Monday, January 14, 2019

Taipei - Dongmen Market

Dongmen Market was just a few blocks from our hotel in Taipei, so we ended up checking it out a couple of times. It is a very comfortable, well-patronized but not at all frantic local market that spans a street section, as well as an inside area.

Lots of produce available, as well as plenty of meat, fish and seafood.

On one of our visits, we breakfasted on some daikon buns from a little corner-side stall.

I'm definitely developing a bit of a crush on daikon.

As we were heading out, we noticed a happy, vibrant crush of mostly elderly people around a small store-front.

We had no idea what was going on, but we were motioned to sit down and quickly had steaming bowls thrust into our hands.

It turned to out be mochi - balls of glutinous rice heated in a sweet and somewhat medicinal, but very pleasant syrup.

These mochi snacks were free. I'm not sure what was going on - perhaps some sort of promotion or celebration by the business. They were also walking up and down the street giving out bowls to the market vendors. Everyone was quite giddy and delighted.

We had seen mochi frequently on our travels in Asia, but had never had it. This made for the perfect first experience.

Taipei - Fried Treats at Shi Yun in the Shida Night Market

The Shida market is one of the smaller night markets in Taipei, but what it lacks in size it makes up in energy. It is near a University, and on our visit it was busy with young people getting something to eat.

Above is a stall selling Shanghai-style pan-fried pork buns.

Below was one of many popular stalls we saw in Taiwan that lets you pick a mix of ingredients which get quickly cooked in a cauldron of stock and served as a to-go tub of soup.

Our destination, though, was a place called Shi Yun which serves custom pick-and-mix fry-ups.

We were standing around trying to figure out how to order when a nice gentleman waiting for his food noticed our confusion and helped us out. He told us to take a basket and take a single piece of each item we wanted. The staff would then fry up a standard-sized portion of each item you selected.

We got chicken, squid, green beans and a skewer of chicken hearts. A few minutes later, our order came out - hot, crunchy, nicely seasoned and delicious.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Taipei - Shilin Night Market

We were back in Taipei for a few nights at the end of our trip before flying home, and Shilin Night Market was still on our list of places to try.

Shilin is the largest of the Taipei night markets - encompassing several square blocks full of wares being sold, games being played and (most importantly) food being eaten.

This stand had us at meat-on-a-stick. We happily chomped through three of the grilled pork sausages.

This lady caught our attention, and we tried a couple of her pastries - one scallion and one salty radish.

The scallion one was very good, but we really fell in love with the salty radish (daikon) version.

As if the street-level sprawl of Shilin wasn't enough, there is also a large, underground food court.

We waded our way through the hordes of people, checking out the various stalls.

The above place was selling "coffin toast" - a hollowed out toast sandwich filled with a variety of questionable fillings.

This Teppanyaki stall was doing a good business. We'd seen this style in Taipei before, near the Ningxia night market - the customers are served on minimalist rectangles of foil, which presumably keeps things hot while they eat.

Prices everywhere were very reasonable, and seemed quite consistent from stall to stall. A picture of spicy wontons at one stall finally convinced us to commit and sit down.

Above are the pre-mentioned wontons. Nothing amazing, but very tasty.

We also got an order of lu rou fan and some greens.

A very satisfying and inexpensive meal in a fun, vibrant setting.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Kuala Lumpur - Banana Leaf Lunch at Sri Nirwana Maju

Having really enjoyed our banana leaf thali and Bakti Woodlands, we were eager to try something similar at a different place.

While Brickfields is more traditionally known as the "Little India" of Kuala Lumpur, we found that a lot of places we were interested in were showing up in the nearby Bangsar neighborhood instead. We made the short trek out there one day to have lunch at Sri Nirwana Maju restaurant.

We both had the banana leaf lunch. This was not a strictly vegetarian restaurant - the sauce for the rice had chicken, fish and veggie versions.

The star of the show for us was the red-colored vegetable pictured above. Not sure what the veg was - maybe some sort of squash (the red was an added color). It was coated in a delicious batter and fried to a nice crispiness.

