Taipei Day Two: Food

The story of our second day in Taipei has been given away in the title, but we ate a lot. You could even say we got stuffed. While no Michelin stars were involved today, we went to some pretty fantastic places!

After the second day in a row sleeping in late, hunger dictated our first move of the day. Prior to departing for Taiwan, I had found a comprehensive list of 32 places that one needed to go to chow down in the capital. I mention this because that knowledge was called upon to establish the day’s itinerary. Since there’s a high density of recommended joints around the Taipei Main Station, we initially were planning to venture there. However, our wonderful host was there and immediately chimed in with a small place: Lan Jia Gua Bao. While the fare generally consists of pork belly buns and some other soups, it was so well done. Also, my mom mentioned that it was a haunt of hers when she was a student; it wasn’t hard to see why! A recurring theme is how simple (and inexpensive) yet so delicious the food was. I mean, it was pork with some thin vegetables and some sauce in a bun. Absolutely mind-boggling how good this combo was! My favorite of the three soups was the beef knuckles with corn, as you never thought it could so positively influence the overall taste. However, my brother’s stomach was adversely affected by this, and it threw him for a loop for several hours later. Understandably so, as having that amount of grease that early isn’t for everybody. While he needed some time afterwards to recuperate, my mom and I headed ten feet across the road to grab bubble tea to wash down the meal. This place in particular was hyped by a blog specializing in food, but to be honest it wasn’t as good as it was made out to be. After that, we headed over to a small park outside Taiwan’s number one university, National University of Taiwan. Luckily we didn’t have much to do so our main concern was to find internet cards for our phones; you do truly feel strange not having the internet at your fingers, let me tell you. To make a long story short, both my mom and brother were unable to have the card work since Verizon denied it, while mine worked.

After heading back to the Airbnb for some time to recuperate, mom and I set out one metro stop in an attempt to pick up some food from a local market as well as get a new pair of glasses for me. The former was accomplished, albeit not to the degree we’d imagined, and the latter task will be finalized on the second (as the lens master will get proper lenses by then). So, we were relatively satisfied how things turned out. But, before that, we made up for the disappointing bubble tea from a few hours earlier with much better: chocolate latte bubble tea. Weird, yeah? Not at all. Especially, it was cocoa with an Asian blend to it, and boy oh boy was it a nice dessert. This then concluded the afternoon’s itinerary, as it was time to rest for a few hours before our evening festivities started.

Back in the good old days, my mom taught English as a grad. As it turned out, we were going to meet up them for dinner with their family, which was a nice reunion/meeting. So, after freshening up and passing by the Taiwanese president’s residence, we were there to commence the night of lots of food. Think that’s hyperbole? Let me introduce you to the wonder that is Chinese hotpot, aka an orgy of food. How it works is that you have a pot whose heat you can regulate; some people divide this into two parts. The waiters do their part by constantly plying you with as much beef, pork, and vegetables until you simply cannot eat. And despite how simple (where have I said that before?) things looked, it was deceivingly filling. But hey, that literally was my first hotpot dinner in almost five full years, so I wasn’t going to hold back. Eventually, we all were feeling some heartburn and decided to call a taxi home. For my mom, she was thankful to see her friends for the first time in two decades. For my brother and I, we were happy to meet her old students and their families. What a night!

Despite the unfortunate aftereffects of the lunch, the day did turn out to be productive and ended on a high note. For now, that would be the last time we’d be in Taipei for 2018, as we would be leaving to other cities and not return to the capital until after the new year. More adventures await!

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