5.111 Braised Ground Pork Rice

-Cycle 5, Item 111-
26 (Sat) April 2014

Braised Ground Pork Rice


at Jin Feng



The Taipei Diet, Day 2 (see previously 5.110 (Chicken?) Xiaolongbao).

In Taipei to grab a bite.  Many bites.  Along the lines of my food odyssey to Singapore last year (see most recently 4.267 Chicken Rice), the plan is to try as many items as I can find, from as many venues as I can hit, improvising for the most part, no scheduled meals, just stuffing my face throughout the day and into the night, whenever I'm no longer feeling stuffed from before.  Arriving a little past noon yesterday morning, I'll be here for about 54 hours through tomorrow evening.

Venue 4: Jin Feng

The restaurant devotes more square footage to infrastructure than table space.

Lu rou fan is a Taiwanese pork & rice dish.  Consists of pork, typically belly or other fatty cut, braised for hours in soy sauce, along with various spices and aromatics, chopped into small pieces, served with steamed rice.  Typically referred to in English as "braised pork (with) rice."

Jin Feng is a Taiwanese restaurant.  Located a half-block south of Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall Station (red line).  Specializes in dishes involving slow-cooked pork, such pork rib soup and braised pork, either with noodles or rice.  By many accounts, the braised pork rice here ("Braised Ground Pork Rice") is the best in the city.  The throngs of customers day and night would seem to support that claim.

 Item 8: Braised Ground Pork Rice (3.0)

Item 9: Cooked Veggie (morning glory) (3.0)

Item 10: Sparerib Soup (3.0)

The lu rou fan was pretty good.  The pork was very tender, further emphasized by all the fat.  Generally not a big fan of pork fat--the first thing that crossed my mind was that Filipinos would love this.  The seasoning/sauce was perfectly balanced between the salty and sweet, with a delicate touch of spices that I couldn't quite place (five spice?)--tasted Chinese.   Don't know if I'd personally stand in line for it, but I can see why the dish would be popular among locals as a quick/cheap/convenient/tasty meal.  

Just TWD 100 (about USD $3.30) for everything, though I could've done with a large bowl of the lu rou fan.

I was seated at a table with some random guy, who was already eating lu rou fan and other items that looked promising; so long as we were on a date, I ordered the exact same things.

For the sightseeing segment of the day's program, I visited the National Palace Museum.  To illustrate how seriously the Taiwanese take their food, the two most prized pieces in the institution--seriously, the mobs surrounding the exhibits would dwarf the little gatherings in front of the Mona Lisa--are a chunk of stone that resembles a small piece of cooked pork belly (only about 5-cm tall) and a jade ornament carved into a napa cabbage (only about 15-cm tall). 

 I would've taken my own photos, but photography was strictly prohibited, diligently enforced by guards everywhere, especially around the popular displays, most likely so that visitors will buy souvenirs instead, like this postcard.

Raohe Street Night Market is a night market, as described in yesterday's post.  Located a couple block north of Songshan Train Station (not really near any metro line).  One the oldest and most famous/popular in Taipei.  Runs 600 meters from one gate to the other, in a straight line, with stores on either side and two rows of carts through the middle, in effect making two parallel alleys.

The east gate.

As I walked through the market, down one row, then back the other way, I took quick snapshots of every last food stall/cart.  I present most of them here--except the ones that offered the same items as another stall/cart, not that there were many such repeats--and let the visuals speak for themselves.  Even if I had the time/energy to provide comments, I wouldn't know what to write; most of it was entirely alien to me--literally, I felt like I was on a different planet.  

Like this fruit for example, what the hell is it?!?!

Venue 5: [?]

A sausage--Taiwan sausages are famous, supposedly--seemed a good way to ease into things.

Grilled over a light flame, served with six different sauces.

Item 11: grilled sausage (2.0)--very fatty and sweetish--the first thing that crossed my mind was that these would go perfectly with Filipino spaghetti (see for example 5.054 Spaghetti); funny that I'm now beginning to use my experiences in the Philippines as frames of reference.

