Jess Food Therapy
 
Last time I went to Kenting, it was for our 6th grade camp. I still remember the busses filled with hyperactive, testosterone-driven boys and naive, chatty girls, all excited to go on a trip without their parents for the very first time. For almost all of us, it turned out to be one of the best memories throughout our young, adolescent lives.  Haunted trail, boogie boarding, team building, hiking, talent shows, communal dinners…the trip was a wonderful bonding experience. But surprisingly, the very best part of that trip had to be the 12 or more hours spent on the road. With no other choice but to sit through the long bus ride, new friends were made, old friends got closer, secrets were shared, crushes were revealed, first loves were formed. Ah, "the magic school bus." 

Fast-forward some 13 years. 

Half awake, I stumbled out of my apartment complex at 9’oclock in the morning to find a perky, smiley driver opening the door to a shabby, 8-person van.  As I clumsily climbed into the vehicle, I caught incoherent mumbles of what appeared to be “good mornings” and “hellos” from my groggy, absolutely-not-morning-people friends. Some were staring into space as they bit into their breakfast sandwich while others were already fast asleep.  I looked down at our weekend itinerary.

Destination: Kenting. Time: 6 hours (AT THE VERY LEAST)

“Oh boy,” I thought as I closed my eyes.  “This is going to be a long ride...” 


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For many of us, despite having lived in Taiwan for many years, it’s not often we would venture out the Taipei bubble. We would always travel out of the country, but rarely within. This time around, friends and co. decided to change up our repetitive weekend activities and give Taiwan a chance. To really “appreciate” Taiwan thoroughly, we passed up on the convenience of a train and decided to go with the old-school method of driving instead. And when I say "appreciate," I mean "pig out." 



Stop #1: Taichung 
(台中)

Our first stop of the trip was Taichung, the third largest city in Taiwan with a population of just over one million. Also known as Taiwan's "culture city," Taichung offers cultural attractions like museums, temples, art galleries and historical sites. But for my hungry companions and I, we were more into the local delicacies, like the suncakes (太陽餅), milk candy (牛軟糖), pineapple cake (鳳梨酥), chicken feet jelly (
雞腳凍)... 

But my Taichung highlight gots to be the Taiwanese "meatball" (肉丸). Normally not a big fan of 肉丸, this 60-year-old restaurant completely restored my respect for this local dish. At first look, it resembled every other 肉丸 you find in every alley of Taiwan. Gooey and transparent on the outside, it could pass for a block of clay. But as soon as I took the first bite, I was completely taken away by the perfect combo of the flavorful, tender pork meat/the soft, chewy dough/and the pungent garlic sauce that unified everything. Though the 肉丸 was fried, it was light and fluffy. Costing a mere 30NT, I could've had seconds or thirds if we didn't have a packed schedule in front of us. Addictive!! 

People: next time you're in Taichung, be sure to visit 台中肉丸60年老店 and bring me some to go!
Stop #2: Kenting (墾丁)

After probably 1000 tracks of songs, 10 rounds of games, 5 sessions of naps, and 2 more bathroom breaks, we finally arrived in Kenting. Yippy!

Hungry as hippos, we headed straight to the busy Kenting Street Market (墾丁大街) to get our night started. Aside from the myriad food stands, the street was packed with fun souvenir shops, eclectic restaurants, cheap-thrilled games, tons of out-of-towners, and 
pubs with not-so-hot trannies...

"Funny" I thought to myself, " not the Kenting I remember."
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Out of all the food stands, my favorite was 一品滷味. Can I say MARINATE HEAVEN? There are a couple famous marinate stands throughout Kenting Street Market, but ㄧ品 is by far the most OG of them all. The story goes that the owner started cooking since he was 16. After years of training, he then went off on his own with nothing but 500NT in his pocket. With that, he worked his way to opening up the first marinate stand in Kenting Street Market that's now visited by thousands of locals/tourists on a daily basis. Bravo!

We ordered three full plates of marinated tofu, tempura, pigs blood, daikon, broccoli, noodles, and more. We were finished and out the door in 20 minutes. Delicious! 
To our disappointment, after a long night of crazy fun and games, we woke up the next morning to an unwelcoming weather that Kenting's usually not known for. What could've been a lovely day of sailing, surfing, go-carting, paint-balling or just laying out on the beautiful white, sandy beaches... came down to staying dry, playing more games, and eating some more. 

It didn't turn out half as bad as we ate more of Kenting's seafood delights while also leveling up on our Taboo skills. 
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Stop #3: Tainan (台南)

Alas, it was time to say goodbye...

Before heading back home, we made one last stop in Tainan for lunch where we unexpectedly came to discover another 30NT bowl of wonder. It literally made one us cry from happiness. Located on 國華街, this obscure, little shop has no store name. It simply sells two items: Taiwanese herbal soup with intestines (四神湯) and minced pork over sticky rice (米糕). 

The 米糕 unconditionally, irrevocably stole all our hearts...

What seemed like a simple bowl of rice had such depth and warmth it left me scratching my head, wondering how it was ever concocted. And of course, the owner would not spill a single word. Rightfully so. That spoonful of sticky rice topped with marinated diced pork, homemade dried pork (肉鬆), and slice of vinegar cucumber will forever linger in my mind. 

Till next time, Tainan.

P.S. - we ended up going back and ordering 20 more 米糕 to go. 
Stop #4: Taipei (台北)

I watched as the beat-up van slowly drove away from my apartment complex.  I can't believe we've just survived lord knows how many hours in there, I thought to myself. How did the time ever pass us by? 

21 questions. Singing to Babyface. Rapping to Jay-z. Napping. Bejeweled. Heart-to-heart. Categories. Going down memory lane. 

I smiled. 

Fast-forward some 13 years, some things don't change.
jess #1 Fan!
8/16/2010

BEST FOOD BLOG ENTRY EVER!!

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Jess #2 Fan!
8/16/2010

Best food pix ever!

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Tina H
8/16/2010

awwwww :( makes me wanna go back! all the food we had was SOOOO good.. i espeically miss the 肉丸 and 米糕.. hopefully we can all take a trip down there again~! great job jess~!!

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Corinna
8/16/2010

That's wonderful~

i never getvtired of visiting Kenting~

in fact, i was there 3 wks ago!

http://tw.myblog.yahoo.com/whistlermybaby-20071214


but after reading ur blog, Gosh!

i must visit that "meatball" shop in

Taichung and that "sticky rice" shop in

Tainam~ aww...i am hungry now~


i gotta go find something first to ease


my hunger ahhaha~


XOXO~


Reply
8/16/2010

reading that whole blog made me salivate like non other!!!

Man, i kind of miss Taiwan now, lol. Thanks for the memories Jess!

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jess
8/16/2010

Thanks for your encouragement, everyone!!

Tina - Summer 2010 has been awesome and that trip topped it all off. It was fun reminiscing :)

Corinna - What a cute blog on Whistler! He's grown up so much. I cannot tell he's only 2! Big boy!

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Teddy Tu
8/17/2010

those pics are seriously legit...
good thing i just ate lunch.

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Soohye
8/18/2010

O wow,
I miss Taiwan so much more now!
always keeping eye on your blog! nice post!

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regular reader
9/3/2010

u are a food blog talent 人才, i'd know cause i read a lot of food blogs

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