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Food in Taipei County - Jiufen

Friday, 7 May 2010

We hired a private cab for a Taipei county day tour. Our original plan was to cover Yeliu Geopark 野柳地质公园 - ShiFen 十分 - Jiufen 九份 - Golden Waterfalls 黃金瀑布 - Jinguashi Gold Ecological Park 金瓜石 - Yin Yang Hai 陰陽海 - Nanya Rock Formation 南雅奇石 - KeeLung 基隆; however, due to the extremely horrible weather condition, we spent most of our time in the cab, and we had to skip a few places.

Our first stop was Yeliu Geopark for the famous rock formation "The Queen's Head" (女王頭), which no longer looks like this -

Yeliu Geopark

You have to queue up to take picture with the "de-formed" head.
Yeliu Geopark Queens head 1

Yeliu Geopark

They made a fake one, just in case the real head disappears.

Yeliu Geopark

It was raining cats and dogs, and windy, so we had ginger tea with black sugar 黑糖薑母茶味 to keep us warm - Black sugar is very popular in Taiwan, you can find a lot of stalls selling drinks sweetened with black sugar instead of normal white sugar or brown sugar. Can be found everywhere especially in night markets.

black sugar ginger tea

On the way to Jiufen from Yeliu Geopark, the cab driver bought us some betel nuts 檳榔 (“Taiwan's chewing gum”) to try. A box contains betel nuts and dried starfruit (the red thing; adds sweetness). You basically place the starfruit in the slit of the betel nut, chew like gum and spit out everything. Betel nut itself naturally bitter. It has some sort of addictive stimulant that gives the effects that people enjoy. Felt some flushing and light headedness. Traditionally sold by hot girls known as betel nut beauties (檳榔西施) but not so much in north Taiwan now as police cracking down but still prevalent in the south.

Betel nut  beauty glass booth
Betel nut girl's glass booth covered by flashing neon lights.

Betel nut

Jiufen 九份

A little town on a mountain in Rueifang Township of Taipei County near Keelung. It is named Jiufen, means 9 portions in Chinese because there used to be only 9 families living on the mountain and as transport was not convenient then, the village would request for nine portions everytime a shipment arrived from town. This place became very popular since it was the set for a big-hit movie A City of Sadness 悲情城市 directed by famed Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien 侯孝贤 in 1989. Its downtown was used as a model in the anime movie Spirited Away. Jiufen is very beautiful and scenic - a quaint village on a mountain, winding lanes, tea houses, we would have enjoyed it more if the weather was better.

The first local speciality we tried was fish ball. The shop is located at the beginning of the street and you will see a long queue. We tried a variety of fishballs 混合四丸 (Fuchow ball 福州丸, fish ball 魚丸, pork ball 貢丸, cuttlefish ball 花枝丸), one of which is the stuffed Fuchow type, which has lots of meat stuffing in this version. All were really good, nice and bouncy, tasty. The lu rou fan 滷肉飯 (pork rice) has a good mix of lean meat and fats, tasty.
九 份張記傳統魚丸 Jiufen traditional fish balls. 台北縣 瑞芳鎮 九份基山街23號, 23 Jishan st. (the one with the yellow sign)

Jiufen, Taiwan 02

Up next was Juifen old noodle shop 九份老麵店 which is famous for its beef noodles. We all didn't like it and the wonton noodles as they were quite bland and forgettable.
九份老麵店 Jiufen old noodle shop. 台北縣 瑞芳鎮 九份基山街45號, 45 Jishan st.

Jiufen, Taiwan 03

Ice cream with peanuts and coriander wrapped in salty crepe-like skin (like popiah skin) 花生捲冰淇淋 - Kinda weird, the ice cream was actually sorbet-like. Would prefer creamier ice-cream.

Jiufen, Taiwan 06

Red wine meat dumpling with glutinous rice skin - The PigPig has eaten fermented red rice lots of time and this one tasted quite sweet. It was also served along with a very starchy gravy. Probably a rather acquired taste.
九份金枝紅糟肉圓 Jiufen Jinzhi red meat dumpling. 台北縣 瑞芳鎮 九份基山街112號, 112 Jishan st.

Jiufen, Taiwan 01

Dumplings with sweet or salty filling. We chose one filled with preserved vegetables. Not sure why it had a funny green colour, but the texture was good, just the right shade of chewy but soft. Taste came mostly from the filling (a lot of it). We only tried this because there were loads of people queuing at the stall but were happy with the experiment. Worth a try!
阿蘭宇粿/草仔粿 Ah Lan Hakka Glutinous Rice Cake. 台北縣瑞芳鎮基山街90號, 90 Jishan st.

Jiufen, Taiwan 07

Sweet potato and yam dumplings at Ah Gan Yee, one of the most popular dessert shop in Jiufen, always a long queue. A favourite amongst the girls, it was again a perfect mixture of soft and chewy.
九份阿柑姨芋圓 Ah Gan Yee Taro Balls. 台北縣 瑞芳鎮 九份福住里豎崎路5號 5 Shuqi Rd.

Jiufen, Taiwan 08

Souvenirs at Ah Shin's (left). Another crowded store. Popular items are mochi and jelly. We tried a few on offer and they all seemed pretty good although I much preferred the lychee jelly.
阿信的店 Ah Shin's. 台北縣 瑞芳鎮 基山街21號之2, 21-2 Jishan st.

Li Yi cake shop is another really popular pastry shop in Jiufen (right). Just look at that long queue, in the rain! This shop is famous for its pineapple tarts 鳳梨酥, yam pastry 芋泥酥, sun biscuits 太陽餅...
李儀餅店 Li Yi Cake Shop Official website
台北縣瑞芳鎮九份汽車路18號(舊道口7-11的對面) Opposite 7-11
They have a branch in Taipei City
台北站*站前*地下街11-2B, Taipei main railway station underground mall

Jiufen, Taiwan 09

We went to the original shop at Keelung instead. Do try the curry pastry 咖哩餅!
李鵠餅店 Lee Hu Cake Shop. Official website
基隆市仁三路90號 90 RenSan Rd., Keelung


The cab driver dropped us off at Jinguashi Gold Ecological Park 金瓜石黄金博物园区 after Jiufen. We went in for about 10 mins and decided to cancel and head back to Taipei city instead due to the heavy rain.

Jinguashi Gold Ecological Park 金瓜石

On the way, we drove past Golden Waterfalls 黃金瀑布. The brownish colour of the waterfall is due to the copper and iron deposits picked up during their passage through the mines.

Golden Waterfalls 黃金瀑布

Yin Yang Hai 陰陽海 (Bay of two colors) - again, the brownish colour due to the copper and iron deposits and further away becomes ocean blue.

Yin Yang Hai 陰陽海

Nanya Rock Formation 南雅奇石

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