This was my first time in Taiwan. And it was a great trip!
Of course, as we mainly stayed in the city, we had to do the “been there, done that” of Taipei. But I’ll skip the tourist part and come straight to food matter, apart from the rental bicycle and a few other matters. We were told that these rental bicycles were made heavy and ugly so that no one would steal them… makes sense when you think about it. The crossing path on busy road was also interesting with a time frame when people are allowed to cross in diagonal. And of course we had to test the fastest elevator in the world at Taipei 101… that was… nothing, really.
Beside that, we were lucky to have a friend living in Taipei that tipped us in what to do for a day trip. And so we were off to the Yangmingshan National Park. There we spent a few hours soaking ourselves in volcanic heated spring water. It was utterly hot water for me, but it felt great… (once you get used to the sulfur smell :) )
We were then recommended having lunch at a small place fairly lost in the middle of nowhere in the park, where they raised their own chickens and cultivated their own vegetables and fruits. We arrived at the place to discover what was the inner part of an extinct volcano with plants and trees full of life everywhere. In the back we could notice a column of steam coming from a boiling lake.
The table setting was of disposable chopsticks and paper bowls. Never mind and spot on, that’s what I love! Real quality ingredients, without fuss, straight forward and WOW it was good. We had a few dishes and notably a surprising steamed fresh bamboo. It was the season, so the restaurant recommended it, and they where amazing. A little sweet, juicy and with an extraordinary texture and flavor. We had a few other dishes of vegetables such as young cabbage or yam’s leaves and of course, the famous chicken which was indeed very nice! The table next to us had a bunch of ladies picking vegetables and longan for the restaurant. The atmosphere and the ambiance within the open air restaurant was simply magic! I would go back to Taiwan just for that restaurant. ;)
Back to Taipei, we crossed a few food stalls on the street and tried a few local delicacies, but we had to try the famed Taiwanese beef noodles and their version of Xia Long Bao. Both were very good and as a dessert oriented person, I asked my friend what to try in Taiwan. He said “Mango shaved ice”. So we were off to try the famous ice and as I was quite skeptical about having a mountain of ice as dessert, I’ve got quite a surprise. The amount of mangoes used on a dish is as equal as the amount of ice and it is topped by a mango sorbet and condensed milk. The mangoes are locally grown and were very nice, ripe, sweet and juicy with sublime aromas. The whole dish became nicely balanced and for sure, it’s the ultimate refreshment in such hot weather (35 Celsius and clear sky!)