Wednesday, 10 May 2017

a day in tamsui

A stroll down Tamsui Old Street (淡水老街).

Our trip to Taiwan was a last-minute decision, and as such, at times I felt under-prepared in terms of figuring out places to visit and things to see. However, thanks to the internet and helpful accommodation hosts, it turned out that we never had a bored moment!

This brings us to the subject of today's post. Our first few days in Taipei, our hosts suggested that we could make a day trip to Tamsui (otherwise spelled as Danshui) if we were looking for something to do. So we did - and we had a very nice time!

Small deep-fried crabs and raw king oyster mushrooms.

Tamsui is a seaside town, and I've got to say, the seafood stalls here do a fabulous job of showing off the local goods.

Oodles of fresh seafood in Tamsui.

I was really tempted to get these giant deep-fried squid on sticks, but Simon wasn't interested, the squid were seriously huge, and I knew they would compromise my ability to try other foods if I had one whole portion to myself, so I kept walking. It was quite a wistful situation.

Massive deep-fried squid on sticks (花枝燒) in Tamsui.

We did, however, get deep-fried mushrooms instead! Featuring the voluptuous flesh of king oyster mushrooms, these were so delightfully crunchy and juicy.

Deep fried king oyster mushrooms (炸杏鮑菇/鹽酥菇) in Tamsui.

We enjoyed those so much, we decided to buy more at the next mushroom stall we came across. So within minutes, we'd devoured two batches of deep-fried mushrooms. This second lot looks a bit different, as you can see. I think it was a mixed selection of mushroom varieties. The batter is not as crispy, but the tasty toppings help make up for it.

More deep fried mushrooms from another stall!

I also tried a Tamsui specialty food called Ah-Gei. A sauced-up, glistening piece of fried tofu, sealed with fish paste and stuffed with glass noodles. It's a combination of savoury, sweet and spicy.

Ah-Gei (阿給), a unique and famous Tamsui specialty snack.

I then became intrigued by these goose eggs baked in tea leaves, and I bought one for 40 NTD. It's hard to tell from this picture, but the eggs are big! I'd say almost three times the size of a chicken egg? Anyway, the goose egg I received had a pleasant tea-infused flavour, and it was very filling.

Goose eggs baked in tea leaves (茶焗鵝蛋)!

In the picture above, you can see there is more brown stuff next to the tea eggs. These hedgehog-like things are actually a type of fig, turned inside out and dried. The seedy part of the fruit forms a gel when combined with water... and becomes what we know as aiyu jelly!

And you should definitely try aiyu jelly if you go to Taiwan, where it is easily available throughout the country. Typically served with honey and lemon or lime as a beverage-dessert, this stuff is wonderfully refreshing.

Aiyu jelly (愛玉冰) - a popular Taiwanese dessert/beverage - the jelly is made from a type of fig!

Aside from assorted food items, we also stumbled upon this temple as we were walking around.

Qingshui Temple in Tamsui (淡水清水巖).

And we had a lovely saunter down by the water, too.

It's lovely walking down the waterfront of Tamsui.

The vibe here is peaceful and relaxing. Look at these super adorable doglets, one of them totally ready for an afternoon nap.

Lazy dogs days in Tamsui.

As we wandered back to the shopping area again, we saw this cute Hello Kitty shop that sells all sorts of Hello Kitty treats. The baked Hello Kitty dolls out the front caught my attention immediately - they're sort of like little sponge cakes with custard filling. You can also get Hello Kitty pineapple cakes, etc. The items are all very nicely presented for gift-giving. We didn't purchase anything, but they were certainly attractive!

Hello Kitty cakes (Hello Kitty 人形燒).

I did, however, purchase a pineapple bun from a shop called Bolo King for 30 NTD. By the way, a pineapple bun (also known as a bolo bun or polo bun) doesn't actually contain any pineapple, the name derives from the pineapple-like appearance of the bread. Bolo King has a specialty called the "ice-fire pineapple bun". Basically, they slot a firm, cold slice of butter into the middle of the piping hot bun, and then you eat it right away to experience this gratifying, contrasting "ice-fire" sensation.

The "Ice-Fire Pineapple Bun" (冰火菠蘿包) from Bolo King in Tamsui.

I also finally got a seafood snack! There was a stall selling seafood sausages - okay, they're pork-based, but with the added goodness of seafood ingredients such as flying fish roe (飛魚卵香腸), squid (墨魚香腸), sakura shrimp (櫻花蝦香腸), and bluefin tuna (黑鮪魚香腸), respectively. There is also an "iron egg" flavour (鐵蛋香腸) - iron eggs are eggs (from chicken, pigeon or quail) that have been repeatedly cooked in a spiced soy sauce broth and air-dried, a unique delicacy that originated from the Tamsui district.

I opted for a combination stick. Unfortunately, this did not include all five varieties, but oh well. The top piece is the one with flying fish roe, which imparts a crunchy texture. The middle piece is infused with squid ink, and has scrumptious bits of squid in it. The bottom piece with savoury dark flecks is the iron egg one! It was a fun selection, definitely very interesting and enjoyable to eat.

Seafood sausage (海鮮香腸) on a stick, in the flavours of flying fish roe, squid ink, and iron egg.

It takes less than an hour to go from Taipei to Tamsui via the MRT, making it an easy-breezy visit. Even though it doesn't seem like we did much, we somehow ended up spending a leisurely six hours in Tamsui just walking around and grazing on various snacks. So if that sounds like your kind of thing, this is an accessible day trip that's worth adding to your itinerary!

A beautiful Tamsui waterfront sunset.


Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails