Fresh From the Ocean Deep -- Enjoy Taipei’s Tasty Oyster Dishes
During my 10 odd years working for China Times (中國時報), I often enjoyed the oysters at Budai Fresh Oyster Eatery (布袋鮮の蚵) and Chen Ji Intestine & Oyster Noodle Eatery (陳記腸蚵專業麵線), both situated by Huajiang Bridge (華江橋).
Savory With Irresistible Umami
At Budai Fresh Oyster Eatery, food is served on metal dishes, and the oysters are bigger, fatter and fresher than the ones you’ll find at other street food stands. Whether it’s the oyster omelette (蚵仔煎), oyster soup (蚵仔湯), or boiled oysters with sauce (乾拌蚵), all are delectable! The way they make oyster soup is pretty standard for Taiwan – with ginger, basil, fried shallots, and celery for seasoning, but it is the juiciness of the oysters that makes the soup so tasty. Don’t mention boiled oysters with sauce! The restaurant uses extra eggs to thicken their oyster omelettes instead of adding potato starch. I have always thought most oyster omelette eateries use too much potato starch, which is the accepted practice, but I believe this ends up reducing the flavor.
Next door is Chen Ji Intestine & Oyster Noodle Eatery, which also provides juicy oysters and braised intestines with an intoxicating aroma and a chewy texture. The fairy Chang’e is painted on their sign outside, which is kind of an auditory pun since her name sounds like the words for intestine and oyster: “chang ke.” Here, the intestine and oyster vermicelli (腸蚵麵線) is always scrumptious. The two main ingredients are cooked separately, but end up in the same bowl. This results in each one presenting its best taste qualities, yet the two blend together perfectly!
Good Taste Delivered From the Place of Origin
The owner of the eatery is from the town of Dongshih, Chiayi (嘉義東石), which produces tons of oysters, hence the store’s name. All the oysters are delivered fresh from his hometown every day. At the front of the restaurant is the cooking stand where milkfish belly is lined up neatly alongside clams, shrimp, squid and oysters – all waiting to be put in the pan. The clank of cookware seem to herald the upcoming feast! Sometimes, I order sautéed milkfish belly; it’s a big piece, specially selected by the owner. There’s a lot of fat in the belly, so it tastes and smells better sautéed or roasted rather than boiled in my opinion. I quite often cook it myself, sautéed with a little lemon zest added at the end. Of course, with my deep affection for fish heads, I often buy some of these to braise at home too. For my daughter, this is the taste that will always remind her of her Dad.
Budai Fresh Oyster Eatery布袋鮮の蚵