Feb 12, 2017

Taiwan Travelogue: Hello Keelung & Miaokou Night Market! (9 Nov 2015)

Rise and shine! Our stay in Jiufen had finally came to an end.

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Pork Porridge @ Jiufen Yuan Yee Homestay 緣憶民宿
While I was expecting another round of sandwich, we were delighted to find pork porridge in the menu. This bowl of pork porridge was loaded with braised lean pork, promising only tenderest texture and complexity of flavour. It was simply lovely!

After our scrumptious breakfast, we checked out from the homestay and lugged our heavy luggage down the hilly terrain to catch a bus (TWD15 each) to TRA Ruifang Station. One thing worth noting was the alley in the bus was too small to allow a rolling luggage to roll comfortably. So, grab your backpack if you can.

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Mom @ TRA Keelung Station
From TRA Ruifang Station, we took a train to TRA Badu Station, before switching to TRA Keelung Station. Total train fare was TWD30 each. Total travelling time was about 2 hours.

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Lunch Box @ TRA Keelung Station
By the time we arrived at TRA Keelung Station, it was time for lunch. We bought a TWD100 lunch box with braised chicken, braised egg, braised beancurd and some vegetables to fill our empty tummies. It was surprisingly flavourful to Malaysian standard. One thing for sure, it could definitely use more sauce for the rice.

Total damage = TWD100

Not knowing where Keelung Imperial Hotel 華國商務飯店 was, we dared not risk walking around with our luggages, so we hailed a taxi for less than 1km ride. It costed us TWD100.

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Renai Wet Market 仁愛市場 nearby Keelung Imperial Hotel 華國商務飯店
We booked a double-bed room with wardrobe, TV, dressing table, pantry and attached bathroom for RM180/night in Keelung Imperial Hotel 華國商務飯店. Despite 10% cheaper than Jiufen Yuan Yee Hostel 緣憶民宿, Keelung Imperial Hotel 華國商務飯店 had preceded my expectation with its 3-star standard.

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Random Noodle Stall @ Renai Wet Market 仁愛市場
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Random Dumpling Stall @ Renai Wet Market 仁愛市場
We spent the rainy afternoon in our comfortable room, watching TV programme and nap for a good two hours before heading down to nearby Renai Wet Market 仁愛市場. According to our taxi driver, there was a food court above the Renai Wet Market 仁愛市場 where the locals frequent.

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Mixed Sauce Noodle @ Random Noodle Stall
From the noodle stall above, we ordered a bowl of mixed sauce noodle and a bowl of beef noodle soup. When the noodle was served, it almost felt like a joke: not only the portion was pathetically small, there there was barely any substance in it besides noodles. These aside, it was far from delicious.

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Beef Noodle Soup @ Random Noodle Stall
My beef noodle soup was a photocopied joke but more hilarious. Beef noodle soup was literally beef noodle soup (no meat intended). The only solace I tried to find was a decent beef stock but no, it was not great either.

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Tricolor Dumplings @ Random Dumpling Stall
To compensate the lack of substance, we thought a bowl of dumplings would do the trick. So we ordered a set of tricolor dumplings from the dumpling stall above. I must say it did look pretty but the skin was too thick to my liking. The fillings was alright, I was sure my mom could do it better.

Total damage for 2 pax = TWD240

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Random Snacks Shop
Our disappointment was too great that we seriously needed some retail therapy, so we went into this shop full of candies and snacks to look for potential bring-home-gifts. Everything here was sold by weight, so we grabbed a little of everything we wanted to test.

As the day turned dark, Miaokou Night Market 基隆廟口夜市 came into life. Given the proximity to port, Miaokou Night Market 基隆廟口夜市 is the night market where you can get cheap and delicious seafood. The entrance to Miaokou Night Market 基隆廟口夜市 is located at the intersection of Aisan and Rensan Roads 愛三仁三路口 and is primarily located at both Rensan and Aisi roads.

