I always have to save a lot of room in my suitcase for snacks from Taiwan on my trip back. The prohibition on meat and fruits and vegetables limit my options greatly, but I still load up on other snacks.
There are a few staple items I always get for myself and to give as gifts to friends. I thought I’d share a few pictures before I dived in and ate them.
Pineapple cakes are popular in Taiwan and can be found at almost every bakery. Every place makes their own and claims to be the best. A few years ago we really enjoyed the ones from Chia Te. Ever since then, my aunt always gets them for us to take home.
Pineapple cakes have a shortbread-like exterior which crumbles upon touch. The inside is filled with a pineapple jam-like filling. One of these days, I want to try making my own. These are probably the most requested item people ask me to bring from Taiwan. And don’t let the plain appearance fool you. These cakes are usually sold for about $1 a piece.
As I settle back into reality, I’ve been trying to take things easy in order to maintain the relaxation glow from vacation for as long as possible.
I originally wanted to make another dessert, but I ended up going with something simpler. Two mugs, minimal clean up, ready in about 5 minutes.
Soup dumplings (called Xiao Long Bao) are quite popular in Taiwan. Thin skinned dumplings are filled with pork and steamed. When they are steamed, they produce a lot of broth, causing a juicy morsel when you bite in. People who visit Taiwan love to visit the famous Din Tai Fung chain which is known for their soup dumplings. The chain has expanded across Asia and also has two locations in the US (Los Angeles and Seattle).
While the Din Tai Fung locations have a line out the door, they are mostly crowded with tourists, especially from Japan. Most Taiwanese people find Din Tai Fung to be overpriced and overrated, especially with so many other places produce XLB for cheaper.
On this trip we went to two locations: Su Hung Restaurant and Din Tai Fung.
Din Tai Fung
We had considered not visiting Din Tai Fung, but it’s been a tradition to go every time we visit. We love the soup dumplings, but that’s about the only thing we like there. I feel like the dumplings are a little overpriced and I don’t like the wait, but they are pretty good dumplings.
DTF is known for maintaining quality control at all their locations. You can watch the chefs making the dumplings and it’s a very precise process, including weighing each dumpling and have an exact number of pleats.
There are several locations in Taiwan, and we usually go to the newer ones which tend to be even more crowded. It so happened that we were in the neighborhood of the original location, so we decided to check it out.
Here is their adorable mascot.