Name: The Orange Grove (at least, that's what we call it)
Description: This is sort of a hole in the wall, painted bright orange, with indoor or outdoor seating. The cooks and waiters are friendly and helpful; there's a variety of tasty Chinese dishes. You can read about our linguistic misadventures in this restaurant here.
We Recommend: cashew chicken or pineapple shrimp
We Don't Recommend: scrambled-egg-and-tomato soup
NEWS FLASH: THE ORANGE GROVE NOW HAS AN ENGLISH MENU! WOW, WHAT A WEALTH OF OPTIONS HAS BEEN OPENED UP TO US THERE!
Description: About fifteen seats are arranged around a single horseshoe-shaped table. You order your choice of meat, and it comes with two kinds of veggies on the side, plus tea and soup (order steamed rice as well). The chef cooks everything on a flat metal stovetop in the center of the horseshoe, then just leans over and plops it into your bowl.
We Recommend: buttered mushrooms or cuttlefish
We Don't Recommend: sirloin steak (it isn't bad, but not worth paying twice as much as anything else on the menu)
Name: ? (We don't know if it has one; we refer to it as the "onion cake place".)
Description: This little stand right outside our apartment building probably opens at the crack of dawn (no matter how early we get up, we've never found it closed except during a typhoon) and stays open till 10 or 10:30. They sell various things we still can't identify, most fried, though there are also some bowls of soup/porridge and pre-prepared sandwiches.
We Recommend: ONION CAKES!!! (Called dan bing in Chinese.) These are incredibly delicious! They start with a round piece of dough similar to a tortilla but thicker (much like a Kenyan chapati, if you know what that is), but with finely chopped green onions in the dough. As they fry it, they pour a mixture of beaten egg and green onion over it, then fry the other side and fold it in half kind of like an omelette before they give it to you. Eaten hot with ketchup, it's out of this world!
We Don't Recommend: the round or oval things with meat in the middle; they're more expensive and the meat isn't as cooked as I'd prefer. Just stick with onion cakes and you can't go wrong!
Name: Shanghai Restaurant
Description: This is a classy restaurant in a nice part of town, not walking distance from where we live (unlike the other places mentioned here). The decor has a "Shanghai in the 1900s" theme.
We Recommend: stewed shredded swamp eel (I'm not kidding!); the roasted peanuts they give you before the meal comes are great too.
Name: The Prawn Palace (at least, that's what we call it)
Description: This was the first restaurant Floyd and I went to on our own after coming to Taiwan. Don't expect to be able to read the menu or communicate with the staff in English, but if you can get past that, you'll probably have a great experience. Floyd and I came up with a system whereby we randomly point to menu items, then keep track in a notebook of what kind of food comes. I guess you could say we're building our own English version of the menu. You can read about our embarrassing linguistic misadventures at this restaurant here.
We Recommend: prawns with butter and garlic (column 1, section 1, item 5), spicy tasty fish with onions in sauce (column 1, section 2, item 10), or sweet and sour pork ribs (column 2, section 1, item 6)
We Don't Recommend: ginger squid (column 3, section 2, item 1) or bland bony fish and tofu soup (column 4, section 3, item 3)
Name: Ho-Yuan (but we call it The Tea Shop or Bambina's; I think that's Italian for "baby girl". They (sort of) have an attempt at Italian food, and there's an adorable baby girl who toddles around the restaurant in a walker while her parents cook and serve.)
Description: It's a little restaurant with about four small tables and a limited menu inside. The best part is outside, where they have a separate menu, mostly of beverages, especially the chilled, flavored tea drinks that are so popular here in Taiwan. (The picture is of the outside menu.)
We Recommend: funland juice (that's Floyd's favorite)... I'm not sure what my favorite is, but I love almost everything I've had there (including the weird Italian/Chinese combo casseroles and pizzas). The chocolate-banana smoothie I bought today was great!
Name: Uncle Jimmy's
Description: It's the only place in our neighborhood where you can satisfy that craving for Mexican food (or various other "American" type dishes); they sell a few imported grocery items and craft supplies, too - it's also the only place I've been able to buy scrapbook paper!
We Recommend: enchiladas or any sandwich on sourdough