The world is rushing, the world is stress, and it makes us lose the joy of the simple things. But it is those simple things that make our souls stronger and healthier. There is nothing more refreshing like taking a walk in the afternoon while only thinking of the beautiful colors of the flowers, or the song of the birds. The hectic world makes us grow too dull and we let ourselves be beaten forgetting that our souls need laugher, music, and sweeties.
A delicious delicacy from my country that I am dying to introduce to you.
You can a dish called “Tamale” (rhymes with “Bali”) in almost all countries in Latin America. But it is more traditional in the area of Mesoamerica, that is Mexico to Costa Rica. However, each country has its own speciality and they are all different in their own way.
Over all, it is masa made from maize, filled with mysterious ingredients and wrapped and steamed in a special leaf.
If you have been in a Chinese-speaking country, like Taiwan, you can think about it as a ZongZi (粽子) or Rice Dumplings. You know! the one eaten mostly for the dragon boat festival. If you are not so sure about this festival, maybe you want to check out my post about the Dragon Boat in Tainan.
Zongzi to the left, Tamale to the right
The main difference between the Zongzi and Tamale, besides the obvious shape is that the ZongZi is made from rice and not masa.
Masa Made from Maize
Masa is the Spanish word for dough, but if I straightly write “dough”, you might think that Tamales are made of wheat flour. The dough for tamales is made from corn, but not the yellow corn, it is made from the white one. We usually use the word “corn” to refer to the yellow one and the “maize” to the white one.
This was a simple explanation, but let me give you some interesting details. The flour made form the white corn is called “Nixtamal”. This word is in “Nahuatl”, a local language, and it is formed from the words Nextli, meaning “ashes” and Tamalli which means “uncooked corn dough”.
I say “mysterious”, because it depends on the ingredients to determine the kind of tamale.
The traditional Guatemala Tamale only has recado (thick tomato sauce) with chicken or pork meat….. maybe olives, but actually adding any other ingredient would stop it from being really traditional. However, in other countries they do add other vegetables and they are also delicious.
You can eat a tamale at anytime, but on Saturday evenings tamale-selling-places get a red lantern out to indicate they have tamales for sale. Another traditional time to have this delicious food is for Christmas. However, because of the amount of time it takes to make them, we do not usually make them at home, which means that at the beginning of December we go crazy making our tamales order with the person who, to our opinion, makes the tastier tamales of all. Tamales make the perfect combination for our traditional Christmas day. And this year will be the first time in 9 years, that I will have tamales for Christmas again, I am so excited for this.
The Special Leaf
The mixed dough and the ingredients are wrapped in banana leaf and steamed until ready. But do not worry, you do not have to eat the leaf, this would be hard to do, and I guess not very tasty. However, tamales are traditionally presented still with their leaf, and it has to be nicely tucked in.
In Guatemala there is a large variety of tamales, the difference mostly depends on the ingredients and size.
Tamales blancos (White tamales): Made only with the dough and wrapped in corn leaf.
Tamalitos de Chipilin (Small tamales of Chipilin): Also wrapped in corn leaf, but the dough is mixed with chipilin. This is a leaf that grows mostly in Guatemala and Honduras. These are one of my favorite types of tamales and I love to eat them with with cheese.
Tamalitos de Elote (corn tamales): The dough of these ones is made from the yellow corn, and they are a little sweet.
Chuchitos (no translation): They have a bell shape and they are made only with the dough and thick tomato sauce. I love to have these as an afternoon snack.
Tamal Negro (Black Tamale): They are sweet. Some sugar is added to the dough and instead of vegetables, purnes and raisins are used. But even though they are sweet, they are still made with chicken.
Paches (no translation): These are the sames as tamales, but instead of the corn dough, potatoe is used.
Wow… writing so much about tamales made me hungry, but thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed my article.
Not to be confused with Popeye, the spinach eating guy in the cartoon!
In a mood for a light meal?
