March 19, 2014

Taipei 2011, Day 5: Mussels, Fried Oysters, and Extreme Soft Serve in Danshui

I took a trip to Taipei from October 3 to 9...2011. Um. Yeah. Why am I writing about it over two years late? Because better late than never? Not because I've been wasting away on a diet of Netflix and Candy Crush? Sure, let's go with that. Read my introduction about the trip, a recap of the first day, second day, third day, and fourth day.

More shops
Somewhere in Danshui.

I love a good welcome sign. Something that declares more than the name of the town/state you have just entered/left. Something with personality. Something unique. Like Delaware's dual achievements of "THE FIRST STATE" and "Home of Tax-Free Shopping."

Welcome to Tamsui ! 彩繪牆
Tamsui welcome sign uploaded by yawei2009 on Flickr.

The welcome sign for Danshui (or Tamsui, but I prefer the former) is a sign to remember. If you drive up to Danshui from Taipei City, you'll whizz by the sign, which is painted on the side of a wall hugging the main road. The wall is some meters high and the sign runs...[counts on fingers]...many more meters long. But as you're probably driving past it quickly, that doesn't give you much time to process it. I'm guessing I mentally responded with something like, "Did that sign say...what?...wait... [turns] oh shit it's gone now." I would've forgotten what the sign said if I hadn't tucked away a mental note to myself that I had to look up the sign online because something about it made it worth treasuring forever. Thanks to Flickr member yawei2009, I can recount what the sign says:

Welcome to Tamsui!
Don't Do Drugs
Don't Drag Race

That sign is just one of many things I came to treasure about Danshui.

Food stalls and stuff
Food stalls and stuff.
Extreme soft serve
Extreme soft serve.
Juice
Juice! Healthy!
Ireland's Potato
Dear Ireland: I found your potato.
Egg people LOOK AT THAT CRAB
Cute lil' key chains.
Poop and rose, so romantic
"Couples Key Ring" featuring a rose and a poop. Perfection.
Amazing hat
"FEELING GOOD? EVERYONE'S SHOUTING BLACK MUSIC!" Kind of wish I had bought this, yeah.

The tourist-friendly, waterside district of Danshui sort of feels like the Jersey Shore of Taipei, featuring a long walkway along the Danshui River lined with food stall after food stall after souvenir shop after food souvenir shop. Except I like it way more than the Jersey Shore. It caters better to my interests, particularly in the areas of Chinese food, cute knick knacks, and Engrish. (Admittedly, my memories of my sole visit to the Jersey Shore are marred by it taking place during high school, an era I'd rather forget.)

As much as I love cute knick knacks and Engrish, it's the food that won out here. Danshui is where I ate my favorite meal of the whole vacation.

Omg mussels Omg mussels
Mussels + magic sauce.

Behold, mussels bathing in super garlicky basil sauce/broth. Brain. Splode. Delicious. But also...

Fried oysters
Fried oysters.

Fried, battered oysters topped with shatteringly crisp fried basil and shrimp chips. Brain. Reassemble. Brain. Splode. Again.

EmptiesEmpties.

Mussels and oysters are two foods that sit in my "Don't Dislike Them But Would Rarely Think To Eat Them" category. These dishes sit in the "WANT AGAIN FOREVER PLEASE" category. I suppose it's the sauce and the frying that most appeal to me—I could eat anything dunked in that sauce, and I could probably eat anything fried—but briny mussels seemed like the perfect pairing for the sauce, and the fried oysters were just a really good version of fried oysters.

Dad and Lee Anne
Dad and Lee Anne.
Me + Lee Anne
Me and Lee Anne.
Other eaters
Table for 12.

Another major thing this restaurant has going for it is its no-frills open air seating on the second floor. Red, plastic patio chairs and wood paneled tables lit by a soup of different artificial lights—it's a charmingly comfortable, laid-back atmosphere, made better by the riverfront view (...even if you can't see the water at night). I was a bit jealous of the neighboring table of a dozen boisterous eaters. It made me think, "This is where I want to bring all my friends and just hang out and fill up on mussels and Apple Sidra and get stinky burpy garlic breath and have a good time into the night."

Kitchen
Open kitchen + big trays of mussels.
Talking to the chef
Lee Anne, chef dude, and Dad.
Ingredients
Sauce ingredient list.

If I were just eating with my dad, we would've left the restaurant forever wondering what was in the sauce. Thankfully, Lee Anne is infinitely more inquisitive than I am. When we were at the counter paying our bill, Lee Anne simply asked what was in the sauce. The man at the counter, conveniently also the chef, happily wrote down the ingredients for her. The translation, from my mom (question marks are hers):

Restaurant
孔雀蛤 150

As far as I can tell from Googling (as someone who doesn't know much about Taiwanese food), quite a few restaurants specialize in this mussels dish in Danshui and Bali, a district located across the river from Danshui. I'm not positive what the name is of the restaurant we ate at. The sign says 孔雀蛤 150, literally "peacock clam," or green mussels English, followed by the price (apparently now 180), which sounds more like self-promotion than the name of a restaurant. But I don't know what's written on the sign on the 2nd level, so whatever. It's next to this more famous mussels restaurant.

After dinner, we roamed around Danshui's shop-filled streets. Some snapshots below:

Candy shop
Candy store! I don't eat much candy, but I love looking at it. The more overflowing and artificially colored, the better.
Candy shop
Still at the candy store.
Sweet goo + spoon = INSTANT FUN?
I'm not positive what this is. Dried fruit in sweet goo (maltose)? A treat for simpler times.
Hot Star
Mm, Hot Star, creator of my favorite fried chicken slab.
More shops
Street lined with shops and restaurants.
Head here for crackers
This store specializes in prawn crackers. Buy 'em!
Prawn crackers
MUCH CRACKER.
Shops
MUCH STREET.
Coco, bubble tea chain
How long had Lee Anne gone without bubble tea? Too long. She replenished herself at CoCo, a big Taiwanese chain that has a few locations in NYC as well.
OK Mart
OK Mart, a major convenience store chain in Taiwan.
Temple
Temple break.
Ahh...uh...
I noticed this pastry being sold by many bakeries in the area. Never having seen it before, I'm not sure what it's called. Looks like a flaky pastry filled with rice cake and red bean? With impressive stretching qualities?
IT STRETCHES, MMHM
More stretching, plus a nice dose of Engrish: "Sugar-free healthy new concept are manual production Uses the low sweet low fat protosalt." Excuse me as I lick my lips in anticipation.
TRY THEM WITH YOUR HANDS
Do not try them with other parts of your body. Please.
Wax apples
WAX APPLES! This used to be one of my most favorite fruits. I've never seen it in the US. [describe]
Fresh guava juice
FRESH GUAVA JUICE! I LOVE YOU, TOO!
Guavas
GUAVAS...I like you better as juice.
WOW FROG EGGS
"WOW Frog eggs"
Cute red bean peeps
An obanyaki vendor with cute mascots to further the cause of red bean-stuffed cakes.
Street
More street.
Sun cake
Maison Kyosai suncake.

if you've never eaten a suncake before, be sure to pick some up while you're in Taiwan. They're one of my most favorite pastries ever. I don't have much to compare them to, although at first glance they may sound similar to hand pies: a single-serving, patty-shaped flaky pastry with a sweet filling. But that's not all. With just four easy payments of $19.95 The pastry is feathery light, powdery soft, a bit crisp, and so delicately flaky it sheds skin-like flakes at the slightest disturbance. From my experience, biting into a suncake should unleash a poof of flakes—eat over a plate or a trash can. The maltose-based filling has a mild, pleasant chewiness that pairs perfect with the soft crust. If you're eating a suncake with a hard filling, something's wrong/old. Send it back to hell.

The suncakes I bought from Maison Kyosai were awesome. Next time I'm in Danshui, I'll be buying more. The make great gifts...or you can eat 'em all yourself, as I was tempted to do.

For the rest of you, there's the option of making them yourself.

Me vs Tall Soft Serve Cone
Me vs. soft serve.

I ended the night with one of those gravity-defying soft serve super-towers. It's the kind of excessively bad food that screams, "Robyn, you shouldn't eat this, but YOU MUST EAT THIS." After one bite it was easy to see why they were so cheap. The soft serve is truly terrible, the most bland and watery I've ever tasted, perhaps the most watery it could taste before it could no longer be recognized as soft serve. Ah well. My curiosity about what a novelty soft serve cone tastes like, simultaneously satisfied and unsatisfying.

But still a great memory of Danshui.

Related

Taipei 2011, Day 3: Taipei 101 Food Court and Dim Sum Dinner
Taipei 2011, Day 2: Shaved Ice Two Ways, 7-Eleven, Shilin Night Market, Etc.
Taipei 2011, Day 1: Fried Crullers, Bear Head Doughnuts, Scallion Pancakes, Etc.
Belated Intro to Taipei, or "What's That Smell?"
Taipei 2011, Day 4: Keelung River Bikeway, TAS, Beef "Pie," and Din Tai Fung

Addresses

Peacock Clam 150/180/?
Next to 251, Taiwan, New Taipei City, Danshui District, 中正路55號 (map)

Maison Kyosai
No. 133號, Zhōngzhèng Rd, Danshui District New Taipei City, Taiwan 251 (map)
+886 2 2623 2008

Posted by roboppy at 3:44 AM

Tags: dad, danshui, lee anne, new taipei city, taipei, travel, vacation

Comments

Scrolling down that last pic was one of the highlights of my day ^^

The other one was the couples-keychain set. Because nothing says "I love you" like poop.

