During our Taiwan trip, we visited Tiffany’s aunt in the Longtan district (龍潭), which lies on the outskirts of Taoyuan city (桃園). The name came from the pond in the middle of the city, and it translates to “Dragon Pond.” The area feels very different from the busy city life of Taipei. Buildings are more spread out, you see a lot more trees, and people seem just a little bit nicer. However, the food is just as awesome! We really appreciate Tiffany’s aunt showing us around all these cool places.
- 石門水庫 Shimen Reservoir Dam: Built in 1964, this is one of the most famous dams in Taiwan. The surrounding mountains and reservoir have also become a tourist attraction, but that doesn’t take away from the experience; they limit the number of people they allow into the park each day, in order to preserve its natural beauty. I’ve been here before when I was a child but sadly don’t remember any of it. The scenery was beautiful, and there were plenty of hiking trails around the reservoir. It costs 300NT/vehicle to enter [at the time of writing], but we got to go in for free because Tiffany’s aunt is a Longtan resident. 😀
- 六福村 /Leofoo Village Theme Park) 六福莊 (Leofoo Resort): We didn’t go inside the theme park, but we did walk around the resort. The resort has a tiny zoo in its courtyard. There were rhinos, goats, turtles, giraffes, and lemurs. It was cool to be so close to the animals; the lemurs basically just hop out of their area and run wild all over the place. It sounds like a really cool idea to have your hotel room right next to the animals, but the smell was pretty bad.
- 七彩雲南 (7Yunnan): Decor here was very special with vibrant red and black. Waiters wore Yunnan cultural garments. What we tried:
- 空心菜 – Water spinach: Very fresh and delicious. Even Tiffany, who usually avoids vegetables, loved it.
- 雙味鮮蝦 – ‘Double Dip’ Shrimp: Steamed shrimp served with two dipping sauces, sweet and sour or soy sauce with wasabi. The shrimp was very sweet and fresh. Shrimp brains exploded all over my hands while peeling the shrimp.
- 剁椒芝麻雞 – Sesame Crispy Chicken: Crispy boneless chicken thighs drizzled with sauce and topped with cilantro. Lots of flavor from the cilantro and sauce, good mix of texture from the crispiness and very tender chicken thighs.
- 過橋米線 – ‘Over the Bridge’ Rice Noodle Soup: Light but delicious soup, with awesome poached eggs.
- 雲南破酥包 – Yunnan-style Red Bean Steamed Bun: While it looks and seems very ordinary, these red bean buns are quite unique. The outside bun was very soft and tasty, worth it just for that. Not like normal “bread,” but kind of like 銀絲卷–very chewy. Filling was good too.
- 環遊世界1998咖啡館: We came across this very interesting coffee shop. The owner once spent 400 days biking over 20000km around the world. Later on, he took his wife and six year old daughter on a 2100km biking trip across China along the Silk Road. There are many memorabilia around the store. Even though the store wasn’t open at the time, it was very inspiring to learn about their passion for biking.
- 台北迪化街大腸紅麵線: We pretty much ordered everything on the menu and they all tasted awesome. 蚵仔煎 (Oyster Omelette), 臭豆腐 (Fried stinky tofu), 大腸麵線 (Large intestine noodle soup), 肉圓 (Taiwanese meatball), 魚丸湯 (Fishball soup), and 蘿蔔糕 (Turnip cake). The rice noodle soup is pretty comparable to that of the famous Ah-Chung Flour Rice Noodles mentioned in our previous Taipei post. Closed on Mondays.
- 點水樓 (Dian Shui Lou): This restaurant has several locations, but we went to the one in Hsinchu. They serve traditional, high-quality delicacies that are more high-end. We especially liked their stinky tofu, even though it wasn’t the fried variant that we usually prefer.
- 大溪湖畔咖啡 Lakeside Coffee: This coffee shop is inside Shimen Reservoir, so you have to pay the entrance fee to get in. We stopped here for some coffee to enjoy the scenery. It overlooks the reservoir and has plenty of patio seating for an unobstructed, gorgeous view. [Note: would not recommend the food.] Also keep in mind that another restaurant with the same name is located just before this one on the way here, so don’t get confused! We were told that the view there is not as great.