Exploring the Miracles of Neiwan

Posts Tagged ‘hakka culture

Hengshan Caifeng Guan (Hakka Museum)

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This museum is opened by the same boss of the cinema theatre and all the collections inside belongs to him. Amazing!! Why? Because the boss looks really young like in his late 30s. Well to be fair, the stuff inside are not as old as in the prehistoric times. It’s the stuff which you grandparents might still have. Still it is a great place to see what your grandparents used in the past especially for Singaporeans in our pigeon-hole high rise flats, our grandparents might have already dumped most of them in favour for modern goods. Take for example my professor in his 50s. He has an iphone which I don’t have!


Kettles, pots and pans which you can still find in traditional Chinese restaurants today.

 Matchboxes from the past. The shape is similar to the ones we have now just that he design on it is much more colourful and cartoon-like? think of bugs bunny cartoon. get the idea?

 Rattan baskets which people bring to the wet markets to keep groceries and bring practically everywhere else as handbags. I like them. I see a lot of them in the hong kong dramas I watch.

Cookies and biscuit tins from the past. I think biscuits brands such as Hup Seng with a longer history and which cater to the older population still use metal tins now. But its interesting to see many of the different tin packagings which have phased out by now.

Bedroom and clothes of Chinese from traditional families. Red is frequently used because it’s an auspicious colour for the Chinese. The flower print you see on the bed, I think it’s only unique to the hakka culture. I see similar flower prints on curtains, cushions and tote bags all over Neiwan

Pull carts and makeshift stalls from the past. I think I still see these in Singapore hawker centres which want to create a more traditional and oriental ambience for their customers. An example is the Food republic in Vivo City.  The picture on the left somehow makes me think of dim sum and har gaw ahah

Records from the past is huge and the picture on the right shows the layout of a typical shop in the old days. Look at the abacus and posters on the wall.

This museum also showcases the history of taiwan and the hakka community. it details the events which occurred during world war II and has real photograhs from the past as evidence.








Written by clarine chai

June 16, 2011 at 11:05 am

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

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

Hakka Temple

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The community centre is opposite a small Hakka temple which Neiwan villagers go to and pray. I was instantly blown away by the intricate design and carvings on the pillars and roof. Look at the ceilings, it is so colorfully painted, you think that you have entered a child’s bedroom instead. Here, huge drums and paper laterns with floral print gives this temple a touch of hakka culture.

Written by clarine chai

June 6, 2011 at 1:29 pm

Dumpling festival & Er jie’s wild ginger flower dumplings

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Dumpling festival is just around the corner! Er jie is busy making dumplings and even granny is joining in the fun. I can see Er Jie is applying what she has learnt at marketing lesson – to not only sell your final product but to show the process of making it. This way customers know what they are getting, and in this instance, its freshly made and wrapped wild ginger dumplings!!

I get the feeling that customers are stopping by her stall because Er Jie, granny and friends are gathered around the huge bowl of ingredients, laughing and making dumplings together. The warmth, sincerity and good fun they exude is attractive and gives the impression that Er Jie’s dumplings are made with extra love. Would you buy dumplings from Er jie or from a random stall with few miserly dumplings hanging out in the cold?


This picture is taken during ginger flower festival. Er Jie made the largest ever dumpling in Neiwan to celebrate this special occasion. This dumpling was then cut and given out to vistors of her stall. How amazingly passionate she is about dumplings!!


Written by clarine chai

June 1, 2011 at 10:46 am

Er jie’s Wild ginger flower dumplings

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One of neiwan’s famous delicacies is its wild ginger flower dumplings. It is Hakka style and it tastes really good. Traditional, and freshly steamed. YUMMY!!

The owner is the lady in green whom the locals call ER JIE. Motherly and accommodating, she immediately brought out stools for us sit and enjoy her dumplings and complimentary guavas & watermelon.. the guavas are really sweet. Different from the ones we are used to in Spore which is dryer and harder.



Written by clarine chai

June 1, 2011 at 10:38 am

How to tell whether it’s Good lu rou fan (braised pork rice)

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Lu rou fan. The homestay couple told us that good lu rou fan has to be cooked in a huge pot over and over again. Really good and famous old stalls do not wash their pots for as long as 10 years to retain the roasted taste. Shock! Shock! The first thought that flashed across my mind was – is it hygienic?? But I think he has read my mind before I could ask him. He explained that it’s safe because what is left on the bottom of the pot is burnt oil and re-cooking the oil at high temperatures each time will sterilize and kill whatever germs there is in the pot while adding on to the burnt and rusty flavor of good old lu rou fan! ;P alright I’m convinced!! No wonder lu rou fan from older stalls by the road taste so much better.


Written by clarine chai

June 1, 2011 at 10:30 am