J and I both put on some weight after we moved to Taiwan in 2013 just because we were basically eating our way through the city and around the island. We have no end of love for Taiwan food.
Taiwan is actually a lot more diverse than people realize, though. It isn’t like you can only get one style of food here. Our favorite is Hakka food. There are a lot of Hakka people in Taiwan, especially where we live.
Some of the most popular American-Chinese dishes are Hakka in origin.
Hakka restaurants in Taiwan will serve traditional Hakka dishes as well as whatever is popular at the moment. (And loads of cheap beer.) For example, I never really ate meat skewers seasoned with cumin until I moved to Shanghai. But since we moved (back) to Taiwan in 2013, lamb and beef skewers have started showing up on the menus of the Hakka restaurants. Actually, it’s a Uighur dish from western China.
But I am not the food police. I just enjoy what everyone is bringing to the table.
Anyway, here is a list of what we order when we go all out at a Hakka restaurant.
J can literally eat two plates of these oysters by himself. The man does nothing by halves. But for real, a battered and fried oyster seasoned with pepper-salt on a shrimp cracker with a bit of crispy fried basil…next to a blow job, it’s the closest you’re gonna get to sex in your mouth.
My favorite version is made by my buddy who knows that foreigners don’t love super-fatty pork belly. She makes it with leaner cuts of meat, we grill it up: perfection. All the other versions are nearly as good, though. I’ve been here long enough to eat pork fat like I’m into it.
Pork and bamboo
So this is one of my favorite dishes, but I only ever get it from one Hakka restaurant in Zhongli called Papa’s Secret Lover. I love bamboo so much.
This dish is super popular in the U.S. and with foreigners here. I prefer the dry version made with dried peppers and peanuts, hot peppers and scallions. There are also delicious saucy versions made with bell peppers, onions, and carrots, too.
This is really special! I never saw it back in the U.S. It’s made with dried squid, pork belly, spring onions, and whatever else. We always order it when we go to a Hakka place.
I tried and failed to recreate this crispy-on-the-outside, delicately-soft-on-the-inside tofu dish and the requisite dipping sauce. Now that we’re back in Taiwan, we can have it whenevs.
If you’re into Chinese food, you’ve probably had sweet and sticky three-cup chicken. The sauce is supposed to be made with a cup each of soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sesame oil. But you can also get three-cup squid, and we’ve even had three-cup frog. I don’t think this is Hakka, but I always look for and find it on the menus of Hakka restaurants here.