永和豆漿, a journey through Taiwanese breakfast food


before it closed down…

Whilst traveling through Taiwan, you’ll notice a ton of Taiwanese food stalls under the name “永和豆漿” [Yong He Dou Jiang]. I think–but could be utterly wrong–that the breakfast scene really picked up starting in the district of 永和 (near Taipei), which is why now all breakfast places use that name. Do you know the origins of  永和豆漿?

Every store is owned by a different family. The menu is generally the same, but the recipes can vary widely. Some stores make particularly good 飯糰 [fan tuan, or sticky rice roll], while others are better known for their 油條 [you tiao, or Chinese fried breadstick].

My mom and I tend to alternate between two specific 永和豆漿 locations, depending on how much time we have. The one on 光復南路 [guang fu nan lu, or Guangfu South Rd] at the intersection of 仁愛路 [ren ai lu, or Ren’ai Rd], right across from the 國父紀念館 [guo fu ji nian guan, or Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall], used to be one of our favorites. It has, unfortunately, been replaced by another store as of 2015. :'(

One of the more famous breakfast spots that doesn’t fall under the 永和豆漿 umbrella is 阜杭豆漿[fu hang dou jiang], which is located near Exit 6 from the Shandao Temple [善導寺 shan dao si] station, a couple blocks from the Huashan 1914 Creative Park. We tried out this place several years ago (in 2008-9?), waited in a decently long line to get our food, and thought it was good, but not spectacular. It’s definitely still hugely popular, though. So go check it out and let me know what you think of it! ;)

yonghe_2This brings me to our favorite 永和豆漿 place: the one on Fuxing South Rd, Section 2 [復興南路段 fuxing nan lu er duan]. Easy to remember, since it’s right next to the Taipei City Fire Department and Fuxing Rd has the Brown Metro Line running right over it. The cross-street is 瑞安街 [rui an jie, Rui’an St]. I cannot say this enough: get there early. The line is long, the seats few, and the food so damn delicious. Forget about sleeping in, because most Taiwanese breakfast places have sold out by 11am and tend to stop serving around then as well.

The sacrifices we make.

fuxingruian_4Breakfast item #1:  燒餅油條 [shao bing you tiao]. 燒餅 translated is “fire-roasted bun”–a flaky flatbread typically decorated with white sesame seeds on top. Traditional 燒餅 is baked in a tandoor-like oven: stuck to the sides of thick, metal cylinders and dug out with a long hook. They can be either savory or sweet, stuffed with anything from red bean paste to braised beef.

But in Taiwan, they are most commonly paired with a stick of 油條, literally meaning “oil stick”. 油條 is a 12-16″ long piece of dough, deep-fried. And we all know how tasty fried things are. The best 油條 is one that is not greasy (in spite of being deep-fried), crunches like Parmesan crisps, and slightly glutinous and chewy on the inside. Many places tend to fry it until it’s hollow on the inside. Big no-no. They taste delicious with soy milk or 稀飯 [xi fan, or congee], too.

fuxingruianBreakfast item #2: 鹹豆漿 [xian dou jiang]. “Salty soy milk”. Strange? Maybe. Yummy? Oh yes. 鹹豆漿 is served as a hot bowl of fresh soy milk with dried shrimp, pickled radish, sesame oil, green onion, and/or pork sung [肉鬆 rou song]. Thrown in with a dash of vinegar to balance the savory. Vegetarian versions are eaten with  油條 [fried breadstick] crumbs, veggie pork sung, sesame oil, and/or green onion. I love it, but I grew up on it. What were your first impressions of 鹹豆漿?

fuxingruian_3Breakfast item #3:  飯糰 [fan tuan], Chinese “sushi” or rice roll. 油條 [fried breadstick], 肉鬆 [pork sung], and 榨菜 [za cai, or pickled mustard] are tightly bundled in a sticky rice blanket. Mmm. Good 飯糰/rice rolls don’t have too thick a layer of rice–just like good sushi–and filled to the brim with tasty stuffing.

fuxingruian_2Breakfast item #4: 蛋餅 [dan bing] is a scallion-flavored Taiwanese pancake with scrambled egg. Taiwanese pancake is thin like a crepe, but its texture is closer to an ‘al dente’ tortilla. The best 蛋餅皮[dan bing pi, or egg pancake skin], is QQ: chewy, crispy, and tender all in one pancake. 義美 Yi-Mei makes pretty good frozen 蛋餅皮 (which you can usually find in the frozen aisles of your Chinese supermarket!), but local Taiwanese food stalls still do it best. 