Well, Tainan has many beautiful hidden places to eat, and this has to be one of the most hidden ones. But make sure not to miss it, since it has great pies and a magical atmosphere.
Here is the location:
The place is cosy and well decorated, check it out!
Ok, so it is time to order!
You are usually required to order a set, it includes a soup and a well dressed salad. Check out the nice detail of giving you a wooden spoon!
The soup I got is pumpkin and the pie I order is mushroom and chicken. It was a great combination and they were both of great taste. I absolutely recommend this place to change the daily routine of the traditional lunch boxes in Taiwan.
The coffee I ordered is a Vienna cafe, it was good, but nothing extra-ordinary. But overall I liked it!
They also offer green tea. Just as the coffee it was good, not nothing too memorable.
So conclusion, the drinks are just ok, but the pies are delicious, it is a place worth giving a try.
Thank you for reading!
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I am rating this awesome place because it is one of my favourites, but it is not necessary to state how good it is, because everybody already knows that this place is incredible. I just want to let more people know what they are missing if they haven’t tried it. Although it is very easy to find physically and online, since it has already been rated and talked about in many other web pages. But perhaps you just came to Tainan and just don’t know where to go for a great meal. Here, let me introduce to you the Artful Dodgers.
It is promoted like an English bar/restaurant, but the truth is they not only serve fish-and-chips but western style food. You know, a little bit of Latin American food (like quesadillas), a little bit of North American food (burgers), Mediterranean food (like Greek salad, one of my favourites), and of course, European (meat pies, exquisite English breakfast, and one of the best pasta in town).
Besides their spectacular regular menu, they also have specials, varying from roast beef, to curry and other special dishes. The place is truly awesome. Personally I love to get brunch here, as the atmosphere makes feel more like in Europe than in Taiwan. And the service is also very good, the staff always receive you with a welcoming gesture, either in English or in Chinese
But my favourite time to go is Friday night, it is lady’s night and we girls get discount on drinks, plus an absolutely delicious truffle.
Their drinks menu is also a good reason to go, great variety of beer, cocktails and wine. If you have wandered in the wine section of this blog, you will be able to find their red Cabernet Sauvignon and the newly added Pinot Grigio.
No matter the time of the day, I just simply love to go there with my friends and share together a wonderful time.
Now, let me tell you a little anecdote… When I first discovered this place, I noticed that my male friends took unexpected long time in the bathroom, but, of course, it would not have been polite to ask. One day, one of my friends came out staring at a picture in his phone and then enthusiastically showed us. We felt a little awkward, but then it all became clear. There is a Titanic poster with details about the ship, take a look:
If you are in Tainan and feel like a wonderful none-Asian meal, here is your place to go.
The SunShower rating is
And if you are wondering how to get there, here is the location:
It’s open every day except on Tuesdays.
They have recently made some udgrades, I am eager to go check it out!!!
Thank you for reading!
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Aren’t night markets just amazing? It the first thing you gotta do when you visit a city in Taiwan! You can eat, drink, shop and even play some fair games.
They are crowded and noisy but at the same time lively and fun. One can never leave the night market with an empty stomach or a frown. And they are one of the things that throughout the years that I have lived in Taiwan, they never changed. Sure some of the store aren’t there any more and there are new ones instead, but the culture of the night market never changed.
As amazing as the can be, there was always one tiny thing that is slightly annoying. It is really bad when you first come to Taiwan, and then, with time one learns to accept the reality, and that is, vendors are not going to speak English. Off all the stores, maybe just around 10% of them have English menu, and the for rest you just gotta use your ability of sight and smell to know what they are selling. This is not such a terrible thing, since it works most of the times, but also it happens very often that one can misjudge a certain food. This could be disgusting or tragic, disgusting becase perhaps something you though was going to be delicious isn’t, and tragic because you restrain yourself from eating something you might actually really enjoy.
But guess what? Tainan is changing!!!
