Category Archives: Taiwan

#2273: Uni-President A Q Bucket Noodle Koream Kimchi Flavor

Here’s another one I found in Taipei – this one was the last instant noodle I bought there.

Here (click to enlarge) I am with the bowl in my backpack. I think I got just about every variety they had at this 7-Eleven, one of the over 2,000 7-Elevens in Taiwan. They’re everywhere – moreso than we have Starbucks in the USA (oh and they have Starbucks in Taiwan as well). Big shout out and thank you to James Lee for translating this one – I thought it might be a stewed pork variety but I was way off! Let’s crack it open and have a look!

Detail of the side panels (click to enlarge). Unsure whether it contains meat. To prepare, add in sachets and boiling water to fill line. Cover for 4 minutes. Stir and enjoy!

Detail of the lid (click to enlarge).

The noodle block.

A dry soup base sachet.

Has a kind of vinegarr scent.

The vegetables sachet.

Looks like kimchi!

Finished (click to enlarge). Added Salad Cosmo mung bean sprouts, fried tofu, beef, sweet onion, spring onion and chilli flake. The noodles came out very nice – a lot of them and they’ve got a flat and slightly broad characteristic. The broth was a little thinner than I’d expected, however it brings a nice pickled vegetable flavor to the table which works very well with the bits of kimchi which hydrated nicely. 4.25 out of 5.0 stars. EAN bar code 4710088414243.

Unif-100 Instant Noodles -Artificial Shallot Beef Flavor 3.80oz/108g

A TV spot for Uni-President AQ noodles.

#2264: Unif Tung-I Instant Vegetarian Beehoon Rice Vermicelli

I think I should explain the symbol in the upper right hand corner before anything else. While the symbol may bring up thoughts of World War II, this actually has nothing to do with oppression; this is a Buddhist symbol denoting that it is safe for those who practice strict vegetarianism. Here’s a little from wikipedia about it:

In China, Korea and Vietnam, monks are expected to abstain from meat. In Taiwan, Buddhist monks, nuns, and most lay followers eat no animal products or the fetid vegetables – traditionally garlic, Allium chinense, asafoetida, shallot, and Allium victorialis (victory onion or mountain leek), although in modern times this rule is often interpreted to include other vegetables of the oniongenus, as well as coriander – this is called Su vegetarianism. Some Zhaijiao lay adherents do not eat any meat.

As for the symbol, it is considered an ancient symbol of auspiciousness in Hindu and Buddhist culture. It is immediately recognizable in the West however with Nazi Germany. Here’s some about that –

At the end of 20th century, and early 21st century, confusion and controversy has occurred when consumer goods bearing the Buddhist symbol have been exported to North America, and mistakenly interpreted by Western consumers as a Nazi symbol.

When a ten-year-old boy in Lynbrook, New York, bought a set of Pokémoncards imported from Japan in 1999, two of the cards contained the left-facing Buddhist swastika. The boy’s parents misinterpreted the symbol as a Nazi swastika, which is right-facing with 45 degree rotation, and filed a complaint to the manufacturer. Nintendo of America announced that the cards would be discontinued, explaining that what was acceptable in one culture was not necessarily so in another; their action was welcomed by the Anti-Defamation League who recognised that there was no intention to be offensive but said that international commerce meant that “isolating [the Swastika] in Asia would just create more problems”.[135]

In 2002, Christmas crackers containing plastic toy red pandas sporting swastikas were pulled from shelves after complaints from consumers in Canada. The manufacturer, based in China, said the symbol was presented in a traditional sense and not as a reference to the Nazis, and apologized to the customers for the cross-cultural mixup.[136] In 2007, Spanish fashion chain Zara withdrew a handbag from its stores after a customer in Britain complained swastikas were embroidered on it. The bags were made by a supplier in India and inspired by commonly used Hindu symbols, which include the swastika.[137]

I think it’s a little sad that instances such as this could have been times when the public in the West could have been made to understand that this symbol has been used by religions to denote auspiciousness and vegetarianism for a lot longer than in WWII. But instead of learning, it gets pulled from sight in the marketplace. Let’s give this vegetarian rice vermicelli a try.

