the corner of Wanchang Street and Mincayun.

Help yourself drinks.

Sandwiches. May we recommend the tonkatsu sandwich. Deep fried pork cutlet in white trash bread. Mmmmm.

Alison's breakfast under construction.

Alison's breakfast, completed. A little boy in a blankie, egg pancake with cheese sausage (yes, more sausage) cabbage and sauce $40NT.

At the train station we try some fresh squid squished and cooked in this heavy toaster press thingy till it's like a warm, flat, fishy jerky - then then dusted with optional flavourings: salt, chili etc and shredded up. These were so good we forgot to take a photo.

We say cheers to Tainan with a celebratory Tiramisu flavoured milk tea. It kind of tasted like chocolate milk. Next stop, Taichung.

We love Taiwan.


  1. I had never even thought about going to Taiwan before, but your posts are making me want to go!


Thanks for your comment joy - please keep your musings happy - if you want to complain about a restaurant please do it on a restaurant review site (or your own blog) - we're all about celebrating cultural diversity and the great eats that come along with it :-)

Our ethics: We pay for all our own meals and travel (though sometimes Mum shouts us).