The best thing our tour guide did for us was to place an order for us for scallion pancakes (炸彈葱油餅) from a famous stall at Jin San Jiao. The next best thing he did was to give us a really useful map of the Jin San Jiao area, marking out the best food stalls to go to.
Scallion Pancakes (炸彈葱油餅)
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And so, our one day tour of the Taroko Gorge ended at 5pm at Jin San Jiao, and we found ourselves dropped at a small street where the famous scallion pancake stall (炸彈葱油餅) was, to collect pancakes ordered early in the morning. Apparently, this stall is so popular among the locals that it is best to pre-order, otherwise, they may sell out and close early.
I am convinced of the popularity of this 炸彈葱油餅 stall. Just look at the crowd.
Stall closes between 5:00 – 5:30 pm, which explains why our driver was so eager to send us back early.
It was really difficult to squeeze myself in front of the crowd to take these pictures, but I just had to see for myself the process of frying these delectable pancakes.
Finally, the actual goods delivered into our hands. These scallion pancakes come in three degrees of spiciness – big, medium and small spicy （大辣， 中辣， 小辣). Highly recommended by the locals is the big spicy (大辣).
This is my big spicy pancake (大辣) vs Tommy’s small spicy (小辣). See the difference in the amount of red chilli between the two. After trying both, I still recommend the big spicy one – the chilli makes up part of the flavour of the pancake and having more of it really makes it taste better. Somewhere embedded in the pancake is a fried egg (which makes up the pun of the name of this pancake in chinese – it is as much a 炸蛋 as a 炸彈) so be careful because the yolk will burst out like a bomb and drip all over you!
Tip: The shops in the Jinsanjiao shopping area are laid out in a triangle, thus its name Jinsanjio, meaning golden triangle. This area is very well known not just for its shopping, but also for its fantastic Taiwanese street food.
Chanced upon this store called Poya (寶雅), which is apparently a growing chain of supermarket-like store in Taiwan, specialising in toiletries, skin-care and household products. In fact, I think they are better-stocked in terms of skin care products than Little Three (小三美日), Cosmed and Watsons. In fact, some of their products are sold at a cheaper price than the others, but that is if they have a sale/discount on that particular item. Definitely worth checking it out if you are in Taiwan.
Some of my skin care loots bought from Poya – at a much lower price than Cosmed/Watsons.
Mr Goose (鹅肉先生)
This stall selling cooked duck or goose is one of those few which was highly recommended by our tour guide. But he also said that since bird flu was very prevalent, it was better to avoid this altogether. No loss to us, because we never liked duck or goose very much.
Gong Zheng Bao Zi Dian (公正包子店)
Gong Zheng Bao Zi Dian (公正包子店) – another famous stall located in a small night market in Jinsanjiao. They sell all sorts of baos, even xiao long baos (小龍包) and judging from the large quantities that each customer places, they must be really popular.
Bought only one meat bao to try while saving our stomachs for other goodies down the road.
It tastes really good, although I won’t think that it is extraordinarily good.
Pineapple Tarts and Muah Chees
If you are in Hualien, you will find two kinds of shops in abundance – one is the one selling pineapple tarts, and the other is muah chee. Zhen Ji muah chee (曾记麻糬）is the dominant one, with a shop every few steps away – I am not exaggerating. So if you are planning to buy some, leave it till late unless you fancy carrying it all around with you.
You actually can walk in and ask to try some samples. Honestly, I never found any of it nice enough.
Even their advertisements and billboards are everywhere.
Bao Xin Fen Yuan (包心粉圓)
Bao xin fen yuan （包心粉圓) – another of the recommended stops marked out for us in our map.
Located in a small street, you’ll hardly see its existence unless you were looking out for it.
Was a little hesitant to try when I saw that this dessert contained large amounts of condensed milk, but at the urging of the shopkeeper and a promise to customise my dessert with reduced portions of milk, we finally relented.
My personalised serving of fen yuan (粉圓) made up of tapioca and glutinous rice balls in a syrup.
It comes with a bowl of finely shaved ice drenched in a mixture of condensed milk and brown sugar.
The way to eat this is to scope up one of the balls and mix it with a scope of shaved ice. Surprisingly, the flavour of the two compliments each other nicely. In fact, it left me wishing for more.
Stalls like this one selling niang-dou-fu type of noodles are everywhere on the streets.
Daiji Bianshi (戴记扁食)
The last food stop on the Jinsanjiao map is another one of the Hualien’s lao dien (老店) – Daiji Bianshi (戴记扁食) which sells some kind of noodle soup. The shop front didn’t look very enticing to walk in, and we decided to give this a miss, opting for the excitement of Zi Qiang night market which was not too far away.
Join us next as we bring you to Zi Qiang night market.