Here’s the back of the package (click to enlarge). Does not contains meat. To prepare, add package contents to a bowl and add 500ml boiling water. Cover for 2 minutes. Stir and enjoy!

The rice vermicelli.

A dry base sachet.

Powder and vegetables.

An oil sachet.

Smells like sesame oil.

Finished (click to enlarge). Added Salad Cosmo mung bean sprouts and tofu puff. The vermicelli didn’t hydrated as it should have in two minutes and was a little stiff and kind of had that dry spiderweb kind of quality I dislike. The broth was nicely accommodated by seaweed but the sesame oil and earthy flavor just didn’t work for me at all. 0.5 out of 5.0 stars. EAN bar code 8888217006105.

Buddhism in Taiwan: Religion and the State, 1660-1990

A little short showing fun in Taiwan.

#2260: Uni-President Science Noodle (X’Mas Edition)

Since Christmas is just around the corner, I thought I ought to review this one that I found in Taiwan during my visit to Mom’s Dry Noodle in mid-November! This usually has a different packaging actually – a wizard with a wand.

Here’s where I got these (click to enlarge). There are over 2,000 7-Eleven stores in Taiwan (hell, at a train station we saw at least three of them)! Unlike the ones here in the USA, a lot of stuff can be done there – pay your water bill for example. Your cellphone bill; get licenses I believe. Lots of tie-ins make it an indispensable kind of place. Like the one I visited in Thailand, I gave the people there a couple of my cards and told them how stoked I was to be in a foeign 7-Eleven. They thought it was funny and then I think they recognized me after reading the card. Well anyways, this is a snack noodle – crush it, sprinkle the stuff, shake it. Let’s take a look!

Here’s the back of the package (click to enlarge) Looks to be meat free but check for yourself. To prepare, crush noodles inside package. Open and add in seasoning sachet contents. Close up package and shake to distribute seasoning. Open and enjoy!

The whole noodle block before smashing.

The seasoning sachet.

I read that this is supposed to be a kind of black pepper flavor.

Finished (click to enlarge). I’ve been blinded by science noodle! Well actually I had really bad eyesight before I tried the science noodle.. So the noodles are crunchy and really tasty – very light and crisp. The taste has a nice pepper taste and I think maybe a hint of fish? It works and is a nice snack noodle for sure. For a snack noodle, it gets 5.0 out of 5.0 stars. EAN bar code 4710088410191.

Fresh Off the Boat: A Memoir – Eddie grew up in theme-park America, on a could-be-anywhere cul-de-sac in suburban Orlando, raised by a wild family of FOB (“fresh off the boat”) hustlers and hysterics from Taiwan. While his father improbably launched a series of successful seafood and steak restaurants, Eddie burned his way through American culture, defying every “model minority” stereotype along the way. He obsessed over football, fought the all-American boys who called him a chink, partied like a gremlin, sold drugs with his crew, and idolized Tupac. His anchor through it all was food—from making Southern ribs with the Haitian cooks in his dad’s restaurant to preparing traditional meals in his mother’s kitchen to haunting the midnight markets of Taipei when he was shipped off to the homeland. After misadventures as an unlikely lawyer, street fashion renegade, and stand-up comic, Eddie finally threw everything he loved—past and present, family and food—into his own restaurant, bringing together a legacy stretching back to China and the shards of global culture he’d melded into his own identity.
Funny, raw, and moving, and told in an irrepressibly alive and original voice, Fresh Off the Boat recasts the immigrant’s story for the twenty-first century. It’s a story of food, family, and the forging of a new notion of what it means to be American.

So here’s a TV commercial for this one in it’s normal packaging. I found lots of others including this one which appears to be a girl group called the Uni Girls. I always find it interesting when instant noodle companies have their own music groups.

