The weather had plunged back into a bipolar state, raining at will, pausing with spots of blue skies, only to relapse even harder. I had spent the previous day hibernating, improvising in my kitchen, surprising myself with a walnut and sweet basil pesto. At last, I found a purpose for this huge bag of walnut gifted on to me a few months ago.
24+ hours in confinement and a gloomy weather was starting to make me go cuckoo, besides, for some days already, I had been building an appetite for some noodles 意麵 at a shop featured in my 雄好呷 book. Hours passed, and as optimist as I was about the rain stopping, it kept pouring. I was no longer inspired to cook at home, ignoring gargles from my stomach, but in the end, the call of hunger prevailed. I seized the first opportune break of rain to get on my bike and pedaled to the noodle shop as fast as I could.
Burn! Just as the unpredictable the weather, the noodle shop was unexpectedly closed, although I can’t blame them, who would want to work on such a day? Sensing the shop’s owners might think along those same lines, I had cautiously looked up another place nearby, and if that one also happened to be closed, then I would have taken it as a sign that the Gods had something against me.
So I made my way to the indicated address, just a few seconds away, at this no name food stall. It was my first time in that area of town, in this little strip known as the Sanmin Street Market 三民街, while it doesn’t have the stature of a night market, it still felt like a good place for nearby residents to scavenge for food. In this new territory, the food stall looked strangely familiar, and then it hit me, it’s the one featured on the cover of the book.
As I snatched the last empty table, the downpour came down again, going full blast. The people manning the food stall were frantically moving, head down, concentrated. Unsure how to order food here, I went up to them and voiced an order of noodles and sweet potato leaves. Failing to get a sign of acknowledgment, I cranked up the volume, and practically screamed to make myself heard, and heard they did, asking me back if I wanted my noodles in a soup or not. I replied negatively, relieved that I managed to get their attention!
Waiting for the food to arrive, I was rejoicing to be protected from yet another sequence of torrential rain, but quickly, the bowl of noodles landed, distracting me and shaking away any worries that this could yet be another hours-long downpour.
After documenting my lunner, I stirred the noodles, a must-do step here as the key element of the dish, the lard sauce and fried shallots, resides at the bottom of the bowl. Pork fat and fried shallots, a winning flavor combination(!) also used to season the sweet potato leaves. The glistening noodles were simple but good, I would have loved some extra fried shallots, and next time, if I’m feeling more carnivorous, I’ll get some of their braised offals crammed on the top shelf of the food cart which comes recommended by the author.
As I prepared to leave, the rain paused again, but instead of racing back home, I went around the block to explore a little. Some nostalgia transpired from the rugged walls of this neighborhood, likely an area of settlement for those who came along with the Chinese Nationalist party. Unfortunately, I had to cut the exploration short, under the threat of a drizzle foreshadowing yet another episode of downpour, I retreated back home, and a few minutes after I stepped inside, lo and behold, the rain was throwing a fit again, a mean and loud one.
Additional Reviews+Photos: 沙拉麵
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