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Flattening The Curve
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Credit: The Travel Intern
May 2019

Taiwan is a food lover’s paradise. From restaurants and tea houses to night markets, there’s no shortage of cheap and tasty eats in this country. 

One such place? Jiufen, first built by the Japanese as an old gold-mining town, but is renowned today as a popular day trip destination from nearby Taipei. Tourists come specially for a glimpse of the Japanese-influenced architecture, which was also an inspiration for Hayao Miyazaki’s whimsical film, Spirited Away. 

Of course, people also visit for the food served along Jiufen Old Street. From fragrant meat dumplings to saccharine cream puffs, you’ll definitely be spoilt for choice. Here’s our list of local street foods you HAVE to try when you’re at Jiufen Old Street. Oh, and our advice? Come hungry.

Savoury Eats

1. Jin Zhi Red Yeast Meatball Dumpling (金枝紅槽肉圓)

 

Jin Zhi Red Yeast Vegetarian Dumpling (金枝紅槽肉圓)
Address: No. 63, Jishan Street, Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan 224 (新北市瑞芳區九份基山街63號)
Opening Hours: 9AM – 7PM (Weekdays), 9AM – 9PM (Weekends)

The traditional meat dumplings at Jin Zhi are well-known for its distinct colour and taste —chewy gelatinous rice casings stuffed with tender pork meat that’s been soaked in red yeast (vinasse), which some even call an acquired taste, but definitely worth trying. We’ll let you be the judge ;)

If you’re looking for an alternative, there’s a vegetarian branch  (Jin Zhi Red Yeast Vegetarian Dumpling 金枝紅槽肉圓) a few stalls down that serves the mock meat version of these dumplings.

 


 

Another recommended dish to try at Jin Zhi is the Combination Meatball Soup (五味綜合丸湯). The dish offers five different flavours of meatballs to try — codfish, squid, pork, kimchi, and bamboo charcoal. The meatballs each have a springy texture, and taste delicious.  

Jin Zhi Red Yeast Meatball Dumpling (金枝紅槽肉圓)

Price: NT$45/pc of meat dumplings; NT$50/bowl of Combination Meatball Soup
Address: No. 112, Jishan Street, Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan 224 (新北市瑞芳區九份基山街112號)
Opening Hours: 10AM – 10PM (Weekdays), 9AM – 10PM (Weekends)

 

2. Jiufen Old Noodle Soup (九份老麵店)

 

You’ll find many types of noodles served in Jiufen, but one that you cannot miss is Jiufen Old Noodle Shop’s  Signature Beef Noodles (招牌牛肉麵). This hearty bowl of noodles contains soft and tender beef chunks that pair well with the spicy, herbal broth — a comforting meal to have rain or shine.

If you’re looking to add something extra to your meal, the shop also sells a wide variety of side dishes like century egg tofu and pickled vegetables.

Price: NT$120/bowl of Signature Beef Noodles
Address: No. 45, Jishan Street, Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan 224 (新北市瑞芳區九份基山街45號)
Opening Hours: 10:30AM – 7:30PM (Weekdays), 10:30AM – 8:30PM (Weekends)

 

3) Jiufen Ah Mu Buns (九份阿牧包子)

 

Set up over a year ago, Jiufen Ah Mu Buns  quickly gained fans and fame for its superb steamed buns. These buns are handmade using flour that’s fermented with natural yeast, giving them a soft texture and unique taste. 

 

The stall’s two bestsellers are the aromatic and sweet red bean bun, and the slightly spicy pork meat bun. Both buns are stuffed with a generous amount of fillings that are sourced from local organic farms, so you can expect high quality eats here. There are also other flavours available at the stall to try, such as milk buns and vegetable pork buns.

Price: NT$30/steamed bun 
Address: No. 5, Shuqi Road, Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan 224 (新北市瑞芳區豎崎路5號)
Opening Hours: 11AM – 10PM

 

4. Shi Mi Dian Jiufen First Stinky Tofu (食謎店 九份第一家臭豆腐)

 

Lonely Planet defines Stinky Tofu as one of the dishes that “nearly defines Taiwanese street food”, so this is one of the essential must-tries when you’re in Jiufen. It’s hard to miss it for sure — just follow the strong scent (or stench) down the street to Shi Mi Dian . This small eatery serves Stinky Tofu two ways: deep-fried or braised. 

The deep-fried version of Stinky Tofu has a pleasantly crunchy exterior and soft inside that isn’t too dry. It’s also served with some pickled vegetables to balance out the taste. The braised version is softer and juicier since the tofu soaks up the sauce, which boasts a little spicy kick.