The scrambled egg skin that is layered on top of the pancake is critical to a good 蛋餅 dish as well. It should be fluffy. Eat the egg pancake [蛋餅] with some thickened sweet soy sauce and Huy Fong “Rooster” chili garlic sauce, and I guarantee you’ll be hooked.

fuxingruian_5Breakfast item #5: 米漿 [mi jiang], sweet rice peanut milk. Also a strange-sounding food, but by golly, is it one of my favorite drinks to get in Taiwan. I’ve seen it very seldom in the US, so I drink gallons of this when I’m in Taiwan. It’s thick, still slightly granular, and has this toasty aroma from the roasted peanuts. Basically like a peanut smoothie. Mm.

Breakfast item #6: 黑豆漿 [hei dou jiang]. Black soybean milk. I don’t really have a clear picture of this, but a quick Google search gives a pretty good idea of what it looks like ;). Different kind of sweetness from regular soy milk. Just take my word that you’ll dig it. Mmm.

Did I miss any? These are just some of the foods I eat. What are your favorite Taiwanese breakfast foods? :)

穗科 Hoshina Udon, Taipei


A cursory search of “Hoshina Taipei” yields a number of reviews for Hoshina by various bloggers, with the general consensus being that Hoshina makes some freakin’ amazing udon. While I am by no means as eloquent as other writers, I’m hoping that with the plethora of positive feedback on Hoshina’s food that ya’ll will go out and take some good slurps from their udon.

My mom and I discovered Hoshina [穗科 sui ke] while on our unforgiving search for vegetarian ramen in Taiwan–which has ultimately been unsuccessful. It wasn’t until our 3rd time eating at Hoshina that we realized how popular and well-known of a noodle place it is! Beginner’s luck was what we had when we walked into Hoshina the first two times and were seated immediately. The line moves relatively fast, but it is by no means short. There is limited seating in the waiting area: a few wooden benches by the  zen garden complete with bubbling brook, bonsai, and koi fish.

hoshinaThe front left of the restaurant is a giant glass enclosure in which udon masters stretch, roll, pound, pull, and slice udon dough like taffy machines. Watching induces salivation, making the wait all the more unbearable. And then you’re finally seated. Prompt and generally attentive service keeps your tea cup filled with Genmaicha [玄米茶 xun mi cha, or brown rice tea] the whole time.

A perfectly-sized menu of Japanese appetizers, entrees, and dessert, but with a modern Taiwanese twist. We start with the steamed kabocha (Japanese pumpkin) with toasted walnuts sprinkled on top, followed with some 龍鬚菜 [long xu cai, “dragon whisker vegetable” or chayote shoots] marinating in Japanese sesame sauce. My mom particularly likes the 卷 [bai yu fu pi tang juan, “white jade tofu roll in soup”]: soft napa cabbage leaves stewed in a light broth, wrapped around delicate layers of tofu skin. A pinch of shichimi togarashi [七味唐辛子, Japanese 7-spiced chili] to give the mellow flavors a kick.

hoshina_2Then the moment of truth: the udon. There truly is no better way to describe it other than saying “太Q了” [so Q!!]! In Taiwanese culture, achieving QQ texture is one of hallmarks of a great food establishment. Call it al dente, “chewy”, bite, or tender…that springiness of perfectly made noodle where the edges stick to your teeth for a fleeting nanosecond before snapping back onto your chopsticks. Perfection. 

hoshina_4You must try the 麵 [oo long leng mian, “udon cold noodles”]. I believe this is where you get a strong whiff of the finesse the udon chefs here have. Several whiskers of nori, a dash of sesame seeds, and a drizzle of dashi, but no more. Cold, glassy udon. Ecstasy.

hoshina_3The soup udon  龍湯麵 [oo long tang mian] is fantastic as well. There are no obvious weaknesses. Whether light, rich and thick, or spicy, the broth is almost as good as the udon (but a further almost). Toppings are a mix of aburaage [油揚げ, deep-fried tofu pouches], seaweed, and various vegetables. My recommended add-on item: the 蛋 [wen quan dan], soft-poached egg, to top off your udon. Break the yolk and good heavens–there is nothing more delicious than noodles coated in liquid gold. 

Still not full? Try the 腐 [hei zi ma dou fu, “black sesame tofu” for dessert. ごま豆腐 Goma tofu in Japanese. Goma tofu is not actually made from tofu; it’s made from kudzu powder, but has the silky texture of tofu when cooked. The kudzu is mixed with water and finely-ground black sesame. Envelope your taste buds in a velvet blanket of nutty and sweet flavors. 

