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Travels: Taiwan 2017 Day 3: Taiwan International Food Expo

Travels: Taiwan 2017 Day 3: Taiwan International Food Expo

Day 1 & 2 * Day 3 * Day 4 * Day 5 * Day 6 * Day 7

So the main reason to come to Taiwan this time around was for the Taiwan International Food Expo. The promoters of the expo invited me to say a few words and present the awards for the top three from my top ten Taiwan list.

Travels: Taiwan 2017 Day 3: Taiwan International Food Expo

The food expo was at the Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center Station. Basically, it’s one huge convention center in a newer area of Taipei. Lots of construction on new buildings – very modern. Here I am in front of the art piece out front (it’s really tall – there’s a hand with finger pointing down from above). I went in and got to the place where the awards would take place.

Before I went on to do my thing, they did the big opening ceremony. Important people from around the world were there – dignitaries from the Taiwanese government as well as Europeans and folks from South America. It’s not only the International Food Expo, but the tea, coffee, beer, wine and liquor expo as well. A few speeches and then a fancy opening thing where they put their hands on some spheres and confetti gets shot out of cannons. It’s was pretty awesome actually – what was more awesome and kind of a surprise was that the music they played was the theme from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home – you know, the one with the whales.

The opening ceremony finished and then there was an interview in the front that went long – during which most everyone left before I was able to come on and do my thing. I had written a speech – first one I’d written since high school – and figured I’d have a little lectern or podium like they’d used prior in the opening ceremony. Well, I didn’t and so I had a stack of pages in large print and a microphone which made it tough to deal with. Here’s the full text of what I had planned to say. I cut it short though – kind of have to go with the flow sometimes. It was cool – I’m honored to have been invited and stoked to tell everyone about these varieties – good noodles! If you didn’t know, Little Cook Green Curry was 3rd, Xiao Ban Mian Traditional Shallot & Onion Oil second, and first place went to Mom’s Dry Noodle Dan Dan Noodle.

Next, I got to see the booth for the top two – Xiao Ban Mian and Mom’s Dry Noodle. Pretty impressive – they were serving samples and had a huge line of people wanting to try them.

I thought it would be neat to hand some out and asked if I could – they were happy to let me! It was a little tricky – tongs and little paper cups. I did it on this day and they asked if I’d like to do it again the next day and I did. It was cool to see a new face each time I handed one out. My favorite was a scowling little boy – I added noodles to the cup and went to hand it to him and stopped, adding a lot more. That got a smile. I’m pretty impressed with the fact that these guys do this for 4 days in a row, all the time on their feet. I’ll be honest, after a little time my back started to hurt.

Next it was off to have lunch. We went to a Malaysian chain restaurant called PappaRich which was in the same building I think – I don’t remember. Anyways, I got to have some rojak – one of my favorite Malay dishes I was first introduced to in Penang a few years back.

It was time to do some wandering around the Food Expo. Super busy, although the next couple days would be busier. I actually had people come up to me and want selfies with me – they knew who I was! That was really neat. I did this livestream – kind of a new thing for me to try.

Headed back to the hotel and chilled for a bit before going out to the Shilin Night Market. Kyle informed me that it’s the biggest in Taipei and he wasn’t kidding. So many people and so much stuff to look at. Definitely a lot of walking around today and my broken pinky toe was doing pretty good for the wear.

The Ramen Rater Visits Taiwan – Day 3: Taichung Noodle Factories & Taipei’s Huaxi Night Market

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

Woke up at the Silks Place hotel and had some breakfast. Then we were off to the Tainan rail station. We said goodbye to Darren there and then goodbye to Perry who had to head back to Taipei as he was off to travel on business the next day. The rail stations were really fascinating; almost like a mall to themselves! Tons of people, but everything seems to work very logically. We took the train from Tainan to Taichung where three more noodle factories were to explore! Met Jason, Erickk and Paul and went out for lunch at a hot pot restaurant. Got to try plum drink – kind of tasted like American barbecue sauce to be honest, but went very well with the Taiwanese beef. Was an enjoyable meal for all and then we were off to visit three noodle factories. These factories are all part of a company called Hung Guang.

The first factory was interesting. First, we see the dough flattened thinner and thinner and then cut and deposited into grid-like trays. Workers make sure the noodles are in the correct places before the trays are sent off to the drying room, a very warm place indeed. Then the dried noodles come upstairs for packaging.

The second factory makes the straight noodles found in the new varieties by Mom’s Dry Noodle. The first machine we see takes the noodles and gets them bundled. In the next scene, we see the hanging noodles ready to go up to the drying room upstairs and a processing machine (it was late in the day so it wasn’t running). In the back, the dough is being made. Upon entry, we saw a big fish tank that we took a closer look at when we were leaving. The large fish has scaled that look kind of like coins arranged in a pattern and Kyle told me that these fish bring luck in the wealth department.

On the way to the third factory, we stopped for some bubble tea. Taichung is the birthplace of bubble tea and so having some from there was really great. I also got to try wheel cakes – they’re shaped like a wheel and kind of like a pancake outside with either a custard of red bean inside, and served hot. Perfect combo!

We visit the third factory late in the day. This factory uses fans to dry their noodles as well as heat. What you end up with is the ability to dry the noodles without the sun’s help, which is great for a colder day. After our tour, we had some oolong tea and talked about our trip thus far and how I was interested in eating snake and maybe even trying steamed spider. They liked that a lot and wanted to take us out on the town in Taichung, but unfortunately we had to catch the train back to Taipei. So, we bid them adieu and headed for the THSR station. Once back in Taipei, we check into our room, again at the United Hotel, and then headed to the Huaxi night market.

I’d never been to a night market before and if you haven’t, it’s an amazing, living, breathing thing. Lots and lots of food and product stalls everywhere and lots of people too. So many smells, sounds and sights that it almost becomes a bit of a blur. Huaxi (snake alley) night makret has a lot of the more interesting things like a couple places selling snake and turtle to eat. I saw a YouTube video about snake and really wanted to give it a try. I did in this video – and quite honestly, I liked it, albeit kind of hard to eat. I hope you enjoy the video! After this we went back to our hotel and passed out.

#1054: Meet The Manufacturer: A-Sha No. 10 – Mandarin Noodle – Black Pepper Sauce

When I first opened the box of samples from A-Sha, I was immediately curious about this one. Big, blocky red type on a stark white background. I’ve been told this black pepper flavor is tradition of a dish served at ‘Night Markets’ in Taiwan. A steak with a black pepper sauce and an egg on the side – a very nostalgic Taiwanese classic (here’s what it looks like). Let’s have a look.

The back of the package (click image to enlarge).

This time we have Mandarin noodles. They are slightly thinner and flatter than the Hakka noodle.

Here’s the sauce packet. I thought it was neat how the No. 10 is actually transparent and the dark color is the sauce.

The sauce has a peppery scent.

Finished (click image to enlarge). Added a runny yolk fried egg, some beef I sauteed with soy sauce and a little Urashima Sesame & Salt furikake. The noodles are exemplary and absolutely flawless. The sauce was pretty good. I expected a stronger flavor with a richer taste, but it was lighter than I expected. I very much enjoyed all of the pepper! As you can see from the noodles, it is coating everything very well. This yet again was another very different instant variety for me. 3.75 out of 5.0 stars.UPC bar code 4715635851007.

This is a great video of what its like at a Taiwan Night Market. Here’s a more guided tour.