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  1. Taiwan Day 5: Taichung

    Friday, 8 June 2012

    Day 5 - Taichung
    After a whopping great set breakfast at Mirador, we checked out and took the mrt to Zuoying which was linked to the HSR station for our 1 hour ride to Taichung. Unlike Kaohsiung, even though Taichung is the third largest city in Taiwan, it doesn't have a metro system, and our method of transportation was restricted to buses only.
    The free shuttle bus service which plies from the HSR station to Qiao Guang university ends in Dec 12, so I guess there would be alternative forms available then. Meanwhile, all you have to do is to show your HSR tickets upon boarding, and you will be on your way. Just ask the friendly HSR station staff about your destination and they will let you know which bus to take.

    After 40 minutes, we reached Le Parker Hotel, which is located in an alley in Feng Jia district, just 3 minutes from our alighting point, and 5 minutes from Feng Jia night market. Don't be deceived by the exterior of the hotel, it may look slightly old but I felt that the interior was good. The reception and dining area were small but acceptable. The lovely staff brought up our luggages to our rooms too. 

    Our first shopping would be at Yi Zhong Jie 一中街, which is a 20 NTD ride on bus 35. Just tell the bus driver your destination and he will tell you what to do. An alternative would be to buy your Easy travel card in Taipei, which can also be used on the bus system in Taichung. With numerous bus companies and strong competition, bus 35 comes every 6-10 minutes.

    Yi Zhong Jie is a medium length street with lots of shops selling hair accessories and apparel for girls. But first stop was lunch to fill our hungry tummies! Walking all the way to one end we found this sign Dong Hai Vegetarian 东海素食 and we headed in! We ordered Tau Kwa 油豆干, Stirred Noodles 干拌面, Fried Rice with Ham 火腿炒饭 & Wanton Soup 云吞汤. The Tau Kwa is a cold dish to begin our meal. As you can see, there's ginger sprinkled on top to add a lil bit of spice to the dish. I like the noodles alot, I don't know what they added on top but its really tasty and tasted really well with the ramen alike noodles. 
    And we headed back to shopping! We spent about 2 hours to cover the entire street, but that's because we went into 70% of the shops! So depending on your pace, you can adjust the amount of time spent here. Don't miss out on this place, it definitely has stuff worth buying. 

    After shopping at Yi Zhong Jie, we bused back to our hotel to drop off our stuff and to soak our feet in hot water. Because our next target, is the largest night market in the whole of Taiwan - Feng Jia Night Market 逢甲夜市.
    The layout of Feng Jia is a rectangular blocks bounded by streets. Spanning almost 1 km in diameter, you would have to plan your route carefully if you want to explore every nook and cranny. The best aid would be Maps on your iPhone or any navigation aid. If not, just ask your hotel staff for a map and they would explain to you.

    There are many drinks stall there - red tea, milk tea, green tea... We felt that generally the teas there taste better than SG's, so just give anyone a try if you see locals queueing up (:

    The vegetarian food is located near to another vegetarian stall that sells smelly tofu as well as yam balls 芋圆 (these are the stalls which Le Parker recommended which both of us are not really keen on. Do try them if you like these items! There's really a huge crowd at these 2 stalls!). The vegetarian stall is a good place to sit and enjoy the food. It sells lots of items including oyster omelette and smelly tofu too! We tried their Fried Chicken 咸酥鸡 and Fried Rice 招牌炒饭. The chicken was fried with 九层塔 - not sure what's the correct term in English, I googled and I guess its basil? However, the taste isn't as strong as the normal basil we eat in Western cuisine. It added onto the taste of the fried chicken yet not overpowering it. As for the fried rice, it's really one of the better ones we had in Taiwan. You can see a layer of oil, yet it wasn't too greasy at the same time. The rice was delicious and the egg taste was just right! (:

    The Grilled Rice Roll 靓妞烤饭团 has both veggie (e.g. mushroom, cheese, chicken) and non-veggie option (beef, fish, pork, chicken). I tried the chicken (V) while my boy had beef. The chicken (V) has a lil bit of spicy taste in it, which resembled like otah (V). It tasted nice with the glutinous rice, but I felt that perhaps they could add some corn so that it wouldn't be too dry. 
    Remember what I said about queuing? This 全囯 stall has a waiting time of about 10 to 15 mins. If you are patient enough you will be rewarded with a huge, tasty, fleshy, juicy portion of chicken thigh or cutlet, whichever you may wish to order. The outer layer is fried crisp, and not too oily, giving off a great aroma of their special seasoning, while the juices will spurt when you bite deep into the chicken. No wonder the TV shows celebrities saying it is 爆浆. 50 NTD.

    If you're looking for another interesting dish, the 爆浆鸡腿捲 is also an option. A similar dish would be our familiar frozen seaweed chicken roll. Just imagine it. Now make it bigger. And tastier. And juicier. And remove the seaweed. This is what the chicken roll is about. 35 NTD.

    And that is the end of our Taichung adventure. If you do drop by Taichung, do not give Feng Jia a miss. Even locals patronize it and brags about it as the largest night market in Taiwan. With the amount of delicacies available, the only reason you would be disappointed is that you can't eat everything.

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