Nantou is a tiny city in Central Taiwan. If not for its scenic views and savory dishes, no foreign tourist might bother visiting a Taiwanese city that is not anywhere near Taipei or Kaohsiung. Eating and drinking in Nantou is a delight, since the county of Nantou is known for its delicious hot and spicy dishes. Some of the most popular dishes here are noodles, beef and vegetables.
A favorite among locals is the aromatic Nantou-style egg noodle soup. There are century-old noodle houses in the city that have inherited traditional skills in preparing noodles with precise elasticity, smoothness and texture. The Nantou-style noodle soup is not only a culinary treat but also cultural and historical. Another popular noodle dish is Puli’s fried rice noodles aka water rice noodles. Puli is a township in Nantou County that is known for its sunny weather and good quality of water. Noodles from Puli are said to have the perfect texture and taste. Local noodle producers grind the rice into a pulp, squeeze dry, sift, make into thread by hand, and then dry under the sun. The rice noodle is very aromatic whether stir-fried or boiled.
Aside from the noodles, Nantou also has tasty beef products, especially Angus beef from Chingjing Veterans Farm. Angus cattle living on the picturesque plateau of Chingjing thrive in a wide unpolluted area with fresh pastures. The farm makes delicious beef jerky that is exported to many countries in the world. Also, Chingjing is known for the exotic local dishes of the native Baiyi people. They serve delicious pig head skin, fried bamboo insects, sour papaya chicken soup, and crispy, deep-fried fish stuffed with a variety of spices in its belly.
The third popular Nantou food item would be the local vegetables, and one of the rarest kinds is the winter bamboo shoot. Grown underground, these bamboo shoots are reputed to be very aromatic, hygienic, and rich in fiber, iron, and energy. Locals are said to enjoy eating this vegetable to improve their appetite, digestion, skin and even weight. Along with celery, winter bamboo shoots are widely grown in the Nantou town of Luku, producing about 1,455 tons every year.
A rare vegetable found in Nantou is the red yam. The popular red and sweet yam is popularly served as braised red yam (with malt and granulated sugar) or red yam bun. The buns are cooked with red yam and flour and stuffed with meat, mushroom, and bamboo shoots.
Even the most popular drink in Nantou is nutritious and aromatic, the Tungting oolong tea, which is exported to several countries around the world. Oolong tea plants are widely cultivated in the town of Luku where there are wide aromatic plantations.
Nantou is also known for its locally grown grapes, plums, mushrooms, pineapple and many more fruits that are known for their freshness.
When eating and drinking in Nantou, try the city’s well-loved restaurants, which include Fala Steak House (known for its Western-style steak and refillable drinks), Elephant Steak House (larger than Fala Steak House but serving the same delicious steaks; known for its eat-all-you-can noodles and salad), and Duofu Dohua (known for its sweets; “dohua” is sweet soft bean curd).