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Stall 38 Chinese Vermicelli @ Miaokou Night Market 基隆廟口夜市
Miaokou Night Market 基隆廟口夜市 was the most organised night market I have seen. As you can see in the photo, each stall was properly numbered and labelled with the type of food they sell. One could easily find the recommended food they have been wanting to try.

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Stall 38 Chinese Vermicelli @ Miaokou Night Market 基隆廟口夜市
Our first try was Chinese vermicelli from Stall 38 (TWD40). Filled to the brim, this bowl of vermicelli was so silky that one could easily slurp it down, if it wasn't for the heat. The clear soup looked seemingly bland but it was strongly seasoned with vinegar and maybe wine. I just loved it.

Total damage = TWD40

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Stall 25 and 25-1 Ding Bian Cuo 邢记鼎边搓 @ Miaokou Night Market 基隆廟口夜市
Our second try was Ding Bian Cuo from 邢记鼎边搓 (TWD60). Ding Bian Cuo 鼎边搓 is basically a rice noodle soup made with mushrooms, bamboo shoots, dried tiger lilies, dried shrimp, oysters and shredded pork. The handmade noodles are made from rice paste, which is poured on the edges of a heated metal wok and is steamed and “baked” simultaneously. When cooked, the chef will scrap off the rice cake and dunk them into the boiling soup.

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Stall 25 and 25-1 Ding Bian Cuo 邢记鼎边搓 @ Miaokou Night Market 基隆廟口夜市
From the look of it, this Ding Bian Cuo 鼎边搓 seemed to skip some ingredients for all I saw was cabbage, a fish paste, and few pieces of Ding Bian Cuo 鼎边搓. The texture of the rice cake was thick, grainy and bland, which was not compensated by either the soup stock or condiments.

Total damage = TWD60

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Stall 58 Miao Kou Chinese Sandwich 营养三明治 @ Miaokou Night Market 基隆廟口夜市
Our third try was Chinese sandwich from Miao Kou Chinese Sandwich 营养三明治 (TWD55). It is said this stall has been selling nutritious sandwich made of taiwanese sausages, ham, tomatoes, cucumbers and braised eggs in a crispy, deep fried bread for more than 30 years. Seriously, deep fried bread and nutritious?

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Stall 58 Miao Kou Chinese Sandwich 营养三明治 @ Miaokou Night Market 基隆廟口夜市
Despite the irony, I just had to try. They sure did not lie about the crispy, deep fried bread. Inside the crispy, deep fried bread, I found oozing mayonnaise (the artificial type), half a cherry tomato, and pieces of sausages. I admit it was a blur but my conclusion was firm: it was technically not nutritious and definitely not healthy.

Total damage = TWD55

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Stall 41 Pao Pao Ice 陳記泡泡冰創始店 @ Miaokou Night Market 基隆廟口夜市
Our forth try was shaven ice from Stall 41 Pao Pao Ice 陳記泡泡冰創始店 (TWD45). It is said that one could get peanut flavoured ice here.

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Stall 41 Pao Pao Ice 陳記泡泡冰創始店 @ Miaokou Night Market 基隆廟口夜市

My choice of flavour (I think) was passionfruit. The texture of ice was smooth, too smooth to be true. Flavour was evenly distributed and most importantly, it was refreshing.

Total damage = TWD45

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Stall 62 and 62-1 Jin Xing Ma Lao 金興麻粩 @ Miaokou Night Market 基隆廟口夜市
Our fifth (also the last try) was Jin Xing Ma Lao 金興麻粩 (TWD26). Jin Xing Ma Lao 金興麻粩, as the name suggests, is famous for peanut coated fluffy balls called ma lao 麻粩.

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Stall 62 and 62-1 Jin Xing Ma Lao 金興麻粩 @ Miaokou Night Market 基隆廟口夜市
What you see here was half eaten ma lao 麻粩. Coated with crushed peanuts and sugar, the outer layer encased web of air and nothingness. For the price, I was expecting something more than just empty shell.

