You may have noticed we’ve been playing a handful of Taiwan-related events of late (perhaps something to do with the Island X album). Well, one thing we’ve learned from these shows is that it ain’t a real Taiwanese event if it ain’t all about the food. By this standard, Toronto’s Taiwanfest this past weekend was legit Here are photos of some of the dishes we snagged, after finagling with some vendors — either take our American dineros, or prepare to witness our slow and whiny starvation through the weekend.
1. Bee-guh. This is a sticky sweet rice with stewed pork, mushrooms and pickled vegetables. Cilantro garnish and cucumber, sliced carrots and cabbage sides. This dish typically comes in the shape of an upside-down cone with the tip lopped off. it was yummy! Hoisin or sriracha sauce optional.
2. Fried Corn Fish This was a Japanese dish – the fish was presented on skewers with bits of delicious nori flakes sprinkled on top. Some tempura vegetables, seaweed salad and rice with unagi sauce. We weren’t sure what about this dish constituted “corn,” but there you have it.
3. Milk Tea (Nai-Cha, or Boh-Bah, which I believe translates into “big boobs” … presumably a reference to the large juicy tapioca balls) And of course the Taiwanese specialize in some of the most delicious tea and milk drinks. We had five complimentary beverage tickets for our long drive home, so Em went on an ordering rampage and got two green tea and milk smoothies with red bean (note the splash of color from the red bean in the drink in the forefront). The red bean was blended inside the drink too! A little rich for a long van ride home but super tasty. She also got iced honey lemon aloe tea.
4. Oyster Omelette (Oh-ah Tzen) OK, I concede that, from most angles, this dish resembles a slop of sidewalk vomit. (And it actually wasn’t the best I’ve had.) HOWEVER. May I please declare in a loud overconfident voice that the dish as a concept and when done well (like some places in Taiwan) is … immaculate. Oysters sprinkled inside a chewy rice and egg pancake, with that pink-orange sauce drizzled on top! This one had lettuce in it, but I think other places use other kinds of greens.
5. Taiwanese Fried Chicken This dish is actually a pretty rare find, which makes it all the more precious to me. In recent memory, I’ve only had it in Rockville at some Taiwanese restaurant. Basically, if you love dark meat and fried food (um…everybody), damn are you in for a treat. I wonder if this dish may be a twin sister dish to the delicious Karaage fried chicken served at Japanese restaurants (which, psst, you can get at the new Izakaya Seki in DC, and also at Kuboya in NY).
6. Bah-tzahng (Zhong-zi in Mandarin) Last but not least, this green triangular thingamajig to the right of the oyster omelette. Just because the bah-tzahng didn’t get its own feature photo doesn’t mean it ain’t just as scrumptious and deserving of space in your belly. This is a brown sticky rice dish where the rice is wrapped in two long bamboo leaves into a highly recognizable triangular shape. The rice is infused with special, rich, dark spices and each bundle typically features a piece of pork (or two, in which case the second piece is usually a piece of pure fat), a slice of mushroom, a sliver of brown egg (“loh-neng”), and cooked peanuts. If you’re lucky your bah-tzahng might have pickled veggies on which you can crunch and munch your way to heaven’s gate.
All the people working the food kiosks were so cute and sweet. I asked an older man and woman at the register to remind me how to say the “bee-guh” dish in Taiwanese and they happily obliged. I walked away smiling, they reminded me of mom and dad! They were so adorable. *s