TRAVEL FO­CUS ON THE FOOD TRAIL IN TAI­WAN

When you visit this tiny is­land in the South China Sea, be sure to go on an empty stom­ach

Hindustan Times - Brunch - - NEWS - Text and im­ages by Ru­pali Dean

Y ou could visit Tai­wan, a tiny is­land coun­try in the South China Sea, for its al­most im­plau­si­ble sights. Not to men­tion its in­ter­est­ing ac­com­mo­da­tions, plush tea are­nas and craggy coast­lines with swag­ger­ing turquoise wa­ters. How­ever, in this small na­tion burst­ing with diver­sity, it’s best to ar­rive on an empty stom­ach, be­cause, as far as I’m con­cerned, Tai­wan is all about the food.

OH OYSTERS, WALK WITH US

Tai­wan’s cap­i­tal, Taipei, is a scrump­tious city to live in. Se­ri­ously. Its ma­jor sport is ar­gu­ing over which night mar­ket has the best o ster omelett . Though I’m just a vis­i­tor, my vote would go to the one in Shilin, where the omelette is a bit chewy thanks to the ad­di­tion of tapi­oca starch, and deca­dent thanks to be­ing soaked in a dense sweet chilli sauce. To go with my omelette, I bite into a Tai­wanese sausa e – not your reg­u­lar force­meat, but cured, a bit dry and slightly sweet. Then I stroll about the mar­ket, sip­ping bub­ble tea, a milky, sweet drink laden with gummy tapi­oca pearls, the size of mar­bles. Among the stalls sell­ing grilled squid, pan fried buns, and fried fish cakes, I find one dish­ing out

beef noo­dle sou , al­most a sta­ple in this coun­try. A per­fect bowl con­sists of a flavour­ful broth which could be spicy red or light and fra­grant, fork-ten­der meat and chewy noo­dles. I choose the light broth and am so blown away that I can’t even find ad­jec­tives to de­scribe the sen­sa­tion.

We are still dis­cussing the de­lights of the night mar­ket when the bus stops at Leader Vil­lage Taroko, our ho­tel for the night. It is a small tribal vil­lage with sep­a­rate

Sam­ple de­li­cious dim sums at the night mar­ket

One of the best oys­ter omelettes is avail­able in Shilin

Savour a bowl of soup dumplings filled with pork or shrimp dipped in vine­gar soy sauce at Din Tai Fung, Taipei

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