Monday, January 25, 2010

[台北] 饒河街元祖胡椒餅 (士林夜市 & 饒河夜市) - Fuzhou style Pork Pepper Roasted Bun (Shihlin and Raohe Night Markets)

Rao He Night Market in Taipei is a semi touristy destination that sports a beautiful structure at the night market's starting point or entrance, that slightly reminds one of the gate by Grant Street, representing the door to San Francisco's Chinatown, except RH's is more festive looking especially during Chinese New Year period. You might find similar kinds of sturctures at Chinatowns worldwide (including Japan and Canada)

But let's move on to the meat, or swine of the matter here.
once you go past the gate, wander across the market with food stall after another on the street, with various shops on either side of the road, and reach near the other end of the market, there is a small food stall with a sizeable line. The size of the line can vary depending on weather, time of night or week, but one thing stays constant.

Yeah dude, it's the Rao He Jieh OG Fuzhou Style Pepper Pork Bun! 饒河街元祖胡椒餅

The stalls sells one thing only, and that is the Fuzhou supposedly old school traditional preparation of what is known as Hujiao Bing 胡椒餅, or loosely translated as Pepper Cake. In Taiwan and in some culinary circles, Fuzhou style fish balls are arguably more famous (delicious soft yet bouncy shark meat balls with very finely soft minced pork inside, typically served in a soup), but this Pepper Bun is a major force to be reckoned with.

This stall has branches in Shihlin Night Market, and one year ago opened up another location in downtown Taipei. But the one here at RH Night Market is the original and first ever location, and arguably the best out of the three I've been to.

There are basically four people at this stall, taking care of the following:

1) A pre-marinated container filled with ground pork and other secret ingrdients. Not surprisingly one of them is quite a bit of Chinese white pepper.

2) Containers of diced local scallions

3) Creating/kneading the dough for the outer later of the bun/cake

4) A scoop of pork, a lot of scallions put on top of the dough, then covered up and molded into round buns, and one side gets a layer of sesame seeds on top

5) Putting the uncooked buns in step 4 in the cooking section of the stall and roasting the f**k out of them until the outsides are brown, tanned, and at the right consistency.

The stall sells these near fist size buns for NT$40 per and have been doing so for years, which translate to a tad over US$1 each.


I'm not kidding, this Pepper Bun makes Shanghainese XLB a severe afterthought. It's not as pretty or artfully crafted as a XLB, but it sure tastes way better.

When you get one, it comes piping hot, and inside a small paper bag. The outer layer is crispier than your most favorite toast, yet the inside is steaming with the juiciest pork badonadonk you've ever layed your senses into. That first bite of the outer layer is like a supreme Australian or British style meat pie, but even better (no offense to you pub fans.) The inside is juicier and arguably more soupier than XLB, with so much flavor you'd never think pork could taste this good. Then the white pepper flavor comes into play and KICKS YOUR ASS, but without that wasabi burn feeling. If you're a pepper or spice wimp, then this might be a little too hardcore for some. The bun is thick enough on the outside that there's sufficient distance between the hot crispy outside, while the juicy insides soften the interior part of the dough, giving it a different dimension and taste experience.

Underneath that sexier pork is a layer of scallions (inside the bun) that has absorbed enough juices and soup of the pork, allowing the flavors to further come out. 5 to 10 minutes into eating the effin bun still retains its heat and passion (and yours included). It's a truly unique and amazing experience.

I'd hate to find out the calorific, fat, and whatever weight and cholestrol/lipitol/fuckitol content in in these things.

Here are some pics of the Shihlin Night Market 士林夜市 location.

The "making of" MTV (meat television!)


The result? A really toasty roasty crispy exterior. The insides gush with fantastic pork and porky soup flavors (be careful not to McBurn yourself like a scalding coffee).

饒河街元祖胡椒餅 (Rao He Street OG Shiznit Pork Pepper Bun)
台北市饒河街249號前 (Taipei City, Rao He Street #249, inside the night market)

Open from 5 pm to midnight

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