A few weeks back we were invited to an activity. It was supposed to be a foreigners friendly night. We were told that they were going to take us to the night market and give us some money to spend there. Well, it is a free ride and free money, so let’s go. What we didn’t know is that the best was yet to come!!!
It was not only the foreigners friendly night, but the beginning of a new era for Tainan night markets. As it turn out the Tainan’s city government, with the support of STUST (Southern Taiwan University of Science and Technology ) organized a program where students help night market vendors to translate their menu into English. The students get to practice their English while contributing to society and the vendors get their menus in English for free.
Sadly some of the vendors refused to take part of this initiative indicating that they do not need it. In some cases it is because they already had English menus. Either the case, from now on, the foreigner friendly stores will have a flag indicating the English service.
This service is only found in Tadong Night Market (Open on Monday, Tuesday and Friday), WuSheng Night Market (Open on Wednesday) and the Flower Garden Night Market (Open on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday)
Congratulations and thanks are in orders to the organizers of this service.
I am personally proud and deeply happy to see this happening.
Just like this Tainan, this beautiful city, is taking part of the inevitable globalization.
Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed my article.
Luuuuuuuuuuuunch time, but what should you eat? There is a great variety of food in Nantai St. that you just gotta love. But still, between all these wonderful choices you might not know where to go. Let me help you a little, here is a list of the restaurants I like best. I take into consideration the price, quality of food and cleanness. Let me know if you also agree with this list.
Before starting the list I want to make room for a special guest.
This is not really for lunch, but they are open from 6am to 2pm, and they do have lunch selections. But their breakfast is so good that it is perfectly fine to have it as brunch.
Between the copier store in the corner and Yo-yo.
Some people call it the “triangle store”, due to the food triangle at the back. They have good service, good food, they keep clean and they have English menu. [I know ’cause I translated it =). ]
I personally like the Chinese Omelette with ham and corn. But why not try the one with bacon and cheese? They also have the american breakfast and the delicious, never disappointing club sandwiches.
If you are looking for something sweet, they also have jam, chocolate and a luring coconut butter, you gotta try it.
If you are just looking for breakfast and Aina is close, try the store in the front. They are also good, and also have English menu.
Top 5 of great place for lunch at Nantai St.
5. Turkey Store.
It is very easy to miss, since there there is only a small turkey in their menu. But they sell these excellent Turkey sliced meat, with 4 different types of vegetable that you can chose. Very healthy, specially because you can ask them to give you more vegetables instead of rice.
4. Honey Pork
They sell exactly that. There is a nice piece of fried pork and they cover it with a honey sauce. You can chose 3 types of vegetables. And It only costs NTD 60. In their menu it is the first option.
They also have Honey Chicken, but I usually do not take that one, because it comes with bones.
3. Dumplings store
This is a chain of stores. They have the very famous dumplings and the absolutely delicious fried dumplings. Between the options they have Korean kimchi flavor, curry and corn. I like to take them with some noodles, either in soup or dried.
I am sure you will love this place.
2. Hot Plate
Actually there are many names international students refer to this restaurant. The cat’s place, the wooden restaurant or hot plate.
I fell in love with this place with their chicken gratin rice with mushroom sauce. But one of the favorite selections are the sizzling noodles with different sauces and chicken or meat.
One of the things I love about this place it the service, they have English menu and there is corn soup for you to take. They also bring you a nice pitcher of black tea, and overall the owner is very nice.
It is not really Italian, and the Eiffel tower in their wall, makes you doubt what kind of food they were aiming for. If you got there expecting Italian food, you will end up disappointing, but if what you want is a good meal, then it is your place.
The reason I did not rank it higher is because it is probably the most expensive of all. Notice that in all the other restaurants you will spend between NTD 60 – 90, but this Italian place is more than NTD 100.
They have good curry, nice puff soup and one of the few places that have western cutlery. The place is nice, clean and it has aircon. You won’t be disappointed
They have great variety, and prices. Noodles, spaghetti, fried rice, instant noodle, gratin rice, clamp soup. All of these in a nice, clean restaurant. I will not speak anymore, as just talking about this place makes me hungry, you just gotta try it.
