January 30, 2013

How to find the good places to eat in Taiwan?

How to find the tasty stuff

Before I went to Taiwan I read somewhere that the way to find the best food is to observe where the Taiwanese are lining up, and go there; If the Taiwanese are queueing for it, it is going to be good - they have high standards, and that is how I got to taste some of the best street food in Tainan, southern Taiwan.

A long queue outside a little hole in the wall indicated that something interesting was happening, so I walked closer. I couldn't see what was going on to start with, there were simply too many people around, but I could smell it; A wonderful aroma that I find hard to describe, a smell of vegetables, something frying, various spices, and more. You could even feel that they were using good oil, there was no smoke but just a very pleasant smell in the air - so despite not being hungry, I took the advice and went to stand in line. While waiting some Taiwanese people asked me what I was going to have, and to that I had to answer that I didn't know - I was still not able to see what they were cooking at the stand. When they asked me how I knew to queue up where I was queueing up, I could just tell them about the advice I had been given; They laughed and said that it was good advice. The rest of the time in line we spent talking mainly about good food, and a little bit about where I came from and where I was going next.

Street food in Tainan

When I reached the counter I saw what you see on the picture: Two different things being made, one a kind of pita-bread, only thinner and crispier, filled with vegetables and, I believe, some egg, as well as some of the seafood (prawns) that Tainan has plenty of, and one being a flat bread that was friend to perfect crispiness, folded and served with a spicy and, I believe, home made sauce full of flavours. I had already decided to try one of each, and the new-found friends, or discussion partners - one a man who wanted to buy the snacks for me, but as I needed to continue moving after eating I rejected his offer, it would have been rude to take the food and walk off - helped me to order, and also suggested what sauce to try; I followed their advice, and for that I was truly happy: One of the best savoury snacks I tried during my three day visit in Tainan, the city of street food.

The only thing I regret is that I didn't write down the name, so I don't know how to order it again, but on the other hand I will continue to follow the advice and queue for food where Taiwanese people are queueing for food, and I expect to find new little miracles. Unlike Europe you know they don't queue because the place is trendy, you know that they line up because it is good.

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