Here’s your guide to eat like a local
2 September 2020
I’m sure you have heard of many compliments about the street food scene in Kaohsiung, whether it’s from the almighty world wide web or just simply from friends and family. And I also know that you once wondered where to start. But since the aforementioned sources must have provided you loads of information, I’m just going to skip the names often seen online and go ahead with some food stalls that grew old with me, a local Kaohsiunger with a passion for food. In this article, I’m exposing some names that locals would hate me doing so. Although all these are just opinions from one person, it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try, or grab a bite. Oh, and they are not necessarily Instagram friendly options, just saying.
1. Xu’s Steamed Dumplings (許記蒸餃)
In 1996, my parents found this diamond in a rough. Xu’s Dumpling specializes in steamed dumplings, homemade noodles, tenderly cooked pork soup, and their amazingly aromatic milk tea. The stall itself is not much to look at; they didn’t even have a sign back in the days. Well, now they have a red canvas with their name on it hanging in front of the place, so I guess it’s easier to find nowadays.
What made their dumplings so different, you might ask? I’d say it’s the full package, from the skin to the filling. The wrapper has a springy texture, packed with a mixture of pork, cabbage, and white leek. Dipping the dumplings into their house sauce (which you will have to ask the shop if you’re dining in), it’s the flavor of home to me.
Many of my friends who’s been to Xu’s also highly recommend their pork soup, in which you will find tender, succulent pork chunks sitting inside slightly thickened cabbage soup. If you’re eyeing on this item, make sure you don’t go there too late. They sell out fast.
You wouldn’t think of ordering milk tea in such a place, because neither had I until I got my first sip of it. I’m not exactly sure what they put in there, but it just tastes creamy and silky. If you think you tried milk tea from a thousand tea shops in Kaohsiung, here’s the 1,001 place that you won’t want to miss.
Xu’s Steamed Dumplings (許記蒸餃)
Hours: Mon – Sat 11:30 – 20:30
Address: No. 306, Linsen Rd., Sanmin Dist., Kaohsiung 807, Taiwan
2. Chun Lan Gua Bao (春蘭刈包)
Watch out! This might be the biggest bao you’ve ever had! For those who’s lived overseas, you must know this bao trend brought up in recent years. All those flavors, fillings, and toppings… I’m not saying that it’s bad, it’s just not authentic enough for my Taiwanese taste bud.
At Chun Lan, you can adjust your bao according to what you’re used to, ranging from the juicy, fat “Kong Ba” bao, a somewhat leaner mixed bao (綜合割包), all lean bao (赤肉割包), to vegetarian bao (素食割包) for those who want to skip the meat. Inside the baos you will also get the special peanut-sugar mix, pickled roots, and some coriander. You can customize your Taiwanese burger as you want, such as no sugar, only peanut, or taking out the coriander.
Chun Lan Gua Bao (春蘭刈包)
Hours: 09:00 – 20:00 (Mon-Sat), 09:00 – 18:00 (Sun)
Address: No. 5, Fuxing 1st Rd., Xinxing Dist., Kaohsiung 800, Taiwan
3. Lao Tsai Milkfish Porridge (老蔡虱目魚粥)
Kaohsiung is a well-known port industrial city, where people used to work heavy labor, thus, the traditional breakfast for locals would be a mixture of carbs and seafood, the most famous ones are seafood porridge and milkfish porridge. In Yancheng district, the oldest area in Kaohsiung, you can find a lot of food stalls run by generations of the same family, which also includes Lao Tsai, a milkfish place serving the humble milkfish to the common people since 1953.
My personal favorites are pineapple-braised milkfish belly (滷鳳梨豆醬魚肚), fish skin porridge (魚皮粥), rou zao fan (肉燥飯) with a sunny side up (荷包蛋). The pineapple-braised milkfish belly has a sweet aroma to it, yet when you take your first bite, the saltiness of soy sauce toned down the sweetness of the pineapple sauce and compliments the special taste of milkfish. It’s something to die for, honestly. As for fish skin porridge, it’s good for the skin, fills you up, and of course, delicious.
Something that you might have to be brave to try is the pan-seared milkfish intestine (香煎虱目魚腸), which is to this day, a favorite to a lot of us from the southern part of Taiwan.
Lao Tsai Milkfish Porridge (老蔡虱目魚粥)
Hours: 06:00 – 14:00 (Mon- Sun), No fixed day-offs
Address: No. 201, Lainan St., Yancheng Dist., Kaohsiung 803, Taiwan
4. The Big Cabin Lu Wei (大木櫥滷味)
This was my go-to place whenever I had cravings for a late-night supper. You might have had Hot Lu Wei with broth before, but this is different. They have a variety of braised goods waiting to be fetched by you, just note that there will be a long queue if you go there too late.
Bai Ye Tofu (百頁豆腐), small bean curd (小豆干), braised peanuts (滷花生), braised pig ears (豬耳朵) and braised sticky rice cake (滷年糕) are my must-have items but I’m sure you will be interested in getting more.
When you arrive, you have to first queue up (of course), get a basket, and fetch the items you want (1 piece means I portion) and people there will just tell you to hand over your basket. They season your food with salt and white pepper, then throw some pickled roots in there… and voila! you have a perfect smoky, savory but slightly sweetened late-night supper for the hot, humid nights in Kaohsiung.
The Big Cabin Lu Wei (大木櫥滷味)
Hours: 16:30 – 23:00 (Mon – Sat)
Address: No. 176號, Liuhe Road, Xinxing District, Kaohsiung City, 800
5. Mr. Chu’s QQ Sweet Potato Balls (朱爺爺QQ蛋地瓜球)
This place is probably well-known to the locals for its traditional, chewy sweet potato balls. But it’s not only the beloved sweet treat that made this stall so famous, it’s the incredibly cheap price and the owner, Mr. Chu. At other places, you will maybe pay NTD.35 for a portion of sweet potato balls with around 6-8 pieces in it; at Mr.Chu’s, you get 1 ball for 1 NTD. You can often see people in the queue taking home 100 – 200 of these sweet, crispy and chewy balls. It’s truly a bargain.
The sweet potato balls you find nowadays are usually big and puffy; the ones you find here at Mr.Chu’s are a lot smaller, but they’re more traditional and the size doesn’t take away the taste.
Mr.Chu got famous for being hard at work selling sweet potato balls to fund his sick wife’s medical treatment. The locals line up to support him and found out that by supporting Mr.Chu, they also get to recall the sweet childhood memories of sweet potato balls.
Mr.Chu’s QQ Sweet Potato Balls (朱爺爺QQ蛋地瓜球)
Hours: 12:45 – 19:00 (Tue – Fri), 09:30 – 19:00 (Sat – Sun)
Address: No. 100-2, Fuxing 3rd Rd., Qianzhen Dist., Kaohsiung 806, Taiwan
(Reminder: go along Fuxing Rd. to find the stall, location may vary slightly)
There you have it! I’m assuming that you want to visit these places already! If you love exploring the local street food scene then this list is somewhere to start with. Of course there are more to the Kaohsiung street food scene and we’d love to know your thoughts!
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