Other nice restaurants around Nantai
Not really pizza, more like bread with tomato sauce and cheese, but the place is really nice.
Restaurants a little farther Away
Fried Rice Behind S Building.
It is a little hidden and not many people know about it, but it has THE BEST fried rice around. Don’t miss it.
It is on the main street, sizzling hot plate with noodles and real meat. You’ll love it.
Well, it is absolutely a great place, I should rank it as the best, but it is way more fancier that anything else around, of course more expensive, but it is worthy.
It is on the way to the hot pot. It is not between my favorites, but I many of my friends like it, so why not give it a try.
The Hot Pot
If it is your first time in Asia, you can’t miss eating Hot Pot. They will bring the food raw and give you hot pot where you can cook it. This particular hot pot is perfect for first timers, because you can order just what you want to eat. You will love this place at the same time that you will be really full.
This awesome place opens at 4 pm and closes at 2 am
There are so many awesome places around here, and the list is not over, I will be soon posting about late night snacks! Don’t miss it.
I have to admit, my friends and I had a lot of fun for the sake of this post. So I hope you enjoy eating at Nantai St. as much as we do.
Special thanks to: Grexxen and theSaltyAvocado for posing for me in the pictures and accompany throughout this post.
Would you rank the restaurants in the same way? Tell in me in the comments. And now that we are at it, why not go on and FOLLOW this amazing blog. LIKE?
I came to Taiwan a few years ago. At that time I had a friend who once told me that he will take to the best Italian restaurant in town. He swore that it was the place with a taste so good that it was almost like the real Italian.
He wasn’t lying. It is really good!
All this time has passed and green olive keeps its delicious Italian taste. It is one of the few places that has remain steady all this time.
One peculiarity of Taiwan is that restaurants last for only a short period of time. You find a restaurant you like, then one day you realize that the amount of people has significantly lower and then the next time you want to go, baaaam! it is gone! the entire building is gone!!!! Restaurants here are demolish completely and a brand new store takes its place. Don’t ask why, it is just the way.
But Green Olive is still here, and it still looks good, clean and neat. They have kept their good service and very importantly the details that made fall in love with this restaurant years ago.
Their menu is varied, they not only Italian food, but also curry, salads and soups. But my personal favorite is the Chicken breast with cream sauce. For me it is the best and I can assure you will not regret it.
Their Garlic bread is also delicious, made with real baguette and good garlic.
Aaaand they have smoothies and deserts.
Located in the heart of NCKU
One of the best parts, they do not close in the afternoon, like many other Taiwanese stores. It is open from 9 to 9! If you want to go at the peak hours, I would recommend making a reservation, as it is is still the talk of town.
The SunShower rating is
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Feeling like brunch, I promise you won’t be disappointed at Stammitsch!
I often wonder how do people find these kind of curious, special places. In my case, one of my friends too me there. It is a little far from where I live, but driving to get there was worth every second.
Here is where you will find it:
小聚, No. 124, Section 2, Shulin St, West Central District, Tainan City, 700
TEL: 06 213 9798
Opens from 9am to 5pm, except on Sunday, cause they close at 3pm.
Be careful with the map, because it marks another place, which is just not Stammisch.
Go though the alleys and on your right side, you will see it.
During weekdays, they will take reservations, but on weekends, you gotta get there and cross your finger hoping that there will be a table for you.
It is a cozy little place where you wish you could stay all afternoon. With home baked bread, real cheese and different especial types of coffee you feel more like in northern Italy than in Tainan.
I delighted myself with bombón coffee, which was bitter and sweet. Bitter because I could taste all the hues of the excellent coffee they have, but with a touch of condensed milk. It was delicious!!! Try it!
They have English menu and English service.
Eating in here made wonder why didn’t know it before. Brunch was exceedingly great.
The SunShower rating is
Please, you have to go there and tell me what you think!!!!