Nantou Street Food

June 11, 2018 Ivan Teh - RunningMan 0 Comments

Nantou Street Food


Nantou Street Food shares much of its ingredients, characteristics, and flavour with the majority of Taiwan, with some distinct differences. As an agricultural state famed for its farmlands and mountains, Nantou cuisine uses a lot of fresh ingredients in their dishes, which are often simply prepared and straightforward, with light sauces. Besides heavy influence from South Chinese cuisine, there is also influence from the Aboriginal cuisines of Taiwan.

Rice Porridge With Condiments



Food in Nantou can be found along the streets in kiosks or in mid-range casual restaurants. Street side stalls can often be found in small villages, and there are fewer Night Markets. Taiwanese cuisine is defined by their geographic location, and being the only landlocked county, agricultural ingredients feature prominently, with seafood or fish being uncommon unless near a lake. Common ingredients used in many Nantou dishes include chicken, pork, rice, wheat, tofu, corn, soy bean, cabbage, chinese cabbage / bok choy, cilantro, sweet potato, taro yam, tapioca, scallions / spring onions, peanuts, mango, banana, flour, milk, and more.

The preferred cooking methods in Nantou include roasting, steaming, stir-frying, and braising. With the slower pace of village life, meals in Nantou tend to take slightly longer, as they comprise sit-down, communal dining over several courses. Even a "fully-booked", popular restaurant in this area only experiences 1 sitting during meal times. Noticed that villages also tend to specialise in a certain dish, leading to rows of restaurants all selling the same signature dish within an area. For example, all restaurants along the stretch of Section 1, Jishan Road, Zhushan Township, specialise in roast chicken... and not just 1 or 2 of them, but over 15 eateries, all clustered in the same area.


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The Baked Young Water Bamboo Shoot With Cheese is an award-winning dish, which I suspect has more to do with the fact that most other places in Nantou serve fairly rustic dishes, so this fusion dish stands out. Frankly, it's nothing more special than what you'd get in other parts of Taiwan, but at least it's decently executed. The young water bamboo shoots have a tender, soft, juicy texture, with a light vegetal sweet flavour, enhanced by the gooey savory salty mozzarella cheese coating.

Baked Young Water Bamboo Shoot With Cheese
Baked Young Water Bamboo Shoot With Cheese


Baked Young Water Bamboo Shoot With Cheese



The Bamboo Baked Rice With Mountain Nuts has white rice and mountain nuts, stuffed into a hollowed out bamboo shoot, then baked. This imparts a lovely woody aroma to the white rice, locking in moisture and making it so fragrant. The mountain nuts lend a nice crunchy nutty contrast. Requires slight effort to pry it out from the shoot though.

Bamboo Baked Rice With Mountain Nuts
Bamboo Baked Rice With Mountain Nuts


Bamboo Baked Rice With Mountain Nuts



Beer Taiwan is the best selling beer on the island, and is an icon of Taiwanese culture. It is an amber lager beer, with a distinct taste from the addition of Taiwanese formosa rice during the fermentation process, and pairs especially well with seafood dishes. Beer Taiwan Classic has 4.5% alcohol, while Beer Taiwan Gold Medal contains 5% alcohol.

Beer Taiwan Gold Medal
Beer Taiwan Gold Medal



The Crispy Fried Sharpbelly Fish features deep-fried pieces of the tropical freshwater sharpbelly fish / common sawbelly fish. Deep-frying is the only method used to serve this, because the fish itself is bony with little flesh, and deep-frying makes the whole thing edible, bones and all. Sprinkled with salt, served with crisp seaweed and fresh spring onions. Has a satisfiying crunchy texture, with bold savoury salty flavour that makes it so addictive. It is rarely eaten anywhere else, due to its bony structure with little meat.

Crispy Fried Sharpbelly Fish
Crispy Fried Sharpbelly Fish


Crispy Fried Sharpbelly Fish


Crispy Fried Sharpbelly Fish



The Fried Banana here features chunks of local banana, enveloped in a rice cracker crust, then fried till crisp. This causes the banana to slightly caramelise and become soft and tender, releasing bold fruity sweet flavour when bit. Served as a warm dessert, dressed with rainbow sprinkles and chocolate syrup.

Fried Banana
Fried Banana


Fried Banana



Surprised by the Fried Pig's Intestines With Spring Onions, it's actually pleasant on the palate. The chewy pig's intestines are cleansed using white viengar and all-purpose flour to eliminate impurities and foul odours, then freshened with crunchy spring onions stuffed within, giving it a light sweet savoury flavour. Served with plum salt on the side, this is rather addictive.

Fried Pig's Intestines With Spring Onions
Fried Pig's Intestines With Spring Onions


Fried Pig's Intestines With Spring Onions



The Guo Mao Vegetable Fern features stir-fried guo mao vegetable fern, which is a unique Taiwanese wild vegetable that grows in mountainous regions. Usually stir-fried with ginger, chili, or wolfberries / goji berries. It has a light crunchy texture, with a slightly sticky slimy feel, and a grassy vegetal sweet flavour. A unique feature; the more you eat, you'll gradually feel a slight tingling sensation.

Guo Mao Vegetable Fern
Guo Mao Vegetable Fern


Guo Mao Vegetable Fern



The Hot And Sour Soup With Pork & Spring Onion Dumplings features a corn-starch thickened stew / soup / broth, filled with garnishes of young water bamboo shoots, toasted sesame oil, wood ear fungus, cloud ear fungus, day lily buds, egg, carrots, minced pork, tofu beancurd, and beancurd skin. Nice textures of crunchy and tender. The soup / broth is made sour with white vinegar, and spicy through a fiery chili paste. The minced pork and spring onions dumplings within make this a hearty meal. When bit, they release an enticing aroma, with a juicy tender texture, and delicate savoury sweet flavour. Distinctly Taiwanese, because of the liberal use of spring onions, and because the soup / broth is more sour than spicy.

