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Monday, December 15, 2014

Taipei Throwback: Zui Ma La Hot Pot, Wufenpu & Raohe Night Market

~*Dinner at Zui Ma La Hot Pot*~

It was our 2nd day in Taipei and we were craving for mala hot pot. My friend recommended Zui Ma La (醉麻辣) as she happened to see another of her friend who was in Taipei the same time as us visiting that restaurant. The photos of the food looked absolutely divine and we were almost sold. 醉麻辣 so happened to be along the area of Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall where we were as seen in the previous post. Hence we decided to look no further to settle our mala craving.

It was an all-you-can-eat lunch/dinner style for a flat fee and gosh, there were lots of varieties to choose from! I got excited seeing all the meat choices.

We had mala soup on one side and herbal soup on the other.

My gal pal Em was also in Taipei at the same time and we were often conversing on our WhatsApp groupchat about our day. She mentioned about having eaten some very delicious duck blood (鸭血) for one of her hot pot dinner and the hubz and I started looking forward to eating it. I'm not sure about my non Asian readers, I believe that curdled pig blood and duck blood are not dishes that you often hear about. They are really delicious and nothing to cringe at. Singapore used to have pig blood as an ingredient to add into noodles soup when I was a child but somehow we no longer see them around. Perhaps they are banned from our country for a good reason but I don't care. =P

We had trays and trays of sliced beef and pork as we kept requesting for top ups.

Seafood like crabs and oysters were included on the menu. That was the first time I see fresh oysters as an ingredient for hot pot! They were so plump, succulent and fresh. We also had the usual vegetables and Yong Tau Foo.

The story of this kid's spoon goes like this:
I wanted to drink the soup.
I asked for a spoon.
Waiter looked puzzled as to why I needed a spoon.
I told him I wanted to use it to drink the soup.
He gave a bright smile and came back with a kid's spoon.
He apologized that they only had such spoon.
You mean the Taiwanese don't use spoons to drink soup?

Besides the sliced beef, my favourite for the day are the juicy oysters, the unique fish paste stuffed with cheese and the 2 tangy sauces which I dipped all my food into.

These are the desserts included in the all-you-can-eat meal. Each person could choose 2 types of desserts.

The desserts on the right of the collage was what we chose.

Overall, we had a very satisfying dinner at Zui Ma La (醉麻辣). However after a while, everything started to taste bitter due to the effect of the mala affecting my tastebuds. I continued to cook the stuff in the herbal soup to neutralize the effect. As for the ambience, did I mention how the restaurant has a dim elegant look? For more pictures of how the place look like, you could visit this blog.

[Photo credit]

~*The Long Walk along Zhong Xiao Dong Lu*~

After a satisfying dinner, we had a slow stroll along the whole of Zhong Xiao Dong Lu (忠孝東路) aka Zhong Xiao East Road. It is a really long road and throughout our walk, the hubby kept on singing the song "忠孝東路走九遍" by 動力火車. A direct English translation of that title would be "Zhong Xiao Dong Lu Walk Nine Times". Walking 9 times along such a long road would take hours... No wonder that's a sad song about a guy retracing his steps along that road with his lost love and wanting to leave the depressing Taipei.

If you're interested in the song, here it is.

These fruity ice lollies looked so inviting but we were too full to eat anything else. We were saving our stomachs for Raohe Night Market.

Ice Monster is a famous shaved ice stall. Again, it looked inviting but the traditional Taiwanese street snacks at Raohe would take precedence over this delicious-looking mango dessert. Besides, there is a branch in Singapore too.


As Wufenpu (五分埔) is very near to Raohe Night Market, we made a stop there to do some shopping and hopefully burn off enough calories to make way for street food. Wufenpu is the largest garment wholesale market in Taipei selling clothing, bags, shoes, accessories and a lot more. I thought I would go crazy there but guess what? I only bought a top together with a knitted outerwear that night. This is highly abnormal! For more beautiful pictures of the buzzing stores at Wufenpu, head over to this blog.

Taipei is a city that is dog-friendly. Super dog-friendly, in fact. Nobody seemed to mind that the store owner's poodle was having so much fun jumping from bags to bags of clothes.

There were dogs in half of the shops there.

I love this window coz I love classic Mickey and Minnie Mouse.

