Eating in Jiufen (九份), Taiwan.

Jiufen (九份) has acquired quite a reputation for being picturesque and nolstagic. To get there, we had to board a train to Ruifang (瑞芳镇), before taking a bus to the narrow, winding alleys of street snacks and souvenir galores of Jiufen.

Despite this town being solely a tourist town, we vastly enjoyed walking around the olden streets and taking in the sights. Word has it that the name of the town originated from the times of the Qing dynasty when nine families settled here and every shipment here included “nine portions” for the nine families.

By the time we reach the town around noon, it was drizzling a little. Hence we decided to find shelter and food! When we saw the window display of this quaint B&B, Chiu Chunt Dint (九重町), we didn’t even hesitate and stepped into its restaurant. The atmosphere here does bring one back down memory lane, esp. with its wall displays and soothing background music.

The ambience in the restaurant was relaxing enough. However, do note that there’s no smoking or non-smoking areas in this place, and much to my friends’ dismay, the neighboring tables started lighting up and puffing away which did put a damper on our dining experience a little as one of our group members can’t stand cigarette smoke as it makes her ill.

There are some lunch sets here, which comes with an appetiser and soup. One of which we tried was the Beef with Green Peppers (牛肉套餐) set. The soup had meat sausages in it, whilst the appetiser came in the form of a green courgette salad.

Another set that was chosen was the Roast Rice with Beef and Black Pepper (黑牛炬饭), which had a creamy cheese topping. It was quite nice but rather filling as cheese baked rice goes.

I quite like the Steamed Rice in Bamboo Mugs (竹筒饭套餐) which used mostly Japanese type short grain rice and was flavoured with diced mushrooms, dried shrimps etc. A bit similar to our glutinous rice (糯米饭) but not sticky.

I forgot to snap the name of this dish for my reference but in all honesty, this was the worst tasting one of them all. Prawns cooked with egg in a tomato based gravy, even though the prawns were bouncy, the gravy was too much and too salty.

We decided to try the Mushrooms Hot Pot (九重菇菇锅) as it was highly recommended in the menu. The soup base was made with rib bones, kampung chicken, and many types of mushrooms. As mushrooms are reputed to be full of antioxidants, this is one beneficial and nourishing soup! True to its word, it was tasty and sweet.

Our meal was quite good though I don’t think it was that impressive overall. If I’m not mistaken they serve cakes and other snacks for a tea set. Prices for our meal were of course a bit higher but if you’re after a nolstagic atmosphere and ambience, this could be the place for you. (A review, but in mandarin)

We probably picked up most of our souvenirs here in Jiufen as we were spoilt for choice and we felt that the prices were reasonable. Packed snacks are also easily obtainable to be brought back for friends and families so that they too can have a taste of Taiwanese snacks. I ended up getting some sticky peanut candy and strangely enough, chicken century eggs! Lol. Guess I was captivated by the translucence of the century egg.

Despite there being many types of street food in Jiufen, including gigantic meatballs (some with fillings), grilled king trumpet mushrooms & squid, fermented red wine lees meat buns (紅糟肉圓), mochie etc. However it was the grilled sea snails (螺) that caught our attention. Selling at 3 for NT100. They are cut into bite-sized pieces and drizzled with a sweet and spicy sauce.

This is Ah Lan (阿兰), a famous shop here selling the yam cake (芋粿) and cudweed cake (草仔粿) I mentioned trying in Fenchihu. Business must be quite good as a group of women were seated, furiously kneading away, churning out as many cakes as they possibly can.

Ah Lan offers a few fillings for the cudweed cake, including red bean, salted green bean and the usual preserved radish one. I opted for the norm and it was quite delightful. The outer layer of the cake, which has cudweed mixed into the dough has speckled the skin and ends up becoming a perfect accompaniment to the julienned preserved radish.

Towards the late afternoon, it started raining quite heavily hence we popped into Jiufen Teahouse (九分茶坊) to get some shade. As it’s the first teahouse in Jiufen, established in 1991, its decor is mostly revolving around teapots, antiques etc. It is also a ceramics factory of sorts, making beautiful teapots and plates.

All around, the placement of the tables and daybeds were quite pleasing. And I like how every piece is different. As we were a bigger group, we were led to a more private enclosure with only one big table and another small one. There was a doorway leading out to the terrace which would have provided us with an gorgeous view if not for the rain.

The teahouse has small dishes and snacks that goes well with the assortment of tea leaves they have available but we opted only for tea. I can’t remember the name of the tea we chose anymore, but it’s of a mountain origin local to Taiwan only. The waitress does a demonstration of tea making, whilst explaining the use of every different tool and also of the tea leaves itself. then we are left to slowly savour and enjoy the taste of the hot brew.

The tea we chose has a delicate taste and is great for warming us up on a rainy day. i must admit that the rain was a blessing in a way as we wouldn’t have ventured into this interesting place. Quite an interesting experience, and it was quite fun exploring the teahouse too!


1 Comment »

  1. […] plain red glutinous rice. I think we were all expecting something similar with the one we had in Jiufen, with bits of dried shrimp, mushrooms etc in it. As you can see, this was a little on the dry […]

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