Monday, November 19, 2018


THERE'S ALWAYS TOO MUCH TO EAT AND NEVER ENOUGH TIME, especially when you travel to a new place.  The past two years, I’ve slowly been exploring the cities outside of Taipei after years of just staying in town- Taichung, Kaohsiung and Tainan- but there is still so much of Taiwan I've yet to visit. I've never been to Kending, Chiayi or Changhua despite the bookmarks from my instagram feed. 

If Tainan is on your to visit list (as it should be) and you need some ideas of where to find dessert worthy of wearing your stretchy pants, I've got you covered. A few weeks ago, I returned to Tainan for an epic day of eats, with desserts on my checklist. After one full day,  a high speed rail roundtrip ticket, five official stops (and a few unofficial ones) and 8 hours of eating my way through the city, here is my dessert crawl of sorts (though be warned they are all over the map and not walking distance at all). I kind of fell in love and would totally revisit these places if I ever made my way back to Tainan. 

This is my second time accepting the gig from the Tainan City Government- they've worked with over 50 shops in 2018 to help business owners with the translation of their menus and to be featured  by English bloggers like me. Check out where I went last year to write up 5 spots for the Tainan English Friendly program.  

 It was definitely a LOT of dessert for one day, but it can be done. 😂 Three short day trips definitely can’t capture the entirety of what to eat in Tainan and my first visit to the night market showed that there’s so much more to explore.

Brunch and brown sugar lattes at BRIDGE+ [ 橋上看書 ]

BRidge+ is a cozy neighborhood cafe serving up brunch and coffee. Seven years ago, the owner Rebecca put her love for books and brunch together to open BRidge+ (the capital R in the name is a nod to Rebecca) and the menu offers American sized brunch plates along with Japanese sets like curry or beef don with scrambled eggs. 

While their popular brunch sets include french toast, cheesy omelettes, egg salad with diced apple on croissant, I loved their black sugar latte (NT$120) which can be served hot or cold. BRidge+ makes theirs with Baoshan black sugar from Hsinchu and plenty of caramelized foam. The cafe is perfect for a leisurely coffee and brunch before heading out to all the desserts on your list, or if you have a laptop and need a corner to work. (And yes while the brown sugar latte is not technically a dessert, it's got enough sweetness and sugar to fit the bill.) 

No. 13, Lane 52, Shengli Road, East District, Tainan, 
hours: 9AM-5PM 
phone: 06-236-3088

Bonus eats: the fluffiest taiwanese bread at a bakery just around the corner

3:06PM Feng yuan soy pudding and tang yuan shaved ice at 

AH CHUAN HOMEMADE TAPIOCAS is a streetside shop selling drinks, shaved ice and soy pudding with homemade tapioca balls, or fen yuan. The family recipe for these mini tapioca balls, made weekly with sweet potato starch and no preservatives, was passed down from the owner’s grandfather, who used to sell it from the bicycle that sits in front of the shop. It's a sweet homage to his grandfather and his father who sold it from his motorcycle. 

I would recommend getting a bowl of soy pudding, or dou hua, with the signature feng yuan along with xiao tang yuan and more QQ jelly (NT$40). The fen yuan you might notice is a lighter color and more transparent than the typical boba that you would find in your boba milk tea. The texture is also slightly bouncier and not as hard. For mochi ball lovers, you can get a bowl of shaved ice topped with brown sugar and the familiar pink and white xiao tang yuan, which you have to eat (and take photos) quickly before gravity starts to do its thing and the mochi balls start avalanching off the ice onto the table. 

There was no apparent English signage when I went, but they had their English friendly menu ready when I asked. I mentioned that putting up some photos of their best sellers or even taping up a copy of their English menu to the counter would help the customers that can't read Chinese (and might be afraid to ask for one.) 

No. 82, Hai'an Road, Section 1, West Central District, Tainan 
hours: 09:30–23:00
phone: 06-223-9373 

Crispy chili soft serve at DOGA CHILI [ 香酥脆椒 ]

DOGA CHILI is whimsical shop selling packaged crispy chilis and soft serve.🍦 I was a little hesitant to go to Doga at first because it was so out of the way from everything else on the list (like going to Banqiao from downtown Taipei), but I could understand the appeal after visiting.

