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.
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
Da chang bao xiao chang
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 wasabiTaiwanese 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.
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