May 1, 2017

Taiwan Travelogue: Steaming in Beitou Hot Spring & Snacking in Shilin Night Market (13 Nov 2015)

Rise and shine! After a day filled with touristy attractions, today should be the day to wind back and enjoy some hot bath and street food.

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天天利美食坊 @ Ximending
As to where to find some great street food, look no further than 天天利美食坊 in Ximending, which is located 500m away from our hotel, King Lei Lei Hotel.

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Braised Pork Rice (Small for TWD25) @ 天天利美食坊
If you are undecided on what to go for, order a bowl of braised pork rice. You just couldn't go wrong with a bowl of braised pork rice. So far, none suck in my case but I do appreciate more minced pork and more braised sauce to go with the rice.

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Fried Carrot Cake (TWD 50) @ 天天利美食坊
To go with braised pork rice, we ordered a plate of fried carrot cake. Texture was a telltale of too much flour in the mixture. Flavour was too bland and flat to Malaysian's taste bud.

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Oyster Pancake (TWD 60) @ 天天利美食坊
Being a big fan of oyster pancake, my mom insisted on ordering one. Despite my dislike to oysters, the omelette was fluffy and moist. Chilli sauce was spot on too.

Total damage for 2 pax = TWD165

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You Tiao and Soy Bean @ Yong He Dou Jiang 永和豆漿
We were bloated after we were done in 天天利美食坊 but we just had to try this Taiwanese breakfast combo, i.e. soy bean and you tiao. We had ours at Yong He Dou Jiang 永和豆漿, which is located less than 100m from 天天利美食坊. Soy bean was a delight, so was the you tiao. Pancake was unusual though thick and tasteless.

Total damage = TWD95

From Ximen Station, we took a train to Taipei Main Station, before switching train to Beitou Station. For convenience, we did another switch of train from Beitou Station to Xinbeitou Station as it is closer to Beitou Hot Spring Museum 北投溫泉博物館.

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Memory of Beitou @ Beitou Hot Spring Museum 北投溫泉博物館
Built in 1913 under Japanese ruling, it was initially built to be Beitou Public Bathhouse, the biggest bathhouse in East Asia at the time. Occupying more than 2,300 sq m over two floors, the museum is a Japanese-influenced Victorian building, designed by Moriyama Matsunosuke. No entrance fee is charged in this community-ran museum Grade 3 historical monument.

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Levitation @ Beitou Hot Spring Museum 北投溫泉博物館
The first floor features the large bath (6m in width, 9m in length) which was decorated with the remnants of the bathhouse. Surrounding the large bath are arch hallway, lined pillars and the arched stained glass windows built at 6:4 ratio.

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Moon Guitar and 800kg Hokutolite @ Beitou Hot Spring Museum
Apart from the large bath, the first floor also features some of the museum's collection, such as the moon guitar and 800kg Hokutolite. Among more than 4000 minerals in the world, the only toponym named after a Taiwanese place is Hokutolite, which is produced when the green sulfur hot spring water from Hell Valley passes over lands of the Beitou Creek. It takes about 125-130 years for a single centimeter of Hokulite to crystalize. Imagine the time required to produce this 800kg Hokutolite!

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Antique Clock @ Beitou Hot Spring Museum 北投溫泉博物館
The second floor features a large Tatami lobby where bathhouse guests used to relax after hot bath and a lookout balcony where one could enjoy the scenery surrounding the museum.

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Thermal Valley 地熱谷 @ Beitou
From Beitou Hot Spring Museum, a short 500m walk east would bring you to Thermal Valley 地熱谷, a volcanic crater filled with steaming natural sulfuric hot spring water. The temperatures of the waters could reach up to 100°C (212°F), making them unsuitable for bathing.

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Smoldering Hot Steam @ Thermal Valley 地熱谷
Thermal Valley 地熱谷 is also known as Hell Valley and Jade Springs Valley due to these eerie sulphuric steam that dances with the wind and translucent green waters.

