Friday, July 20, 2018

Taiwan: All the Street Food at Jiufen Old Street!

I initially thought that I will be going to Jiufen (Jioufen) for some out-of-town Taiwanese village and culture sightseeing. It wasn't the case though.

Bustling Jiufen Old Street with lots of street food and markets.

A very popular street food in Jiufen, the Rou Yuan (Taiwanese meat roll).

When the shuttle bus (from Klook) dropped us off the parking lot, not too far away from the centre of Jiufen village, I wasn't really expecting to receive the massive interest of this village. It this a tourist trap? Why a large parking area for tourists? Why can't the driver just drop us off in the village?

Before anything else, check out these Jiufen Views.

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The entrance to Jiufen Old Street (see the sign with the monkey on the building).

It turned out that Jiufen is located on an elevated part of the mountains and the road going to the village are winding and narrow.

Because of the major tourism interest of this village, local authorities have elected visitors coming in buses and cars to park in a designated parking area a few kilometers from the village center. From here visitors can then take the local village bus to the village center. At least this solution will relieve a bit of the traffic situation on the main road.

Although I was already thinking -- This is going to be a super touristy place. Whatever, haha.

Where is Jiufen?

The village is located on the tip of Taiwan, approximate 45 minutes to 1 hour from Taipei, depending where you are located in the city.

So we were instructed where to get the bus (have to pay a few NT$) and get off in Jiufen, and what time should we come back to the parking area. All in Chinese! Luckily, I made friends with the Malaysian-Chinese family and they translated everything to me in English. It pays off to be friendly.

When I finally arrived at the center of Jiufen, I quickly spotted the entrance to Jiufen Old Street. Yeah, the famous Old Street where I thought I will find lovely Taiwanese architecture and culture, instead, I found loads and loads of FOOD STALLS and FOOD!

Food was literally everywhere and in every corner of the street. The sights and smells of different assortments of food that I have seen for the first time were endless. The colours, their strange shapes, the exotic textures and even their questionable designs were delightful, while some were fascinating enough and others, ambiguous. It is really a food discovery journey.

Nonetheless, the collection of aromas were exciting my tastes buds and I could not wait to eat. I was so elated to be in Jiufen because I adore food. So yeah, it looks like I went to Jiufen to food sightsee and eat. Not bad, huh.

In summary, Jiufen is a village with an open-air street food market in tiny alley settings and views to the Keelung City and the East China Sea. Well, there are nice tea houses as well. I have read that there are tours available which include tea at one of the pretty and traditional tea houses.

Would I recommend this day trip from Taipei City? Yes and No.

Yes, if you want to get out of Taipei City for half a day at least, see a bit of the country and eat. No, if this is not near your game plan.

This is my first street food treat just off the entrance of Jiufen Old Street: Grilled dried squid. Delicious! Reminds me of childhood days in Cebu, Philippines.

Red (mostly) and yellow lanterns adorn the narrow pedestrian food street market which is now partially covered by retail signs.

Lots of food retail stores and food-to-go stalls and food cooked while you wait. 

Ah, my second treat is this Chinese smoked sausage. Also reminds me of my childhood days in Cebu, Philippines. We normally add this sausage sliced in dried noodle dishes such as pancit canton.

I was very tempted to buy these.

There are many cafes and casual restaurants as well.

The penis didn't escape the food street craze here and marketing, haha.

The third street food treat! This is the Taiwanese meat rolls covered in gelatinous rice sheath or "Rou Yuan". They are very popular in Jiufen. It's quite good.

This very busy shop shows how they make Rou Yuan.

I had some free tea tasting =)

There are many tea shops in Jiufen. The popular and pretty ones are mostly full or have long waiting ones because tours sell their seats ahead of time.

This is one of the beautiful traditional tea shop and house. The tea house has a koi pond underneath and a lovely terrace. Unfortunately, the waiting line is long so I just lingered around in the shop.

In the shop, I found one of the most expensive tea. The price is NT$42,000 which is equivalent to 1,170 Euros in today's currency exchange rate.

Jiufen has so many narrow alleyways, you can easily get lost but because its small, you can also easily find your way again.

My fourth street food treat is the Peanut Ice Cream Roll. I really liked this. Loved the shaved peanuts in it and the chilled ice cream. This is highly recommended.

This has got to be my favourite street food in Jiufen. It is very refreshing, especially with the crowd, this was a nice almost end-of-the-day treat for me.

There were antique shops and home curiosa stuff sold in Jiufen as well.

This is the Taro ball sweet soup or "Yu wan". Didn't try this.

Just imagine the crowd! Did I say super touristy?

My last treat of the day in Jiufen: Some kind of egg cooked in spices and what have you. I like it actually. Found this in a stall just beside the bus stop. The lady manning the store noticed my curiosity and was kind enough to give this for free!

Travel Period: January 2017
Destination: Jiufen, Ruifang District (New Taipei City), Taiwan

Keep in touch and follow me on Facebook: Travel & Lifestyle Diaries by Dutched Pinay Travels
Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

All pictures were taken by a point and shoot pocket camera or a smartphone.

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