From the cute colorful houses facades of the shop decorated with the shop's original mascots, to the addictively spicy and crispy chili crisps to the soft serve, it seems like it was made for instagram (just see the array of photos on their location tag).

 But the owner started out 14 years ago making kimchi (way before social media), taking the chili peppers and putting them in the food dehydrator and seasoning them just for friends. The word spread and soon she was making an online shop. The signature shop opened 5 years ago.

Doga has won several awards and they let you sample their dozen or so flavors- from jalapeño, cumin, Thai sweet and sour to caramel, chocolate and lemon. Everything is labeled in English and Chinese for easy shopping and the service was friendly and helpful. Before I visited, I thought they were spicy rice crackers but they are actual chili peppers. Besides their sample size and boxes of chili crisps, Doga's whole crispy garlic, mushrooms or preserved fruits are perfect for souvenirs.

If you're not a fan of mixing spicy/savory and sweet flavors, then there's a few cereal and syrup only toppings for soft serve available too.

No. 556號, Anping Road, Anping District, Tainan 
hours: 10AM - 8PM 
Phone: 06-221-8995


Bonus eats: beef soup just a few doors down

Homemade gelato at FELICITA  費尼希卡義式冰淇淋 ]

FELCITIA GELATO is a small gelato shop selling homemade gelatos and desserts. With bright pink walls and a mural filled with balloons, the cheerful interior is nice stop for a few scoops. The young owner Sandy makes all the gelatos in house and the flavors use many Taiwanese fruits and ingredients. It was hard to settle on just two flavors after sampling many- we ended up with the milk tea ice cream and 70 percent chocolate gelato. I also really liked mascarpone and blueberry yogurt flavors. She also bakes desserts on the weekends like cinnamon rolls or brownies, and offers waffle bites, but I would stick to the gelatos. 

No. 386, Hewei Road, Section 2, North District, Tainan
Hours: 3PM - 9PM
Phone: 06-282-6116

Bonus eats: the Garden night market is just down the street, but unfortunately it was closed that night. The Tainan night markets have an alternating schedule where they are open on different nights. For someone like me from Taipei, I found it all very confusing, but we found our way to XX Night market after a 20 minute walk. Apparently no one walks in Tainan because when we asked about night markets nearby we were told that it was too far to walk, and we didn't really encounter pedestrians or bicyclists as we walked. 


Homemade sweet potato/taro balls at ODOSAN [芋豆賞]

Odosan is a small Taiwanese dessert shop selling housemade sweet potato and taro balls. If you ever make your way to Tainan, this is combo number 7 for the ultimate sweet potato ball/ taro ball lovers. 🍠 There’s seven kinds of homemade toppings on top of handmade dou hua soy pudding, including (1) taro balls, (2) sweet potato balls, (3) taro ball stuffed with sweet potato, (4) sweet potato ball stuffed with taro, (5) candied sweet potato, (6) Taro, and last but not least (7) mini tapioca balls. (NT$55). 

There was a lot going on in that bowl and it was so good. I could definitely taste the difference between this and chain places that sell mass produced kinds. I've also never had stuffed taro/sweet potato balls, and it's cool they reverse the fillings. The portion is quite sizeable for the price. 

My dad loved the pickled plums that came with the aiyu lemon jelly and it turned out that their grandmother still makes batches for them. 

The owners opened Odosan when they decided they wanted to make their own douhua when they had kids, and started out learning from the husband’s mom. Nine years later, their little dessert shop was busy with customers and to-go orders on a weekday evening. Now they make everything in house- from the soy pudding to the sweet potato and taro balls.  Sometimes they sell out, but luckily we got the last bowl. 

There are a few photos on the wall in the back of the shop but the English menu can be little bit overwhelming. It might be better to decide if you want shaved ice, aiyu, or soy pudding then pick the toppings from the choices on the counter. Or just go with their signature dessert- combo number 7!

No. 56號, Beiyuan Street, North District, Tainan City, 704 
06 209 9077 

This blog post is sponsored by Bureau of Economic Development, Tainan City Government (臺南市政府經濟發展局廣告). For more information about the English Friendly program in Tainan, check out: Tainan EZ Go! or Facebook Page. I've told them they should have more information in English on their Facebook page, but baby steps. 

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