You can find Hoshina not too far from the SOGO in Taipei. There are two branches, but I’ve only been to the one on Zhongxiao East Rd. Let me know how the other Hoshina is! :)

Hoshina Zhongxiao East:
Address: 台北市忠孝東路四段216巷27弄3號 // Zhongxiao East Road, Section 4, Lane 216, Alley 27 No. 3
Phone: 02-2778-3737
Hours: (Lunch) M-F 11:30 ~ 14:00, (Lunch)Sa-Su 11:30 ~ 15:00, (Dinner) 17:30 ~ 21:00

Hoshina Fuxing:
Address: 台北市復興北路313巷32號 // Fuxing North Road, Lane 313 No. 32
Phone: 02-27171518
Hours: same as above

楊媽媽素食, Mama Yang’s Vegetarian, Taipei

yangmamaDining in Taiwan can either be very expensive (but delicious) or unbelievably cheap (still delicious). In either case, you’ll leave the country spoiled and nothing will ever taste quite like it does at that tiny hole-in-the-wall, family-run eatery, off that big street and around the corner from that Ikari coffee and a couple blocks before Ellie bakery. The only way I’ve ever been able to navigate to this place for the past several years was, 1) by blindly following my mom and 2) taking mental pictures of the stores we pass on the way from my grandpa’s home. The beauty of this tiny veggie stand is that it was no more than a 5 minute walk from us. (Although we sold my grandpa’s home the year before :( ).

If you’re in any way familiar with the triangular park on 路135巷 [AnHe Rd, Lane 135] off of 信義 [Xinyi Rd]–which you might if you live in Taipei and shop at 哈肯舖手感烘焙 [Hogan Bakery,手感 shou gan meaning ‘handmade’ and  烘焙 hong pei meaning ‘baked’] in the mornings–Mama Yang’s is right in this area! Trace the back (aka non-pointy) end of the triangular park, and keep going along the same road until you hit the fork between 街 [Yanji St] and 愛路四段300巷 [Ren Ai Rd, Section 4, Lane 300]. Take Ren Ai Rd straight down. Mama Yang’s is one of the several food stands before you reach the main road/end of the lane. You’ll know when you’ve gone too far by seeing the Ikari Coffee shop. 



On the off chance that you don’t want vegetarian food (and I’ve no clue why you wouldn’t), there’s plenty of selection on this section of Ren Ai Rd. You’ll pass an Ellie bakery, dumpling and ramen stands, teppanyaki, and a fresh juice stand. And if you’re like me–vegetarian and unable to eat anything from these other places–you’ll find yourself shoving elbows to get one of 3 tray tables at Mama Yang’s.

Word of advice: avoid the lunch hour rush. Don’t underestimate its appeal as a 100% vegetarian place, because it is busy and surprisingly popular for such a small place. The owners also tend to (not) be the friendliest. But damn, is their food good. This is a no frills, just-like-mom-used-to-make place. You could even argue that you could make these dishes yourself, but why bother? They do it so well for so cheap.

Look at those prices!

Look at those prices!

I don’t think my mom and I have spent more than $6 USD eating here, which is cheap considering we typically order 3-4 items. As creatures of habit, my mom and I don’t stray far from the usual. So I’ll leave it up to all of you to try the other stuff for me and let me know if it’s good or not ;). We always stick with getting the 飯 [pai gu fan], or “spare ribs” with rice. Perhaps you find fake meat strange, but I think it’s tasty. The spare ribs are deep fried til crispy like tonkatsu, and have fresh black pepper cracked over them. There’s an umami sort of taste to it that I enjoy. The spare ribs come with rice, Taiwanese cabbage, 雪菜毛豆[xue cai mao dou] pickled mustard greens with soy beans, and stewed bean curd with fresh bamboo shoots. 


Taiwanese cabbage 菜 [gao li cai] is in its own league of delicious vegetable. They’re grown up in the high mountains of Taiwan, such as at 武陵農場[wu ling rong chang, or Wuling Farm], which sits by 雪山 [xue shan, or snow mountain]. Insert some plant chemistry–possibly something to do with cold mountain air and different minerals in the soil–and you have a species of cabbage exponentially more delicious than all other cabbage. The crunch of the cabbage rings as crystal an apple just picked off the tree. There is sweetness to match, too. What  I like about Mama Yang’s cabbage is that the cabbage is mostly untreated: lightly stir-fried with some carrots, salt, and oil. 

Dish #2: 關東煮 [guan dong zhu], or oden. Oden is essentially hot pot; it’s a Japanese winter dish where eggs, daikon, konjac, fishcakes, and other tasty delights are stewed together in a simmering pot. The 子 [wan zi], or fish balls made at Mama Yang’s are very QQ. Their vegetarian dashi broth is light and flavorful, perfect for hot summer days or cold winter nights. And they top it off with slices of 糕 [zhi cai gao, or seaweed rice cake], which is one of my favorite Taiwanese foods.

Dish #3: 乾&帶 [lu dou gan / lu hai dai], which are stewed bean curd and stewed seaweed. The bean curd and seaweed are slow-cooked in a soy sauce (+ other magical ingredients unbeknownst to me, otherwise I’d make this all the time) stew for hours until all the flavors are absorbed into every pore. We call this 入味 [ru wei] in Chinese: 入 meaning”into”, and 味 meaning “flavor”. When something is not 入味 enough, it means the flavors haven’t set in yet. 

All foodgasms aside, I implore you all to check this place out and support them so they can stay in business for more generations to come! And remember to let me know how the other menu items taste :P.

Nürnberg: Rock Konzert

Day 10, 07.03.2009: Rock Concert at Desi

My group met up with Herr Birkelbach to talk about our week in BERLIN! I was slightly worried that our meals were already planned out, since most people in my group didn’t know I was vegetarian, but H. Birkelbach told me not to worry because he’s vegetarian too! Score. Afterwards, we continued our class on war films in Deutsch. There was a huge debate about whether plot or music was more important to a film. At least a third of the people in my group voted on music. I voted for plot because it sets the environment from which music is developed. Trying to vocalize my argument comprehensibly in German was really difficult. Herr Besmens just stared at me with an incredibly puzzled look for at least 10 seconds before going, “…okay…?” Allow me to dissolve into my desk and chair in embarrassment now. We watched this movie called “Paths of Glory” and I thought it was okay. Pretty boring. The dialogue, situations, and characters’ actions were so ludicrous  sometimes that suspension of disbelief was not possible. But perhaps I missed the point because it was dubbed in German spoken too quickly.


Lunch of the day–creamed broccoli with fettucine–paired with view of incoming storm.

I joined Clara in her Religion class later, and ended up reading Grapes of Wrath for my summer AP English homework instead of listening to the teacher. Clara and I went home, ate lunch, and watched this romance film called “Barfuß” (barefoot) and it was a cute romance flick. The story was basically about this girl who’s been sheltered by her mother all her life and is incapable of handling the outside world. After mother dies, she’s sent to a mental asylum, where she tried to commit suicide but was saved in time by this guy working there. She sees him as her savior and starts following him everywhere and he’s this punk who’s used to looking out for himself, yadayadayada.


Dinner of the day–buttered squash with tomato sauce and rice–paired with lovely view of hail

Around 5pm, it started pouring and a couple minutes later it was hailing like crazy. Hail is forever exciting to a Californian. I opened the windows and tried to catch as many pieces as I could. They were so big! Later that night, Clara took me to a rock concert held at this Biergarten called Desi, where the local bands were holding an anti-Nazi event. AWESOME music. There was a steam punk band with an awesomesauce clarinetist. The music and crowd were pumpin’ so hard that my ears hurt half an hour into the show. I literally stuffed cotton balls into my ears to lessen some of the pounding. Stephanie (this girl I met from group 5) and I would occasionally go out and for some sweet silence. While we waited for our hearing to come back, we played foosball with Clara, this random dude, and Clara’s friend. Stephanie and I lost the first round,  but random dude and I won the other two.


Clara and I had also gone to Desi the day before to meet her friends. Atmosphere was cozy and very hipster, with artsy, handwritten signs lining the steps up to the bar.  I tried regular beer at first, and we really did not click. So, Clara suggested a mix of Coke and beer, but the taste of beer was still way too strong for me. Same with the cocktails I tried from her friends. We spent a couple of hours there, just chilling and gossiping about high school things. On our way home, there were some absolutely wasted Americans in our boxcar. Drunk people are hilarious–I was a prudish high school kid and listening to such dirty talk made me feel more like a young adult than ever. The entire car was stuffy with beer vapor. Clara told me later that there’s an American military base about 20 minutes from Roßtal and that’s probably where they were from. When we got off at our stop, they asked me where I was from and I shouted “LAAAAAA!” and all of them went “WHOOP WHOOP! YEAAAAAH REPRESEEEEENTTTT! AMERICAAAA”. Our ride home after the concert, however, had no drunken Americans and was very quiet.

三六九素包子店, 369 Buns, Taipei

369baoziOne of my mom’s best friends in college recommended this place to us. It’s actually a chain, but she told us the one on 長春路 [Changchun Rd] and  遼寧街口 [Liaoning St] is the best. I haven’t been to any of the other stores, so I can’t say if that’s true. Regardless, they make the best 包子 [baozi, or bun] that I’ve ever had. You would walk right past it if you weren’t careful. My mom and I always get our haircuts right around the corner, and this is the place we go to afterwards for a quick, dirty, and delicious lunch. I’ve managed to figure out its location by looking for the 長春市場 [chang chun shi chang, or Changchun market]. I believe they’re diagonally across from each other (??). Feel free to correct me though. :) And since 2012/13, they’ve had a name change to 正饌素食 [zheng zhuan su shi]. However, the people who run the place haven’t changed, and neither has the quality of their food.