I was actually thinking, "Well, at night markets in Korea, we don't have much, but at least we have ddeokbokki (see for example 5.084 Odeng + Ddeokbokki)," and then I see this.

Venue 6: [?]

Potstickers were next, which may also seem to have been a less-than adventurous choice...

...but I had no idea what was in them, so it was still a gamble.

First simmered in some kind of broth (pork bone?), then pan-fried on the griddle.

Item 12: Pork Potsticker (3.5)--awesome; crispy crust, yet soft and chewy bun, perfectly seasononed minced pork and cabbage filling, even better with the chili sauce; the first item on the trip thus far that I wanted more of, but I resisted.

Presumably, these were being sold as pets (in the upper box, are those two puppies doing it?).

Venue 7: [?]

By this point, I was a bit tired and wanted to sit down.

Soup and noodles, sure why not.

And air-conditioning!

Item 13: seafood soup (2.5)--a hodgepodge of seafood, squid dominating the flavor of the broth; would've been better with noodles.

Item 14: glass noodles with mushrooms & cabbage (2.25)--okay, but thoroughly unremarkable.

I suspect that these were the weird things, things like bull penises and turtle hearts and unicorn livers, which I would've been thrilled to try, but I was too chicken to experiment on my own.

And so ended my second trip to a Taiwanese night market.  I don't know when/if I'll ever be back in Taipei, but next time I'd definitely do more advance research on what types of foods to look for, so that I could maximize the potential for satisfaction.

Venue 8: [?]

This soup/noodle shop, located a few buildings away from the hotel, always filled with customers, I'd been looking forward to trying it.

For a developed and sophisticated economy, the food prices here are astonishingly cheap, a basic bowl of pork wonton noodle soup just TWD 60 (about USD 2).

Item 15: Pork Wonton Noodle Soup (2.5)--especially with the laver, the dish tasted very Korean, similar to janchi guksu (see for example 2.173 Janchi Guksu). 

The wontons were mostly skin with a thin sliver of filling.

Item 16: cucumber pickles (3.0)--many restaurants here offer small side dishes, often pickles of some sort--which should make Korean visitors very happy--prepared and laid out for display, sold at a small price, TWD 25 each here.

Item 17: pickled cabbage (3.0)

After dinner--I suppose that the pork wonton noodle soup was essentially the "dinner" for the day--I got a foot massage at an establishment literally next door to the hotel.  Trekking through the night markets of Taipei can be exhausting, after all.

But after the massage, I was hungry again.

Venue 9: Lucky Star Restaurant

A Cantonese joint, located a few buildings from the hotel in the other direction; although Manila does offer Cantonese in a nominal sense (see for example 5.024 Egg Fuyong with Scallops), no, not really, so I had to take advantage of the opportunity here.

Open 24 hours, nearly packed at 11PM.

Item 18: roast duck (3.25)--best roast duck/goose that I've had since Hong Kong (see most recently 3.141 Flying Roast Goose).

Item 19: shrimp chung fan (2.5)--skins were a bit leathery.

Item 20: kimchi (2.5)--who knows whether to accommodate Korean customers or locals, but it was okay, not great, but authentic enough.

Item 21: some kind of steamed pork meatball (2.5)--whatever it was, okay, whatever.

This post features the most photos ever.  

Good night.  See you tomorrow.


  1. Love your recent posts in Manila and here! One day I'll go back and comment up a storm but right now I'm preoccupied with childcare. The mystery fruit is guava! Extremely yummy and you should've had some. But you HAVE had guava before, right?

  2. hey, you've been sorely missed!

    childcare, what? did something happen? I'll check your FB.

  3. oh, and guava, right. whatever. it took me 41 years to do mango, let's take it one step at a time.

  4. sensory overload! wow. wish I could have tried that dumpling.

  5. eToro is the #1 forex broker for beginner and established traders.