~*Lighted Float Procession*~

Along the way from Wufenpu to Raohe, we spotted a lighted parade. We weren't very sure what the procession was for but it sure looked religious as we saw floats of Goddess of Mercy and other Chinese gods and goddesses.

The dazzling lights were beautiful though some of the faces of the characters on the floats looked kinda scary closed up.

~*Raohe Street Night Market*~

The procession led us right to one end of Raohe Street Night Market (饒河街觀光夜市). It was teeming with people of all shapes and sizes. Waft of fried food drifted into the night sky. It was really crowded. We slowly peeled off our jackets off as we walked because of the heat from the crowd and from the stalls.

It was really easy to navigate in this night market for it consists of 2 long passageway for human traffic with food stalls in the middle. Lining both sides of the pedestrian walkways are rows of shops selling items ranging from food, bags, shoes, accessories and even pets! People usually walk down the street of Raohe and go one round to the other side and walk all the way back.

I've read so much about Naughty Cat and thought I could find cute accessories there but it was quite a disappointment. The bags were not my type and there was very strong chemical smell in the whole shop.

Now, on to the real cats. I wasn't joking when I said they sold pets here. I love the stripes and swirls on their bodies and thought these cats were quite pretty until I saw that grumpy face.

Our first food in Raohe are these quail eggs drizzled in special mayonnaise and topped with rainbow sprinkles. It was such a weird combination. I usually hate it when salty stuff turns out sweet but this snack is pretty awesome.

The greedy hubz simply wanted to try everything he fancied even though we were still not hungry. When he saw the banner of "Bleu Cordon Cheese...", he simply had to try it thinking it was either Cordon bleu or blue cheese. It was a disappointment though. We tasted no cheese and no shrimp, just loads of fried batter taste.

Every Taipei travel website and personal travel blog raves about this Black Pepper Bun (福州世祖胡椒饼) and promises that the long queue is worth it. Whenever something is highly-raved about, there is a danger of it raising my expectation so much that I would get disappointed. Unfortunately, it is the same for these buns.

The buns are freshly baked in a traditional charcoal oven on the spot. Instead of the usual steamed Chinese buns, these Black Pepper Buns are light charred on the outside and piping hot on the inside. Probably we were too full and that equals to diminishing marginal utility. Even though we were full, we forced ourselves to eat a bun on the spot coz it would taste better when eaten freshly cooked. I tasted fine though I did not think it was something to be raved about so much. In the end, the other bun which we brought home was eaten ice cold by the time I was hungry late at night.

We reached the other end of Raohe and decided to call it a day instead of turning one round and walking down the other side.

This sign says "Thank you. See you again."

At last, human selfie shots!

This entrance seemed to be a gathering point for groups of tourists amongst whom were a group of Singaporeans with that familiar Singlish and accent.

There was a pretty magnificent temple where we stood called the Songshan Ciyou Temple (松山慈祐宮). It was also where the lighted procession stopped.

I would most likely put Taipei Throwback posts on hold after this post and start drafting write ups on more current events. If you're interested, here are my other Taipei Throwback posts:
Taipei Throwback: First Night in Taipei
Taipei Throwback: The Curiosities in Modern Toilet Restaurant and Ximen Red House
Taipei Throwback: Bopiliao Old Street, Longshan Temple & Taipei Botanical Garden
Taipei Throwback: Liberty Square, Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall & Shida Night Market
Taipei Throwback: Taipei 101 & Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall

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Thank you all for your comments on my previous posts. It has been a really busy week prior to the festive season. On top of preparing for Christmas, I'm also preparing for an upcoming trip to Vietnam, Hanoi. I'm really excited about it as I managed to convince the hubz to go a S.E.A city for cultural tourism instead of wasting our leave lazing at some beach resort like a mass tourist. Replies would be slow and I hope to be able to reconnect with all of you soon. In the meantime, please keep the love coming in and have a splendid week ahead!


  1. Have a splendid weekend yourself...and a very cultural trip that is to come:) Mass tourism is overrated, it's much nicer to get to know as much as you can about a country, makes the stay much more meaningful, doesn't it?

