Kitchen Talk Tuesdays

What are Hong Kong Cart Noodles 車仔麵? (嗱喳麵)

Cart Noodles.

A steaming bowl of noodles, served in a light soy based broth with 3 toppings of your choice.

It sounds simple, but it’s really not. Each strand of noodles leaves a lingering taste of egg; the signature of all freshly made noodles. The broth, while subtle in flavor and depth, creates a smooth balance between the rich, almost-creamy-in-texture braised meats and the soft chewy al dente noodles.

You’re not just eating noodles either. With each bite of noodle, each slurp of the broth, you’re experiencing a bit of Hong Kong’s culture through one of their oldest and culturally iconic known noodles dishes.

Food Journey, Tainan, Taiwan

Gua Bao Cart “Tiger bites pig” 誠仔虎咬豬 [Tainan, Taiwan]

I was on my way home from one of my favorite Thai restaurants in Tainan, Taiwan when I stumbled across… you might’ve guessed it (or probably not), a food cart called 誠仔虎咬豬 or “tiger bites pig” that specializes in Gua bao.

Gua Bao is a traditional Taiwanese snack that consists of freshly steamed mantou stuffed with juicy thick slices of soy braised pork belly, garnished with cilantro, mustard greens and sprinkles of peanut powder and sugar. It’s sweet, savory, umami – all in one. A Gua bao made right is absolutely incredible; the flavors are intensely complex and rich, and the sour acidity of the mustard green balances the mouthfeel between the greasiness of the pork belly and the fresh peppery spiciness of the cilantro. It’s a snack that once eaten will leave you wanting for more.

I’m a fan of Gua bao (as if you couldn’t tell already). Whenever there’s an opportunity to eat one, I never hesitate. This food cart is exactly that case.

Kitchen Talk Tuesdays

What is Gua Bao 割包? (Also known as “tiger bites pig” 虎咬豬)

Taiwanese gua bao. A freshly steamed mantou bun sliced in half, stuffed with slices of thick, succulent pieces of braised pork belly, garnished with cilantro, and finished with a generous sprinkling of sugar and peanut powder. Mmmmm.

Gua bao (割包), alongside of milk tea, hot pot and popcorn chicken is a kind of food that can truly be representative of what Taiwanese cuisine is like. Found on the side of street sold by food vendors and making its way onto the menus of luxuriously lavish restaurants and hotels, Gua bao is served a myriad of ways: with fish, mustard greens, Taiwanese red sugar, whole peanuts, fried chicken, cucumbers, and even truffles.

Food Journey, Tainan, Taiwan

Sam’s soft-serve ice cream 霜淇淋 [Tainan, Taiwan]

You guys are probably going to hate me. I don’t know why, but I’ve never been a huge fan of soft-serve ice cream. It isn’t bad, but I prefer the texture of thick, creamy ice cream or the soft gooeyness of gelato.

That said, if someone tells me that there’s an amazing soft-serve ice cream in Tainan I have to try, you know I’m going to.

My friend made a recommendation the other day for Sam’s soft-serve ice cream, a small boutique ice cream shop on the touristy Shennong Street near the West Central District of Tainan, Taiwan. He said it was probably one of the better soft-serve ice cream he’s had in Tainan, and so of course after hearing that, I made it my mission to check the place out.