The Ramen Rater Visits Taiwan – Day 5: A Fond Farewell

Day 1 * Day 2 * Day 3 * Day 4  * Day 5

Our last day in Taipei greets us again with the Taipei 101 yet again; a constant companion during the trip. Definitely tired still after going so many places and seeing so many new things, we start the day that will end up with us coming home.

Had some breakfast buffet at the United Hotel. Have found I like baked sweet potato as well as baked pumpkin. Also has sliced pork in oyster sauce, taro buns and some noodles. We also stopped by the 7-Eleven one more time – I found a couple gifts to bring home and yet another bowl of noodles. To be honest, I didn’t know whether or not any of my noodles would end up making it home; so many contain meat and that generally gets a big no from the CBP/USDA, so my fingers are crossed! Kyle picked us up for lunch and we planned on going to a popular beef noodle soup place but the line was pretty crazy so we went to a place called Lao Zhang. We started with some steamed rice with pork which was really good – served in a little wooden pot and underneath was a little bit of yam. It was accompanied by some cucumber and eggplant. Next was the beef noodle soup which was out of this world good! Afterwards we wandered around the area to find some snow ice. I tried this the night before at Raohe night market. Basically imagine the fluffiest snow that tastes like vanilla ice cream topped with mango and mango syrup as well as some whipped cream and custard on top. Ended up sitting next to a nice family from Washington D.C. (the other Washington!) who had moved to Taiwanbn. I asked how they liked it and they were really happy there. We walked around a little more and found something interesting. A while back, I saw a video showing a place that was selling stuff from my top ten list – not only that, it was using signs that said The Raman Rater (sp) and even pictures of me. Well, they don’t have that anymore at this particular shop but I intrroduced myself and the lady working there knew who I was. Pretty neat – gotta go 6,000 miles from home to meet people who recognize me ha! I also took a second to marvel at an automated display of chopsticks and noodles in front of a Japanese ramen shop.

Next we visited the National Museum Of Taiwan. We drove up and up and up – it’s on the side of a mountain. So many people and lots of walking and stairs – I was going to have no problem sleeping on the flight home tonight! Saw lots of Taiwanese antiquities – lots of jade, calligraphy and statues. Very impressive – especially how ancient many of them were. One bowl in particular caught my eye – I guess when I’m a billionaire maybe I can start doing my reviews in 500+ year old bowls!

We ended up going to Back Garden restaurant overlooking Taipei. A neat place with a great view, and awesome food! Had some nice fried tofu, water spinach, and sweet and sour pork. Now what’s nice about the sweet and sour pork is that it wasn’t breaded and deep fried like they do here in the states; it was moist and tender with pineapple and a sweet and indeed slightly sour sauce. Finally, we had some crusted cod which was really good. A great way to cap off our trip. We headed back to the United Hotel to get our luggage and catch a cab to the airport. We bid Kyle a fond farewell and a big thanks for showing us a great time in Taiwan – he really went above and beyond.

We took a cab to the airport and I recorded the whole thing. As soon as I uploaded the video to YouTube, it told me that there was a copyright claim (the cabbie had music going) and the whole point of posting this super long video was that towards the end you can hear him singing along to the music. The singing cab driver was one of the last fond memories of Taiwan. Unfortunately, YouTube scrapped the audio so I put in some of my own, but here’s an audio clip of what I’m talking about.

Got through security and had a few minutes to chill before the next flight. Ate the first meal and then passed out, waking up about 1,000 miles from home which was nice. Got to Seatac Airport and went through the security/customs re-entry without a hitch and rolled my luggage full of meaty noodles, big hats from flipping noodles and plenty of other things. Met my wife and two sons at the airport arrivals gate and soon we were on our way home. I want to thank everyone at Mom’s Dry Noodle for making this trip happen. I also want to thank my sister Sue for coming with me and watching out for curbs and other easily tripped over things what with my poor vision. Finally, I want to thank my lovely wife Kit for letting me go while she stayed at home with our boy Miles, dog Otis, and our daughter who she will give birth to any day now. Good to be home again.

