Many people have reminded us over and over again not to forget to visit Jiufen when we were in Taiwan. Located in the mountainous area in the Ruifang district, the cheapest way to go up would be by taking a bus. We did just that by taking a bus from Keelung, and reached Jiufen in the late evening. I still remember it being a cold evening, hence, we were actively hunting for hot food to keep us warm. And we’re in luck! Because there’s absolutely no shortage of food in this quaint town lit up by red lanterns and bustling with people.
Entering Jiufen old street
Plenty of food stalls
Saucer hunting for food 😛
The first thing that caught our attention was the sight of piping hot fish balls and stuffed beancurd! We were famished and freezing by then, so we welcomed the idea of heading indoors even for a short while to snack on these balls. Service was prompt and friendly, and we shared a bowl of huge and bouncy fish balls and stuffed beancurd (yong tau foo) topped with chilli sauce. It could be because we’re cold and hungry, or it could be that the fish balls were really good, because we felt that those were the best fish balls that we’d ever had!
Menu in Chinese
Blurry picture of the fish ball shop
Feeling warmed up after the first snack, we continued exploring Jiufen and came to spot a smelly tofu stall. Saucer always found smelly tofu intriguing and couldn’t help but to buy some to eat. They were fried and topped with sweet and chilli sauce, which could be really tasty if not for the foul aftertaste in your mouth. Some people (like Saucer) would find the aftertaste enjoyable, so it really depends on individual preferences. 🙂
Smelly tofu stall
Smelly tofu with sauce
At the peak of Jiufen, I was hoping to get a good view of the village but was disappointed to see a thick layer of fog clouding the view. It just goes to show how cold it really was that night!
Famous Ah Mei tea house – fully booked so we couldn’t get in
After indulging in multiple snacks, we decided to sit down and have a proper dinner instead. Little Shanghai was the name of the restaurant that we entered, simply because it looked inviting and there was an empty table for us.
Waiting for food
We started with a few glasses of Taiwan Beer to keep our body warm since we were sitting outdoors. I loved the environment of the restaurant that was situated on higher grounds, which meant that we had a good view of what was going on below us. It was right next to the bustling street filled with endless local people and tourists walking up and down with happy faces.
Xiao Long Bao
San Bei Ji (Three-cup chicken)
Our dinner was a trio of xiao long bao (dumplings), fried rice and three cup chicken. The fried rice was different from ours in that they used a type of somewhat glutinous rice, close to Japanese rice texture. It was nicely fried and very tasty though. The Xiao Long Bao was similar to Din Tai Fung’s version, except that it was not that elegantly folded. But they tasted good! Three cup chicken was a combination of soy sauce, rice wine, and sesame oil, served piping hot in a clay pot. It was insanely good! We wished we had a bigger stomach for more rice. 🙂
Dining environment when we left
Xiao Shang Hai / Little Shanghai restaurant
After dinner, we walked back the same way we entered, heading towards the bus stop to go back to Keelung. But before that, we couldn’t resist from ordering this cute ice-cream crepes that seemed to be so popular in Taiwan! Each crepe was made-to-order, with plenty of nuts, 2 scoops of ice-cream and parsley/coriander (?) in it. The green addition was a little weird, I thought, but I did enjoy the crunchy nuts and ice-cream. It was just the ending we needed before we left the beautiful town of Jiufen.
Crepes in the making
Ice-cream crepes for dessert
Red lanterns lighting up the path
From Taipei, take the train to Ruifang Station. From Ruifang take the Keelung Transit bus from the bus stops in front of the train station to Jiufen. OR if you happen to be in Keelung, there’s also a bus from there to Jiufen.
*Note: Read the rest of my Taiwan Escapade here!