Tuesday's Taiwan-ism {Food Challenge} part 1

I'm not sure how long you've been stuck  lovingly reading my blog, but before I moved to Taiwan I posted one day about some of the foods that I was anticipating trying once I got here. (Check out the post here)  Well, I've recently been Challenged {thanks Caitlin!} to see how many of the 45 foods on the list I could eat this year... needs to say I was a little shocked at how many I've actually tried and what ones surprised me once trying them!

So here it is! CNN Travel's list of 45 of the best foods in Taiwan that you CAN'T live without...and my personal thoughts on each of these beauties! (PS, if you're wanting visuals to accompany your reading, click the link and they've got a picture for each food!) -- red foods mean they've been checked off my personal list!

1. Braised Pork Rice - This night market staple is delicious, flavorful, and crazy cheap...definitely a must try (I'm not going to lie I could eat several helpings of this dish alone!)

2. Beef Noodle - There's a shop behind my house I've been to multiple times. Not bad, but I wouldn't give it rave reviews either...just as the name implies...soup with beef and a bunch of noodles, to me it's nothing novel.

3. Oyster Omelet - I just had to give this one a try despite its slimy appearance. It's an egg omelet with some sweet potato starch added in to get it a really texture and a spoonful of oysters inside. Depending on the vendor it's topped with some sort of sauce. This wasn't TERRIBLE, but it would have been tons better without the sweet potato starch!

4. Bubble Tea - Holy moly have I had bubble tea! You can read a whole post on this sugary loaded cup of goodness

5. Milk Fish - I like fish, but I've never been one to go seek it out, so needless to say several of the fish items on this list remain unchecked!

6. Slack Season Danzai Noodles - This is a restaurant specific item that I haven't made it to yet.

7. Pan Fried Buns - I love a good pan fried bun here! Walking through the markets looking for food can sometimes be a daunting task, but when you find a man selling some of these, you know you're in luck!

8. Gua Bao - Well, this was a learning experience for me! I’ve had this several time now and had no idea what it was called! It’s a sandwich made from a steamed bun (super soft and fluffy) and filled with some type of flavorful pork (I think belly). Not the most filling of foods as they are rather small, but they always hit the spot!

9. Iron Egg - I see these everywhere, but haven’t quite felt the need to try one of these bad  boys yet!

10. Pineapple Cake - Pineapple cakes what would I do without you! They are a signature item in Taiwan and one that people love to give as gift {and that I gladly accept!} For any of my Mexican family reading, the easiest way to describe these is the Taiwanese version of Barritas de piña {for those of you who have never tried either....I'm sorry for the sad world you must live in! :P }

11. Tian Bu La – molded fish paste…lordy, nothing should start with a description like that unless you work for the play dough company! We have this at lunch more than I’d necessarily like to admit. I can’t say that it’s a favorite, but I eat it.

12. Ba Wan – I haven’t had these yet, but I’ll have to look into them, they don’t look bad and I have a feeling they might be something I keep checking out at the market and hadn’t been able to put “a name to the face” yet.  

13.Fried Chicken - Ok, I know this one sounds funny, but guys, I'm pretty sure they put crack in their fried chicken here...it is beyond delicious! You can buy it at restraunts, at McDonalds, from lunch box shops, but my favorite is the street vendor chicken! There's a lady that stands outside of the school and has a fresh batch ready with sweet potato fries everyday when the kids let out, and I'm telling you it takes special restraint not to pay her a visit everyday!

14. Flaky Scallion Pancake / Green Onion Pancake - These green onion pancakes are a funky little thing but a great breakfast or late night snack. The are esentially a really thin pastery that they fluff up {I'm mesmerized watching them make them!} and mix with scallions. They are then often served with an egg and some type of spicy sause...you've got to try them!

 Oyster Vermicelli – can’t say I have

16. Stinky Tofu - Been there, tried that...no thanks! I'm not going to lie, when Josh was here he asked what was wrong with the sewers when we were walking through the market that you could smell them above ground...I politely informed him that he wasn't smelling the sewers, but rather the stinky tofu stand next to us...enough said!

17. Sweet Potato - Thank you 7-eleven and your endless supply of freshed baked sweet potatoes...I don't know where I'd be without you!

18. Shaved Ice
 – This deserves a place next to the friend chicken…how they can take a block of ice and make it taste so good is beyond me! This is literally shaved ice in which they put condensed milk on top and your choice of fruit (strawberries and/or mango are highly suggested though) and your mouth is suddenly in heaven!

19. Pepper Cakes
 – another good friend it’s nice to have a name for! My friends tease me about these, they know if I see them that I will have to get at least one! They smell so good and are cooked over an open flame making the crust on the outside of these cakes crispy and on the edge of being burnt and the insides with beef, pork, or cheese….mmm, so good!

20. Din Tai Fung Dumplings - simply some of the best soup dumpling I have had in Taiwan...I mean, I had my birthday dinner at this place...that's saying something! ;)

21. Fish Ball Soup
 – This is hand and hand with the shaped fish paste…I’ve eaten it, it wasn’t terrible, but seriously, what’s with all the fish paste!

22. Ribs Stewed in Medicinal Herbs – I’ll be honest here, I’ve had some of these “medicinal herbs” they tasted like cleaning solution…I’m not sure I want to venture into a cleaning solution flavored meat.

23. Goose
 – quack, quack! The goose here isn’t bad, and the dark sauce they generally serve it with is wonderful. Best yet, it’s the closest looking thing to a taco that I’ve had in Taiwan! They use a really really thin dough to put the goose and sauce in and roll it up like a taco to eat…score!

24. Ding Bian Cuo  Can’t say I have, but might be worth a try!

25. Taiwanese Sausage with Sticky Rice

Current total... 18/25 I’m at a 72%. Not too bad for 7.5 months!

Check back next week for the 2nd half of this massive list!