TELUS TAIWANfest Street Banquet

Sep 08, 2011 No Comments by

Having spent a year in Singapore but never getting the chance to travel to Taiwan, we were very excited to hear about the Street Banquet event at this years TAIWANfest.  In similar style to the Chinatown night markets Granville street was blocked off to traffic, with rows of traffic being replaced by rows of white tents with packed lineups for the a la carte style street food.  There were two main areas;  The International Food Fair, and the Taiwanese Food Fair.

Tents At Festival

The International Food Fair tents had some of the usual suspects from the night market scene, but also a few new and interesting.  One of particular interest to us was the Giant Octopus Ball stand.  We’re no stranger to octopus balls, as they’re quite the common sight in Singapore, but never had we encountered the mythical GIANT variety.  Naturally we couldn’t resist.

International Food Fair Sign

The verdict?  Well, definitely not for those that are afraid of getting dirty!  The baseball-sized behemoth was filled with all sorts of delicious bites of shrimp and squid, but getting to the inside was an adventure in itself.  The spicy mayo and wriggling fish flakes made for quite a mess as we attempted to dissect our giant octopus ball into edible-sized pieces.  I’d like to say that I simply chopsticked that mofo into my mouth whole, but I’d be lying.  In the end it was a tasty morsel, but we agreed that we prefer the smaller relative to the giant octopus ball simply for the fact that they’re easier to eat bite-sized.

Octo Ball Menu Octo ball closeup Octo ball Chopstick Octo ball Insides

After a brief stop in Futureshop (we all have our vices..) we decided to go for second lunch at the Taiwanese tents.  The dishes were all $5, so we splurged and had four.  A $20 lunch for two is not bad at all when you’re eating food that you won’t be able to find anywhere in Vancouver except for this festival;  Or so that’s what one of the friendly Taiwanese food hawkers told us.

After much deliberation, observation, and moderate confusion we left the chaos with four new tasty looking dishes to try.  They are, in clockwise order, 1. Sticky Rice  2. Taiwanese Meatball  3. Hakka Stir Fry  4. Taiwanese Sausage in Glutinous Rice Bun.

Four dishes

Fortunately, all four of these Taiwanese specialties were as good as they look.  We quickly devoured every last bit on our plate and were left wondering if we would be able to find a steady local supply for when, not if, we get a craving for Taiwanese.  The sticky rice was full of flavour, sporting a prominent mushroom flavour without being too meaty and overpowering.

Sticky Rice

The Taiwanese Meatball, though looking nothing like a ball of meat and more like an Australian meat pie, was packed full of flavour.  Once you poked through the thick outside rice noodle casing, you found a wealth of meat and delicious sauce on the inside.  The flavours were very approachable, even for the western palate, though the texture of the rice noodle may throw some of the less adventurous off.

Inside Meatball

The Taiwanese sausage was a bit on the sweeter side with a fair bit of peppery flavour.  It actually reminded us of the meat commonly found in Singapore called Bakwa, which is basically a sweet, pressed, and grilled pork-jerky.  The glutinous rice bun was also very interesting as it had a sort of casing around it that was holding everything together.  It was kind of like a sausage casing, but not as thick or noticeable.

Sausage

Last, but certainly not least is the Hakka Stir Fry.  This was definitely my favourite of the bunch as it had a mouth watering yet delicate smoky flavour to it.  It was like you could taste the wok, but in a good way.  I’m not used to mixing seafood with landfood, but was pleasantly surprised to find both beef and octopus mixed in with the perfectly cooked greens and chilis.  With a bit of spice, crunchy healthy stuff, and tasty mixed proteins, this was defintely one of the better stir frys I have had the pleasure of eating.  I’m actually salivating as I type this…

Hakka Stir Fry

We were tempted to go back for seconds several times, but were stopped by the expanding feeling of the sticky rice in our bellies.  Ah well… there’s always next year.  Thanks for the great food, TAIWANfest!!

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