369baozi2The storefront is narrow and sits no more than 20 people at most. There are about 4 small tables inside. The menu is a short list of about 15 items, most of them buns. Go figure. It costs about 17 NTD/bun, which is about $0.50 USD! SO CHEAP! And they’re rather large buns too, which makes it all the more worth it.

369baozi3369baozi4There are 8 flavors of bun, some sweet and some savory. We tend get the savory buns. My favorites are the 香菇脆筍包 [xiang gu cui sun bao, or mushroom and bamboo shoot bun] and the 四季豆包 [si ji dou bao, or green bean bun]. I’m the kind of person who loves food with texture, e.g. chunky peanut butter and minestrone, and the filling made at 369 always fulfills this criterion. The mushrooms in the mushroom/bamboo bun are always tender and juicy; the bamboo is always crisp and fresh. The green beans are never mushy–I love the feeling of the beans popping out of the pod and into my mouth. And there’s always a dash of sesame oil in there. Mmm. :D All the other flavors are equally delicious too, so try them all!

369baozi5The filling is then lovingly wrapped in the most wonderfully springy wrapper a steamed bun could have. Upon breaking it open, warm steam powders your face. Fingers leave gentle grooves in the supple and slightly spongy dough, like a Tempur-Pedic mattress. Pair these buns with some 黑豆漿 [hei dou jiang, or black soybean milk] and you’re set. Their black soymilk is made in limited quantity, so beat the lunch rush to get it!

Venture outside of the buns and you will be rewarded with some of the tastiest dumplings outside of Din Tai Fung (in my humble opinion). The style is entirely different, but 369’s dumplings are like little bags of gold–so heavy and full with delicious mustard green filling. You get about  8-10 pieces for 50 NTD, or $1.50 USD.


I also really, really like the 蘿蔔絲餅 [luo buo si bing, or sesame turnip pastry] they make there. Flaky pastry shell with sesame baked into it, and finely shredded turnip sauteed with white pepper. My mom never fails to get their 冬粉 [dong feng]. Vermicelli noodle soup with Chinese celery, daikon, shredded bamboo, A 菜 [Taiwanese chard], fried tofu, and some really tasty homemade bean curd roll-ups.

So if you want great, cheap food, go check 369 out at 台北市中山區遼寧街152號 [Taipei Zhongshan District Liaoning St, No. 152]!

Anping Tree House, Tainan, 2010

anpingMother Nature always has the winning hand. We went to see the famous Anping Tree House 安平樹屋 [Anping shu wu] in the Anping District of Tainan. Vestigial bricks of an abandoned warehouse once owned the top five trading companies in Anping during the period of Japanese colonization. Tait & Co.’s legacy has been swallowed up by a few robust Banyan trees, reclaiming land rightfully theirs.

It’s a fascinating piece of architecture–there’s no telling where one tree’s aerial roots end and another begins. Dilapidated roofs have been replaced with sturdy branches of the trees. Walls, too. There are viewing platforms in place for visitors to climb to the top of the houses and see the expansions that the Banyan trees have made.

anping2The Tree House was believed to be haunted for many years, until the National Anping Harbor Historic Park undertook a project in 2004 to make the places more visitor-friendly.

anping3If you walk to the back of the warehouse, there’s another viewing platform overlooking the Yanshui River 鹽水溪 [yan shui xi]. And I can’t remember if these buildings were also in the Anping Tree House area, but the golden houses left by the Dutch complimented the azure skies really well. :)

anping4anping5We then made our way to the Anping Fort 安平古堡 [an ping gu bao], the oldest castle in Taiwan. It’s been rebuilt several times since its original completion in 1634. The fort was totally destroyed during Japanese occupation, because the space to be used for dormitories. You can find a more detailed account of its history here. There’s more to do in Tainan than visiting the Anping Tree House and Anping Fort! You can read more in my first post about Tainan.

Nürnberg: Staedtler Fabrik

Day 9, 07.02.2009: A tour of Staedtler

Remember how we all used wooden pencils and big, pink rubber erasers in school? The nicest ones I’ve used always had “Staedtler” stamped on them. Everyone in art class used to be ecstatic when we got Staedtler stationery because they were the ~fancy~ stuff that only serious middle school art students would use, along with Prismacolor color pencils.


German efficiency is how I’d describe the Staedtler Fabrik (factory). The warehouse had 20-foot tall machines zipping up and down the aisles, retrieving the exact box needed by scanning the bar code, and setting it down on the conveyor belt. No humans required in this assembly. This is probably commonplace now, but 6 years ago, that degree of automation was so extraordinary to me. When a box reached a cross section and the conveyor belt senses another box coming from a different direction, the second box stops and the first box is able to cross or turn first. Like two cars at an intersection with stop signs.

