I can’t think of anywhere I’ve been to (to date) that adopts the ‘waste not want not’ ethos more literally than China… queue Piggy’s.
So context…it had been a longgg day of site seeing in Shanghai and we needed something substantial to eat following reaching great heights in one of the worlds tallest buildings ‘Shanghai tower’- disclaimer- I hate heights and the whole thing had me weak at the knees.
So we hit up the mall- the safest bet we’ve found for decent food, and menus with pictures (essential to overcome the language barriers). And along came Piggy’s! We wanted something safe and hearty before our next adventure to ‘Hangzhou’ the next morning, and Piggy’s, a Korean BBQ style restaurant, seemed like a safe bet. Pig figurines throughout, a multi-coloured industrial look inside, photo opportunities out, and all staff with little piggy hats, what else could you wish for?! We were asked if we wanted pork or beef (thankfully our server had some English- onto a winner, right?), but we were in piggy’s so Pork prevailed! All seemed fairly safe to begin with, just a pork omelette, some tasty bacon type rashers, all familiar stuff.
Next up there was some form of battered bite, we were quite at our leisure and on familiar turf- or so we thought! To our surprise when we bit into these ‘imposter’ breaded pork bites, it wasn’t meat that met us but some form of crunchy cartilage! Unfortunately we ate them at the same time so there was no pre-warning! Yup it was definitely an ear or a tail… gritty stuff, and not something I would repeat!
So for any Western traveller who fancies Piggy’s just a head up- bite with caution and expect the unexpected!
Fukuoka, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Kyoto, Osaka and Tokyo were just some of the hot spots on my latest adventure to Japan. From Harajuku girls (not something you see everyday in Belfast) to themed cafes, temples to war museums- Japan really is a crazy but cultured destination that should be on everyone’s go to.
Since coming back from Japan I’ve been reminiscing about ramen (calling someone, anyone, in Belfast, pleaseeee open a ramen joint!), the dish of the day no matter where you are. The perfect places for busy business men, with fast and fuss free eating. On entering there is usually a machine to order your noodles from where you pay and get your ticket.
You then hand this over behind the counter and get served your noodles. Anyone who says you can’t eat cost effectively in Japan were going to the wrong noodle venues. We worked on the basis of if the locals like it, we’ll love it- so keep your eyes peeled for queues, it’ll be worth the weight and usually cheaper- BONUS!
You can select how you want the noodles cooked, how hot (mild, medium, hot) you would like the broth, what extras you’d like on top! Hakata ramen is widely accepted as the best pork bone ramen in Japan (they aren’t wrong!).
The etiquette of ramen is sort of alien to us Brits- slurping in a restraunt is ordinarily frowned upon, and eating tends to be a social occasion. Ramen however is the perfect place to eat alone and the slurping is actually complimentary!
Gun to my head if I had to pick between rice and ramen, I’d go rice everytime… however after indulging in the best ramen throughout Japan i’m not so sure!
Insiders tip…never wear white clothes and eat ramen- I learnt the hard way! Bon apetite!
Muslim Quarter- Beiyuanmen Muslim Night Market was one of my favourite local snack streets throughout my travels! Not for the faint hearted and definitely difficult to stomach for vegetarians but it trumps my food fanatics night market musts- food for thought…
Freshly made noodles (Xian is known for it’s cold noodles) and countless sweets
‘Roujiamo’ marinated beef or lamb stuffed inside a freshly baked bun. (AMAZING! We followed the crowds and it lead us here…definitely worth the wait!)
Freshly made Xi’an Dumplings
Rice Cake (sweet but savory… hard to get your taste buds around)
Meat on a stick- Soooo it didn’t look the most appetizing or the cleanliest eat ever, but there’s no guarentee with that anywhere in China… These were definitely worth the risk of the dreaded TD!!
Be sure to check it out during your trip to see the terracotta warriors! Definitely worth a walk along Xi’an’s city wall (especially in the evening) when it’s lit up like Christmas, you could even take a bike ride along it…
So my travels took me across the globe, from the bright lights of China, to the tranquil temples of Japan and beyond. It was not always smooth sailing… Next stop Bali.
I love food- can’t get enough of it, however, this was precisely my problem when I arrived in Bali. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been to China (although I couldn’t claim it was tummytrouble free), experienced the sichuan peppercorns and suspect meat, enjoyed a little too much kimchi in South Korea and went wild for brunching in Oz, so I thought I knew my limits. Bali however is a different ball game, buffet central, I think thanks to the high numbers of hotel complexes. I’m not one for buffets, in fact I tend to avoid them, getting overwhelmed by all the choice and piling it high on my plate (as if they’ll run out of food) when I should take a more strategic approach practiced by my sister. Bali buffets were an exception. Continue reading “Beware of Bali Belly (BB)”→
Shrimping ‘the activity or occupation of fishing for shrimps’ and favourite past time for the young and old in Taiwan. We decided to make like locals on our first night in Taipei (after a huge feed at the modern toilet cafe) and try our hand at this fishing frenzy.
When we were staying in Taipei we stayed in the Wanhua district in Meander hostel (would recommend), so shrimping places aren’t the easiest to come by. I’d read ‘Willflyforfood’ blog (the best travel blog I’ve found) which recommended Urban Shrimping in Shilin district and was dying to try it, however it was a bit of a trek on our first night in Taipei. Instead we went for the more rustic and local ‘prawn shrimp fishing’. I’d be warned in advance about the murky water and reassured it was clean (apparently darker water is better to catch shrimps, the lights dazzle and scare them). We each got a rod, bait, basket and were given an hour to catch as many shrimp as possible.
Heat wok and add oil. Stir fry pork and garlic until pork turns white and feels firm. Add soya sauce. Remove pork from wok and set aside. Stir fry vegetables. Return pork to wok, add water and oyster sauce. Reduce sauce. Serve. ENJOY!
The highlight of any trip for me is the different culinary delights you sample on your journey- China was no exception. BEWARE though excessive oil, MSG and the mystery meat may have a knock on effect, bubble bubble toil and trouble, queue the Chinese tummy churning. Also disclosure it is nearly impossible to be vegetarian in China from my experience and from tales of fellow travelers- luckily enough this is not a worry I have to contend with.
Eggplant (Aubergine) was a definite highlight for me, served with salty tempura batter or deep fried with pork i’m sold! For me learning how to make the food your eating when away is essential to keep the holiday memories and mood after returning to the daily grind. So we made sure to do a Chinese cooking course, and where better than in Yangshuo surrounded by beautiful mountains off the beaten track. Continue reading “Cooking in China”→
Some may call me immature but nothing beats toilet humor and the modern toilet cafe Taiwan has this by the bucket load-so where better to base my first post on my global adventures than on the bog in Taiwan. Toilet seats to get comfy on to enjoy a well balanced meal out of miniature thrones, drinks out of urinals and freshly whipped chocolate ice cream served on a bed pan (complimentary I might add!) – what’s not to love?!