Hot And Sour Soup With Pork & Spring Onion Dumplings
Hot And Sour Soup With Pork & Spring Onion Dumplings


Hot And Sour Soup With Pork & Spring Onion Dumplings


Hot And Sour Soup With Pork & Spring Onion Dumplings



An iconic Taiwanese dish, Lu Rou Fan / Braised Pork Rice comprises of finely chopped, soy braised pork belly, with a good ration of meat to fat, slow cooked with chinese 5-spice powder till tender. It's then spooned piping hot over white rice, and served. The typical Taiwanese comfort food.

Lu Rou Fan / Braised Pork Rice
Lu Rou Fan / Braised Pork Rice


Lu Rou Fan / Braised Pork Rice



Combining Chinese and Japanese cuisines, the modern Miso Soup With Clams And Mixed Mushrooms features a steaming pot of miso soup / broth, fortified with cabbage, a trio of mushrooms (straw, king trumpet, shiitake), and fresh local clams. A hearty, bubbling soup / broth that is so fragrant, and has an earthy savoury salty herbal flavour.

Miso Soup With Clams And Mixed Mushrooms
Miso Soup With Clams And Mixed Mushrooms


Miso Soup With Clams And Mixed Mushrooms



An uncommon dish elsewhere, the Mountain Vegetable With Mountain Nuts is exactly as described, with stir-fried mountain vegetables along with mountain nuts in a light, fragrant stock of ginger and water. Has soft crunchy leafy textures in the mountain vegetables, with delicate vegetal sweet flavours, contrasted by the nutty firm mountain nuts.

Mountain Vegetable With Mountain Nuts
Mountain Vegetable With Mountain Nuts


Mountain Vegetable With Mountain Nuts



The Taiwanese Rice Porridge With Condiments is an everyday meal, consisting of plain rice porridge or congee, eaten with an array of dishes and condiments. The type of dishes and condiments vary depending on the time of day. During breakfast, the porridge / congee is usually eaten with pickled mustard greens, stir-fried cabbage, and a salted egg. Dishes are usually salty or savoury, and are meant to provide a foil for the plain rice porridge / congee.

Rice Porridge With Condiments
Rice Porridge With Condiments


Rice Porridge With Condiments



Around these parts, the Roast Chicken is typically an oven-roasted / rotisserie chicken, usually done whole. The chicken meat is juicy and tender, with a sweet salty savoury flavour, and eaten by tearing / pulling the meat off with gloved hands. The chicken skin is usually crisp with an appetizing salty savoury flavour from being rubbed with Asian 5-spice powder, and has very little fat to its satisfiying crunch. The chicken fat and chicken drippings are usually served on the side, along with plum salt, and may also be served as part of a warm chicken soup / broth.

Roast Chicken
Roast Chicken


Roast Chicken


Roast Chicken



The Steamed Sun Moon Lake Grouper Fish, as its name suggests, is a typical lake grouper fish. A luxury around here, as Nantou, Taiwan, is a landlocked county, so seafood and fish are uncommon. Simply steamed in a salty savoury gravy of light soy sauce and dark soy sauce, along with spring onions and carrots, the grouper fish has tender meat that comes easily off the large fish bones, and is fresh and sweet savoury in flavour.

Steamed Sun Moon Lake Grouper Fish
Steamed Sun Moon Lake Grouper Fish


Steamed Sun Moon Lake Grouper Fish


Steamed Sun Moon Lake Grouper Fish



The Steamed Young Water Bamboo Shoot is a common street snack, served in short cylindrical cuts. The young water bamboon shoots have to be peeled, which reveals the meat within. It has a soft crunch to texture, with a light grainy sweet flavour. A dipping sauce of mayonnaise accompanies, lending a creamy texture and a somewhat milky flavour.

Steamed Young Water Bamboo Shoot
Steamed Young Water Bamboo Shoot



The Wild Boar With Black Pepper features a hot plate of stir-fried wild boar meat marinated with black pepper, along with tender white onions and spring onions. The wild boar meat is more firm in texture than pork, needing more effort to chew, and holds a stronger savoury gamey flavour. The black pepper helps cut through this, lending a complementing kick of spice.

Wild Boar With Black Pepper
Wild Boar With Black Pepper


Wild Boar With Black Pepper



Despite its origins in Chinese Cantonese cuisine, the Taiwanese may have perfected the art of Xiao Long Bao / Steamed Soup Dumplings, where a filling of either meat or seafood, is steamed within a partially raised, all-purpose flour dumpling casing, until it releases the natural savoury sweet juices, creating a broth / soup within the dumpling. For Xiao Long Bao Steamed Soup Dumplings - Steamed Minced Pork & Spring Onion Dumplings, this filling is minced pork and spring onions / scallions. Bite a small hole first, drink the soup / broth, then garnish the dumpling with ginger and vinegar, and consume it.

Xiao Long Bao Steamed Soup Dumplings - Steamed Minced Pork & Spring Onion Dumplings
Xiao Long Bao Steamed Soup Dumplings - Steamed Minced Pork & Spring Onion Dumplings


Xiao Long Bao Steamed Soup Dumplings - Steamed Minced Pork & Spring Onion Dumplings






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