Taipei Side Trip to Tamsui & Hunan Dinner
February 1, 2012 § 4 Comments
We took a ride on the MRT north on the red line to check out Tamsui (淡水) towards the end of the day. Most of this MRT ride is above ground, so this long route to the northernmost point gives you a great scenic overview of Taipei. We found ourselves walking along a very long promenade along the water that was lined with food and carnival games and quickly becoming packed with people as the late afternoon gave way to evening since most people. This place seems to be one of may refuges for those out looking for some fun at the end of their Monday. Still full from all the eating we’d already done and knowing we only had another large dinner waiting for us, we could do little more than stare helplessly at the food available. There were tiny quail eggs grilled in little molds and skewered for easy transport, salted/pickled plums lacquered red with sugar like candy apples, beautifully grilled squids pressed flat on skewers, little bowls of fish balls swimming in broth, and promises of very large soft serve ice cream cones towering a foot tall in a variety of mystery pastel flavors.
Also, there were plenty of carnival games where you could win giant inflatable bottles and cans of beer along with other silly inflatables or fluffy animals. There were plenty of machines packed down with piles of cute toys all in this box for you to try to win as well.
This was a special contraband picture taken just for you. I guess no photographs are allowed of the crazy game, eh? I’m alarmed to discover that it’s NT$100 to play, though.
Tamsui is a great place to rent a bike and explore numerous cycling paths, and it’s also considered a great place to watch sunsets as I quickly discovered.
As the streets became more and more crowded with pedestrians, one would think the convoys of mopeds would be a little bit less likely to come tearing down the packed streets or very narrow alleyways swerving around people, but you would be wrong. Just looking at this picture makes me want to flinch and nervously look behind me. Surprisingly I didn’t see any sort of collision here.
After our brief visit in Tamsui, it was time to head back into Taipei for a big Hunan feast at 1010 Hunan Pop (新湘菜) which has a few locations.
Starting with some pickles was pretty standard at this point, and these were much sweeter/vinegary/spicier than the other ones I’d had on the trip so far. They packed more of a punch. Also in the arena of mandatory greens were some pea shoots that melted into their oil and combined for a buttery richness.
I was delighted to see this dish of shredded potatoes with vinegar (醋溜土豆絲) as I had tried a homestyle version of something that resembled this years ago and was delighted with how simple and delicious the chilled blanched waxy potatoes were. This version slightly disappointed my memory as this was served hot and felt like it continued to cook due to its own heat as it sat on the table and took away from the unique texture of the version I remembered. It was still pretty tasty on its own with the tang of the vinegar and the bursts of minced garlic, but it simply wasn’t what I had anticipated it to be.
Shreds of tofu and beef with loads of thin strips of spring onions worked together to make a nice variety of textures. Another of my favorite flavor marriages is tofu and meat of some sort since tofu so readily absorbs all of the great fatty meat deliciousness. While this was a little bit more mild than I had anticipated, it was still enjoyable by the very simple nature of the dish.
These fried shrimp skewers bathing in chili oil are one of the more popular dishes here for good reason. The shells provide a nice crispness and wash of heat before giving way to tender, fresh shrimp flesh inside.
These fennel and cumin crusted fried pork ribs (神仙孜然肋排骨) came with a plastic glove to assist you in chowing down. They are a specialty here and you can order them by the rib for NT$150 each. There was a great textural variety here as the ribs are juicy from being marinated and boiled before fried and crusted with additional pops of spice. Fortunately enough you may not have to cross the world for these as I may have found a recipe right here that looks like you can make your own version of these at home if you feel so inclined. I’m feeling the inclination myself.