Updated: Sep 6
Since Winter in Taiwan is not quite over yet, we have another chance, which may be our last, to eat the most delicious Winter foods!
If you have read my previous blog post on Winter in Taiwan you probably already know which Winter foods I'm talking about. Yep, hot pot and ginger duck!
These two foods are almost complete opposites, yet very similar. Whereas hot pot is often pretty expensive and really luxurious, ginger duck is usually cheap and definitely less glamorous, but that doesn't mean it isn't as tasty.
I hope you are ready to make some choices! There are mainly three types of hot pot restaurants. One restaurant is an all-you-can-eat restaurant, the other one is a restaurant where you share a pot and where you can order meats and vegetables from the menu and the third one is a restaurant where everyone has their private hot pot and you can order a set menu (and add more things if you're still hungry).
There are a few perks when going to an all-you-can-eat hot pot restaurant. First off, when you sit down at the table the waiter will ask you what soup base you want. Usually there are over 6 choices like tomato, traditional bone broth, miso, curry or a spicy soup.
Furthermore, you can eat any type of meat, vegetables or seafood you want, and you can eat as much as you want. You can drink as many sodas or beers as you want and you can eat as much ice cream as you want! And if that's not enough you can also pick some of the many other desserts they usually have.
So, how does it work?
You have your own hot pot at the table. You will also find a plate on your table. What you have to do is to bring the plate over to the fridge, where you can get all the ingredients you want. Then you can go back to the table and cook and eat your food. You can repeat this as many times as you want.
Don't forget to make your own hot pot sauce at the sauce bar! It makes hot pot even nicer.
All-you-can-eat hot pot restaurants are usually rather cheap. This is because the meat and seafood quality is usually lower. Also, almost all products are local!
Another hot pot restaurant you can go to is the one with a private hot pot. Again you start off with picking a soup base. You then pick one of the set menus, usually they have pictures showing what is all in it. Then all you have to do is get your sauce, wait for your food and enjoy!
Probably the most expensive, but also the highest quality hot pot restaurants are the restaurants where you share a pot and order meat per dish. One of those places is called Top One Pot, a place I truly recommend. Not only is the food at this place high quality, it is also presented in a very expensive-looking way. And the decoration and interior are also very nice.
For hot pot restaurants like Top One Pot, you usually have to pay a little bit more, but, it is very much worth it!
Find a link to Top One Pot here: https://goo.gl/maps/zaCPLhmScEUSA3vd6
In the first half year that I lived in Taiwan I always wondered what all those restaurants with the yellow lanterns with a duck on it were. Well, those are the famous ginger duck restaurants. You can find them all over Taiwan and I get why. Ginger duck is one of the things that I've had in Taiwan that is unlike anything else. Why? Well, for many reasons.
Ginger duck is somewhat like hot pot, but slightly different. You get a pot of ginger soup, and in it you can find a whole duck chopped up in pieces. You can add other meats and vegetables to the soup and cook those, like hot pot! Easy right?
Let me explain how it works. You just go to the ginger duck restaurant, when you arrive there you will be pointed to a seat and given a menu. First thing you want to mark on the menu is the 薑母鴨(jiangmuya), or ginger duck. This will most likely only cost around 300NTD (not even 10 euros!). Then the next thing you can do is order other things like cabbage, corn, pork, beef, different meats and vegetables. You can also order duck meatballs, they are the best!
On the menu you can also find more "special" things like pig blood rice cake (豬血糕) or tofu skin (豆腐皮), both worth trying. And lastly, you can order noodles on the side.
When you filled out the menu you just have to give it to someone who works at the place and they will make sure you get all your food.
In the meantime you can walk over to the fridge and grab some drinks you like. Note this, they are not free, but they are cheap. They usually have different juices and iced teas and a couple beer choices. And if you're lucky they will also have some stronger liquor.
On your table you can also find a ginger sauce to dip your meats and veggies in, the sauce is pretty good.
One thing that makes ginger duck very different from hot pot is the place you're at. Ginger duck restaurants are very local and cheap. The tables and chairs are super low and a little uncomfortable.
The restaurants don't really have doors or even walls on the outside, so you are kind of on the street, only separated by some sort of curtain.
Also, usually you will see families, groups of co-workers and groups of old people dining at the ginger duck restaurants. Everyone will talk and laugh and the ambiance is just really nice. Unlike some restaurants in which you always have to try and be quiet, you can just talk in a normal or even loud voice here.
Ginger duck really is my favorite local winter experience!
Have you ever had either of these foods? Let me know what your favorite restaurant is!