Most people would include a night market or two when vacationing in Taipei and I do believe that's one heck of a golden rule to abide by. The food is unbeatable and the shopping is pure therapy – and frankly, these couple of things make me happier than grandiose cathedrals and stoic museums.
As there were only that many night markets we could fit into our itinerary, we visited Shida night market as I have heard its less touristy and we weren't keen on the new Shilin market that had moved underground.
In between our shopping and Stella's mum's awesome haggling skills, we decided to break for dinner and join in the chaos at 大台北平價滷味 (Taipei City Longquan Street 54/ 台北市龍泉街54號).
Don't be deceived by the calmness of the inside seating area (though most Taiwanese are extremely polite and considerate) as the crowds outside are insane!
Basically you pick what you like and they quick-cook them in this thick broth that we suspect hardly gets changed out (don't take my word for it).
The Cantonese might have mastered the art of roasting but the Taiwanese have wholeheartedly embraced their superiority in braising.
Stella wishing everyone “Bon Appétit” and I suspect, whispering a silent prayer before we tucked in.
The guys returned with 3 startling huge platters of braised food dished all over Prince instant noodles (you should have seen the epic expressions on our faces).
We got a bunch of mystery meats and innards (must get your hands on those innards!) including pig’s skin and blood, duck gizzards and kidneys, meatballs; even the veggies and beancurd skin were incredible after soaking up the braising juice.
To top it off, a smattering of red cut chilis and pickled vegetables that injected a spicy-sourish zing to the hearty but monotonous heap.
The instant noodles really make a difference and add to the warm, homely-ness of this dish. According to Stella, Prince instant noodles are extremely popular as many Taiwanese grew up eating them. The noodles were a little soggy but still incredibly yummy; noone seemed to mind the softness and the five of us gamely cleared out at least 4 packs of those noodles.
All this for less than 500 NTD and so effing delicious. Sorry, deals like that gets me all potty-mouth. Probably my favourite meal in Taipei and a definite must-try whenever you are in Taipei!