Posted by: Mikeh at March 19, 2014 5:32 PM [#]

Mikeh: :) Glad you liked those photos! I wanted to buy the poop keychain but the hourglass was broken so I didn't. It just wasn't meant to be.

Posted by: roboppy at April 3, 2014 11:54 PM [#]

Hi Robyn-
I've read your blog for years (#ultimatelurker) and also read Serious Eats pretty much daily. It's so nice to see some new posts! Thanks for updating!

Posted by: Genesee at April 5, 2014 8:15 PM [#]

comments powered by Disqus

stuff here

Search

previous entries

» 04/28/14: A Random Conversation About Hot Loose Apples

» 03/19/14: Taipei 2011, Day 5: Mussels, Fried Oysters, and Extreme Soft Serve in Danshui

» 03/09/14: Taipei 2011, Day 4: Keelung River Bikeway, TAS, Beef "Pie," and Din Tai Fung

» 02/14/14: Behold French Fry-Stuffed Fat Sandwiches From RU Hungry in New Brunswick, NJ

» 01/27/14: Taipei 2011, Day 3: Taipei 101 Food Court and Dim Sum Dinner

» 01/15/14: Hong Kong Recap: Favorite Bites, Sweets, People, Etc.

» 12/02/13: Taipei 2011, Day 2: Shaved Ice Two Ways, 7-Eleven, Shilin Night Market, Etc.

» 11/05/13: My Favorite Places to Bring Tourists on the Lower East Side

» 10/23/13: How I Made My BMO (Adventure Time) Costume

» 10/20/13: Taipei 2011, Day 1: Fried Crullers, Bear Head Doughnuts, Scallion Pancakes, Etc.

Help out roboppy?

If you do want to help me out monetarily, here are some easy non-obtrusive ways to give back:

- Buy stuff through my Amazon ID!: This is the BEST WAY to help me out without throwing money at my feet. I buy most of my material goods from amazon.com, and it would help me shittons if you bought stuff through my link.
- Buy t-shirts through my Threadless Street Team thinger
- Get webhosting with Dreamhost.com and enter roboppy@gmail.com as the referral

Thank you so much for your help!

Site feeds galore

 Subscribe in a reader

Creative Commons License
This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Twitter

My Latest Posts on Serious Eats

Facebook

Camera Info

May '10: Canon 7D with a Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 EX DC macro lens
Aug '07 - May '10: Canon 20D
June '06 - Aug '07: Canon Rebel XT
Before June '06: Canon SD 450
I "post process" all my photos in Photoshop to make them suck less. Of course, you need a camera to take semi-decent photos first, but without Photoshop, I am nothing.

links

Please don’t hate me if I haven’t included you. I tried to whittle this down to a manageable list, but there are just too many food blogs out there that I like! I shall update this list every so often.

Blogs

A Hamburger Today
A Hungry Girl's Guide to Taipei
The Amateur Gourmet
An American in Ireland
Appetite for China
Baking Bites
Beef Aficionado
The Big Gay Ice Cream Truck
Bionic Bites
Blondie and Brownie
Boots in the Oven
The Boy Who Bakes
Brave Tart
Candy Blog
Cha Xiu Bao
Chubby Hubby
Chuck Eats
Comme un Lait Fraise
Dan Delaney
David Lebovitz
Deep End Dining
Dessert Comes First
Dumneazu
Eat Drink & Be Merry
Eat to Blog
Eat Your Kimchi
The Eaten Path
Eating In Translation
Eating Asia
FastFoodr
Fifteen Pickles
Food In Mouth
French Revolution
Fries With That Shake
Grab Your Fork
Great Food Photos
Goldilocks Finds Manhattan
Hello Sandwich
I live in a Frying Pan
i nom things
The Impulsive Buy
Just Hungry
Kathy YL Chan
The Kitchen Pantry
Law and Food
Lingbo Li
Lingered Upon
LUNCH
Maps and Fragments
Me So Hungry
Michele Humes
Ms Adventures in Italy
My Camera Eats Food
My Inner Fatty
No Recipes
Noona Blog: Seoul
One Wall Kitchen
Ono Kine Grindz
The Paupered Chef
Paris Breakfasts
Real Cheap Eats
The Scent of Green Bananas
Seoul Eats
Slice
Smitten Kitchen
So Good
Street Foodie
Sui Mai
Suicide Food
Sustainable Table
Swirl and Scramble
Tamarind and Thyme
The Tasty Island
Thursday Night Smackdown
Tommy Eats
The Ulterior Epicure
umami
U.S. Food Policy
The Wandering Eater
We All Go Poopie
World to Table

Non-Blogs

Brooklyn Chowder Surfer
Edible Queens
Nice Cup of Tea and a Sit Down
Serious Eats
VendrTV

Recurring Eating Companions

These friends have lent me their stomach acids on numerous occasions.

Chichi
Colin
Diana
Eric
Greg
Kåre
Kathy
Melissa
Morten
Olivia
Tristan
Veronica