The Ramen Rater Visits Taiwan – Day 4: Media, Malls & Raohe Night Market

Day 1 * Day 2 * Day 3 * Day 4  * Day 5

Yet again, we start our day gazing at the Taipei 101 as it towers over the local landscape. Kyle picked us up and we went to the Mom’s Dry Noodle offices.

ET Today, a well-known Taiwanese news website wanted to do an interview with me and I accepted. It was nice to actually do an interview with the Taiwanese press; so often they don’t do interviews with me and so I don’t get a chance to comment on stories that are put out. What also was nice ws to have Kyle there to translate – I think that made a big difference,  Here’s the article (warning – Google Translate does a poor job on this one). Kyle had some work to do, so James took us out on the town.

During the trip, I asked a lot of questions. One I’d been particularly interested in was how people get their ‘Western’ names. Kyle mentioned how very often a teacher in English class will assign you one ‘you look like a Keith or John’ etc. Kyle got his from a friend who thought it was a good name. James got his from the daughter of a family friend. I asked James if he felt put  off by the need for a Western name; I mean, shouldn’t we in the West have the respect to learn everyone’s name, regardless of whether it’s European or not? He said that it was very important in school, especially in the West. Growing up here, I remember how cruel other kids could be, but it sounds like a lot of kids give Asian kids a lot of crap. Knock it off, I say!

He also mentioned something extremely funny. So if you want to make someone from Taiwan mad, say China number one. To anger the Chinese, say Taiwan is number one. Well, here’s a video from YouTube of how this got started. In fact, the guy who says Taiwan #1 ended up being invited to Taiwan by the company! I found myself saying TAIWAN NUMBER ONE repeatedly during the rest of the trip, and I think it’ll be something I’ll be saying in upcoming top ten lists when Taiwan appears.

We went to lunch at Saboten, a tonkatsu restaurant. So many of you are familiar with tonkotsu, a Japanese style of ramen with a milky pork bone broth. Tonkatsu is usually breaded pork or chicken. It was excellent – you got a choice of tonkatsu with either cheese or asparagus in the center (I went for the asparagus). A mortar and pestle with sesame seeds was there – you grind the sesame seeds and it brings out the scent and then add plum sauce; seriously good with the meat. Shredded cabbage and grapefruit dressing was refreshing as well. My set included the tonkatsu, a couple pieces of seafood tempura – oyster and shrimp. I’ve honestly never liked oyster – until I had this! Awesome lunch.

Next we hit Miramar Entertainment Park, like a big mall. Now this was huge – I think there were six floors! At the top was a ferris wheel my sister took a ride on. We checked out a Carrefour that was in there. Carrefour is like a grocery/department kind of store. Got a ton of instant noodles there! Up a bit and we saw some familiar things – Subway, Krispy Kreme, Jamba Juice – all with neat Taiwanese twists to them. Next floor was the kid’s level – I was hoping to find some clothes for Miles and our daughter who will be born next month. I ended up at Toy World, a place my son Andy would have really liked. He’s a Pokemon fanatic and so I played a game and got him a little square plastic trinket (which he’s pretty stoked on by the way). One of my favorite things were the storage lockers. Not that storage lockers are all that exciting, but the big warning signs not to leave pets, drugs, guns, diamonds or babies in there. Pretty awesome.

We got dropped off back at the hotel and said goodbye to James and took some time to chill. Then met Kyle in the lobby. We were going to go out for dinner, but we decided to go to Raohe night market instead. Got to try even more delicacies – cock’s comb (the pointy thing on a rooster’s head), duck tongue (very chewy and tough), chicken heart, fried frog (quite tasty), spicy fishball, dragonfruit drink and fried milk. I also found some clothes for the kiddos which was awesome. A good evening of tromping around and trying new things.

Full of different animals parts, we ended up back at the hotel. Another very full day in Taipei and ready to crash.