BY CK Lam
There is more to see in Taiwan, and our next stop is Yilan County (宜兰县). This part of Taiwan with long history since the Qing Dynasty and Japanese-occupation era is a great place to get a feel of countryside with picturesque villages and natural landscape. Scattered houses can be seen with surrounding plot of farmland.
From Taipei, it takes about an hour-drive to reach this greenish destination. Alternately, a train ride will also get you to Yilan Railway Station.
For us on a day trip out from Taipei, there is enough to see, do and eat in Yilan. We arrived early to explore and our itinerary include several places:
1, Guangfu Road, Yilan Country, Taiwan (宜兰县宜兰市和睦里光复路1号)
Open Daily (24 Hours)
The place to begin exploring is taking a walk around Jimmy Square. Launched by Yilan County Government, the theme square is adorned with pieces of art surrounded by preserved old trees. It is open free to the public.
The square includes the Jimmy Liao Park 幾米廣場. The park will sure bring back memories for movie lovers of 向左走, 向右走 Turn Left, Turn Right and 星空 Starry Starry Night with its life size figures.
Memorial Hall of Founding of Yilan Administration (宜兰设治纪念馆)
260, Taiwan, Yilan County, Yilan City
Business Hours: 9am till 5pm, Tuesday to Sunday.
Closed on Mondays and the last day and eve of the month.
Contact Number: +886 (03) 9326 664
Admission: NT30 per person
After visiting Jimmy Liao Park, we continued with a guided tour of the Memorial Hall of Founding of Yilan Administration. The place housed in an old structure Japanese house surrounded by beautiful tranquil ponds and zen garden showcases the history and the formation of Yilan township.
LINK Taiwan- 麟のLINK手创料理
No. 58-2, Taishan Road, Yilan County, Taiwan (宜兰市泰山路58-2号)
Business Hours: Lunch and Dinner
Contact Number: +886 (03) 9368 658
In Yilan, one dining place that appeals to many is LINK Taiwan- 麟のLINK手创料理. Our 8-course lunch menu costing NT1,500 offers innovative delights prepared with traditionally aged sauces and ingredients using recipes passed down for four generations.
From the appetizer to the dessert, the menu is a treat. The appetizer comes with three items- Pomelo Vinegar, Smoked Rose Chicken and Dried Duck with Raw Mango. The pomelo vinegar which rounds up the dish is a decadent surprise to the palate.
A warming Chicken Soup with sweetness of seafood, free-range chicken and premium ingredients such as dried scallops, bamboo fungus, Japanese glass noodle and three types of radish provided interesting play of taste and flavors.
For those who are fond of Gao Cha (Yilan’s traditional delicacy), the Three Cup Prawn with Gao Cha will have you swooning in delight. The gao cha made of boiled rice flour, then deep-fried, was nicely accented with a touch of savoriness and soft texture.
The Teriyaki Fish came next served with glutinous rice, with obvious Japanese cuisine presentation. The grilled comet fish and other ingredients made clever combinations and complements.
The Pan Fried Lamb, on the other hand, proves that meat marinated with combination of fresh fruits taste so much better.
A unique dish that we savored is the rice congee. The congee slow cooked until it has a starchy and soupy texture is served alongside deep-fried anchovies.
Luodong Farmers’ Alliance (罗东镇农会)
14, Cangqian Road, Luodong Township, Yilan County, Taiwan (宜兰县罗东镇仓前路14号)
Business Hours: 9 am to 5 pm
Contact Number: +886 (03) 9518 667
After the satisfying lunch, we made our way to Luodong Farmers’ Alliance, a place for Luodong farmers to display their products for sale.
We enjoyed the hands-on experience in the Tofu Fah making session in between savoring soya bean drinks and bites of century eggs. The one and half hour DIY session available in the morning and afternoon is priced at NT150 per person (inclusive of DIY items and ingredients).
Luodong Night Market (罗东夜市)
Minquan Road, Luodong Township, Yilan County, Taiwan (罗东镇民权路)
Business Hours: 5 pm to 12 am
Last stop in Yilan is the Ludong Night Market. Not only is the place for night market food, it is also the place for clothings and electronic gadgets. Although it is not the most vibrant night market we have seen before, the array of food that we picked up is enough to fill our tummies.
A visit had us sampling Stinky Tofu with chilli sauce and pickled vegetables 臭豆腐 (NT40), and comforting light flavored Dang Gui Lamb soup with slices of lamb 当归羊肉 (NT65) from Ah-Zao-Pek 阿灶伯.
Among the deep-fried items, the Dragon Phoenix Roll with fish paste and cabbage wrapped in web-like pork lard (NT20), and huge Three-Star Spring Onions Bun encased with chopped spring onions are very much to my liking.
Last on the list of snacks at the Luodong Night Market is the Taiwanese Popiah and Beef Noodles. We watched in delight as the seller rolled up the humongous roll of popiah filled with generous bean sprouts, cabbage and pork. On the other hand, the Taiwanese Beef Noodle at Chuan Dong Restaurant is decent at best – with the taste of the broth and noodles being rather average.