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Skewers @ Nearby Convenient Store in Beitou
On the way down from Thermal Valley, we made a pit stop at one of the convenient stores and grabbed some skewers to fill our tummies. Truth be told, these skewers were not bad, though it was a mass produced product with minimal protein content.

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Japanese-Inspired Pathway in Beitou
To commemorate our visit in Beitou, we decided to try their traditional hot spring bath. There were plenty of bathhouses, be it indoor private bath or scenic outdoor bath, at various price tags. We ended up in Takinoyu 瀧乃湯.

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Takinoyu 瀧乃湯 @ Beitou
Featuring traditional Japanese architecture and nature-embracing setting, Takinoyu 瀧乃湯 is one of the longest standing bathhouse in Beitou with history dated back to 1900s. Bathing fee was TWD100 per pax, with separate bath for men and women. I was horrified when I was told the water temperature was 42 celcius but there was no turning back.

Every ripple in the bath would send torrent of heat to your bare skin. You just feel like cursing whenever someone moves in the bath. That aside, the mineral properties in Beitou hot spring is said to be naturally healing. Therefore all female bathers in Takinoyu 瀧乃湯 were mainly locals whom frequent this bathhouse.

Total damage for 2 pax = TWD200

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Smelly Tofu Shop @ Shilin Night Market 士林夜市
After we were done with 瀧乃湯 Takinoyu, we took a train from Xinbeitou Station to Beitou Station, before switching to another train to Shilin Station for Shilin Night Market 士林夜市. Our first stop was this smelly tofu shop, for its smelly tofu of course!

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Smelly Tofu (TWD50) @ Shilin Night Market 士林夜市
The smelly tofu was not as smelly as I would like it to be, likewise for the plain sour pickles. These aside, it had wonderful contrast in texture.

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Yam Puff Stall @ Shilin Night Market 士林夜市
Our second stop was this yam puff stall, which claimed itself to be the famous one from Miaokou Night Market.

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Yam Puffs (TWD 50) @ Shilin Night Market 士林夜市
For TWD50, we got ourselves 3 small yam puffs to share. Despite its tough look, who could have thought the inside was filled with soft and fluffy yam fillings?

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QQ Ball Stall and Fried Milk Ball Stall @ Shilin Night Market 士林夜市
Talking about interesting finds, the awards no doubt went to QQ Ball Stall and Fried Milk Ball Stall.

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Fried Milk Balls (TWD 20) @ Shilin Night Market 士林夜市
Damn, these fried milk balls sure looked good. One bite was all you need to devour the semi-molten milk fillings encased in crispy gold skin. Despite a little too sweet to my liking, it was great.

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Fried QQ Balls (TWD 50) @ Shilin Night Market 士林夜市
Likewise for these sweet potatoes balls, which was equally lovely. Taiwanese sure knows how to fry their balls right!

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碗中圆 @ Shilin Night Market 士林夜市
Up to this point, we still had not have a proper meal but we dived straight to desserts anyway!

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Tang Yuan in Black Sesame Dessert (TWD 50) @ 碗中圆
Being a big fan of black sesame dessert and tang yuan, it was a quick decision to make when we spotted this on the menu. Tang yuan was lovely, so was many glutinous flour based produce in Taiwan. Black sesame dessert, on the other hand, was too diluted to my liking.

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Mee Sua Stall @ Shilin Night Market 士林夜市
For our main course, we decided to go for some piping hot mee suah.

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Mee Sua (TWD 40) @ Shilin Night Market 士林夜市
To be safe, we ordered one to share. This stall was generous with corianders, which I personally found it delightful especially after soaking it in the thick broth. Mee sua was lovely, so was the broth.

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Raohe's Famous Peppercake Stall @ Shilin Night Market 士林夜市
If you were in Shilin Night Market 士林夜市, you would surely notice this Raohe's famous peppercake stall, noticeably swarmed with a long queue of customers waiting for their peppercakes. On the way home, the queue was somewhat subsided so we decided to take away some for supper.

