My first couple of orders for my Baked Italian chicken rolls were served on Monday and Tuesday and I am very pleased for the initial reviews. I am very humbled, grateful and appreciative from the support of our Taichung friends. Please pass the word out to friends and family as I continue my path to happiness with my passion for cooking here in Taiwan! Thanks! 🙏🏻💕
12/7 – 艋舺哥 “雞肉卷敲好吃的Y(＾_＾)Y; 真的好吃 “ “Chicken roll was very good; really good!”
12/8 – 劉珊妙 “好美味！艋舺哥沒騙我！我要加訂2條” “My good friend did not lie to me! I want to order another 2!”
12/9 – Bike Wang林畣榮 “謝謝大廚還貼心加熱，果真吃起來特別香酥可口” “Thank you Chef! it was very crispy and delicious!”
Patience has been the key as I continue my journey to happiness here in Taiwan. Letting it come to me when its right. Let the chips fall where they may. Instead of diving in head first, we have listened to family and friends alike, tasted the local food as well as the westernized food here. Taiwanese taste is light because over salting and over sweetening is not necessary here due to the natural fresh ingredients. At the same time I have been cooking all types of food with the intent of seeing what can and cannot work for me. Lately I have started pushing samples to see what type of demand is there. That is why I lately I have been testing donuts, pizza and now my baked chicken roll. I have a tremendous support base full of Taiwanese friends in both Taipei and Taichung and I am very fortunate for that as word of mouth here in the Taiwan food industry will make you or break you. Because local Taiwan news is small time, I have even seen many times on Taiwanese news channels where they report customer restaurant complaints from arguments to the quality and service of a restaurant.
This weekend we had a nice reunion with our NYC Soho neighbors and friends, Tom and Annie Yuan who were visiting family here in Taichung. Tom got to see firsthand the life I gave up in NYC and to confirm that my life here in Taiwan is for real. lol… I know I had some doubters as to my “survivability ” here but I know who I am and thats all that matters. I now know I have Tom to validate my new life here when he returns to NYC.
Tom and Annie are leaving Monday for NYC and also got to bring back with them to NYC my baked blueberry glazed donuts. But I doubt the donuts will make the plane ride back by then. lol
As we are settling in Taichung and cooking in my new kitchen since we returned, we have made dozens of friends here with the opportunity of networking myself with my passion for cooking here. Opening a restaurant here would go against everything that we chose for the reasons that we moved here. We don’t want to tie ourselves down here to renting brick and mortar. Economic slowdown has reached Taiwan within the last 12 months now and I have already seen some cafes turnover just within months of opening.
In the interim I have been showcasing different foods by entertaining friends and family while gathering their advice, suggestions and ways of doing business while being able to control our hours and also live the life we chose. Baking donuts is one of those fun experiments while also getting the opportunity to getting to meet new people.
Today marked my very first hosting of a Private Kitchen event with an afternoon lunch and tea with one of my staunch supporters of seeing my passion for food turn into something successful here in Taichung. His name is Robert Lui. I met Robert in the park last Spring while I was walking my dog Mina and he was jogging. Robert stopped to say hello because he found me very interesting – the sight of this tall man walking such a tiny dog. We began to talk and I explained to him why and what I was doing here in Taiwan. That I had lost my job and that since my 2 children were at an age that they could be safe and financially independent, that we made a conscious decision to begin a second life in Taiwan while seeking happiness in the form of my passion for cooking. Robert not only found my story interesting but he invited me as his guest speaker with an English speaking Club that he belongs to in Taichung, called the Toastmasters Club, which has many branches within Taiwan. The Toastmaster’s Club is a periodic gathering where its members promote public English speaking and leadership skills. Robert also felt it was a great opportunity for me to be able to network myself within this club. With the idea of somehow intertwining my passion for cooking within his network of club friends. The idea of maybe being able to have the opportunity to have members gather at my home while I host my private kitchen with whatever food I chose as a menu for the day. It also gives members a chance to engage with me in English and give feedback as to their correct conversation grammar during the private kitchen meal.
I thought it was a great idea and thought how lucky I was to have met Robert by accident in the park. I humbly took Robert’s invitation as a guest speaker in his local Taichung club. It occurred one day last April right before we left to return to NYC for the summer. I had a 30 minute segment where I gave a little biography of myself and how the path led here to Taiwan with Sintty, and what the open road out here is in store for me. I was very appreciative of the opportunity to speak in front of his club members. Robert became a close friend to me and Sintty and we continued to discuss future guest speaking engagements at other local branches while seeking opportunities to host a private kitchen event.
