Thursday, May 07, 2009

Historic Da Shi (大溪老街)

When I went back to Taoyuan, we went to Historic Da Shi; I only have vague memories of going there as a child. We got some bubble tea "to go" for the excursion. What you see here is a "beverage thong" (丁字褲). Back in the day, if you got a bubble tea to go, they would put your cup of bubble tea and a straw into a small red and clear striped plastic bag with maybe some napkins. In an effort to cut down on waste and cost of buying plastic bags, you can carry your beverage in a "beverage thong". It is basically two loops melted together, one to hold and the other one to go around the cup. Very good for delayed consumption of beverages while wandering the streets of historic Da Shi (大溪).

Historic Da Shi is made up of rows of shop-houses (store in front, house in back) that sell anything from hand-crafted toys to household goods. One thing to note is that there are no less than 4 stores that sell dou gan (豆干) within a single block, as it is the specialty of the region. All the shops are connected by a common covered sidewalk.The seal says "Taoyuan Hsien Tahsi Hoping Old Street," which is half literal and half translated into English. Hoping is actually pronounced huh-ping; it means peace. Old street is probably best translated into historic street.
The facades to the street is an odd mix of western style Japanese colonial architecture and traditional Chinese flourishes.
You can see towards the rear of the photo, someone build more floors to their unit, reminescent of how people added apartments to coloseums in Europe during Medieval times. The restoration people left one Medieval apartment but tore down the rest at the amphitheater in Arles, France (les arenes d'Arles). (The bear's name is Guy. He accompanied me around Europe in 2003)
The prices are:
"vegetarian chicken" (素雞)-15 NTD
"hundred sheets" (like mille-feuille?) (百頁豆干) -30 NTD
"vegetarian stomach" (like meat-free offal?) (素肚) -25 NTD
"black dou gan" (黑豆干) -8 NTD
Those round things in the pot are the "vegetarian stomachs". They are basically just dou gan shaped like a pouch (which is supposed to resemble a stomach).

You order whichever variety of dou gan and they prepare it for you. In the pot, they are whole slices or whole rounds; when served, they slice it, drizzle condiments over it, and stab some sticks into the dou gan for ease of eating. To the bottom left are the black dou gan, to the right is the round shaped vegetarian stomach. To me, the vegetarian stomach was more "Q" (bouncy, chewy) than the others. Our condiments were a soy saucy sauce, red pepper sauce, and lots of cilantro. There are other options, such as bonito flakes, curry, etc.
Here is a site that shows the packaged type of dou gan as well as the snacks (小吃) you would buy off the street. The most famous makers of dou gan are Huang Da Mu (黃大目) , Huang Ri Shiang (黃日香), and Da Fang Dou Gan (大房豆干). It doesn't matter which one you buy your dou gan from, they are all tasty; they are all stemmed from the same family of dou gan makers, but the different brands came about after infighting among the brothers, as explained in fact #7 of this site.