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Peppercake in the Making @ Shilin Night Market 士林夜市
Loaded with minced pork and spring onions, their big peppercake was a wholesome meal on its own. If I remembered correctly, we paid TWD 50 for 3 of these peppercakes.

IN SUMMARY,

My personal dining ranking (5 being the full score) based on following criteria are:
  • Ambiance
    • 天天利美食坊 - 4/5
    • Yong He Dou Jiang 永和豆漿 - 4/5
    • Convenience Store in Beitou - 4/5
    • Smelly Tofu Shop - 2/5
    • Yam Puff Stall - 3/5
    • QQ Ball Stall - 3/5
    • Fried Milk Ball Stall - 3/5
    • 碗中圆 - 4/5
    • Mee Sua Stall - 3/5
    • Raohe's Famous Peppercake Stall - 3/5
  • Price
    • 天天利美食坊 - 4/5
    • Yong He Dou Jiang 永和豆漿 - 4/5
    • Convenience Store in Beitou - 4/5
    • Smelly Tofu Shop - 3/5
    • Yam Puff Stall - 3/5
    • QQ Ball Stall - 4/5
    • Fried Milk Ball Stall - 3/5
    • 碗中圆 - 4/5
    • Mee Sua Stall - 5/5
    • Raohe's Famous Peppercake Stall - 5/5
  • Food
    • 天天利美食坊 - 4/5
    • Yong He Dou Jiang 永和豆漿 - 3/5
    • Convenience Store in Beitou - 3/5
    • Smelly Tofu Shop - 3/5
    • Yam Puff Stall - 5/5
    • QQ Ball Stall - 5/5
    • Fried Milk Ball Stall - 4/5
    • 碗中圆 - 3/5
    • Mee Sua Stall - 4/5
    • Raohe's Famous Peppercake Stall - 5/5
  • Verdict
    • 天天利美食坊 - Affordable Taiwanese food under one roof
    • Yong He Dou Jiang 永和豆漿 - Not the cheapest but worth a try
    • Convenience Store in Beitou - Snacking on the go makes easier 
    • Smelly Tofu Shop - Could be better but I did not see another smelly tofu stall in Shilin Night Market 士林夜市
    • Yam Puff Stall - So good that you can almost taste the texture of shredded yam in it
    • QQ Ball Stall - Lovely crispy hollow balls, so good I could finish all of it on my own
    • Fried Milk Ball Stall - Pure gimmick but good for sweet tooths
    • 碗中圆 - Can surely give a try when you are tired and in need of some sweets
    • Mee Sua Stall - Hearty meal on a chilly evening
    • Raohe's Famous Peppercake Stall - Try it, you will love it


My personal hotel/attractions verdicts for:
  • King Lei-Lei Hotel - Strategic location, spacious room but looked draped and aged
  • Beitou Hot Spring Museum 北投溫泉博物館 - Quick overview on the history of Beitou in a brief tour. Why not?
  • Thermal Valley 地熱谷 - Been there, done that. Just something you have to see when you rae in Beitou
  • Takinoyu 瀧乃湯 - Not for the faint hearted
  • Shilin Night Market 士林夜市 - Great varieties and awesome food for hunters like me

DINING INFO:

天天利美食坊
108, Taiwan, Taipei City, Wanhua District, 漢中街32巷1號
Operation Hours: 9.30am - 10.30pm (Tues to Sun)
Tel: +886 2 2375 6299
Credit Card: N/A (We paid cash)

Yong He Dou Jiang 永和豆漿
108, Taiwan, Taipei City, Wanhua District, 台北市中正區漢口街二段30號
Operation Hours: 5.30am - 2pm
Tel: +886 2 2375 7007
Credit Card: N/A (We paid cash)

Shilin Night Market 士林夜市
Lane 101, Wenlin Road, Shilin District, Taipei City, Taiwan 111
Operation Hours: 6pm - 12am
Tel: +886 2 2881 5557
Credit Card: Cash

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