Dinner bells are a-ringing, and I am starving. Eyes calibrated, nostrils expanded, and stomach emptied — I am ready for yet another food search to satisfy this ravenous calling.
To my worst dismay, a smell of nightmares crept its way up my nostrils and attacked with all its might, and I surrendered unwilling.
It’s stinky tofu! Can anything that smells like rotten feet marinating in fermented fish for years be edible? Yes, I know there are plenty of smelly food out there that tastes impeccable, but I guess I’m not prepared for this. None-the-less, I “woman-ed” up and ordered it and…. drum roll please… it tastes like normal tofu, and I’m angry! If something is going to assault my nose, I expect the food to be better than amazing — It better be gold slowly melting in my mouth! However, I’m glad that it tastes like a regular tofu rather than something despicable. So anyone out there that’s scared of eating it, don’t be. It’s harmless.
The food below is considered Taiwanese “fast food”, also known as “Xiao Chi” (little eats) and you can get all of these dishes in most night markets like the Shilin Night Market (Map). One good thing about this type of food is that it’s CHEAP — Most plates are $1- $2 US dollars! So unbuckle that belt and get ready to belly flop into these dishes.
The turnip cakes are pan seared with a thick sweet sauce. This is actually very good and it reminds me of eating the radish cakes at dim sum. See my post — Dim Sum at Parents Restaurant — for really good radish cakes.
The stinky tofu are perfectly fried and accompanied with a soy based- pickled cabbages, which compliment the tofu very well.
I know the water spinach is banned in the States — in Georgia for sure — because they’re destructive to the sewage systems. However, here in Taipei, it’s the most common vegetable served at restaurants. This one is sautéed in a caramelized onion sauce and it’s a little salty and sweet — Makes me want to eat more of my veggies.
The braised pork rice is definitely one of my favorite dishes here. I guess, to me, it tastes like home. It’s simple, yet comforting to eat. The pork is tender, fatty, and once you mix the rice and the pork together, you’ll wish your bowl was bottomless.
Daniel is very excited to eat this squid soup because he said it’s very good. Unfortunately at this food stand, the soup is disappointing. The squid is rubbery, and the soup is bland and too thick.
At the Shilin Night Market, they have these baby crabs you can order, and I literally can’t bring myself to try it. They call it soft-shell crabs, but I don’t think these are even grown up yet. Maybe next time, I can muster up my “baby crab eating” side to try it so I can review it.
The oyster omelet has the same sweet sauce as the turnip cakes, but I don’t really like the texture very much. Within the egg mixture, they added a lot of starch to it that gives it a semi-slimy texture. Overall it’s good, but, personally, I’m not a fan of slimy food. However, this is one of the most popular Xiao Chi dishes.
The chicken rice is the most disappointing dish. If chicken in the picture looks dry and bland, well because it is.