Tainan eats
Tainan eats

Hi my lovely, patient readers! I have been busy trying to balance work with giving my tendinitis a chance to get better over the last few weeks, and now I have a big backlog of posts that I am looking forward to sharing with you. But before I do that, here is a quick one about a favorite pastime of mine… consuming massive quantities of food. My parents took Ron and me to SO MANY PLACES in Tainan during the two weekends we spent with them there. I wonder what the total calorie count was and if my stomach is now permanently stretched out. It was all worth it! You know that if a city is famous for its food in a country filled with people who take their eating really, really seriously, then you are in for an amazing treat. The addresses of the restaurants I mention below are in my article for the Taipei Times (along with yet more culinary establishments and a few cool places to visit). More photos of the glorious goodies I shoveled into my piehole are after the jump.

My first photo is of danzai (or tantsai, 擔仔麵) noodle, a Tainan specialty. My parents took us to Tu Hsiao Yueh (度小月), one of the city’s most famous restaurants. After a visit to Chihkan Tower (赤嵌樓), we came across a small cart with a man who was making old-fashioned lollipops by carefully pouring the sugar out onto a plate and then molding the details by hand.

Tainan eats

Another Tainan favorite is milkfish (虱目魚) belly served in broth with lots of scallions and ginger. I can’t adequately describe my enormous love for milkfish belly. It’s so sweet, so mellow, so tender. There is a popular milkfish belly restaurant at the corner of Heping E Rd and Fuxing S Rd here in Taipei. I enjoy eating there, but it’s not quite the same.

Tainan eats

The shrimp rice from Ai Zai Cheng (矮仔成) is simple, but so delicious.

Tainan eats
Tainan eats

Time for dessert! The first is almond-flavored douhua (豆花) from Huaichiu Hsiaochan (懷舊小棧) next to the Temple of the Five Concubines (五妃廟) and the second is from the famous Tongji Anping Bean Jelly (同記安平豆花).

Tainan eats
Tainan eats
Tainan eats

My parents took us to the very crowded, very colorful Huayuan Night Market (花園夜市), Tainan’s largest. My parents treated me to several sacks of mijian (蜜餞), or traditional candied preserves. My favorite variety is candied hibiscus blossoms, which are tart, sweet and look like flora from an alien planet. (Unfortunately, mijian is very high in sodium, so after working my way through all the different kinds of dried plums my parents gave me, I felt like Humpty Dumpty’s Asian cousin. Ugh.) I watched glutinous rice cakes being prepared and steamed in wooden molds before eating several stuffed with sweet powdered peanut or black sesame. Though I managed not to succumb to the temptation of the candied strawberries, I did drink a cup of cool, freshly-pressed sugarcane juice on my Dad’s suggestion. Please make sure to check out my article for addresses! For more English-language reviews, check out Tainan Foodie.