Aimlessly wandering around an unfamiliar city can lead you to wonderful discoveries, that much I can attest to how wonderful Taipei is. It was a little past 12 in the afternoon when I decided to step out of my hostel and brave the impeding rain brought by the dark clouds over Taipei.
I’ve downloaded an offline map of Taipei but I really wanted to get lost, this time intentionally. I walked around a couple of blocks further going towards the streets that I’ve never gone through away from where I was staying. The streets in Taipei are a bit kind of dreamy for me. They offer a safe space to leisurely glide your feet one after the other while wandering around an unfamiliar block, something that is hardly seen in my home country.
Several minutes into walking, I saw this small shop in a cross street right in front of a temple. Keeping in mind that golden food rule, “Go where there is a line” I crossed the street and started inspecting their menu. I think I made my self a little too obvious that I didn’t knew how to order when a group of students came up to me and help.
I ordered this rice wrapped braised chicken by pointing to another table’s plates. I broke the triangular molded rice to reveal the chicken inside which apparently was mixed with spices and peanut. It was something so familiar but different. The play of texture of the dish really made me enjoy savoring every bite.
A middle aged guy sitting on the same table started conversing with me, asking me from where I was and how long have I been in Taiwan. But what struck me the most was when he asked me how did I found the place. He said in broken English that the place is some sort of a secret from tourist and that only locals know that this is where the best Kong Rou Fan is. He insisted that I should try the dish. Convinced enough I walked up to the shop’s front and ordered my self a Kong Rou Fan.
Kong Rou Fan is a slow cooked sweet pork topped on rice and served with pickled cucumber on the side. For someone who doesn’t like un-fried pork fat, this dish actually is excellent. Why? I could eat the fatty part without being irked! As soon as the pork fat lands on my mouth it starts to completely melt! It was heavenly! The meat part was also so tender that it just breaks down as soon as you taste it. Very minimal chewing was needed for this meat, just savor it.
I am really happy that I intentionally got my self lost around the area. If I didn’t push my self in exploring beyond what are written on blogs and books I would have not tasted Taipei’s best Kong Rou Fan. I highly recommend hunting this food store down the streets of Ximending. Not only do they serve the best Kong Rou Fan but all of their dishes are actually great. I really feel that this spot will give you a great idea of how locals eat like if you are into learning cultures. Besides one of the best ways to learn about a culture is through their food right? So chow down!
P.S. I don’t know the name of the restaurant but its the one on the top photo, right side of the Suzuki signage.
一甲子餐飲 (Pinyin: Yī jiǎzǐ cānyǐn)- As per google maps
Address: 108, Taiwan, Taipei City, Wanhua District, Kangding Road, 79號