Last week we had one sunny day out of the week, so we decided to take the train to Yilan and spend the day on the beach.
While it was beautiful and blue, it was still incredibly windy and after an hour or two all our stuff was covered in sand. It was also too cold to swim, but we still had a good time doing cartwheels and running around (while avoiding the many pufferfish that had washed up on the sand!)
We originally planned to take the train deeper into Yilan and check out the food in the main city, but decided to venture into a smaller town nearby called Toucheng.
Getting to Toucheng
From Taipei Main Station take the express train that runs every hour towards Zhixue.
If meeting up with people in Taipei Main, I suggest picking a very obvious spot as the lower levels can get very confusing.
Once we got off the train, we walked through the alleys to find Toucheng Old Street an area of Yilan that used to be a bustling economic center during the Qing dynasty. Now it’s a series of buildings and structures scattered around in a small area of the town. Not too much to see, but in one of those alleys we found golden fried treasure…
Glorious giant scallion pancakes and the juiciest pork buns! We were mesmerized and ordered 2 buns to-go before we headed to lunch. Biting in, I was already satisfied with making the trip to Toucheng. I recommend looking for this stall when you get there!
After walking around a little bit, we stopped by this lake to take in the view before heading to the seafood restaurant right across the street.
*Store information at end of blog post.
Toucheng Seafood Restaurant (談笑風生美食小棧)
We were ready to eat, and didn’t hesitate to tick off multiple boxes on the menu. In Taipei we’re usually more reserved at Seafood restaurants as the bill could easily add up even with four people. But we were hungry and let our stomachs make the ultimate decision.
Here’s what we ended up getting:
First up, an absolute must-have at seafood restaurants: shrimp fried rice. Here they used baby shrimps to flavor the rice. It was cooked perfectly, the rice was fresh and seasoned well throughout the dish.
Next, my own personal must-have: fried soft-tofu. The tofu jiggles when you pick it up, and breaks apart with a little pressure (just like me!)
Another must-have, especially on the East coast of Taiwan, are fried oysters. These ones were a lot bigger than usual, and were fresh and juicy.
Recently had this for the first time in Taipei, so ordered another dish to try. Love the extreme garlic flavors and saltiness that comes from these baby clams. They’re so small that it’s more like eating baby snails. The meat is slightly chewy, but there’s a lot to eat relative to the size of the shell. I recommend adding this as a side dish.
And ofcourse, when by the coast, get your fix of cheap sashimi.
Finally, the star of the show. A beautifully steamed fish, cooked in a soysauce mix with generous toppings of spring onion. Here’s a pro tip: drizzle that sauce onto your white rice for a mind blowing make-shift new dish.
Not too bony, with enough meat to feed four people.
We also ordered sweet potato leaves, and salty egg fried mushrooms. Both so good, I didn’t get a solo picture before we started devouring. (They’re pictured above on the bottom half the image)
Extremely satisfying meal, especially when washed down with two big bottles of Taiwan Beer. We were expecting to fill ourselves up, but weren’t expecting to find such high quality seafood in this small town. When the bill came, we were even more surprised. Between the four of us and all these dishes plus beer, the total came out to just around 1200ntd. In Taipei that would have been 1200 each!
A meal I’d happily ride a two hour train to get to again.