What if foreign tourists ask you to take them to Jiou Fen (九份) on weekends? As we all know, it’s gonna be like being packed in together as sardines. Yet as the most hospitable local guide, I will say YES!
The old street in Jiou Fen is so narrow that it’s better to walk on the right side, check those stores on the right side, eat at those restaurants on the right side. What about the left side? Check the left side during your return trip. Never Ever stroll along the old street in the route of shape of “Z”.
Here I would like to introduce some food that is featured Jiou Fen:
1.Taiwanese Meatball flavoured with Red Yeast Rice (NT$40)
Red Yeast Rice is bright reddish purple fermented rice, which acquires its colour from being cultivated with the mold Monascus purpureus. Red yeast rice was a commonly used red food colouring in East Asian and Chinese cuisine prior to the discovery of chemical food colouring. It has also been used in Chinese herbal medicine.
Taiwanese Meatball is wrapped by a half-transparent skin which is made from yam starch, corn starch, and other kinds of flour. The meatball is seasoned and coloured by the red yeast rice, so it’s in brick red. Again, tastes differ. So I can’t guarantee that everyone loves it. The best way is to try it yourself J
2.A Lan Cudweed Cake & Taro Cake (NT$10)
Cudweed Cake is one of my favorites food, or I should call it snack, because it’s rather small as the size of your palm. It has a green look, and the texture is a bit chewy and made from glutinous rice flour. The stuffing is grounded pickled radish, so it is vegetarian. If you are really interested, you can stop at A Lan and watch the production process as long as there is no long line or too many people.
3.A Gan Yi Taro Ball (NT$40)
Taro Ball is reckoned as the most famous and the most representative food in Jiou Fen. You will be very full as you finish a whole portion (a bowl full of taro ball!), so it’s highly recommended to order one and share with friends. Another tip is NOT to try Taro Ball the moment you are in the old street of Jiou Fen. Be patient, and you can try more food. Besides, it’s sweet which should be tasted as a dessert after main meals. Again, it’s another chewy snack! I couldn’t help wonder: Why almost all food in Jiou Fen has this kind of texture?
Jiou Fen is also famous for its scenery, both artificial and natural scenes. A lot of tourists come here to have tea on the balcony and appreciate the beautiful view.
In terms of artificial, I am indicating the red lanterns. When it becomes dark, you can even enjoy the beauty of the red lanterns, and the atmosphere these lanterns create.
A lot of movie directors were inspired by the beauty of Jiou Fen, such as the buildings, the stairs, the landscape, and even the narrow alleys. A City of Sadness, directed by Xiao-Xien Ho (侯孝賢), was shot here in Jiou Fen. One of the most popular animation movies of Miyazaki, Spirited Away, has the same scenes in the movie. It’s said that Miyazaki was inspired and touched by Jiou Fen’s beauty, and therefore made such scenes in his animation.
The overview map of Jiou Fen Old Street: