Tag Archives: Mandarin

A food journey through Taipei, Taiwan

Excited to greet my first meal in Taiwan: oyster omelette, pork over rice and milk tea. SCREAMfmLondon

I rolled up for a long weekend in Taipei, Taiwan without many plans beyond a long list of foods to eat.My first stop was checking into the luxurious Airbnb I’d booked (which boasted cable TV and a spacious, sunken bathtub) — only to find out I’d need to wait a few hours more for cleaning. I was just about to feel dejected when the cute Taiwanese guy who’d come to meet me on behalf of the host offered to take me to lunch and show me around the neighborhood.

So, I stashed my bag in the building’s basement and we took off onto the vibrant streets of the Da’an District. He gave me all the scoop on the neighborhood, regaled me with tales of Airbnb guests who’ve come and gone, and bought me all the milk tea I could handle.

When we finally stopped for a proper meal, he recommended the classic Taiwanese braised pork over rice and an oyster omelette. The omelette consists of oysters and vegetables cooked with egg and sweet potato starch, covered with a sweet chili sauce, and is absolutely delicious. The pork rice is a simple but unmistakeable quick meal in Taiwan.

My first day in Taipei was such a success, I couldn’t wait to see what was next.

It doesn’t get better than this street food! SCREAMfmLondon

It was straight to the night market once I was out on my own. Taipei has a number of these bustling markets full of cool clothes and accessories, gadgets and, of course, amazing street food.

Mysterious and delicious Taiwanese street food: barbecue pork stuffed with green onions. SCREAMfmLondon

I was immediately drawn to some fabulous-smelling barbecue pork concoction. I watched some other foreigners order it with ease, but once it was my turn, I was somehow roped into a full-on conversation with the vendors in Mandarin Chinese. Which perhaps would’ve been cool if my Mandarin wasn’t limited to “thank you,” the numbers 1-10, and “I love you.” But the food was worth it — smoky barbecued pork stuffed with green onions and seasoned with pepper and other spices.

Candy or nah? Candied tomatoes on a stick at the Raohe Street Night Market. SCREAMfmLondon

Next up was some dessert! Or so I thought. These columns of brilliant red fruits dipped in sugary syrup alluringly glistened under the warm lights of the Raohe Street Night Market, enticing me. But… they’re actually candied tomatoes and plums. I nibbled on the crunchy candy that coated the outside, but homie don’t play with tomatoes, and homie especially don’t play with tomatoes presented as dessert.

I wish I loved this, but I guess it wouldn’t be a food adventure if I didn’t try something that I found completely strange.

Blueberry swirled ice cream in Taiwan. SCREAMfmLondon

The next day, I met up with a friend from Korea to check out the Taipei Zoo. We grabbed some ice cream cones on our way to the train station. Mine was blueberry and vanilla swirled together, and was a more crisp consistency than typical ice cream.

Rice burger at the Taipei Zoo. SCREAMfmLondon

While starving at the zoo, I grabbed a rice burger — that is, pork sandwiched between two “buns” made from lightly-seasoned rice — and some cheese fries.

And some Taipei Zoo cheese fries. SCREAMfmLondon

After the zoo, we rode the Maokong Gondola and saw a total of zero stunning mountain views because it was too dark. But at least there was no line that late in the day. The best part of the ride was, naturally, the delicious street food that greeted us at the top!

Sausages in Maokong. SCREAMfmLondon

I immediately grabbed some amazing skewered sausages from a street vendor. These were one of the highlights of my food journey, actually. They were cooked to perfection and the flavors were so rich.

Taiwanese milk tea with herbal jelly. SCREAMfmLondon

And would it be Taiwan without some more milk tea? The one I bought in Maokong was slightly different, though. Instead of your typical boba tea with tapioca pearls, this one is served with cubes of chewy grass jelly. The jelly is made from a plant similar to mint and has a slight herbal taste to it that really enhances the delicious flavor of the tea.

Street food vendors in Taipei, Taiwan serve moon-shaped shrimp cakes and other delicacies. SCREAMfmLondon

Before the weekend was over, I needed to make one more trip through the night markets. After all, I was saving the best for last…

Vendors serve up Prince Cheese Potato’s famous dishes at Shilin Night Market in Taiwan. SCREAMfmLondon

Prince Cheese Potato was at the very top of my must-eat list. It was actually a pretty essential deciding factor in planning my trip to Taiwan in the first place. This famous stall at the Shilin Night Market stuffs its baked potatoes with all kinds of delicious toppings (including octopus, pineapple, scallops, chicken, tuna and German sausage) and then drowns them all in melty nacho cheese. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted.

