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【New Communities in Taiwan】Catch a Glimpse of Myanmar on Zhonghe Huaxin Street

Hit : 82
Date : 2019/7/4
Updated : 2019/7/12 下午 05:21:00

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If you plan to visit Huaxin Street in Zhonghe District, make sure you do it in the morning. Before the clock strikes noon, many authentic Myanmar vendors in the market start to close for the day. Myanmar baba noodles and split pea noodles served in popular stores also begin to sell out.

In Myanmar, tea houses are important community hubs that people cannot do without. Myanmar-born Taiwanese film director Midi Z clearly shows the importance of tea houses in the movie Return to Burma. Tea houses can be found even in the smallest Myanmar villages, providing snacks and desserts. They are places for great food, as well as hubs for socializing and sharing information.

Huaxin Street is the main settlement of new immigrants from Myanmar, and the tea house culture has also sprouted in a foreign land. Tea house tables and chairs are usually placed on verandas, attracting Myanmar new immigrants early in the morning. They sip their tea slowly, read newspapers, and enjoy chatting with their friends. There you can even see people concentrating on playing chess. Listen carefully, and you will hear an unfamiliar language flowing through the air. It's almost as if you are in a foreign land. (Related Article - Find Korean Snacks on Zhongxing Street and Enjoy Myanmar Cuisine on Huaxin Street)

Behind every Myanmar immigrant is a winding story, like Huaxin Street's twist and turns and mix of flavors. Myanmar cuisine is a melting pot of different foods. It encompasses the foods of local Myanmar indigenous people and neighboring ethnic groups. Elements of Yunnan, central Guangdong, Minnan Chinese, Bengal, Indian, and Thai style foods can be seen in Myanmar food.

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(Leek roots and Thai eggplant)

Huaxin Street’s Lane 30 is a traditional marketplace with eye-grabbing food ingredients everywhere to be found. Gigantic bitter bean pods loved by the Burmese, white leek roots for fish rice, round and plump Thai eggplant and Turkey berry for green curry, galangal, tamarind leaves, dried shrimp, lemongrass, dried fish, samosa, and many fried foods are all common cuisine found on a Burmese dinner table.

When you walk up to the stalls and ask the vendors about the ingredients but only receive Burmese words in reply, you know you are deep in a foreign land in Taipei. (Extended Reading - A Hunger for Home: Home Flavors in Zhongzhen Market)

Dodge into an alley next to the market and you will see tables with banana trunks on them; that's the authentic Myanmar fish soup noodles shop calling you. The delicious fish soup noodles incorporate banana trunks and banana bark into the soup. The top of the noodle soup is often sprinkled with fried goodies.

If you are looking for a larger meal, you can consider Yunnan Dai rice noodles. Myanmar baba noodles, split pea noodles, curry over rice, coconut noodles, and fish soup noodles are great choices as well. You can also consider appetizing Yunnan- and Myanmar-style chilled noodles sprinkled with lemon juice or tamarind sauce. (Related Article - Donggang, Pingtung: Myanmar Style Sour and Spicy New Year's Dishes)

Small but amazing spots can be found all over Huaxin Street. Roti bread and roti canai are especially loved by everyone who tries them. The baking process of roti bread is captivating. The baker masterfully tosses and swings the dough and then places it on a piece of round stone. After a sprinkle of water, he sticks the dough into the oven, and in no time a slice of bubbling roti bread is done. You can dip roti bread in butter or bean paste for a delicious treat, and it's even better with milk tea.

Myanmar pastries often use natural sweetener made from coconut milk, brown sugar, and glutinous rice. There is even a unique semolina cake topped with poppy seeds that Burmese people love. In Huaxin Street you could often see pandan silver needle noodles (a.k.a. chilled noodles) in plastic cups, and white yogurt. Add sugar water to the chilled noodles, and enjoy the yogurt with brown sugar syrup. The flavor of the yogurt will amaze you.

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(Gold Owl)

Shops on Huaxin Street love to display golden owl lucky charms as symbols of good fortune and prosperity. When the weather is good in Little Myanmar, you can often see people sun drying pickled vegetables, a sight rarely seen on the streets of Taipei. There are also two grocery stores on Huaxin Street that are worth visiting. You can find golden owl lucky charms, cosmetic thanakha powder, tsaoko (a spice from Myanmar), and various pickled vegetables. Visitors can even try on traditional longyi (a sheet of cloth commonly worn in Burma) in the store.

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(Dried pickled vegetable/tsaoko)

Turn into the alley next to Kutkai Beef Stew from Huaxin Street, and you will see Ah-Fen Posu Buns. This famous mom-and-pop store only sells three kinds of stuffed buns: meat and vegetable, bean paste, and sesame. Yunnan posu buns have light and fluffy breading. Once you tear one open, you will see layers of breading and delicious stuffing. Ah-Fen Posu Buns is actually Ah-fen's house. In the morning you can see cheerful Ah-fen making posu buns in the living room while chatting with visitors who come in and out. The Yunnan dialect fills the air. (Related Article - 7 Tastes of Yunnan in Taoyuan)

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(Ah-Fen Posu Buns)

If you want to know more about Huaxin Street, you can join tours jointly operated by Taipei Walking Tour and Brilliant Time bookstore. Guides will point out things only a local would know. It is like taking an express train of knowledge, as different scenery and fun are only a moment away.

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(Brilliant Time Bookstore)

Article Origin: Smile Taiwan (article and images by Pao Tzu-yi)

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