We also got piece of fish - which we think was horse mackerel. Tasty, and a nice accompaniment to the meal.

The place was doing a brisk business inside and out, and we thoroughly enjoyed our lunch.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Kuala Lumpur - Chow Kit Market and Vicinity

For the second part of our stay in Kuala Lumpur, we were in the Chow Kit neighborhood, the heart of which is the Chow Kit Market. We walked through it multiple times and at different times of day as it always seemed to be on the way from our hotel to somewhere else.

During the day, the market is a very colorful and dynamic place, with a large fruit and vegetable section that is covered, but still very open-air.

The section selling animal bits is more covered.

A huge variety of meat, fish and poultry is on offer.

We walked past on a number of nights, and the meat section was still fascinating to look at even as it was closing down.

With the main produce market closed for the evening, a secondary set of stalls starts up.

One night we walked along the market row with the twin Petronas Towers lit up in the background and the call to prayer from a local mosque washing over everything.

Our destination was Restoran Rose - a place that serves up a variety of Indonesian fare.

On this night, we were after Satay. They had their skewers all prepped and ready to go:

Some fumbling mixed-language interaction revealed that the decisions to make were what protein we wanted, and whether it would be sweet or not.

We went for two combos of beef and chicken skewers - this one was the non-sweet version:

The skewers were small, but tasty. The sauce was savory and plentiful, and there were chunks of Nasi Impit (a simple, dense rice cake) in it to add more sustenance to the dish and use to sop up the sauce.

The second combo we ordered was the "sweet" one, which turned out to be a peanut sauce:

The sauce was thick and not overly sweet - again served with the chunks of nasi impit.

We washed everything down with some tea and enjoyed the scene. Overall, it was a fun and inexpensive meal in a pleasant setting.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Kuala Lumpur Chinatown - Kim Soya Bean, Bunn Choon Egg Tart and a Ramly Burger

To be honest, we found Kuala Lumpur's Chinatown area fairly disappointing - lots of people selling merchandise and very little food. Still, we managed to find a few things to eat.

Right in the heart of Petaling Street is Kim Soya Bean, and it was doing a brisk business when we stopped by.

We got a bowl of warm soy pudding ("tau fu fah") and it was really, really good. Lovely, soft and creamy and swimming in lightly sweet syrup.

If you've followed our time in Hong Kong, you are aware that we developed a bit of an obsession with egg tarts there. So when we found Bunn Choon Egg Tarts on the edge of Chinatown, we had no choice but to stop in.

And when we saw they had durian flavored egg tarts, we just had to try one.

The regular tart is on the left and the durian on the right. The standard egg tart was very good. I wasn't sure what to expect from the durian version, but it turned out to be terrific. The tart itself wasn't durian flavored - there was a layer of durian jelly on the top. Very good.

Later in the day, we found ourselves back in the same area, desperate to grab something to eat. Most things were closed, but on our earlier visit had seen a Ramly burger cart just starting to set up and they were now in full swing.

Ramly burgers are definitely a thing in Kuala Lumpur. As I understand it, they are named after the Ramly patties, a product of a local fast-food company. Various street food vendors take these patties and do their own thing with them. Above is a chicken and fried egg version.

And there is a beef patty somewhere in that one, although it was hard to see (or taste) under all the other goop. Definitely a case of condiment overload for me, but it was fun to watch them make it.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Kuala Lumpur - Breakfast at Restoran Tajudin Nasi Beriani

Our first morning in Kuala Lumpur happened to be "Mawlid" - the celebration of Prophet Muhammad's birthday. What this meant was that lots of places were closed. After trying a few options and returning to our hotel in failure, we noticed that the lady at the reception desk had a tasty looking to-go breakfast.

We asked her where she got it, and she directed us a short walk away to Restoran Tajudin and we soon had delicious trays of food and hot mugs of tea in front of us.

Roti canai with dals and a very nice sambal, a super tasty potato cake, an egg, a sausage, and a curry puff for good measure. What's not to like about that?

As we were leaving, the offerings were being switched out for lunch. We'd hoped to get back here for another meal, but never managed it. Maybe on our next visit.