December 17, 2009

Seeking Tainan’s old-time taste

When visiting Tainan, the wide variety of Tainan street food is one thing you really don’t want to miss. There is a saying that if you have not tried the Tainan street food, then you have not seen Taiwan.

Getting off the train at the Tainan train station, we walked through the east, south, west, north districts, and Anping area within two days looking for Tainan’s old-time taste (古早味). The walk was pretty exhausting, but our findings were exciting and highlighted our trip!

Tofu Pudding (豆花)

The birthplace of Tofu Pudding was in Tainan before it became popular in other cities in Taiwan. Two places that we had Tofu Pudding were “Hsiu Ann Peddler Tofu Pudding” (修安扁擔豆花) in the city of Tainan, and “Anping Tofu Pudding” (同記安平豆花) in Anping.

During the old time, Tofu Pudding was put into two heated wooden buckets and carried by peddlers on the street. The peddler scooped the warm tofu pudding with a metal spoon and served it in a white china bowl with blue flowers by adding sugar water, peanuts, or Chinese donuts. The ingredients of Tofu Pudding are soy beans, water, and solidifier. Soy beans were submerged in water for 4-6 hours and then blended, filtered, drained, and boiled. The temperature was then reduced to 90C, the solidifier was last added. After 10 minutes, the mixtures will become Tofu Pudding. However, the technique in adding solidifier is the key to a good quality Tofu Pudding.

Anping Tofu Pudding is well-known by its purity, smoothness, and taste. It has old-time flavors which bring hundreds of customers every day. Tofu Pudding is served in a clear glass bowl just like the old time. Tapioca and red bean toppings are very popular and worth to try! Anping Tofu Pudding is not that sweet as Hsiu Ann’s.

Anping Tofu Pudding: Bei Ann Road, #433, Annping, Tainan (台南市安平區北安路433號)

Hsiu Ann Peddler Tofu Pudding: Zhong Shan Road #83, West Central District, Tainan (台南市中西區中山路83號)

Leng Tih Tong Fried Cookies (連得堂餅家)

Walking on the Chung Ann street, the smell of cookie dough brought us to Leng Tih Tong. The smell also brought out all the neighbors and out of town visitors!

Leng Tih Tong is operated by the 4th generation from the family now. A large, specially made ancient round oven has been making different shapes of fried cookies with different flavors. They are crispy, hard, and with pure flavors of egg and milk. One customer can only buy 2 bags per day. There is no exception for out of town visitors!

Chung Ann Street, #54, North District, Tainan (台南市北區崇安街54號)

Taiwan Oden NT2 (台南黑輪 NT2)

Near the Confucius temple, a unique BBQ place gave me the childhood finger food taste. Fish ball, meat ball, sausage, chicken, pork, and squid…etc are all served on sticks. A short stick costs NT2 and a long stick NT5. All the sticks are placed in a bamboo tube on the table when you finish eating for the total counts. They have Tainan’s flavor with a bit sweet BBQ flavors. I especially like the Fish ball. It is a very small amount on each stick though; so you may end up ordering 100-200 sticks to feel full or just eat them as an appetizer.

Kaishan Road, West Central District, Tainan (台南市中西區開山路)

Chih Kan Danzi Noodle (赤崁擔仔麵)

Located on Ming Tsu Road, Chi Kan Danzi Noodle offers an old time environment for your meals. Sitting on the childhood classroom chair and desk, we really felt like we were in the 70’s. This house is a 100 year historical building. It’s hard to believe that it was once a dentist office.

According to the legend, fisherman Hung wanted to make living while he could not go out to sea during the typhoon season. He started to make his own recipe for the noodle dish garnished with minced pork and spices. In 1895, Hung started selling his special noodles by carrying two loads and a lantern, all tied to a bamboo pole to put over his shoulders. These noodles were often called "Danzi mien", which meant shoulder burden or peddler's noodles in Taiwanese. The fourth generation of the family now runs the business, which is the famous “Tu Hsiao Yueh”.(度小月)

We did not eat at the Tu Hsiao Yueh place this time due to the time constraint. However, Chih Kan Danzi noodle is as good as Tu Hsiao Yueh’s. No MSG is added. The tasty soup is purely made from large pork bones, and fresh shrimp, and the lean minced pork does not make soup greasy at all.

Ming Tsu Road, Lane 2, #180, Tainan (台南市民族路2段180號)

Chou’s shrimp roll (周氏蝦捲)

Always brings huge crowd on the weekends, Chou’s shrimp roll in Anping is the place that tourists would not miss. Mr. Chou was banquets cater in 1965; shrimp roll was one of his specialties. Until 1980, he named “Chou’s Shrimp Roll” after he innovated the ingredients of the shrimp roll. We could not wait to taste the three popular dishes at this place- shrimp roll, milkfish soup, and fish thick soup.( see pictures above and below ) Shrimps are wrapping with pig stomach membrane and deep fried. All ingredients are so fresh, delicious, and tasty. Eat or dip with threaded gingers or soy sauce paste would even bring up more flavors!

