Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Fried Food Stands in Taiwan - Local Specialty

Anyone that live in Taiwan or even been here must have noticed many food stands across Taiwan that are especially open from late afternoons to middle of a night. Most popular food stands are specializing in deep fried food, grilled food, or 'ru wei' or in English 'Soya mixed meat' - it is kind of stew based on the soy sauce with vegetables and meats of your choice. All of them are not healthy, with incredible amount of vegetable oil, worshiped by locals and heavenly delicious - a perfect meal for lazy evenings in front of TV.

For the purpose of this short post, let us talk about fried food stands only. (The grilled and soya mixed meat stands will follow shortly after.) It is very easy to spot fried food stand here - just look for a business that opens late, it is in form of a small steel stand, which displays variety of food - both meat and vegetables, and usually, there are bunch of people waiting for their orders to be completed. To order your food, you don't need to say a word, simply take a basket from the cart together with tongs, and put inside any food that you wish to eat. After you finish choosing your selection, give it to the vendor and you will be asked if you want it spicy or not. You can choose from 'bu yao la - no spice added, yi dian la - little spicy, zhong la - middle amount of spice, and la - spicy.) I usually choose little spicy - you will quickly notice that even little spicy is quite hot.

Fried chicken chunks with basil. One of the more popular choices.
Most of the food is shown in the stand, and it will include chicken chunks, chicken wings, fried squid, fried mushroom, fried cauliflower, fried beans, tempura, french fries and meat balls. There are also local specialties that you might want to try: vegetables wrapped around bacon, fish and squid balls, blood cakes, chicken fingers, chicken necks, chicken hearts and ass (yep, don't ask me that one) and even more exotic food that I would probably find illegal to order in my home country. There is also food behind the main counter that you must ask for, such as fried chicken breast, so if you want to order extras, knowing a little Chinese would definitively help.

Most of the stands offer such a delicious food, that you will quickly wonder why you even bothered with KFC in the first place. It is outstanding, actually dangerously so. It is easy to order, fast and you might find yourself eating it almost everyday, but it is not a food anyone should eat on constant basis (my wife is probably going to say: 'woah, look who writes that! Maybe you should show a good example and eat less of it? Maybe I should...') Food is good, sizes are large enough, if you are vegetarian, you can still enjoy only vegetables, it is everywhere to be found at hours that most of the food businesses are closed, and it is cheap, not dirty cheap, but cheap. If you are only visiting Taiwan, you will probably eat mainly in restaurants. Give it a try - it is something you will probably not find in your country, and you might find yourself hooked with an excuse to come back to visit again.)

The food is affordable and I usually do not spend over NT200 for enough food for 2 and with some left overs for next day. The prices here will vary from stand to stand, but I try to give an approximate averages:
Chicken wings - large 3 wings for 50NT
Chicken chops: Large: 50NT, small 30NT
Chicken breast: 50NT (it is tender, juicy, so good, and usually so large!)
French fries: 20NT
Fried mushroom: 25NT
Fried squid: 50-60NT
Fried beans: 30NT
Fried cauliflower: 30NT
Tempura: 30NT
Meat balls: Depends how many balls, anything from 10NT to 30NT
Blood cake: 30NT
Chicken fingers: 30NT
More exotic: Depends on the stand, but usually from 20NT to 50NT per choice

My normal large order for 2 people would be:
1X Chicken wings, 1X squid, 1X beans, 1X tempura - NT160 - sometimes I add chicken breast, for total of NT210.

Wish you a good appetite.

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