    Seeing all the photos of delicious food made me really hungry. The fact that there was pig and duck blood sold to be used in cooking doesn't really surprise me. In many cultures it is used in similar purposes, though I can imagine that it might not be easy to keep it preserved. Blood is a key ingredient in many sausages Croatia the most famous one is called krvavica which might mean something like little blood, -ica is a very common suffix in Slavic languages and can mean a number of things, inventions and feminine gender being one of them. I just looked it up on wikipedia and they say that krvavica must contain at least 20 percent of blood ...I just found out that it is popular in Scandinavian countries, Island as well ( I only knew about Germany, Austria and Spain until know- and Slavic countries obviously). So, I learned something new today.
    I'm not a great fan of meat, I was a vegetarian for most of my life..and I only rarely eat it now and only turkey and chicken meat....but I have no problems preparing it for others, my husband eats it every day and as people here say only those animals that walk on four legs are real meat ( and those animals are preferably pigs:). I think my husband would have loved to eat in a restaurant where there is such a big selection of meat. That would be heaven for him:) btw I never tried duck before...I would like to some day (but I would feel a bit guilty as they are totally adorable and the city I live in now- Mostar is full of them).

    The animals are really cute, especially that grumpy cat...I think it is always a good sign when people are animal friendly:) and that dog jumping around must have been a sight to see!

    I think it can be said that people are animal friendly here, but the only place where I ever saw birds literally standing next to your hand while you eat and waiting for you to feed them was the capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana ...I never saw birds having absolutely no fear of humans before. I mean here they will wait around tables and they will land close (sparrows and such birds) but there the sparrows literally land on funny and adorable!

    1. Hi Ivana,

      I’m glad to hear that there are people who don’t flinch at the part of the post about eating blood and really thrilled to learn more about other related food cultures from you. When I first googled “krvavica”, it was a village and then I had to modify the search and saw lots of “blood sausages”. I’m curious to know about why you don’t eat much meat except turkey and chicken. Is it for health reasons or ethical reasons? It is so cute that you haven’t eaten duck before because they are so cute. I feel almost guilty eating these cute animals. Haha… It is a different thing when I see them already served as food and when I see them live being so cute.

      When the dog was jumping around, I wondered to my husband if people would just disregard and continue buying those clothes coz I know in some countries, the people might be shooting dirty looks at the dog and the storeowner. I have yet to experience such fearless birds. They usually fly away at any close range so it would be a funny sight to see how they land on people in Ljubljana. Definitely not a place with bird phobia. Hahaha… I have a friend just like that! I always learn something very new from you and I enjoy this sharing of knowledge.

    2. I actually don't like the taste of meat, I was a vegetarian for most of my life...I have started eating turkey and chicken because of the health reasons, I lacked iron in my blood...but now because I've Chron I shouldn't eat much meat so I use that as an excuse:) I do love fish, however...when I was a vegetarian I didn't eat it for ethical reasons but really I love everything that comes out of the sea... so funny, my husband talked about eating duck today...we both concluded that we would love to try it but I cannot find it in stores...and the ones that swim around the city (there are 5 rivers in Mostar city) I'm quite emotionally attached to, so no change of catching any of those ( not that I would know how to catch them anyway:)

  2. Hi Jo! I didnt know what mala and from wikipedia page looks very yummy! Lol, now I remember why you told it would have been a gourmand post, Im watering and so curious to taste all of these dishes! The kid spoon made me smile, you took it with you then? Btw, I like the street night market looks very crowded but I bet very nice to stroll around. I like that fact Taipei is dog friendly, love dogs. The photo with your hubby is my fav, you both are beautiful together! How thrilling you are going to Vietnam, hope you have an amazing time there!:) Have a great week Jo, kisses! xo

    1. Hey Lilli,

      Ma la is really yummy “ma” means “numbing” and “la” means “spicy”. So it is not just spicy but numbing. The food cooked in the mala soup all tasted so good. Quite a different experience though I wished it didn't affect my taste buds. There are lots of vegetarian options for ma la and since you eat fish, you might just like yong tau foo. I didn’t take the kid spoon with me. Haha… We should have gone down to the night market on an empty stomach so that we could just walk and try every single food that we fancied. It would have been a good experience!

  3. Too bad you were not more hungry at Raohe...and that the black pepper bun took up valuable tummy space. At least the quail egg dish was good. About the blood dishes, I'm not going to try them so that there will be more for others. I'm making a sacrifice. :)
    I really enjoyed the pictures of the floats and the temple.