We left for NYC for the summer and when we returned to Taichung in August, Robert and I kept in contact with each other. Robert actually just returned home to Taichung after completing a 1 month long trip around the island of Taiwan by walking and hitchhiking. Circling the island by Taiwan is a very popular thing to do and the method of transportation can be anything from walking, hitching, bicycle or scooter. Today’s private kitchen afternoon lunch and tea paid event was arranged by Robert early this week with 5 of his club members. It was also the first time seeing Robert again since last Spring. From their feedback it was a success. Sintty prepared the fruit and beverages while I prepared home made pizza and baked chicken rolls stuffed with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese, and sugar glazed baked blueberry donuts for dessert. I am slowly getting my feet wet here while making so many friends of which I am so grateful and blessed. And Robert is one of them. I don’t know where this leads to but I’m having a hell of a fun time while I’m at it.
Upon our return at the beginning of August the weather in Taiwan was in its last summer month of very hot, humid sweltering heat. It was also typhoon season with plenty of rain. Getting our dogs outside was very seldom and it also was very laboring for them as it was taxing their breathing in the heat. But September was like a light switch. Lower humidity and the change of season in the air gave way for more time spent outside with our dogs. Sunnier and drier days are here now and are spent on most late afternoons in one of Taichung’s major city parks, called The
People’s Park in downtown Taichung. It is a 10 minute scooter ride from our home. It has a great lawn and it is very popular for letting dogs and dog owners congregate together and also popular for non dog owners for dog watching as well as allowing them to get close and personal with them.
Most of the late afternoons I am alone with the dogs as Sintty volunteers her time at Tzu Chi events. But for the last 2 month now I have been using
the opportunity and taking the dogs to the People’s Park to practice using my Mandarin Chinese. It is very hard to strike up a conversation with someone on the street, but when I am in the park with the dogs, our dogs
are very popular and they are constantly being approached to play and inquire about them. This have given me the conversational practice that I was seeking and it has been extremely beneficial to me. By hearing the same type of questions about the dogs or about myself, has given me the repetition of the word sounds and the ability to quickly recognize and
understand what I am being asked. It has also slowly given me the confidence to answer and the ability to speak a little bit, and a little bit more each time than the conversation before. I get to meet even more people every day now. Besides local Taichung residents that I am meeting, I am also meeting other people who are visiting out of town from other areas of Taiwan as Taichung is a popular city to visit. I am very proud when I am told that my Mandarin is not bad for having learned 6 months worth. Being back here 4 months now and being immersed in hearing Chinese 24-7 has really helped.
Food trucks are sort of a grey area here in Taiwan. They are illegal but you see food trucks or food carts dotted along some busy street. We’ve been told the police will ticket them on occasion and fines can range anywhere between $940-1,250 NTD or $30-40 US. We have seen a couple of pizza food trucks since we have been here. Pizza in general in Taiwan is very light. They are a very thin crust crusted almost saltine cracker like. Almost like eating a diet pizza. A 10 inch pizza is the largest and they are not sold in slices. There are commercial delivery pizza here like Pizza Hut and Dominos. And there is also pizza at the dining facility in COSTCO. Pizza Hut has the same texture as in the U.S. but less salty.
The pizza food trucks here are small flatbed trucks with a custom brick wood oven mounted on a metal platform on the back of a small flatbed truck. It will take up half the space and the other half is the prep area. A 10 inch pizza will average between $220-320 NTD or $7-10 US depending on the topping. This truck had a 3 people. One taking orders, one prepping the pizza and one managing the oven.
On our ride home from the park we decided to try this particular pizza truck. We ordered just a cheese pie and waited about 20 minutes as their were 5 people ahead of us. Pies were being made one at a time. By the time our pizza was done it was already dark out as we ate the pie from the side of the street. It didn’t have the saltine cracker texture we have had at sit down restaurants here but more of a very, very lighter version of the brick oven pizza found in the U.S. This pizza was probably the best one I’ve had to date here.
The mindset in making any type of western food here in Taiwan is it has to be altered to custom to local Taiwanese taste here. Which is less salt, less sweet and very light on the thickness of dough with breads and cakes. I will stick to making my own pizza at home for now.
It was dogs and donuts in the park at The People’s Park in Taichung. The People’s Park in downtown Taichung is crowded with dogs and people especially on the weekends. It gave us an opportunity to pass out free samples of my baked blueberry glaze donuts. I even made my first $100 NTD bill which is about $3.20 U.S. to a customer who insisting on paying
Since I was successful with baking blueberry donuts, I am now trying my hand baking donuts with seasonal fruits in Taiwan. Pitaya or “Dragon Fruit” is a purple mild sweet tasting kiwi type melon. I remember eating this for the first time here in Taiwan and I thought I had gotten very sick. When I went to the bathroom, the fruits natural purple red coloring flows through the digestive tract and comes out dominating in color in your urine and bowel movements.
Today Sintty was officially indoctrinated as a full fledged member of the Tzu Chi Foundation, a Taiwan based international humanitarian relief
organization based on Buddhist principles with international branches in over 47 countries around the world. We both have volunteered our time with the NYC Tzu Chi branch the last 2 years. I am very proud of Sintty’s efforts and commitment to a life of care and compassion to those in need.