Total damage = TWD26


IN SUMMARY,

My personal dining ranking (5 being the full score) based on following criteria are:
  • Ambiance
    • Jiufen Yuan Yee Homestay 緣憶民宿 - 2/5
    • Food Court in Renai Wet Market 仁愛市場 - 1/5
    • Stall 38 Chinese Vermicelli - 2/5
    • Stall 25 and 25-1 Ding Bian Cuo 邢记鼎边搓 - 3/5
    • Stall 58 Miao Kou Chinese Sandwich 营养三明治 - 2/5
    • Stall 41 Pao Pao Ice 陳記泡泡冰創始店 - 2/5
    • Stall 62 and 62-1 Jin Xing Ma Lao 金興麻粩 - 2/5
  • Price
    • Jiufen Yuan Yee Homestay 緣憶民宿 - 5/5
    • Food Court in Renai Wet Market 仁愛市場 - 1/5
    • Stall 38 Chinese Vermicelli - 3/5
    • Stall 25 and 25-1 Ding Bian Cuo 邢记鼎边搓 - 1/5
    • Stall 58 Miao Kou Chinese Sandwich 营养三明治 - 3/5
    • Stall 41 Pao Pao Ice 陳記泡泡冰創始店 - 2/5
    • Stall 62 and 62-1 Jin Xing Ma Lao 金興麻粩 - 1/5
  • Food
    • Jiufen Yuan Yee Homestay 緣憶民宿 - 5/5
    • Food Court in Renai Wet Market 仁愛市場 - 1/5
    • Stall 38 Chinese Vermicelli - 4/5
    • Stall 25 and 25-1 Ding Bian Cuo 邢记鼎边搓 - 1/5
    • Stall 58 Miao Kou Chinese Sandwich 营养三明治 - 3/5
    • Stall 41 Pao Pao Ice 陳記泡泡冰創始店 - 3/5
    • Stall 62 and 62-1 Jin Xing Ma Lao 金興麻粩 - 2/5
  • Verdict
    • Jiufen Yuan Yee Homestay 緣憶民宿 - Surprisingly good despite being a hostel providing free breakfast
    • Food Court in Renai Wet Market 仁愛市場 - Save your tummy space and wait for Miaokou Night Market
    • Stall 38 Chinese Vermicelli - Delicious and cheap
    • Stall 25 and 25-1 Ding Bian Cuo 邢记鼎边搓 - Tasted pretty much like a failed product
    • Stall 58 Miao Kou Chinese Sandwich 营养三明治 - Delicious but definitely not healthy
    • Stall 41 Pao Pao Ice 陳記泡泡冰創始店 - Something refreshing on the go
    • Stall 62 and 62-1 Jin Xing Ma Lao 金興麻粩 - I wouldn't bother trying, given a second chance

My personal hotel/attractions verdicts for:
  • Jiufen Yuan Yee Homestay 緣憶民宿 - Spacious and comfortable, it was a nice place to stay, though it was quite a distance from Jiufen Old Street (which also means more stairs and hill climbing)
  • Keelung Imperial Hotel 華國商務飯店 - The hotel was definitely beyond its 3-star rating
  • Renai Wet Market 仁愛市場 - Locals' go-to place for groceries shopping, so you could get fresh fruits and local snacks for munching
  • Miaokou Night Market 基隆廟口夜市 - Full galore of food and drinks that a tummy can barely stomach all

    DINING INFO:

    Miaokou Night Market 基隆廟口夜市
    Rensan Rd, Ren’ai District, Keelung City, Taiwan 200
    Operation Hours: 24 hours
    Tel: +886 2 2428 7664
    Credit Card: N/A (We paid cash)

    3 comments:

    1. Speaking of Taiwan, I've finally figured out the sovereignty status of Taiwan. It took me one year to work it out.

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    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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