I work on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings, so I have nothing to look forward to except extra playground time with the students I see every day during the week. But since I don’t drink lots of sweet coffee drinks every day like I used to, Friday is my day for caramel macchiatos and xiao long bao from the best little vendor in Chung Yuan.
The reason this picture is so vague and far away is because I am too scared to be like, “Can I take a picture?” Instead, I creep around the streets like a nutter taking photos and shuffling away.
Here is another surreptitious photo I took:
“Soup dumplings” are awesome: they’re delicious little meatballs wrapped in a noodley casing that leaks a flavorful broth when you bite into them. And the hot sauce this guys gives away with each box is downright addictive. I’m practically purring by the time I take my first bite. Here’s a picture of my lunch most Fridays:
Also…don’t get mad now, but that box cost NT$50, which is like US$1.66. It’s been the same price since I first went there in 2007 or so. I was having a laugh about how cheap and delicious they were with the owner of this tea shop (scroll down), which I also started frequenting in the late ‘aughts.
“You ever been to Din Tai Fung?” she asked me. That’s a Michelin-starred dumpling restaurant that first opened in Taipei, but now has branches all over the world. Same little soup dumplings, but a lot pricier and you generally have to make reservations weeks in advance or risk standing in line for a long time.
“Yeah! Super expensive and not any better! Actually, I think the ones over there are better.”
Here’s the tea shop where I get my iced caramel macchiato to keep me from getting parched while giving my students their Friday spelling tests. Obviously I hid across the street when taking this photo, too:
I was so excited when I came back after four years and found out that not only was this place still open, but they actually have franchises around the city now. My enthusiasm was slightly dampened when the mom/owner recognized me and she was like, “Wow! You got fat! What happened?” and then later when the daughter said, “You’ve been studying Chinese for so long, why is your Chinese still so bad?” At least we still have our favorite tang bao in common…and neither of them were looking none too thin, anyway.
I grab a spring roll from this place (scroll down) for dinner a couple nights a week. Traditional Chinese spring rolls (LOOK AT HOW THEY TRANSLATED IT AS “TRADITIONAL CHINESE BURRITOS” OMG LOL) are thin cakes stuffed mostly with boiled vegetables and just a pinch of pork floss (that’s a thing) and like three shitty little strips of pork. My Chinese friends insist they aren’t bad for you, they cost NT$35 (like about a US dollar), they are crazy filling, and I can get one and finish it off at 7-11 in the short time I have between classes.
I would have liked to get a picture of the store front, but the owner really wanted me to take this picture standing in front of the restaurant. This is me in my awesome teaching clothes. You’re welcome.