Taiwan

Taiwan Stir Fry Re- chao (熱炒) : A Taste of Taiwanese Culture

It’s almost dinner time. What comes to your mind? It’s your forth day in Taiwan, and you have been to the night market twice, tried the crispy pot stickers and tasty beef noodles.

When you are wandering in the bustling streets in Taipei, do you see people sitting around a big-round table having dinner together? The tempting dishes and half empty beers all over the table. You hear laughter, and the atmosphere is laid back.

Stir-fry Re-chao, the spirit of Taiwanese food culture

This photo of Acai Restaurant is courtesy of TripAdvisor

With a wide variety of food options, street food culture, tea shops, Taiwan is a popular travel destination for foodies. Have you heard of stir fried dishes (re-chao 熱炒)? Re-chao is a casual style of restaurant and is popular among Taiwanese. You can enjoy small and cheap stir-fry dishes, and drink beers with friends. This plays and important part of the essential Taiwanese food culture.

Restaurant of re-chao, which means stir-fried in Chinese, get its name from the common way the dishes are being served. Featuring reasonable price, wide variety of dishes, and a welcoming environment, stir fried dishes has been one of the first choices when it comes to a causal friend gathering or family dinner.

Sharing is caring: the art of eating together

Sharing the food on the table and chatting over the meals has always been cultural tradition in Taiwan. The concept of the more the merrier can be applied when going to a stir-fry restaurant. Since all the dishes ordered are shared, the more people you go with, the more dishes you can sample. Unlike the rectangular seats table, the tables in the stir fry restaurant are round and can sit up to 10-12 people. The vibe of a typical stir fry restaurant is that it’s casual, loud, messy, and cheap. The relaxed atmosphere with great company and food will make yourself at home.

A wide variety of options satisfying everyone

As the name re-chao implied, most of the dishes are stir fried. Since most of the stir fry restaurants put effort to increase the table turning rate, the production process of stir-fried dishes can’t be too complicated. However, diverse cooking style including fried, deep fried, steamed can still be found. Taiwanese cuisines are mainly influenced by provinces of China, most notably from the south of Fujian, Sichuan cuisine, and also Japanese cuisine, e.t.c……. You will be amazed by the diversity of dishes offered at a re-chao restaurant. Whether you are going with a vegetarian, or you yourself is a vegetarian. Or maybe some of your friends are pescetarians, hm. Don’t you worry! The variety of options can make everyone happy.

Food tour in Shilin Nightmarket to savor Taiwanese local food classic all at once

The must order at a re-chao restaurant

You might find it difficult to make decisions with a book of menu. Here are some recommended classics for your very first re-chao experience.

1. Fried Shrimp Ball with Pineapple 鳳梨蝦球

(Credit: Ray Yu on flickr)

Fried shrimp balls are made from a seasoned shrimp paste mixture that’s formed into balls. They feature a crunchy exterior and a steaming hot, chewy interior. Like a lot of deep-fried seafood, these shrimp balls go really well with some mayonnaise. With some sweet and sour pineapple on the side, balancing the greasy taste, this dish win both adults and kids’ heart.

2. Gongbao chicken 宮保雞丁

(Credit: wikipedia)

This delicious classic Chinese dish is flavored with fresh ginger, garlic, chilli and peanuts, and drizzled in a soy-infused sauce. The taste of spicy tender chicken and crunchy peanuts make it irresistible. Warning: there is a possibility to eat three bowls of rice with this mouth-watering dish.

3. Preserved Radish omelet 菜脯蛋 (Chai Po Neng)

(Credit: arty822 on flickr)

You might already have eggs for breakfast, but it’s not a reason to skip this must-eat egg dish. Chai Po Neng in Hakka language, it is a simple dish made of fluffy eggs and salty preserved radish. It is a homemade comfort food, and most of the Taiwanese have a nostalgic feeling towards it.

4. Taiwan beer

(Credit: Michael Kwan on flickr)

BEERS, YES. The brand, Taiwan Beer, is an icon of Taiwanese culture.

This photo of Acai Restaurant is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Taiwan Beer began as a monopoly product, and it still remained the best-selling beer in Taiwan. You might likely hear “ganbei “(乾杯) often times in the restaurant, which means “empty your cup” in Chinese. It’s a crime to have re-chao without some ice-old Taiwanese beer. It’s the perfect combo.

Hungry? Why not plan to go to a re-chao restaurant with some friends next time? Raise your glass, and enjoy the great food, and cheers to your stay in Taiwan! Ganbei!

cover photo: pan vanessa on flickr