Price: NT$35/Stinky Tofu dish
Address: No. 106, Jishan Street, Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan 224 (新北市瑞芳區九份基山街106號)
Opening Hours: 11AM – 8PM (Mon-Thu), 11AM – 9PM (Fri), 10AM – 9PM (Sat & Sun)


5. Wu Di Taiwanese Sausage (無敵黑豬肉香腸)


Wu Di Taiwanese Sausage  is a stall known for its sausages, but the lady boss who grills them easily outshines the food. Dubbed as the “Flower Lady”, you can easily identify her by the large flower she wears in her hair. She’s extremely friendly and also encourages people to take photos of and with her.


 

The snacks here are just as memorable. The Taiwanese Kurobuta (black pig) sausages the Flower Lady sells are cooked to tender and juicy perfection, and produces a satisfying crunch with every bite. There’s also squid ink Kurobuta and fish egg sausages available if you fancy trying other unique flavours. 

Price: NT$40/pc, NT$100/3pcs
Address: No. 85, Jishan Street, Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan 224 (瑞芳区基山街85号)
Opening Hours: 9AM – 7PM daily

 

Sugary Treats

6. Ah-Zhu Peanut Ice Cream Roll (阿珠雪在燒花生捲冰淇淋)


Watching how the people at Ah-Zhu  make this iconic snack will cause any sweet-tooth to drool. The adroit staff roll these bad boys up like clockwork: they first shave peanuts off a huge block of compressed candied peanuts on top of popiah skins. Then, two creamy taro ice cream scoops are added to the mix. Finally, the popiah is rolled into a yummy grab-and-go dessert ‘burrito’.


You can also opt to add parsley to your roll. It might sound strange, but the mild bitterness of the herb actually enhances the flavours to make it tastier.

Price: NT$40/roll
Address: No. 45, Jishan Street, Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan 224 (新北市瑞芳區基山街45號)
Opening Hours: 9AM – 7:30PM daily

7. Ah Lan Hakka Glutinous Rice Cake (阿蘭草仔粿)

 

 

A trip to Jiufen isn’t complete without savouring these delicious rice cakes. Ah Lan’s  traditional glutinous rice cakes are handmade every day, filled with fragrant ingredients that range from sweet red bean to salted vegetables. It’s no wonder both locals and tourists enjoy them so much, they buy several at one go. 

You can also get steamed taro cakes (芋粿巧), which are also popular. 

Price: NT$15/piece
Address: No. 90, Jishan Street, Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan 224 (瑞芳区基山街90号)
Opening Hours: 8AM – 9PM daily 

 

8. Grandma Lai’s Taro Balls (賴阿婆芋圓)

 

Even though you can get Taiwanese taro balls in Singapore, nothing beats enjoying this traditional dessert in its country of origin. Grandma Lai’s  is one of the oldest and most famous stalls in Jiufen that sells this bowl of goodness. You can have it either hot or cold, and it comes served with kidney beans and chewy balls made from taro, green tea and sweet potato.  

Price: NT$50/bowl
Address: No. 143, Jishan Street, Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan 224 (新北市瑞芳區基山街143號)
Opening Hours: 8AM – 8PM daily

 

9. Misty Cake (米詩堤甜點王國)

 

Misty Cake  is a dessert store selling a wide variety of baked goods like cakes, pastries and cream puffs. Many tourists frequent this place to chow down on their puffs, which are available in different flavours. It’s easy to see why they’re well-loved — one bite and the outer pastry layers crumble all around your lips, with the filling springing out an oozy surprise. 

If you’re in the mood for something cold, go for an ice cream puff. You can choose any two scoops of ice cream, which are then sandwiched between a large, freshly-baked puff pastry. 

Price: NT$50 – 60 for cream puff, ~NT$250 for ice cream puff
Address: No. 29, Jishan Street, Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan 224 (新北市瑞芳區基山街29號)
Opening Hours: 9AM – 6PM (Mon–Thu), 9AM – 7PM (Fri–Sun)

 

10. Saint Peter’s Coffee Nougat Snacks (聖比德 咖啡牛軋餅)

The size of these small biscuits from Saint Peter  may seem underwhelming, but the taste packs quite a punch. These chewy coffee-flavoured nougat biscuits are a highly popular souvenir that tourists like to bring home. Warning: these sweet treats are as addictive as they are light and convenient to carry around.  

Saint Peter also sells other snacks, like bite-sized nougat bars and scallion-flavoured nougat biscuits. There are other branches available in Taiwan, such as Tamsui and Ximending.

Price: NT$220/box of 30
Address: No. 93-2, Qiche Road, Ruifang District, New Taipei City (新北市瑞芳區汽車路93-2號)
Opening Hours: 12PM – 7PM

Happy eating!


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