Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Taichung - biking (or fooding?!) in Fengyuan



The purpose of the trip was to go biking, so in case you were wondering whether I came close to a pedal at all - I did, and it wasn't when I stood next to one of the many bike racks in town. Actually we went on a proper bike trail in Fengyuan (豐園), a small township about 30 mins out of Taichung city by train.


The Fengyuan bike trail (officially Houfeng 后豐) is well paved and very pleasant even for city pigs like me who haven't touched a bike in years. It was built on an old train track, so the path's not too hilly and there's interesting scenery (small farms, tree-lined sections, train ruins) along the way.


There are several bike rental companies there too, one of them being Giant, one of Taiwan's most famous bike companies. Apparently bike fanatics all over the world go gaga over Giant. Of course, most of their rental bikes are pretty standard, but apparently they're way better than any rental bike you can get in Hong Kong. But this isn't a bike blog, it's a food blog. So where's the fooooooood?


The best part of this bike trail is that in the middle, there's an awesome alfresco area next to an old temple with a big shady tree where there are about 6-8 food stalls selling Taiwanese street food favourites, as well as drinks (you'll need plenty).

 
Lu rou fan

Lu rou fan is probably the most ubiquitous rice dish there is in Taiwan. It's basically marinated minced pork with diced pickles, with a light soy/spice broth drizzled on top. It's like spag bol - tasty comfort food.

Da chang bao xiao chang

This literally means 'big sausage wrapped around small sausage' - think of it as a hotdog, but instead of a roll, you have a 'sausage' made out of glutinous rice that's grilled beside the sausage. There are a range of sauces and pickles you can put onto the glutinous rice sausage once it's split in half  (to place the sausage) - I usually have a bit of everything - sweet (hoisin) sauce, a light brush of chilli oil, mustard, pickled cabbage etc.

Upright, with the name in Chinese characters

Cong zua bing (original with egg)
Like prata, this is a flaky flatbread made on a hot plate. The 'original' flavour includes an egg and some chopped spring onion swirled into the bread. Absolutely delicious straight off the heat - there are chewy, glutinous strings and an uneven golden-brown exterior with random crispy bits.

Cong zua bing (with cheese)

It sounded weird at first and I think they just use industrial Kraft-like cheese, but the combo is awesome too because in addition to the glutinous pull and crispiness, you get a bit of hot, savoury goo too.

Grilled Taiwanese sausage with wasabi
Taiwanese sausages are known to be half way between the dry Chinese lap cheung and a normal frankfurter-type sausage. They're a little sweet like the former, but only semi-dry, so the skin stays taught and crisps easily on a grill, like the latter. If you're organising a barbecque and come across some, definitely try them at home, you don't need to add wasabi mayo like this one we had here, but do experiment. The wasabi gave our tongues a little refresher, good for alternating between the other snacks.

Ice shaving machine

To get to Fengyuan bike trail, take the train from Taichung Railway Station (the old one, not the high speed rail) to Fengyuan Station. There are local and express trains, neither cost much nor take more than 30 mins, just buy your ticket at the counter. At Fengyuan station, take a cab and tell them you want to go to the bike trail; negotiate a price before you get on, it's usually within 300-350 Taiwanese Dollars. They'll drop you off at a cluster of bike shops, which includes the Giant store. Once you've rented a bike, just cross the road and it's the beginning of the bike trail. There are 2 trails - 1 long (around 40km return), 1 short (about 18-20km return). The food is about 1/2 way (1-way) along the long route.


The short route has a bridge and an old train tunnel you can ride through, which are both fun, and the long route, aside from food, has very comfy tree-lined sections as well as a historic train ruin, so both are worth doing, and unless you're extremely unfit, you can easily do both in about 4 hours max. I'm not fit at all (I can barely walk up a couple of flights of stairs without huffing and puffing), but I managed to finish the short route (return) and go about 2/3 of the way on the long one before returning.


View e_ting in Taichung in a larger map

4 comments:

  1. Man!!! I wish there was a place like this in the Philippines!!!!

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  2. You don't have to cross the border to enjoy cycling and good food. There is a near-abandoned village in the Sai Kung area called Sham Chung, where a former resident of the village, who was a top chef in the USA [now retired], operates a typical country store.

    However, as well as the usual fare, he will prepare absolutely anything you want, as long as you book in advance.

    You can read more details here: Sham Chung Manor.

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  3. :@): Would love to hear if you find any!

    Dennis: Thanks so much for sharing Tom's restaurant, sounds awesome, I'll definitely have to check it out soon. My friends have all been really keen on cycling since we got back from TW. (Especially now, we hear, that there are bike shops that rent out "proper" bikes - not pro, but not a few bits of scrap metal welded together either). Is Tom's restaurant open all day?

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  4. Hi - thanks again for submitting your post to our Footpath Feasting series - we included your delicious post here: http://grantourismotravels.com/2011/10/02/footpath-feasting-the-best-street-food-stories-on-the-web/

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