What I’ve Been Eating Lately

Sushi Express, you complete me.

So I’ve been packing and shipping boxes home the last week or two, as I enter my last month in Taiwan. Which leaves me very little extra energy to write every day, work on the book, make coffee, sleep, say good bye to  friends, follow up on research— let alone blog. (Also maybe I was being haunted in the fantasy treehouse–possibly).

But I still had time to eat!

So this is an unabashed excuses-making post, documenting some recent photos of food in Taipei. Aka: what I’ve been eating lately.

Some pros of summer in Taiwan: When it is 36 degrees and 90 percent humidity (read, 95 degrees F with a heat index of 110), there is NO BETTER FOOD than sashimi and sushi. At least, in my humble opinion. (Cf: the Ninja-themed restaurant where a friend had her birthday dinner.)

Also, one would never expect to eat hotpot in the summer, right? But apparently, with lots of air conditioning and a therapeutic sweating-effect, “mala hot pot” (痲辣 火鍋 spicy, Szechuan-style peppercorn hot pot) can occasionally hit the spot! Yummm, spice that up!

Cons: Such delectable fare (especially the sashimi), though miles cheaper than its American counterparts, can be rather expensive, or gui (貴)– so I have also eaten my share of cheapo street food, local Taiwanese noodle shop eats, and, my favorite combo of sushi + cheap eating, the grand “Sushi Express.” With a conveyor belt sushi bar, a menu for ordering your favorite combos and plates, and takeout trays, Sushi Express combines the best of what Taiwan has to offer in its culinary scene: quality, consistency, convenience, and creativity. Every plate (orange or green) is 30 NT (or $1 US) so no worries about eating your fill of sliced raw fish!

Sushi Express has an intimdiatingly awesome takeout sushi platter. Add 6 people, some Taiwan beer from 7-11, and a scenic place to sit and eat (in our case, CKS Memorial Hall gardens, maybe or maybe not during a typhoon) and it's a party!

One fun and slightly poignant discovery that I’ve had this week, now that I’ve been in Taiwan for a year, is that I’ve seen every fruit season in Taipei. This week, the late August/early September season, I began to see two of my favorite tropical fruits lining every fruit stand’s counters and packing the shelves at the grocery stores: passion fruit (百香果, which means, literally, “100 fragrances fruit”) and longyan fruit (龍眼果 which means, literally, “dragon eyes fruit”). Check out my former fruit/commute post from last year for some serious time travel!

A big bunch of longyan fruit and a big bowl of cold noodles from the noodle lady at the nearby noodle shop! Heavenly summer lunch.

Vietnamese food in Taipei is a rather uncommon but always budget treat! At this place on Taishun Road near ShiDa, I got these spring rolls, a Vietnamese sandwich (amazing spiced meat filling and veggies in a French baguette) and a Vietnamese iced coffee, all for 130 NT, or $4.30 USD. Yum.

And of course, summer’s pineapple (鳳梨, feng li, literally “phoenix pear”) continues to make me pine away until I’ve got it, ha–but to my dismay, mangoes are nearing the end of their season! This also explains why I didn’t see many fresh mangoes around Taipei last fall, but why my mango-a-day summer breakfast schedule was so successful for the past two months.

A "festive" breakfast of crepe with melted cheese from Carrefour, mustard from Fulbright friend, mango from fruit produce market down the street, coffee from our French press.

Other highlights of packing and eating this week included making my second round of Taipei Buffalo Wings, with the Frank’s hot sauce imported by kind friends this year straight from the US of A.

So please tell me, readers: what foods can’t you live without while living abroad? What’s the best thing you’ve eaten lately this summer? And to those friends, Fulbrighters, and fellow world travelers who have returned west, what Asian foods do you miss in the States? Please chime in with your comments below and happy munching!



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7 responses to “What I’ve Been Eating Lately

  1. Erin

    When I went home, I think more than anything else, I missed Taiwanese breakfast (particularly danbing 蛋饼). 25 NT, less than a dollar, ready in 5 minutes, and available on just about every other street corner. I’m back in Taiwan again, but I’m living in the countryside. Nearest breakfast shop–1 mile from the house. Going two miles for breakfast is a long way when I’m living across the street from school. I also totally miss fresh strawberry milk. Watermelon juice is refreshing but so not the same… Erin
    (I’ll be up in Taipei on the 9-12 after work)

  2. SUSHI EXPRESS! Also, can I have the recipe for Taipei Buffalo Wings? It sounds amazingly scrumptious.

  3. I live in Spain and found your blog when I was looking for info about Taipei for my brother who just moved there from the US. In Spain I miss all mexican food especially salsa and most spices since they really only use paprika, salt, pepper and garlic here. Thanks for the interesting blog! When you write about restaurants and sites you visit, could you try to include addresses or any information that might help me locate them? I’m going to visit my brother in Taipei sometime soon and I’d love to have some ideas of where to go!

  4. When I lived abroad, the biggest thing I missed was peanut butter. It was a novelty in Italy, so not readily available, and expensive. Luckily, my mother kept me pretty well-stocked in the Jif department.

    This food looks delicious…and is now making me crave mangoes.

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