Exploring the Miracles of Neiwan

Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Dedication and commitment to making the best black sugar cake

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This uncle here sells the best black sugar cake in the whole of Taiwan. He has recently won an award in a country-wide competition and has his black sugar cake listed in a book “2011 The Taiwan Hakka Specialty”. His shop is called “Mudan black sugar cake” in English. Mudan is his mother’s name.

There are a few stalls selling black sugar cake in Neiwan but you will definitely get the best quality one if you buy from him. Why do I say so? One day I noticed he wasn’t open for business when he was supposed to. I asked him about it and he told me that some people were drilling holes in the road outside his shop and the dust might land on his cakes. He said he is responsible for what his customers buy and would feel uneasy to continue selling the cakes in such condition. I was really surprised by his response. I mean I didn’t find the drilling problems actually because his cakes were wrapped in plastic were a distance away from the construction site. I guess he truly wants the best for his customers

Anyway, he believes that anyone can make good black sugar cake if they have the heart and commitment to do so and he is generous enough to share his secrets with us. He buys his rice from Miaoli because the quality of imported rice or rice from the North of Taipei tends to vary but he needed consistency in the quality of the grains in order to ensure that every cake turns out perfect after being cooked in predetermined temperature. He makes a fresh batch of cakes every morning which he sells all by the end of the day. Preparation begins the night as he has to soak the rice in water. He makes sure he leaves the rice overnight to that they have absorbed sufficient water. Next he uses the F-16 high speed grinding and separating machine to separate the grin and separate the rice I think haha. He then uses a white semi porous bag to squeeze the water out of the rice. This is the key to why his cakes are so good. Most shops will just use a large sieve to remove the water, but he wanted to retain the flavor of the rice threads I’m not sure what it is actual term but it’s the stuff you get after soaking rice in water for a long time. It has much similarity to the process of making beancurd (tofu hua). They also use a white semi porous cloth to sieve out the water. Another secret lies in the brown sugar. He stocks large quantities of brown sugar in his storeroom for months before use. He told us that the longer it is kept, the sweeter is will become. All I can say is that I’m truly amazed by his professionalism, dedication and commitment to making the best black sugar cake for his customers. It is a lot of work but he uses his heart in making every single one. You could tell by how he carries each and every of his cakes out like they were precious stones making sure that they are wrapped nicely and in perfect condition at all times. He is doing really well now. He makes and sells a huge quantity every day and sometimes he even has to turn away customers because they are all sold out before closing time.




This is a picture of his pet parrot and he chirps “Ni how! mu dan hei tang kao (Hi mudan black sugar cake)” out of the blue sometimes. How amusing!


Written by clarine chai

June 14, 2011 at 12:41 pm

Dinner at cinema theatre

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This cinema theatre was built by the Japanese during the colonial times as entertainment for the soldiers and much of it is unchanged since then, making this an attractive tourist destination.

Very classic ambience to it, antiques and paintings on the walls bring you back into the 60s. This cinema theatre serves traditional hakka food of good quality and you can watch old films from the past when you dine.

The cinema theatre makes some of their own unique souvenirs for sale. Here we have poker cards of Neiwan scenery and a famous artiste from the 60s.

I love this sign. looks pretty in the dark don’t it?

These are film equipment used in the past. The smaller one makes film of a lower resolution.

This is the record player from the past.

Ladies normally wear cheongsam in the past. Is that a cap on her head?

Comic books and magazines from the past

Japanese style dining rooms retained from the colonial periods

Straw raincoat which farmers wear in the past

Pork is made in different ways here.

I Love the pork with pickles which is known as “mui choi kou yok” Chinese in Cantonese & “Mei Cai Kou Rou” in and can be found in most spore food courts). Its tender and the fatty bits gives it an added moisture and kick.

This is the roasted and sliced version. Also equally good 😉

Pig oil (lard) mixed with rice – people in the past only have this and vegetables for their meals daily. They have meat dishes only on special occasions or festive periods. This is Mr Lan showing us how to eat it. Mix in the pork lard gravy into the rice and the rice will taste good on its own. don’t eat this all the time though. It’s really fattening. I tried a spoonful and it tastes funny. Think I prefer plain rice.

Traditional Chinese must drink soup every dinner. This is herbal ginger chicken soup with red dates and it’s really nutritional.

Simple stir fry vegetables. Healthy and it’s not as oily as the ones I’ve tried in China.

I saw this dish in a number of hakka restaurants. It looks really appetizing with the yellow egg yolk in the middle.

Love the tangerine sauce with goes with the chicken. Tangerine sauce is unique to hakka culture and the environment in Taiwan is well suited to grow good and sweet tangerines.

Written by clarine chai

June 7, 2011 at 12:31 pm

Taiwanese (wild boar) sausage

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This is the shop owner. He is a really nice guy. Once he treated us to a bowl of pork rib soup which he made for lunch.

I have always preferred Chinese sausage to the western version. This sausage is really good. It’s crunchy, fatty and tender. The boss taught us to eat it with garlic to bring out the flavor of the meat. He peeled a few cloves of garlic for us to chew onto while we bite into our sausages.

The owner rears a pair of roosters and when we are bored, we love chasing them to try and catch them.

