Exploring the Miracles of Neiwan

Posts Tagged ‘stall owners

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

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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Marketing lessons

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CPC also invite marketing professionals to help the villagers improve their stalls’ businesses. I sat in on one of the sessions and it was a great refresher course for what I have learnt in school. He talked about differentiating yourself by discovering your product’s unique selling point rather than copying what other stalls are selling to prevent price competition.  It entails recognizing tourists’ unfulfilled desires and satisfying them. He stressed that most customers engage in emotional buying hence creating an atmosphere to get them in a buying mood is crucial. Service and attitude is important because you are not just selling a product but also selling customers an experience. Hence Selling is a process which has to be mastered and learning techniques such as portraying a good image to instill confidence, creating a buzz over your product to attract attention and crafting a story to appeal to emotions can help increase your business revenue.

The villagers listened intently at every word he spoke, asking for clarification along the way. I think they must have found his lesson immensely useful for their business. The learning point he wanted to bring across was simple – that is to understand what customers really want and fulfilling it. However after years in the business, owners tend to forget this simple principle. It was heartening to see the villagers so self-motivated and eager to learn. Following the advice of instructor ___many were determined to conduct their own marketing research by googling their shop’s name on the web. I really hope that they can successfully apply these marketing principles in their business and see it flourish and prosper over the holiday season.



Written by clarine chai

June 6, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Hidden talents of Neiwan’s stall owners

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They say don’t judge a book by its covers and here in Neiwan, stall owners have hidden talents which can catch you by surprise, this stall owner which sells black sugar cake. He knows metaphysics and fortune telling – bagua, bazi, zi wei dou shu, flyihg star feng shui jus to name a few. And besides being well-versed in Chinese and other dialects, surprise! surprise! He also knows how to speak Japanese!!

He calculated our bazi, enlightened us on our life path ahead and relationship with loved ones. For my friend Deng Deng which currently has a boyfriend, he calculated their fate “yuan fen” in manadarin, which the Chinese believe is the reason for two persons to come together in this life. Apparently, she and her boyfriend fought in a battle in their past lives and died together on field hence are now reunited in the current life by strong fate. How interesting! And many things he said about our character and personality are surprisingly quite accurate! He also taught us to carry a bronze bell with us if we were to fan tai shui. Thanks for the advice!

After handwriting a personal flying star feng shui chart for us to take home, he insisted that we stay for dinner. His wife is a really good cook and I was really grateful for that meal – Being more than a week from home, my stomach not feeling too well from indigestion. She made healthy noodles with spring onions, preserved radish and clam soup. Delicious meal making me feel right at home  😉


Written by clarine chai

June 1, 2011 at 10:27 am

Posted in Neiwan, People

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Homemade wild ginger flower pineapple tart

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Being a pineapple tart-lover at heart, I know I had to visit Neiwan’s pineapple tart stall. There you will be amazed by the assortment of pineapple tarts they have. flavours you wouldn’t think of having in a tart. Besides the original pineapple tart, they have pineapple tart combined with flavours such as chocolate, green matcha, wild ginger flower and walnut.. Their specialty is the wild ginger flower tart.

The boss told us his story of how he and his wife have started their business from scratch. They had the idea of blending the taste of Neiwan’s popular wild ginger flower with pineapple tart but were afraid that customers might not accept the resulting taste. The taste of ginger flower is strong and pungent. A delicate balance had to be struck in terms of the quantity of ginger flower in a tart to ensure that the resulting taste is not too pungent as to mask the traditional taste of the pineapple tart and yet still retain the natural fragrance of the flower. They experimented with the idea for some time before coming up with the perfect formula. The boss let us try a sample and it was really delicious. The ginger flower made the pineapple tart more fragrant and I like the fact that it’s not too sweet like some tarts I have tried back in Singapore.

This business of wild ginger flower pineapple tart is not as easy as it seems. Much skill and experience is needed in ensuring the freshest of wild ginger flowers is used. There have to be harvested during hotter months of the year before the flower fully blooms. I could see that the boss and his wife are truly dedicated in their business. Even the paper packaging is specially customized and designed to exactly fit each of their pineapple tart. They really deserve our continued patronage and support! . 😉



Written by clarine chai

June 1, 2011 at 9:36 am

|Are you nuts??

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This auntie here has been selling nuts for 7 years. She is really friendly and introduced us to ther stalls around her.  She told me that many Singaporean and Malaysian tourists patronize her stall and they always go for her walnuts and cranberries. Her products are mainly from US and other western countries so is of premium quality. Look this is her posing for us. Look. The paper bag has her face drawn by a cartoonist. How cute and artistic! Shows how much she takes pride in her business.


Written by clarine chai

June 1, 2011 at 9:20 am

Posted in Food, Neiwan

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Neiwan’s famous homemade Tofu Hua (Soy beancurd)

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TOFU WANG is open. He seems to be opened for business all the time even till quite late in the night when other shops close for the day.  He is also the boss which treated us to his homemade ice-cream on our very first day in this town. There is an assortment of different flavours from mango to yam.

This first thing which will catch your eye as you enter his shop is the large array of ingredients arranged in glass bowls.

This swirling feathery thing, I suspect is used to keep the flies away.

tofu wang puts his heart in his business and is dedicated to making the tofu hua of the best quality. He believes in homemaking everything from scratch. He doesn’t buy ready made/ factory produced ingredients.  He grounds raw yellow beans to make tofu hua and steams them the traditional way using a wooden barrel. This is a picture of the barrel


Here he shows us fresh ginger flower and cactus juice just flown in from Penghu a few days ago.


One of the secret to his superb tofu hua is the ginger he uses. It Is locally grown in Neiwan, where the air is fresh and environment conditions optimal to growing good ginger.

And you will notice the difference it makes. The ginger syrup comes out just right. It has a stronger gingery taste without it being too sweet. The tofu is so smooth and tender, served with peanuts and pearls, it is nothing less than perfect!. You know the  rare moments in life where you feel so blessed and absolutely satisfied? This is one of those moments where I’m overwhelmed by happiness as the warmth of the tofu hua fills my stomach.

Written by clarine chai

June 1, 2011 at 9:04 am