I walk around Adelaide with a camera and a tripod.
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Published December 12th 2015
Grab some of Taipei's night markets for lunch
It's often been said that Taipei is a city of contrasts, a proclamation made about almost every city in the world by its tourism department. That said, step out of a train station into any of Taipei's sprawling night markets and kaleidoscopic neon lights flicker alongside guttering traditional lanterns; the dissonant clangour of reverberating speakers belting out chart toppers battling for supremacy against buskers resolutely brandishing violins and erhu.
Like a river coursing around rocks, shoppers swirl, burble and eddy around department stores and street stalls alike. Occasionally one vendor will be unusually popular, with the assembled sea of humanity coruscating around the lucky shop like moths drawn to an argent flame, their buzzing crescendo attracting greater numbers of people to peer inquisitively over the growing crowd.
Lanterns in Chinatown, Adelaide
For the unwary it can be a confronting scene, like watching a series of action movie trailers played at double pace in reverse, the frenzied chaos of a delirious psychedelic light show. Reaching out above, twinkling with office lights, skyscrapers stretch out into the night sky, their geometric lines and clean curves juxtaposed against the riotous bustle of energy below.
It's no wonder that, lost in this wonderland, seconds stretch to hours. Hunger pangs ambush quickly and you might make a beeline for the closest food stall for some savoury morsel on a stick or in a cup. A few of these delicacies are now available in Adelaide, in small hole-in-the-wall style shops although the style of these offerings are more in keeping with Hong Kong than Taiwan.
Perhaps the most well known of Taipei's street food is the Gua Bao. A soft circle of steamed bread is folded over melt-in-the mouth ultra slow braised pork belly with finely crushed peanuts, coriander, hoi sin sauce and mustard greens. The result is a symphony of moreish, powerful flavour and textures, from the chewy, yielding bread to the salty savoury soy of the pork belly cut with the piquant pickles lifted with fragrant coriander.
Although a few shops in Adelaide sell Gua Bao (also known as 'taco bao'), few can match the flavoursome finesse of Mamachau on King William Street in Adelaide City. Mamachau serves a taco bao in one of 4 choices, ranging from the irreplaceable pork belly to crispy fried chicken or tofu with slaw and kimchi mayo, or grilled eel with pickled ginger and cucumber. All four are delicious, with the fried chicken offering a very different experience to the pork belly.
A Selection of Bao from Mamachau
Also available are rice paper rolls stuffed with beef, tuna, egg or tofu and rice boxes where instead of being wrapped in steamed bread, the fillings are instead served with steamed rice for a more filling lunch. A variety of salads, laksa soup and snacks round out the small but delicious menu.
Baos in a Box
If you're in the city and looking for a quick bite to summon up the diaphanous, nostalgic memories of home or a holiday in Taiwan, Mamachau might satisfy that longing perfectly.