Thursday, October 2, 2008

TW Tour: Dai Si Turkey Rice, Chiyai

Yep, I'm alive. Life had been rather full of changes the last few months, but I am now back to food blogging. The most important food event I must catch you all up on was my visit to Taiwan in Aug/Sep of this year. Three of my friends came to join my on this culinary expedition - Wil, Janet, and Melissa. I was excited to explore Taiwan with them. Some places and food there, I had experienced before, but the majority of the experiences were new for all of us. I just happened to be the language facilitator.

Our first "real meal" in TW was in Chiyai. And if you go to Chiayi, you must have turkey rice. It's sort of what gumbo is to New Orleans or deep dish pizza is to Chicago - it defines the city culinarily. In fact, the entire city is over-run with signs for turkey rice. Literally every 2 or 3 store fronts is a turkey rice joint. We were musing how much turkey rice the average Chiayi resident must eat per week in order support this kind of proliferation.

It was 9:30 in the morning and we decided to see if Dai Si (呆獅) Turkey Rice was open and indeed it was! The most famous turkey rice joint in Chiyai is supposed to be Fountain Turkey Rice. But we read that the locals all went to Dai Si instead and that Fountain was for tourists. We, being dedicated to eating like locals, picked Dai Si. The place was old and run down. There was a big turkey in a bowl near the back and a woman was picking out turkey meat by hand. As it was still early, there were only a couple of tables filled in this small place of 5 maybe 6 tables. We ordered two large bowls of turkey rice, two bowls of oyster soup, and the first of many cold, bottled ice teas to be consumed on this trip.

The turkey rice was everything it was built up to be despite not looking all that. The meat was tender and juicy. The saucing savory yet light. You can really taste the aroma of the rice and the pickled daikon offset the meat nicely. We gobbled this up quickly.
Oyster soup was a revelation to Wil, Janet, and Melissa. TW oysters are small (pebble in size) but packs lots of flavour. They weren't over-done. The ginger slivers took away any fishiness. The clear broth awakened our palates.
All this flavour for NT140 (or about a little over $4) for all four of us. As a side note, when we polled ourselves towards the end of the trip about Top 5 meals of the trip, everyone agreed this was one of them. Our trip was indeed off to a good start!

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