Jiufen (Taiwan)

Usually when we visit Taiwan, we stay in the main city of Taipei. On this last trip though, we took some time to visit other parts of Taiwan, including the city of Jiufen.

Jiufen is a popular tourist attraction that also serves as the backdrop for the movie Spirited Away. It’s a small town in northern Taiwan, that used to be a gold mining town. “Jiu” means “nine” in chinese, and it is said that there were originally only nine families living in the town, hence the name. When gold was discovered, the small little village became very popular and filled with families.

The village is located in the mountain, and the drive there was quite precarious. While my mom and brothers slept through most of it, my sister and I were too nervous to fall asleep as our driver guided us up the narrow paths. Once there, we saw many tourist buses. After I got out and saw this breathtaking view though, I immediately understood why so many people come up here.

Jiufen Old Street is the most popular tourist attraction for the village. It’s a road that runs through most of the village and is full of shops. Because it’s such a big tourist attraction, every vendor offers samples and tried to draw customers to their store. It was sort of like Costco multiplied by a hundred.

One of the foods Jiufen is most known for is taro balls, which is one of my favorite foods. They are chewy balls, similar to mochi, though it is made of potato flour and taro. It’s usually offered with other types of flavors like green tea and yams, creating an array of pretty colored balls. It’s usually served as a topping for shaved ice, in red bean soup, or sometimes in hot beverages.

I never ate monkey bread as a kid. I didn’t even know what monkey bread was until after I started blogging. Now I’m doing some major catch up for missed years with different monkey bread variations. My latest version: Nutella monkey bread.

Soft dough balls filled with gooey Nutella. Can you think of anything better?

A few months ago I had a taste of Surati Farsan Mart’s menu. You can read about my first visit here. I’ve been wanting to revisit ever since to check out more dishes. Last week, I finally got a chance again, meeting up with CC of Pink Candles of Ridgemont High. You can read her recap here.

You order at the counter, where they have paper menus with English descriptions of all the items. After we ordered, we grabbed a table and waited for our number to be called. You can view the menu here and here.

I got a little lazy with the picture taking, which I tend to do when I’m eating with other people. I was more interested in chatting so sorry for some of the haphazard pictures.

Mysore Masala  Dosa- Triangular crepe made of rice flour and lentils, stuffed with spicy vegetables and served with a vegetable soup. You’re supposed to pour the soup over the crepe, but I sort of just dipped mine.

I liked the texture of the crepes. Thin, crispy outside, a soft fluffy inside. I’m not sure why, but I do prefer the long rolled up crepes like the Masala Dosa I got last time.

Pani Puri- Small fried whole wheat pastry shells stuffed with beans, potatoes, sweet and spicy sauces, served with spicy mint flavored water.

These were surprisingly sweet, almost crossing into dessert territory. But they are also quite spicy. Probably the spiciest item we ordered.  I would have liked a little less heat.

Chole Puri- Cooked garbanzo beans mixed with spices served with deep fried whole wheat bread