    1. Rick,

      You’re right, we should have gone down to the night market on an empty stomach so that we could just walk and try every single food that we fancied. It would have been a good experience! Being full at a place full of delicious food is no fun. I was looking forward to see what all of you have to say coz I expected that many people would flinch at the part of the post about eating blood. Hehehe...

  4. That parade looks so fantastic! What a show. Also enjoy all the dogs having the run of the city. I found the pictures of the food pretty but my stomach was soured at all that talk of ingesting blood (or "Blaaaaahd" as Dracula would say." My Western taste buds ran for fear at the thought of it. Small-minded me but I'm OK with it :) What a fantastic trip and here you go on another. Sheesh! Oh and thank you for the Instagram birthday wishes as well.

    1. Rick,

      That’s what I expected too, that many people would flinch at the part of the post about eating blood and so I was looking forward to see what all of you have to say. Haha! Very interesting when I saw a blog friend sharing that it is pretty normal to have blood dishes in certain parts of Europe, I was surprised to know that not all westerners would think that blood dishes are weird. Perhaps Westerners in Europe. You’re welcome about the wishes and I hope you enjoy your day!

  5. Wu Fen Pu can be a bit overwhelming so I don't always end up buying that much when I visit.

    I agree with you that when foods are overhyped, they are rarely live up to the expectations! Your hotpot looks delicious though. I'll have to try and make it out there for my next trip to Taipei. :)

    Jemily Life

    1. Emily,

      On my 1st time at WFP, I didn’t buy much that I decided I HAD TO go back there again another day and scour the whole place just to find things to buy. I really went back again and bought more stuff on the 2nd last day if I recall correctly. Zui Ma La doesn’t have any ratings but I was pretty satisfied with my meal there.

  6. Soooo... What do they use for the soup then? Just put the pan straight to lips? I'm a little confused hahaha. And pigs blood, I've never heard of duck blood used before but I know about the pig kind. They use it in Europe, sausages and such. I being an incredibly fussy eater will not go near the stuff. Freaks me out! All those dogs hanging with their owners does not freak me out, in fact I wish it were something people did more of over here. Some pet stores the staff bring in their pets but I've only ever seen this twice in my whole life. Sigh.


    1. Sonia,

      Yes! I wonder about how they drink their soup too. There is the soup ladle so probably they use that as I sometimes rudely use normal ladle to drink the soup at my parents’ place. But drinking from a ladle in public doesn't look very elegant. Haha

      Ah yes, I googled and read about blood sausages that’s common in some parts of Europe. I hope that more shops over the world would become pet-friendly. We have got pet cafes here and I do see shops with cats so I guess we are opening up.

  7. Jo, you always showcase such interesting and different food... there are so many cultures with different items to indulge in... Although I don't think I will be eating any blood to soon... we have things like that too but I by pass it, I just never grew up with it and I never developed a taste for it.

    I hope you have a fun trip with your hubby, try to relax a little and enjoy yourself xox

    You and your hubby are so cute in your selfie picture here, I love it... so adorable <3

    Have an amazing week, I am slowing down a little just for the holidays, I want to spend as much time as I can with Valentina :)

    1. So glad to hear from you Launna! I hope you had a good hiatus from blogging. I love it when there are so many different types of food in a city. Now that you mentioned “a taste for it” and if I were to take it literally, these curdled blood stuff doesn’t have much taste. I hope you get to spend lots of time with your favourite people this holiday. Thank you for your sweet comments here and on my Instagram page!

  8. Hey, Jo. Hope you're doing fine. How cool you are going to Vietnam! It would be a great trip, I am sure! That night in Taipei seems to have been really interesting and eventful. As most of the fellow-bloggers are vegetarian, it's nice to see that you are not. Duck blood sounds weird, but I am sure it is delicious. The desserts look great, I am a macaron lover, mmm! The dogs are so cute and I really like the grumpy cat, haha. I'd love to try the bun, it looks very delicious! Love the night photos you made, they take me totally to another world. Have a nice week ahead! xo

    1. Stanislava, I didn’t know that there are so many fellow vegetarian bloggers around! I do know of a few and our common friend lovely Lilli is one though she eats fish. Sometimes I swoon so much over food especially meat dishes that I would wonder if my vegetarian friends would get offended. I didn’t quite like those species of cats that look grumpy though I love GRUMPY CAT that famous cat a lot. Even though I feel that the bun is overhyped, it is comforting to eat on a cold weather. You might love it!

