Day 2 in Taiwan

Warning - Picture heavy post!

Awaking to our first morning in Taiwan, it is a gloriously sunny day outside! We wonder outside of our hotel looking for somewhere to eat. We don't have to look very far. There is a Vietnamese restaurant just around the corner called Quan An Viet Nam (Section 2, ZiYou Rd) and we pop in for a bowl of Pho. For those unfamiliar with Pho, it is a flat noodle in soup served with a meat of your choice, thinly sliced onions, bean sprouts and green herbs.

 Food Menu - Yum!
 What to eat?
Pho and Juice
Om nom nom
Quan An Viet Nam
Taiwan offers all kinds of cuisine from around the Far East

Afterwards, we take a walk in Taichung Metropolitan Park, which is just across the road. We make our way towards the nearest shopping area, as directed by the friendly hotel staff.

Stunning River View
Taichung Park
Bubblelicious Tea Rep
One of the team taking a break
Olden Days
Beautiful view

The heat is really intense so we make our first visit to a Taiwanese BBT café, 50 Lan (50嵐 - GōngYuán Rd). This is a massive chain in Taiwan and many say this is one the most successful café chains. They are easily recognised by their bright yellow and blue signs.

50 Lan
50嵐 - GōngYuán Rd
 
We order an original pearl milk tea and an ice cream tea. First off, I noticed that the tapioca pearls are a lot smaller than what I am used to seeing. They look like papaya seeds. Having these smaller pearls changes the texture of the drink considerably, but that is in no way a bad thing. I found it made a nice change and as they are so small, you can just swirl them around your mouth before swallowing, no need to chew! The ice cream tea was refreshing.. very different but the vanilla ice cream and black tea tastes were very distinct from one another.
 
50嵐 Menu
As you can see, prices are so cheap in Taiwan, starting around £0.40 GBP
Our drinks
Milk Tea with mini tapioca & Ice cream Black Tea

As we head down SanMin Rd, we begin to approach the main shopping area, it becomes noticeably more crowded, a blend of shops, salons, small boutiques and department stores. One thing about Taiwan you cannot escape is the mopeds. There are over six million mopeds and motorbikes in Taiwan, and we are told that it the most convenient way to get around.

 

SanMin Rd
Moped Madness
Moped Gang
Mopeds are convenient! A way of life in Taichung

 Before we came to Taiwan, one of our bloggers had recommended that we visit one BBT café in particular, Chun-shui Tang 春水堂(Thanks Kevin!) Why this café in particular? Well, it was in this particular café that BBT was created, so if there was any café we absolutely had to visit, this was IT!

Chun-shui Tang
Chun-shui Tang 春水堂
Spot the Planker
The team go Planking
Decor
Simple Decor - very elegant

The décor of this café looks like that of a traditional tea house, very simple, but elegant. So popular is this BBT joint we had to wait for half an hour in the sweltering heat for a table. We didn't mind at all, the waiting just made us all the more eager to check it out. We ordered a Lychee milk tea and a Kiwi fruit tea, with a couple of snacks to go with it, Peanut toast and Fried cuttlefish balls.

 

Ceiling
Traditional decoration
Chun-Shui Tang Drinks
Kiwi Fruit Tea & Lychee Milk Tea
The Lychee milk tea had just the right sweetness with a subtle undertone of Lychee, which was delicate enough to still be able to taste the tea. The taste was rich but at the same time really refreshing with a creamy layer of bubbles floating on top.
 The Kiwi fruit tea had the fresh fruit blended with the tea, after standing for a while it separated into two contrasting layers. You could see the golden tea at the bottom with the cloudy, seedy kiwi pulp at the top. It had a really nice tang to it, really drinkable and leaving you wanting more.

 

The food arrived shortly afterwards. We started with the peanut toast. It was a thick chunky slice of the softest bread, coated with a smooth layer of peanut butter and toasted until golden.

Peanut Toast
So simple yet so delicious. Toasted peanut butter bread
Yum!
Bread was deliciously soft with smooth peanut butter toasted on top. Beautiful with bubble tea

As for the cuttlefish balls, well, I've been told it's quite tricky to prepare as the consistency is difficult to perfect. But here at Chun-shui Tang they have got it bang on! Biting into one, it feels bouncy on your teeth, but not in a way that makes it rubbery. After taking a bite and looking inside, you can still see little bits of cuttlefish, giving it a really lovely texture. I doubt very much you can find anything in the UK that tastes half as good.

Cuttlefish Balls
"Probably the best fish balls i've ever eaten"
 Fresh
Fresh cuttlefish pieces inside

Overall, Chun-shui Tang has really set the mark for other BBT cafés. It is regarded by many Taiwanese as the best, and it really is not hard to see why. Ask anyone in the street, they will most likely recommend this one.

Leaving the café, we find ourselves walking around the streets. As we do, I realise how big BBT is here in Taiwan. It’s not just a drink. It’s a national pastime! Walking along one street, we counted ten BBT places, and that was just on one side!

We find ourselves in one called Shiny Tea. Again, it was simply designed in red, black and white. Our eyes wonder to a sign at the top of the shop.

Shiny Tea
Shiny Tea
Who DID invent it first?
????

Huh? Another place claiming to be the inventor of Taiwan's tapioca milk tea? So which one is it?  Apparently nobody knows the truth!

Although we had just come from one cafe, we couldn't not go in this one! We ordered one to try, a plum jasmine tea.

Jasmine Plum Tea
Good times!

Again, we are very impressed! And believe us, that is not an easy feat! It was sharp tasting with an almost sherbet kick to it. The plum taste lingered on in your mouth, almost perfume like.

It seems as the sun goes down, more and more people come out. After shopping around, we get to Yizhong Street- Yi Zhong Chia night market.

Famous YiZhong Chia
Popular night market for food and young people
So much people...
32 degree heat, a street packed full of people and steaming hot food everywhere! HOT!!

It is like nothing we have ever seen before, as we look around slack jawed and taking photos of everything and anything. (So obvious we're tourists!) There are neon lights flashing everywhere, signs of all colours, the smell of cooking food fills your nostrils and we drool like some kind of Pavlov reflex. We have never seen such an abundance of things to eat! There must be hundreds of places to eat here! There is a sea of people, young, old, couples in love, families, eating and drinking whilst the mopeds weave in and out amongst them. The atmosphere has a buzz like nowhere else we have ever been. Even the markets in Hong Kong don't compare! We had heard prior to our trip here that Taiwan was famous for its food and now we know why. It’s a gastronomers dream!

Summer in Taichung
Absolute culture shock!

We order two types of cuttlefish balls, one similar to what we had earlier and another Japanese battered version, served with wasabi, onions and bonito  flakes, and a battered hot-dog served on a stick.

 Fish Balls and Sausages
Fish balls £0.20, Wrapped Sausage £0.40
Street Food
These were HOT!

Sausages

George Peck
George Peck Mango Ice & Lime Jelly drinks

Walking down the street, you really do want to try everything! At another vendor there is something called little sausage wrapped in big sausage, a really popular street food here in Taiwan. It is basically a Chinese sausage wrapped in glutinous rice shaped like a sausage. We would love to order more, but today has already been an epic eating day! We visit one last place, called George Peck and order a mango ice blend and a lime drink with herbal jelly. One thing for sure, if you're ever in Taiwan, you will never be short of things to eat and drink!

 


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