One of the things I love the most about living in Taiwan is the food. It may not be what you expect if you have never tried it though. It's not quite the same as the Chinese food we eat back home(except for the fried rice chăo fàn 炒飯, that's a pretty universally similar dish). Today we had a big family lunch, and my fiancé's mother spent the morning preparing lots of tasty dishes.

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(This is where the magic happens, my fiance's mother is a great cook!)

Meals are traditionally eaten at a round table with the various dishes placed in the middle. Unlike most Western style dining scenarios, where you have your own plate of food, what typically happens in a Chinese family is everyone fills a bowl with rice and then takes what they want to eat, serving themselves. Of course, there is etiquette that you should be aware of, such as older people get the first pick, and you shouldn't grab the biggest and best pieces of meat or other dishes, and leave the lesser quality for everyone else(that's just rude!). And you all know about sticking your chopsticks end-up in your rice bowl, right? If not, go check out my article on taboos in Chinese culture.


(Pull-up a seat, lunch is served!)

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(L: delicious roast duck kăo yā ròu 烤鴨肉 R:a stir-fried egg plant, qié zi 茄子 dish)

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(L: yā jiăo 鴨腳 duck feet, yum! R: I love the fish, but I try not to look it in the eye…it makes me feel guilty)

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(L: boiled bamboo shoots, zhú sŭn竹筍 R: Thai style liáng bàn mù guā sī 涼拌木瓜絲, a crunchy dish consisting of slices of pickled papaya served cold)

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(L: stir-fried beef with yellow and red peppers R: a traditional staple Chinese dish, tofu dòu fŭ 豆腐)


(a fantastic marinated pork dish called méi gān kòu ròu 梅干扣肉)

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(and no Taiwanese meal would be complete without a good soup, we had lián ŏu tāng 蓮藕湯, lotus root soup)

Do you know another good thing about home-cooked meals? The leftovers shèng cài 剩菜 baby!


(Round two…FIGHT!)


Chinese phrases of the day:

炒飯= fried rice

烤鴨肉= roast duck

茄子= eggplant

鴨腳= duck feet

竹筍= bamboo shoots

涼拌木瓜絲= a dish made from pickled papaya

豆腐= tofu

梅干扣肉= a marinated pork dish

蓮藕湯= lotus root soup

剩菜= leftovers


Beef Cake!

Today I want to introduce you to another of my favorite Chinese dishes. If you have been to Taiwan, then chances are you have at least tried it once.

niúròumiàn牛肉麵, beef noodle soup is easily one of the most popular local dishes, and you can order it just about anywhere. The quality will vary from stand to stand, or restaurant to restaurant, depending on the noodles it is served with, and the herbs and spices that are used to flavor the soup, so the flavor can differ drastically depending where you order it.

If you want to eat the best (in my opinion, of course) niúròumiàn牛肉麵 that Taiwan has to offer, then I suggest you try the two restaurants that I recommend below. The first, niúlǎodà牛老大, is located in the Shida Night Market shīdàyèshì師大夜市 in Taipei, just near NTNU.

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(牛老大, located in the Shida Night Market in Taipei. Worth a vist…or three!)

This is the better of the two, in my opinion, as I really like the flavor of their hand-made noodles, and you know you are are getting the real deal because you can see their master noodle maker doing his thing right as you enter the restaurant. This in and of itself makes it a unique dining experience. The noodles are thick and chewy, and they make a big difference in the overall taste. Their soup is also really great, a little spicy, but not so much that people who don\’t do hot food will be turned off.


(Just look at those chunks of beef! Yum!)

Though they have a full menu and offer a variety of dishes, pretty much everyone just orders the beef noodle soup, because it\’s just that great! I have also tried their hóngyóuchǎoshǒu紅油炒手 which is also the best of this dish that I have had in Taiwan, so I\’d imagine that their other food must be good too!

The other place that I highly recommend is a chain-store called sānshāngqiǎofú三商巧福, which I love and eat at regularly, as they have a location near one of the schools that I work at.


(This is the 三商巧福 near my school in Taoyuan county)

This is my fiances favorite, but as much as I like their niúròumiàn牛肉麵, I usually end up ordering their niúròushòuxǐfàn牛肉壽喜飯 because it just tastes awesome. It\’s a simple dish consisting primarily of rice and beef, but the addition of ginger adds an extra kick that really compliments the taste. Plus, I always order a set meal with a side of kimchi(which usually gets stirred in with the rice, yum!). Also included in the set meal are a seaweed soup and a fountain drink of choice.

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(Above, the beef noodle broth 牛肉湯麵 (no beef chunks), and below my favorite, 牛肉壽喜飯 (a beef and rice dish) served at 三商巧福)

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Regardless of where you get your niúròumiàn牛肉麵, you should have access to an ample supply of pickled Chinese cabbage, suāncài酸菜, and I suggest you take advantage of it.


(A healthy serving of 酸菜, and there\’s always more where that came from!)

It\’s a really good compliment to the soup\’s flavor. A lot of stores also refill soup for free! Take your time and enjoy! mànyòng慢用!——————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Chinese phrases of the day:

niúròumiàn牛肉麵= beef noodle soup

hóngyóuchǎoshǒu紅油炒手= dumplings served in a spicy sauce

niúròushòuxǐfàn牛肉壽喜飯= a beef and rice dish

suāncài酸菜=pickled Chinese cabbage

mànyòng慢用= take your time/enjoy


The first three pictures are taken from as I didn\’t have any photos of the restaurant on hand, and the rest are my own.