Also, when writing utensils move down their respective conveyor belts, there’s an arm that flips them around when it senses that they’re facing the wrong way. Because one half of the marker is higher than the rest of it, it pushes this stick upwards, so that the machine knows it’s not facing the way it’s supposed to. When all this is done, ink is added to the cartridge, the casing is put on, and caps are added.

There were also hyper-sensitive sensors: if so much as a few cells of your finger touches the light sensor, all the machines running in the area stop. In a nano-second. Technology is amazing. As structured as this all was, the factory still had a rather unpleasant smell: a concoction of wood shavings, graphite, rubber, and chemicals. We spent about 3 hours there and all of us got free markers and pens at the end of it. I still haven’t, in 2015, had the heart to use them. They’re so nice.

thaliaAfter returning to Melanchthon Gymnasium, my Gastmutter (host mother) took me into the city to wait for Clara, who had a dentist’s appointment. I bought some hazelnut and fresh apple ice cream while waiting. My host mother thought it was a strange combination, but it was so damn delicious. Nutty sweetness of the hazelnuts complimented the tangy crispness of the green apple really well. There were also real hazelnuts in my ice cream! Because my host mother is a bookseller, she took me to Thalia, the biggest bookstore in Nürnberg. Four stories of reading material, with a cafe and restaurant to boot.

picnicOnce we returned home, I was delighted to find out that we were going to have a picnic in the garden! One of my most memorable meals in Germany. Homemade couscous, freshly-baked baguette, crunchy romaine salad sprinkled with tiny lavender flowers, tomato and cilantro salad, and freshly-pressed OJ and lemonade.

picnic2There was also a small charcuterie board with local cheese, and thinly-sliced sausage and meats. I’ve tried recreating my host mum’s couscous recipe so many times, to no avail. A shot of acid and tang from lemon juice and tomatoes, chewy grains, some sharpness from the onions and scallions, and mellowed out by a secret mixture of herbs and juicy cucumber. Anyone have good couscous salad recipes to share?

picnic3The bread crust crackled like fireworks on Chinese New Year’s, and the insides were warm, pillows of dough. A slice of heaven. The only disadvantage of eating outside on an otherwise sunny, cool and beautiful day was the bugs. I may as well have been a walking honeycomb, judging from the swarm that would not allow me to eat my meal in peace.

Later that night I discovered a most practical and wonderful device: the “Snappy”. Looks like an ice cream scoop, but with a cap that slides out as you push a button. It’s used specifically for catching insects. I used it to catch a Daddy Long Legs the size of my hand. Where can I find these in America?

Nürnberg: eine deutsche Ausbildung

Day 8, 07.01.2009: a German education


meine Nuß Nougat Tasche

My iPod alarm never went off. Instead, I woke up to the sound of polite but urgent pounding on my door; my Gastvater (host father) said it was 6:21am, merely 9 minutes before we had to catch a train to school. Thankfully, some toast was ready on the table by the time I finished getting dressed. I grabbed a piece, and off we went!

We made it in time for die Geschichte Klasse (history class), where I was supposed to learn about the French Revolution. The only word I understood was “Napoleon”. Then it was Greek (Griechish), which I really enjoyed, and the 3rd class was Math and Physics (Mathematik und Physik). They were learning about parabolas and quadratic functions–nothing keeps a student more awake in the morning than that.

My 4th class was religion class with my group. It’s interesting that you’re “born” into a religion in Germany and are required to take religion classes until you reach a certain grade or age. Even then you need your parents’ consent to withdraw from them. The last two classes was German with my group. We had to analyze and summarize war films. They moved slow as molasses and I fell asleep at one point. Herr Besmens asked me a question about the film afterwards and I stuttered my way into an answer. We got our first homework (die Aufgabe) assignment of the trip! All of us were separated into groups of 4-5 and had to direct our own war scene. Due Friday.

milkreisSince Clara wouldn’t finish school for another few hours, I had to ride the train home by myself. But I managed to get on the right one this time! Felt like a true Nürnberger. No delays either. My host mum made Milkreis, which literally translates into “milk rice”. It’s rice cooked with milk (maybe some half&half too to make it creamier), topped off with brown sugar. Such good comfort food. I’d say it’s a bit like German rice pudding? My host mother hinted we might have to opportunity to go to Neuschwanstein. It’s more commonly known as the inspiration for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty castle. Exciting!

fleischMy host father then took me grocery shopping at Lidl, a supermarket chain in Germany. The one “near” our home was so adorably tiny; nothing like the Costcos, Sam’s Clubs, and Walmarts of America. It was like a magician’s hat though–you could find everything in there! He also took me to the butcher shop, which is fascinating but gruesome as a vegetarian. I’ve never seen so many types and shapes of salami and sausages. Our last stop was my favorite: a local bakery! The smells made my mouth water. I bought a Nuß-Nougat-Tasche, or “nut-nougat-pocket”. Not enough filling, but very flaky. Should’ve gone for some of the Schokolade (chocolate) in the Milka and Lindt section. :P

München, 2009

Day 7, 06.30.2009: Munich

munich1We left Nürnberg early in the morning to take the high speed train to München: about a 2-3 hour ride. The train itself was far more comfortable than I expected, other than the fact that we couldn’t open the windows and were stuck breathing stale air the entire time.

