In the past 3 days, I have completely transformed into what locals here call “red bean shaved ice” (紅豆冰）. This, in other words, means my body is covered with mosquito bites. I have been eaten alive by the insects here, garnering a new unique and itchy souvenir wherever I go.
Tonight, I thought I heard some strange dog wailing outside. It was persistent, and of the same note, and I wondered if it was some sort of mundane, uhm, you know. However, after 5 minutes of the noise, it split and went into a higher note. It was then that I barked a laugh, in realization that it was the sound of a student practicing the recorder.
I’ll be in Hualien for quite some time, so expect lots of food updates from here!
The people here have took me out to lunch and dinner almost every day of this week. I never eat alone. Everyone makes sure I feel welcome and appreciated – and I do. Their hospitality is warm to say the least, I feel like I’m part of a huge family in the school.
FIRST STOP – 韓石屋
Korean restaurants hold a special place in my heart. In Toronto, they’re my favourite kind of food to eat. It’s reliably delicious and affordable, a go-to when I’m out and didn’t do any special research in the area.
When my co-worker asked if I wanted to go have a Korean-style dinner, I hopped onto her motorcycle faster than mosquitos biting me.
The decor was nothing fancy, but it is one of my favourite types – clean, simple and cool colour themed. Though the floors were also wooden, I think it would be a nicer touch than tile.
The appetizers had distinct flavour profiles – the edamame was lightly salted, the kimchi heavily spiced, and the seaweed and noodles normal. I devoured the latter 2 dishes, and ate some edamame since it’s usually my favourite, but I found it to be strangely rubbery – probably overcooked. I also thought the kimchi was a bit too salty.
The fried chicken was split into 2 flavours: one grapefruit, the other salt & pepper, or “popcorn-chicken” style. Surprisingly, I liked the grapefruit one more. Though usually not a fan of sweet & sour savoury dishes, the citrus was a nice pop of flavour, and was refreshing to cut through the crisp, fried chicken.
The last time I had bibimbap was in elementary school at a Korean restaurant near my home in Taichung. The air conditioner was either broken or too cold – all I remember is being uncomfortable in the restaurant. The food wasn’t fresh, and the bowl was too big for me to finish. I remember leaving very full, and feeling very hot. My sister raved over the food, so I thought it must just be my problem.
I hesitated over ordering the Beef Bibimbap, but I trusted in my co-worker’s taste and took her advice. It turned out to be a great decision – there was a huge amount of vegetables, all fresh and crisp. The rice was fluffy, and the guoba (鍋巴; scorched rice) was crispy and delightfully chewy. The bowl was non-stick, which I thought was a nice touch to not have to scrape hard at the rice.
I had leftovers and ate this rice cold from the fridge 36 hours later, and it was still good; it kept its flavours and spices well. I did note, however, it was much saltier cold than when I ate it fresh and hot.
The grapefruit juice tasted artificial and merely hot water plus marmalade, and was too sweet for me.
SECOND STOP – 藍圖義大利麵
Everything I had here could only be described as “alright”.
The salad was fresh, but the yoghurt dressing was too drippy. The fried chicken was too oily and not crispy enough, though the meat was very tender and juicy.
The soup of the day was the best out of the all – fresh pumpkin soup with simple seasonings of salt and parsley. The pasta was bland and I left half of the plate unfinished, partly because it wasn’t very good and partly because there was simply too many noodles. I hate wasting food, but felt it near impossible to finish the strangely enormous portion.
The creme brûlée was another highlight; it had the trademark crispy caramelized top that breaks through with a fine snap. and a creamy and dense pudding. The cheesecake, however, missed the mark as it tasted slightly of refrigerator.
That’s it for now! I have tons of other food posts – desserts, commuter’s chow, Taipei station adventures, Jiufen and so much more piling up in my draft folder. I will try my best to update soon, but I work weekdays and travel weekends. I also sometimes don’t have access to wi-fi to upload and edit onto WordPress. Therefore, I thank you so much for your patience! I’ll keep working hard! 我會繼續加油的，謝謝大家的支持！
THIRD STOP – 家常菜… not.
Here are random foods I’ve had.
1. Bento. The egg (top right) was strange, but all the other side dishes were perfectly cooked and seasoned. They didn’t fall into the pitfall of many bentos being soggy and under or over seasoned. The pork chop was tender and juicy, though I wish it was less salty. It seemed like it had marinated for 1-2 hours too long.
2. Homemade meals. Everything was absolutely mouthwatering, I tried to learn how to make it but man, that woman moves fast!
3. Starbucks. Cheaper, fresh and no weird matcha powder on the bottom like in Canada. The chocolate cookie was incredibly chewy, and if you know me at all, you’ll know that it definitely struck a chord with me.
Said weird matcha powder. And yes, that does say “little girl”. (Just kidding, it says iced green tea latte, but I thought it was hilarious. No? No one else? Okay.)