Taiwanese cuisine features a number of regional local specialties that continue to be perfected throughout current generations. Tu Hsiao Yueh is a family owned restaurant that originated in the southern part of Taiwan, renowned for the development of the widely popular Tan Tsai or Danzai noodles. Today, the fourth generation of the family runs the restaurants, sharing their great-grandfather’s dishes with the world.
Tainan is the Former Capital of Taiwan
Tainan literally translates to “Southern Taiwan” and is the fourth largest city, after Taipei, Kaohsiung, and Taichung. It is the oldest city on the island and is famous for its history and relics.
The Chinese first settled in this part of Taiwan in 1590. Shortly thereafter, the Dutch arrived and used Tainan as their homebase for trade between China and Japan. The Dutch remained in power from 1624 until 1662, when they were expelled. A few years later, the Qing dynasty regained control and chose Tainan as the capital of Taiwan in 1683. Tainan remained the capital of Taiwan until 1887, when it was decided to move the capital north to Taipei.
Tainan’s early history and cultural diversity helped paved the way for the delicious snack foods that the city is well known for today.
Tainan Local Specialties at Tu Hsiao Yueh
Danzi, or Tan Tsai Noodles (50 NT or $1.50 US) is the signature dish of the restaurant and was developed by local fisherman, Hung Yu-tou, back in 1895. This is a delicious dish featuring a shrimp broth base, filled with delicious noodles, and topped with minced pork and spices.
Milk Fish Maw is delivered fresh daily. This milkfish is carefully selected from Chigu (in Tainan). It is served with fresh lemon juice. Milkfish (Chanos chanos) is a popular fish found throughout Asia, especially in South East Asian countries like the Philippines, where it is known by the Tagalog name, bangus.
The Gold Shrimp Roll is another specialty item of Tainan. It is another item delivered daily from Tainan to the Taipei locations.
Steamed Meat Balls (90 NT or $2.75 US) are filled with fresh shrimp and the special minced pork, and rolled in a special dumpling-like coating, then steamed. The meat balls are topped with a special sauce, which reveals the typical taste of Tainan foods.
Tu Hsiao Yueh offers a number of other great dishes as well, all at very reasonable prices. An average meal runs around $5-$7 US.
Tu Hsiao Yueh Locations in Taiwan
The fourth generation of the founding family has opened multiple locations of the restaurant in Tainan and Taipei. This is a huge expansion from the small noodle stand their great-grandfather started back in 1895.
The main location is at 16 Jung-jeng Road, Tainan City, phone: 06-2231-744, and business hours are 11:00am – 12:30am. Tu Hsiao Yueh is a five minute cab ride from the Tainan train station.
The other location in Tainan is the Banquet Room at 101 Jung-jeng Road in Tainan. Their telephone number is 06-2231-744, and they have the same operating hours as the main location.
The first location in Taipei is near the Zhongxiao – Dunhua MRT stop, opposite the back door of the Ming Yao Department Store. The address is No 12, Alley 8, Lane 216, Sec 4, Chung Hsiao East Road. The phone number is 02-2773-1244 and their business hours are Monday – Saturday 11:30am-11:00pm, and Sunday only until 9:30pm.
The second Taipei location is near the Minquan West Road MRT stop at: No 180, Zhongshan N. Road. Their telephone number is 02-2585-1880 and business hours are: Sunday – Thursday 11:30am-10:30pm, Friday and Saturday until 11:00pm.
The newest Taipei location is on the famed Yong Kang Street. Yong Kang Street features a number of great restaurants, including the original location of Din Tai Fung, famous for their Shanghai Soup Dumplings. The address for Tu Hsiao Yueh is No 9-1 Yongkang Street, and their telephone number is 02-3393-1325. The business hours are 11:00am – 10:30pm.
Taiwan Food Guide
Located just off of China’s southeastern coast, Taiwan is a small island with a big appetite. Eating is an integral part of its culture, a fact that is illustrated by the plethora of restaurants, cafes and temporary stalls that line the streets. The food is influenced by a rich mix of mainland Chinese, Hakka, Japanese and native Taiwanese cuisines, making it as varied as it is plentiful.
Danzi noodles – Also known as “slack season noodles,” this dish is a shrimp-based soup consisting of noodles topped with stir-fried minced pork and a single shrimp. Invented more than a century ago, the dish’s creator was a fisherman from Tainan city who made money selling the soup during the slack season.
Ba-wan – The name of this traditional Taiwanese snack literally means “meat circle.” It is made by steaming a ball of chewy, gelatinous dough stuffed with a pork and vegetable filling. Prior to serving, ba-wan is typically deep-fried or poached in oil, and then doused in a thick sweet sauce.
Pearl Milk Tea – Also known as bubble tea or jenju-nai-cha in traditional Chinese, this drink was invented in Taiwan in the 1980s and is made by adding tapioca balls to cups of sugary milk tea. Jenju-nai-cha was originally served hot; however, it has since gained popularity as a cold beverage.
Thin Noodles with Oysters Soup – Oh-ah-mi-suann is a mild Taiwanese dish made from slender noodles and oysters cooked in a thick broth. It is considered to be one of Changhua county’s specialties.
Tian-bu-la – This deep-fried Taiwanese snack is frequently sold at street carts. Modeled after Japanese tempura, tian-bu-la is made by deep frying various meats and vegetables and seasoning them with salt, pepper and chili powder.
Dumplings – Taiwan’s dumplings are served morning, noon and night and are available in boiled, fried or steamed form. Some common fillings include shrimp, pork and kimchi.
Taiwanese Oyster Omelet – Also known as oh-ah-jian, this popular Taiwanese food is made from eggs, greens and shucked oysters mixed with water and potato starch. The resulting dish is best described as a pleasantly chewy cross between an omelet and an oil pancake. Oh-ah-jian is served topped with a sweet and savory red sauce.
Stinky Tofu – The saying, “Don’t knock it ‘til you try it” was made for this famous Taiwanese dish. Stinky tofu, or chou-dofu, is made from deep-fried fermented bean curd topped with pickled vegetables. Despite its pungent odor, those who dare to try it describe chou-dofu as having a surprisingly mild flavor.
Tsua-bing – Taiwanese shaved ice, known as tsua-bing, is a versatile treat made from shaved ice topped with ingredients such as fresh fruit, cereal, nuts and azuki beans. Both light and refreshing, tsua-bing is the perfect dessert for a hot summer night.
From refreshing desserts to piping hot street snacks, Taiwanese cuisine encompasses a diverse mix of cooking styles, flavors and ingredients that will entice even the least adventurous traveler.
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