When we were finally able to return to the open air, our first stop was the Olympia Turm, or Olympic tower. I could see the entire city of München from 185m high up, or about 240 feet in US measurements. I didn’t leave time for my acrophobia to kick in: 30 seconds of furiously snapping photos, and then scrambled back inside. munich2The tower hosts a pretty neat Rock n’ Roll museum on the observation deck. Showcased that day were pants worn by Freddie Mercury. My inner/outer Queen fangirl squealed quietly. There was also a gold record autographed by Elvis. My favorite part was scrolling through a jukebox sitting in the corner.Such timeless music.

munich3We then went to Marienplatz, which is essentially the city plaza and center. Its centerpiece is the Rathaus (or city hall). Beautiful, old Gothic architecture. All of us split up at this point to find food. I was so thankful that my Gastvater (host father) packed me some snacks, because there was absolutely nada for a vegetarian to eat. Chocolate and brownies all day!

munich4After lunch, different groups formed based on who wanted to see what. The problem was that all the U-Bahn and S-Bahn (city rail) passes were in the hands of our Gastgeschwistern (host siblings), so we couldn’t just roam about freely like most of us wanted to. The group I went with stopped first at the Frauenkirche (Cathedral of Our Dear Lady). Stunning stained glass windows stretched to the top of the ceiling, typical of most European churches I’ve seen. No less beautiful though. :) We also ventured down underground into the tombs where past bishops lay. I always find it slightly creepy that these are part of the tourist attractions.

munich5We visited the Residenz, or royal palace, next. It’s enormous. I would suggest a good 4 hours there, whether you enjoy history or not! Superfluous amounts of sparkling artifacts and ornate rooms to marvel at. Explored a bit of the Hofgarten (palace gardens), with a pretty little dome in the middle, before settling on the grassy lawn in front of the Residenz.

munich6Our group spent some time sun tanning and listening to street musicians before heading to the Englischer Garten (English Gardens). Make sure you have your walking shoes on when you visit Munich, because it was over a 30 minute walk to the English Gardens! Half of us were rather excited to see the infamous patch of the gardens where public nudity was legal; however, the other half of the group wanted to watch surfers ride waves in the canal. I guess river canals are as close to good surf as you can get when you’re a mostly landlocked country. A couple of our group members who wandered off did manage to snag a couple views of people on the nudist clearing. Reminds me of the now-defunct Tufts tradition, the Naked Quad Run. :P

munich7The strangest of all the places we visited was the Haus der Kunst (house of art), which is primarily a modern art museum. I can’t say I understand contemporary art at all. Burned into my memory forever–in the most unfortunate way–is a painting with two naked men wearing gas masks, one sucking on a long, plastic tub shoved up the other’s behind. Never forget. The less graphic and disturbing piece was a yukata made entirely from needles, which was actually pretty cool.

Our day of scrambling through Munich came to an end at the world-famous Hofbrauhaus. Tons of high expectations were built up leading up to our visiting the popular brewery. I was slightly disappointed with the fare offered. Although the whole point is to try the beer, that was of least interest to a junior in high school (me). My parents have taken me to enough alcohol and beer tastings that alcohol wasn’t some mysterious or forbidden fruit to explore. What I wanted to try was the Dampfnudeln: plum cake with glaze. It was the cheapest thing on the menu and ended up being terribly dry. My friend’s Apfelstrudel, however, was delicious. Next time I’ll just get the beer.

munich8Before we returned to the Hauptbahnhof (main train station), we swung by a really stunning church, Michaelskirche. Highly recommended–I think it’s currently under construction as of 2014. Crazy to think we saw everything we did in a span of 5 hours, including time allotted for meals. The ride home went by so much more quickly, since there were more tables on the train and we were able to sit down and play cards. Learned BS, spoons, and Kemps properly for the first time ever. My friend and I won the majority of the games. Beginner’s luck I guess? ;)

墾丁 Kenting, 2010


kentingWhite sand beaches. Wild monkeys. Hiking. Beautiful sunsets. Warm weather. Kenting. My mom and I spent about 2 nights there a few years ago and it was wonderfully relaxing. We stayed at the Chateau Beach Resort 墾丁夏都沙灘酒店, which is right on the beachfront. Our hotel room was about a 2-3 minute walk from the beach, which was just perfect. Accommodations come paired with a dinner buffet. The hallways are bright with a ton of sunshine–I distinctly remember Stacey Kent’s “Ice Hotel” playing continuously throughout the hotel. Ironically, there’s no better song I can think of for a day on the beach.

kenting2We arrived in the afternoon and decided to take advantage of the huge sunshine. Jumped into our swimsuits, and lounged on beach chairs for a good hour or two, with a kiwi smoothie for company. My mom’s friend suggested that we try to hike to the top of Dajianshan [山, which means “big pointy mountain”] before sunset. So, we hired a taxi to drop us off at the trail entrance. It was personally quite daunting for me to do any sort of hike, especially one that supposedly leads to the peak of a mountain.