Prince Cheese Potato’s Club and Cheese at Shilin Night Market in Taiwan. SCREAMfmLondon

I ordered a Club and Cheese, one of the most popular menu items. It’s a baked potato filled with ham, corn, egg, etc., doused with the trademark cheese sauce. Ah, it’s heaven. It’s well worth the trip to Taiwan, I promise. I love it so much. I want to marry this dish and become the Princess Cheese Potato.

Banana mango shaved ice dessert in Taipei. SCREAMfmLondon

On my way home, I decided to make one last stop for some dessert in a random back-alley restaurant, and I’m so glad I did. This banana mango shaved ice treat was probably the best shaved ice I’ve ever had. It’s similar to Korean bingsu — a refreshing dessert that often pairs thinly-shaved ice with fresh fruit and sweet syrup — except the Taiwanese version was swimming in condensed milk and was infinitely sweeter. It was so fantastic.

And, just like that, the Taiwan adventure was over and it was time to head home. But there was one just more thing to eat.

Taiwan’s famous pineapple cakes. SCREAMfmLondon

You cannot pass through a Taiwanese airport without getting some souvenir pineapple cakes to bring back for your friends. The small cakes are travel-friendly and famously tasty. The outside is flaky like a pie crust, and the inside is filled with gooey pineapple jam.I had a delicious and action-packed adventure in Taipei, and I just dream about all the foods I wasn’t able to try yet. Until next time, Taiwan!

Live: WAPOP [Collaboration of K-Drama and K-Pop]

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Dance performance team Blue Whale Brothers performs in the WAPOP concert at Children’s Grand Park. SCREAMfmLondon

When a friend offered me free tickets to a “k-drama k-pop concert thing” called WAPOP, I, of course, just had to go see the live combination of these forms of entertainment.

WAPOP is an ongoing event that takes place at 8 p.m. every single Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. The name comes from some strange combination of “Wow Pop” and “World & Asia,” and the event is clearly marketed toward tourists specifically from China. The website is offered in Chinese, Korean and Japanese, but a lot of the pre-show content deals with the relationship between South Korea and China, and a lot of the dialogue is in Mandarin.

The performers change from night to night, but the current players frequently include 24K (my favorite rookie group from last year’s Dream Concert!), A.Cian (my favorite rookie group from this year’s Dream Concert!), Bloomy and Minx.

In addition to the k-pop concert, WAPOP also offers live k-drama performances, b-boy dancing, and wild laser light tricks. The whole thing is virtually hosted by actor Lee Byung-hun, who escorts the audience on a train ride through space and time via incredibly deluxe 260-degree panorama video projection.

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The duo Meivley performs a song from the original soundtrack of the popular drama “Descendants of the Sun.” SCREAMfmLondon

When I imagined “live k-drama,” I basically just figured they’d show an episode of “Boys Over Flowers” on the big screen and be done with it. However, the k-drama bits are, in fact, very cool. The big screen is used to show key scenes from popular shows like “My Love From Another Star” and “Descendants of the Sun” while live musicians and dancers perform dramatic scenes on the stage.

When Lee Byung-hun first drops us off in the Joseon Dynasty for some Korean culture, the historical drama is augmented with hip-hop dancing to the tune of a traditional Korean stringed instrument, the gayaguem. The k-drama scenes make great use of the stage and the theater’s technology.

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Minx performs T-ara’s “Roly Poly” onstage at the WAPOP concert. SCREAMfmLondon

In between each k-drama performance, a different rookie idol group takes the stage to perform a few songs — usually two original songs and one cover.

On the night I attended, girl group Bloomy performed first, introducing original songs “흥칫뿡” and “Because of You,” which are both surprisingly excellent. The group is really new (they debuted in February), but the performance was legit. The second girl group, Minx, was less impressive, but they performed a fun cover of T-ara’s hit song “Roly Poly,” so that was something.

A.Cian, the only boy group that night, closed the event. I remember loving their catchy single “Touch” the last time I saw them live, and they delivered again at the WAPOP concert. Their dancing is over-the-top cute, their outfits are over-the-top stupid, and they are overflowing with fanservice. The perfect combination. They, naturally, closed the show with a cover of Psy’s “Gangnam Style” because that’s what you do when you’re targeting an audience of tourists.

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A.Cian performs their single “Touch” at the WAPOP concert. SCREAMfmLondon

I actually really enjoyed the whole show, and I ended up downloading both A.Cian’s and Bloomy’s albums when I got home. Loved it and would totally do it again.

That being said, I have no idea who the hell would pay $70 for this experience. There are a million opportunities to see huge k-pop stars perform for free. So why would anyone pay this price to see some random rookie acts perform two songs alongside a video projection of Lee Byung-hun? If they sell any tickets at all, that blows my mind.

But WAPOP is a cool experience, really. I would pay, like… five bucks to see it again.

WAPOP
238 Neungdong-ro Gwangjin-gu
8 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday
Tickets range from 50,000 to 70,000 KRW
For more information, visit www.wapophall.com.