  9. JO! I haven't commented in so long. I apologize for that, because college definitely sucked my life away (in a great way , of course) for a while there. I'm glad to see you're still having lots of fun daily adventures and it looks like you've had a few of those lately. Hope that your trip with the hubs is incredible. <3

    1. Oh how I missed you, Ali! But I'm so glad that we are connected on Facebook and Instagram so we could still know what's happening on those platforms. I enjoy seeing you manifest your creativity.

  10. Omg, that's awesome! I love LOVE the shots from your hot pot meal! I rarely enjoy meals like that and I love the spicy looking soup! I would have gone straight for lots of meat slices and mushrooms! And cheese shrimp fried balls? Ahhh! That sounds delicious!! Love these photos from your trip!

    1. Hey Sharlynn, Hotpot sure sounds good for the cold weather recently experienced in Singapore and of course when it is also winter in other countries. I sure am craving for some soupy stuff too as I'm replying the comments and looking through this post.

  11. The food looked great, I could have eaten all the sweets :) Lots of things to see here as well, I like that. The picture with your husband is so sweet, love that :))) I hope your week has started well my dear xx

    1. Thank you, doll. The weeks in December are usually great. =)

  12. Oh my gosh, that hot pot meal looks amazingly delicious. I tried pig's blood several times and I don't like the taste of it :P but never tried duck blood before! It's awesome that fresh oysters were on the menu! I would've just eaten raw. The desserts all look so tasty, Id have a really hard time choosing even if I'm allowed 2!

    It's great that Taipei is so dog friendly and it must've been really cute to witness the poodle jumping from pile to pile XD.

    1. Hey Richelles, These curdled blood stuff doesn’t have much taste but there is still this hint of taste. duck blood has got a milder taste than pig blood. I would have eaten the oysters raw too as I love raw oysters much more but when oysters are served this way, I guess it is safer to just dip it in the soup to lightly cook it for a while.We did have a hard time choosing the deseerts!

  13. i've heard of hot pot, but never saw it. when you mentioned blood, you should've seen my face! hahaha my facial expression was priceless. i know you said it tastes good but I don't know Jo. LOL i guess i take your word. glad you all enjoyed yourselves and the desserts looked delicious. that lighted parade procession was gorgeous. we call them floats. absolutely spectacular. loved looking at the cats and dogs. so cute.

    1. Hi Kim, That’s what I expected too, that many people would flinch at the part of the post about eating blood and so I was looking forward to see what all of you have to say. These curdled blood stuff doesn’t have much taste but there is still this hint of taste. I can imagine your expression as one of those emoji emoticon we use on our smartphon keyboard!

  14. LOL at the spoon story, maybe Taiwanese slurp the soup straight from the bowl? I have never been to Taiwan but had a taste of mala when a ex-colleague cooked it for my farewell party. It was super delicious and your this post made me miss it a lot. Gosh, there are so many variety of food being sold, I can imagine me stopping at every stall to eat if I was there! I probably would have put on a huge ton of extra weight. LOL!

    Reflection of Sanity

    1. Hey Shireen, Great to hear that you love mala. We would just walk and try every single food that we fancied if we hadn't been so full. Bad planning on our part. It would have been a good experience! Being full at a place full of delicious food is no fun.

  15. Oh... food is not my passion, traveling too. I mean I love to eat great meals, new tastes, visiting new places but my only big passion is fashion right now. That's mean that I'm not carious about cooking, traveling or many diferent things at my free time coz I'm spending my time at looking for new fashion news. But what I want to say is that I'm impresed everytime when I'm visiting blogs with diferent subcjects like yours. I'm always interested about food your showing, places. You have no idea how much I want to be there with you guys everytime you visiting this places, restaurants etc. It's so diferent than in Europe ;p
    Hugs Jo, Nabil ;)

    1. Hello Nabil, your comment made me smile. It's great to know that you like coming to my blog and seeing different things. Fashion is definitely your passion right now. You eat and breathe fashion and that's what special about you! xoxo


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