The peak is about 4400 feet, and a one-way trip is about 90 minutes (?) with stops and some crying about turning back since it was getting too high up. The veil of butterflies flitting about was a nice distraction from the gain in elevation though! Plenty of vibrantly-colored flowers to boot as well. Beware of the mosquitoes though…I think I left with about 6 bites. We also traversed through some shallow canyons, which was quite fun.

kenting3kenting4Once we reached the top, we were incredibly lucky to catch a family of mountain goats on the peak to our right! About 5 fuzzy, black goats munching on tender greens. Pretty adorable. :) And even more serendipitous was seeing wild monkeys! A small group of them, about 300 feet away. The alpha monkey was standing at the highest point, looking right at us. Like a king surveying his lands. The end of the trail leads to an observation tower, which makes viewing all this wildlife a lot easier than if we had to balance on the edge of the cliff to view them.

I’ll let you decide if the view is worth it or not–you’ll just have to hike it for yourself! I thought it was pretty. Nothing *spectacular* though. The rest of Kenting is pretty flat, but very green. We could even seen Eluanbi Lighthouse in the distance.kenting5

As the sun was already sitting low on the horizon, we wanted to make it back down before it got dark. No taxis to hail on our return trip, so we actually walked most of the highway down to the city. A little steep at times, but the whole 4 hours of hiking made for an awesome workout. At certain points on the way down to Kenting, we could see Chuanfanshih [石, or “sail rock”, since it looks like a sail] among the colorful buildings of the town. kenting6

kenting7By the time we returned to the hotel, we were famished, grimy, and pockmarked with mosquito bites. Showers always feel the best after these kinds of days. My mom and I were more than ready for the buffet by the time we headed down to dinner. Disappointment would be an understatement for how we felt when we found out that it was a seafood buffet. So we spoke to the chefs, and they agreed to make us a set meal.kenting8 It was at most…decent. Best part was the fresh bamboo shoot with mayonnaise. Mmm. Such a flawless pairing. The 粽子 [zong zi], or sticky rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves, were pretty good too.

Unsatisfied, we went to the Kenting Night Market in search of other goodies to eat. Boy oh boy were there a lot of tourists! The most we could do was shuffle along. Got some fresh grilled corn, stinky tofu, and even a cheap massage! Not a bad way to end the night.

kenting9All of the next day was spent in Kenting National Park. We took a short 1-2 hour tour through 佳樂水 [Jia Le Shui] park. Lots of coral reefs and interesting rock formations to be found there. Seal-shaped rocks, rocks with faces, turtle rocks…rocks galore! The most stunning aspect for me was seeing the thunderstorm that was brewing to the east. Rain pouring on the other side of 屏東 [ping dong] province, with occasional flashes of lightning.kenting10

The wind was picking up where we were and a short shower passed through, leaving us with some dew on our skin. Our tour dropped us off at a section of reef, so that we could get down and climb out over the rocks to see tide pools. Really beautiful water out there! Saw a couple of small fish and urchins. The rocks were so sharp though. I felt like Mulan and crew, training to walk on these small outcrops that were more or less the surface area of my foot.kenting11

We safely returned to the entrance of the park, and headed on our way to Eluanbi Lighthouse. The white-washed walls reminded me of Santorini. Pretty scenic area, with soft, rolling green hills.


When we got back to the hotel, my mom and I were ravenous. No free breakfast at this hotel, and it was mid-afternoon. We caught the tail-end of restaurant service, ordering a mediocre pizza and a rather tasty strawberry smoothie. Hit the beach again for a bit, since the weather was just so beautiful. Cotton candy clouds, deep blue sky, and sunshine in 80-degree weather. As it neared sunset, my mom and I decided to take a trail close to our hotel (I believe?) that runs the perimeter of Kenting. I honestly can’t say where the trail begins or ends, but it’s somewhere in Kenting. Beautiful sunset there: mountains and the bay in the background.


Anywhoo, Kenting is beautiful and you should go. That’s all I have to say. Our time felt a bit short, so I’d suggest giving it at least 3 nights (or more!). ;)