Stinky tofu and coffin bread: sampling the street food of Tainan

Here’s the formula for a excellent city; a strong engagement in cultural heritage, great transportation connections and superior street food.

Tainan, on the Southern end of Taiwan, is one of the very best cities.  Tainan is just bursting with vitality, beautiful art and architecture, and an intense snacking culture.  Realizing we were in a street food mecca, HOB and I got down to work, eating like it was our job.

noodles

Tainan has so many pleasing places to snack, with kitchens open to the street and casual service.  We started our street food orgy at Chikhan Peddler’s Noodles, a cute place with old-school wooden tables.  We ordered the iconic dish of danzai (peddler’s noodles) and they did not disappoint.  It is one of those simple dishes whose perfectly curated ingredients add up to savory perfection.

coffinbread

We also sampled Coffin Bread which was certainly the most puzzling street food in all of Taiwan.  This toasted bread box filled with a creamy seafood stew seemed like a 1970’s Midwestern American idea of Chinese food.  I mean, it was pretty tasty but I kind of felt like I was a guest at a particularly daring dinner party in my home town in 1978.

choushrimprolls

Shrimp rolls are famous in Tainan so we tried them at two different shops.

shripmrolls

Chou’s Shrimp Rolls were by far the best, with a tempura-ish crunch.  Regrettably, these are deep fried and not the healthiest choice but hey, we did walk all the way from our hotel by the train station to the Anping district to eat at Chou’s (at least 4 k) so we had worked up a sizable appetite.

 

 

stinkytofu

I adore fermented food so naturally I was psyched to try stinky tofu, the rather notorious street food of Taiwan.  Prior to visiting, I had wondered how to find this particular snack.  If you share my concern, don’t worry, the stinky tofu will find you.  Stinky tofu is not a twee nickname, stinky tofu is stinky.  I begged HOB to take my picture eating it, so he did, and then he walked away, refusing to watch me eat.  He said it smelled like boiling maggots so I offered to kiss him with my stinky tofu-smeared lips.

oysteromlette

Oyster omelets are big in Tainan.  All the elements were quite delicious, but I’m not that sure that the combination of squishy oysters and eggs with crunchy bean sprouts is entirely appetizing.

shrimprice

Shrimp Rice is just what is sounds like but better.  Ji Pin serves the Platonic form of Shrimp Rice.  Order it and then walk around the neighborhood surrounding Ji Pin, which is full of cool street art.

shavedice

You didn’t think we forgot about desert, did you?  People in Tainan were lined up for shaved ice treats so we got in on the action too.  I had no idea how to order but fortunately a kind young woman jumped in to assist me.  The bottom of the bowl is filled with shaved ice drenched in some sort of sweet syrup, the next layer is strawberries and topping off this bowl of decadence is a caramel custard.  The ice melts while you eat and turns into a sinful soup.  As delicious as it was I can imagine it must be even better on a hot summer night.

tainansnackingarea

Even after two days of stuffing ourselves with Tainan’s many street treats, we still enjoyed walking about, envying the residents of this vivacious town and their life of gluttony.

poopcake

We did not, however, feel compelled to sample the poop emoji cake.

No regrets.

 

How we got to Tainan: train from Hsinchu.

Where we slept: Tia Dao Hotel.  Price: €35 for a double. Recommended: no.

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17 comments

  1. Thanks for another brilliant post on Taiwan, we loved Tainan too, but never got around to eating coffin cake as it always seemed too filling, so thanks for tasting and reporting back 😁

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Al Roberts–I’m happy to be your go to taste tester! When we were in Eastern Taiwan we saw coffin bread that came in a smaller, more rectangular shape (like a coffin!) so that was probably less filling.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The food looks so gooood! Make me miss my days living in Singapore! I

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Seriously woman—what countries haven’t you lived in? I’m so jealous! 🙂

      Like

  3. I loved this post, but especially loved your offer of a kiss!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Can you believe that fool said no to the kiss?

      Like

      1. I can’t imagine that! I mean, really!! tc

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh gosh! This post of yours is mouth-watering! I love the Taiwan street food and stinky tofu is my favourite! I have not visited Tainan yet but after reading about your adventure, I will definitely visit in my next trip. Thanks for writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading J.H. What kind of stinky tofu did you have? I saw deep fried and some that was in soup, but the only kind I ate was bbq with a slaw stuffing.

      Like

      1. Thanks for your reply. The one I had was cut into cube size, deep fried and then mixed with sour cabbage.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for sharing! 😀 I’m only headed to Taipei, but super excited to try all the street food – especially the stinky tofu. I’ll be traveling with my dad (who doesn’t seem to share my passion for trying stinky tofu ;)). Did you try both the fried and steamed/boiled version? Do you have favorite street food in Taiwan?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I only tried the bbq stinky tofu, but the other kinds were readily available at the night markets.

      In Taipei I really enjoyed pepper cakes. They are like bao, but crispy—super yummy. Hope you have a great time with your dad in Taipei!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you! 🙂 I’ll be sure to try the pepper cakes!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. So how did you find stinky tofu? It’s a rather “glamorous” photo of self by hubby, chowing it down. Do you plan blog on the street art that you saw?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Who looks glamorous stuffing their face? 🙂

      I liked the stinky tofu in theory more than in reality. It wasn’t stinky like kimchi or French cheese. It was more just a putrid sort of smell which stayed around in my mouth long after I finished it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re so polite on the blog post about stinky tofu. I like other types of tofu..which includes spicy Ma-Po tofu last night at a restaurant. Fermented bean curd even stronger is a condiment to add a dab to large dish.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. These are my favorite food.

    Liked by 1 person

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