Ann Ping Raod #125, Tainan (台南市安平路125號)

Rice Dumpling (台南肉粽)

Tainan rice dumpling is made with pork, peanuts, and long glutinous rice. It is wrapped in bamboo leaves. The difference of rice dumpling cooking method between northern and southern Taiwan is- “Steam in the north, and boil in the south”. In Tainan, after filled with uncooked rice with sauces, a piece of cooked pork, and a few peanuts, the wrapped rice dumpling is boiled in the water until the flavors go into the rice. A very simple traditional cooking method had kept Tainan rice dumpling for half of a century.

Salty Rice pudding (碗粿)

The traditional Tainan salt rice pudding was basically made with rice paste by adding minced pork sauce and steaming them in a bowl. Now, more ingredients can be seen, such as pork, shrimp, mushroom, and egg yolk. In the old time, bamboo stick was used for serving because the fork was expensive. Now, there are only a few places in Tainan still offering bamboo sticks as the utensils in serving salty rice pudding.

Eels noodle (鱔魚麵)

Eel Noodles is a typical local dish in Tainan. Eels are expensive, but they are tasty and have high protein. They are stir fried with high temperature to keep freshness. Noodles are tender and juicy. Eels usually are prepared in a sweet and sour flavor in Tainan, and in salty spicy flavor in northern Taiwan.

Jiow Lai Fa Bakery (舊來發糕餅)

“Shiang Bing” (香餅) can only be made in Jiow Lai Fa Bakery in Tainan. This unique round shape biscuit with a very thin and soft crust is completely hollow inside with black sugar.(see the first picture below) In the old time, Shiang Bing was a nutritious food to feed the woman who just delivered her baby. A hole is poked in the middle of a Shiang Bing, an egg added, jingles cooked, and sesame oil added inside the hole until the egg become harder. The Shiang Bing is flatted and fried on both sides until it turns golden brown. Shiang Bing was also called “Yueh Zi Bing” (月子餅) in the past.

With a 134 year history, Jiow Lai Fa is operated by the 4th and 5th generation from the family. All pastries are made for special events, wedding, birthday, or Yueh Zi (月子) (the first month after woman just delivers her baby). All kinds of pastries in the store made my mouth water and of course we brought home bags of goodies! Be careful in holding the Shiang Bing in a bag, since the crust is so thin and breaks very easily.

Zi Chiang Street #15, Tainan (台南市自強街15號)

Yi Feng Wax Gourd Tea (義豐阿川東瓜茶)

Near Chih Kan Tower, we were so glad to find the Yi Feng Wax Gourd Tea since we definitely needed a cold tea to relieve the sweating from walking.

Yi Feng was established in 1912 and is now run by the third generation from the family. Mr. Lin runs the business now and he is about 80 years old. On the left side of the building is the station selling different flavors of wax gourd Teas. On the right side is the wax gourd factory which only sells 50 handmade wax gourd brinks (冬瓜磚) per day. Usually the brinks are sold out by 11:00am. The handmade pure wax gourds tea with ancient technique brings in Yi Feng fans every day. It tastes just perfect for its sweetness!

Yuang Fu Road, lane 2, #212, Tainan (台南市永福路2段212號)

Salty Popsicle (鹹冰棒)

Salty Popsicle may not be the old-time taste, but it definitely is a unique dessert in Tainan. We ate these popsicles in Cigu, Salt Mountain (鹽山). I hesitated to try. But after the first bite, I could not stop finishing it. This Popsicle tasted sweet and salty with the flavor of walnut and egg yolk.

This was definitely a special treat before we concluded our Tainan’s old-time taste journey... Read More


Protocol Snow said...

Tainan is the hometown for both my parents so I've visited the city quite a few times and have tried most of the food on this post. Tainan is definitely a must visit for any travelers to Taiwan.

Anonymous said...


micki and kristen said...

People in Tainan are also very friendly, made a very good impression! Thanks, Protocol Snow.

micki and kristen said...

Thanks, londoncalling! Indeed Taiwan is a paradise for its rich variety of yummy cuisines. Hope you have digested well..:):)

Anonymous said...


micki and kristen said...

Will do, look forward to that opportunity and Malaysia's cuisines :)

dennis said...

taiwanese food > all!
nuf said

micki and kristen said...

Diddo! Taiwanese food >all

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