Dear Steemit friends :
Today's gourmet adventure takes us to Tamsui, an area north of central Taipei. Tamsui is part of the New Taipei City, which seeks to combine nearby towns around Taipei into one “new” supersized Taipei city. Formally called the Tamsui Township, Tamsui is a modestly sized town with a population of around 160,000 and is a popular place to visit in the evening. Visitors can walk along the banks of the Tamsui River and watch the sunset behind the famous Guanyinshan.
It's name is derived from the pronunciation of "Clear Water" in the Taiwanese dialect, and although the official pronunciation in Mandarin is Danshui, cultural preservation efforts have permitted Tamsui to keep it's original name.
Tamsui has quite an eclectic history because of the numerous peoples who have settled there, for instance, the Ketagalan aborigines, the Spanish, Dutch, Han Chinese and Japanese. The influences of these different settlements can still be seen and felt in the small narrow winding streets.
Because of it's proximity with the mainland, Tamsui became the largest port in Taiwan during the 19th century serving as an important trading and export centre for many indigenous products. By the turn of the 20th century, due to extensive accumulation of sediments in the Tamsui river, most trade operations moved east to Keelung.
Tamsui is the last station on the MRT's red line and the journey there takes around 45 minutes from Taipei Main Station. Since the MRT metro system opened in 1996, the area has undergone significant redevelopment. The river banks are now populated by nightmarket style restaurants and stalls, whilst further inland, property developers have built modern high rise buildings to accommodate a growing demand for people living here and commuting to central Taipei.
Despite the modernisation, Tamsui still feels very authentic to me. I can see the new buildings intertwined with the old, but they have done very well to preserve the feeling and essence of the town and it's heritage. Hopefully my pictures below will capture some of this and give you a feel of the area.
On July 15th 1988, in the wake of proposals to construct the MRT Metro Line as well as the MRT Station in Tamsui, the Taipei <-> Tamsui train service which had been open since 1901, ran for the last time. After 87 years, many people were disappointed by the closure of this service but it's closure ushered a new era of modern transportation, and stimulated local economic growth to unprecedented levels.
This is one of the decommissioned trains from that service which is now placed where the old station used to be.
This is the old street nightmarket. On the weekends, this road can be described as people mountain, people sea. Most of the shops sell Taiwanese snack foods, as well as local Tamsui souvenirs. This along with the river bank is always worth a visit.
Finally we arrive at the Hai Feng Restaurant. Much likey other Taiwanese home run restaurants, it appears rather ordinary. What makes this restaurant stand out is that it has been open for 55 years! There is a saying in Taiwan, "There is no such thing as bad food in Taiwan" and that is because the food industry is very competitive. If it isn't good quality, the chances of sustaining business are slim.
That is why this restaurant has built up such a good reputation, allowing it to stay in business and thrive for so many decades.
When you visit Taiwan and especially Tamsui, you will be expected to eat a lot of seafood. That's just one of the advantages of being a small island and situated by the sea. Fresh, seafood galore!
Here you can see the catches of the day at the front of the restaurant.
Simple and full of mouth watering pictures. For the more experienced diner, there is a word only menu with other more specialised dishes. For the most part, the specialities and most popular dishes are on the picture menu.
Sausage egg fried rice.
Garlic fried Water Spinach.
Steamed Grouper with stir fried seasonal vegetables.
Salmon and Swordfish sashimi.
One of the most popular dishes in Taiwan is the Taiwanese Oyster Omelette. It is known for it's savoury and fresh taste and is often found in nightmarkets all over Taiwan. A defining feature of this Omelette is the thick potato starch added to it giving the egg wrap a very thick consistency.
Here, you are provided with a different kind of savoury dip to go with the fried oysters. They taste like bliss!
A common arrangement of restaurants in Asia is to have the seafood livestock on display. This serves two main purposes, 1. To attract customers passing by and 2. To guarantee freshness when served.
Here you can see the fish tank with various size grouper fish.
It's difficult to see in this night time picture, but Tamsui has a wonderful view of Taipei City down the Tamsui river.
Opposite the MRT Station, you'll find this busy street called Yingzhuan Road. This road leads up to the mountain, at the top of which you'll find the Tamkang University campus.
So, now that we've seen Tamsui and one of it's most famous restaurants, let's go back to something more familiar..
Here we are back in Ximen. I thought i'd show you what I always get for breakfast!
Green Onion Pancake.
This delicious fluffy pancake is served with a fried egg and then your choice of filling. I opted for the bacon, but there are plenty of other choices. These kinds of stalls are considered 'fly by night' operations, officially illegal but rarely enforced. They'll pop up around places with large foot traffic and disappear on wind of police. I love these these secret stalls, the food offered tastes great and the prices are so cheap!
Ah-Chong Flour-rice noodles.
This is another local delicacy that has been incredibly successful ever since it's inception in 1975. Something as simple as a bowl of flour rice noodle "soup" has brought people back to this store for over 40 years. In the evening, you'll always see lots of people queuing and standing outside eating their noodles. It's that popular!
The flour rice noodles are cooked in a sort of soup stew. Believe it or not, the only meat in it is pig intestines. The locals all attest to how good it is and I must say, I agree.
The best way to eat it is with these sauces which are conveniently provided at the side.
This would make a lovely snack in colder weather, but even on a hot summers day, it was still a great bowl of noodles!
Taiwan is surely the place where they make ordinary looking food taste extraordinary!
I absolutely love exploring Taiwan and learning about it's food delicacies. One thing you'll notice is that the restaurants most respected by the locals are all home run businesses which have been established for many decades. It's these kinds of places where you'll find the most authentic Taiwanese food, often through word of mouth or in more recent decades, the internet. Just because these places don't present themselves as luxury dining places, doesn't mean they don't serve top quality food, and for that reason, I must recommend visiting these places for no other reason than to enjoy the incredible food at amazing prices.
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