The roosters love to perch on this particular branch of the tree in front of Neiwan’s train station.

Look here’s me posing with the roosters

Written by clarine chai

June 7, 2011 at 11:48 am

Hakka Lei Cha “pounded tea”

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Lei Cha (pounded tea) is an old hakka tradition. It is made by adding water to grounded green tea,  sesame seeds, peanuts, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seed. I tried a hand at pounding the ingredients in a ceramic bowl with a wooden pestle and it’s not easy – it took 3 of us some time to pound the mixture into fine powder.  Nonetheless, it was great fun.

There can be slight variations in the taste of Lei Cha at different teahouses based on the kind of tea and ingredients used. The one I had rice crisps in it and is really wholesome and healthy. I felt quite full after drinking 3 cups of it. You can also buy tins of lei cha powder as gifts to friends or to consume in the comfort of your home.  Each tin can make 12 full glasses of lei cha.

The boss of this teahouse is really friendly. When he found out that we were from SE asia, he started telling his travelling experiences in Malaysia and the food he has tasted.

Written by clarine chai

June 7, 2011 at 11:46 am

YAM (Taro)

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This is a picture of the boss and his wife. They used to live in Sanyi but later moved to Neiwan to set up this stall because they wanted to let the younger generation learn about this hakka delicacy.

They sell both fried taro meatcakes and non-fried ones. I tried the fried meat cake. It is made of flour, taro, and shrimp, and it tasted quite good. I think it will taste better with more taro and shrimp, and less of the flour in it. but well this is already quite good for 25 yuan.

This is peeled taro flown in from Natou which they use to make their taro meatcake.

Nutritional factsheet of taro, think it said something about being good for diabetics patients and for lowering high blood pressure.

they also sell homemade shrimp paste which is used for cooking

The lady boss invited us to join them for lunch. They made noodles with garlic sauce and it one of the best noodles I’ve ever tasted. I think it’s because of the sauce.

Written by clarine chai

June 7, 2011 at 5:16 am

Posted in Food, Neiwan, People

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MOOOOO – who wants milk desserts?

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This neat little shop makes desserts out of fresh milk.  Friendly service staff with a cottage-like ambience, it also has an eye-appealing huge cow at the entrance of the shop for you to snap pictures with.

Mua chee with ginger soup and peanuts – this is like nothing I’ve seen before. Mua chee is normally made of glutinous rice flour but this is special because it has a tinge of milk in it. Cut it up and eat it with a spoonful of ginger soup and you will be surprised that ginger soup and milk mua chee can actually taste quite good together. I can’t decide if I prefer this or the regular mua chee. it’s just different. So go ahead and try it. Even if you decide that you prefer plain old regular mua chee after tasting it, at least you could say that you have tried something different and unique.

Milk ice cream (original)– I love the fresh milk taste and the fact that its not too sweet. Some ice cream I have tried before is so sweet that the sweetness just overwhelms your taste buds and you can’t really savour the flavor of the ice cream . This is just nice.

Lavender ice cream –I was apprehensive when they recommended this because I have tried lavender soy milk before and it tasted like facial soup – really awful.But Surprise! Surprise! This tastes really good. It’s natural and really refreshing. I love it!

(left – milk ice cream, right – lavender ice cream)

Milk pudding with chocolate syrup – I love this too. Freshly made with milk, it’s 10 times better than the mass-manufactured one you see in the supermarket which tends to be too sweet and unnatural.

Milk mochi – really special and I felt like ordering another one. The skin is not too thick though it can get a bit sticky (use a fork). I heard from the waitress that this is the modified version of the mochi in Japan. It ha  a layer of cake in it to suit Taiwanese preference. I felt that it would taste even better if it was served colder. (like really freezing cold, but not till it’s too hard to bite)

(left- Milk pudding with chocolate syrup, right – Milk mocha)

Overall, I felt that the milk taste could be stronger, but it sat very well with my friend who doesn’t like to drink milk on its own. I guess you will love this if you don’t really like the raw taste of milk.

Written by clarine chai

June 7, 2011 at 5:10 am

Posted in Food, Neiwan

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Malted candy biscuits

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Another subsidiary line recently started by green biotech is this store selling malted candy biscuits. You don’t find this in Singapore a lot now. Besides the malted candy we have is stretched using chopsticks. This one here in Neiwan uses technology for better hygiene and consistency
It is based on an old receipe from a father who sold malted candy to raise his only son. It was through years of toil and sweat that he managed to supported his son through university. He has even written a song in which he conveyed his feelings and hope for his son that he become stronger and even more successful than he has ever been in future.
The shop actually plays this music in the background and you can follow the lyrics printed on the wall of the shop. How interesting!

The bigger biscuit is freshly made in the shop. Look you can even take a photo of yourself and have it instantly stuck on the plastic wrapper of the malted candy biscuit.

This black sugar flavor is the most sellable

The bigger biscuit is freshly made in the shop. Look you can even take a photo of yourself and have it instantly stuck on the plastic wrapper of the malted candy biscuit. I really love the taste of this bigger one. I can’t help grinning when he offered me one for free – I was like a small kid once again!

Written by clarine chai

June 7, 2011 at 4:12 am

Posted in Food, Neiwan

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