Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Oh, My Ballz!

Who knew that going to the Taiwanese night market at Metro Square (Steeles and Warden) that those 3 words would be what stuck with me most. But the origin of those 3 words and why they would stick in my head will come later.

For those of you who don't know Taiwanese night markets are market areas set up in public spaces filled with vendors (mostly food vendors). So should the opportunity arise for you to go to one, go with an appetite.

We arrived at late evening (which is one reason the quality of photos degrades, as my camera doesn't take the best night pictures, the huge crowds being the other). After trekking through the mall area to get to the market grounds (and being harassed by several stem cell research volunteers) we got to the over crowded market. The first thing to notice, was the much talked about scent in the air. Coming off Taiwan's national, and infamous dish, smelly tofu. Now there could not be a more appropriate name for a food, as this stuff stinks to high hell. I mean buckets of animal shit rotting under the sun. A smell so sharp it cuts like a winter wind. We made quick to pass this area (with huge lines at each of them).

We got around to the other side, and found the meat skewer stands. Now that's what I'm talking about! Fantastic skewered meats roasting over charcoals, seasoned in proprietary blends of cumin and chili powder, and what ever else. We immediately got in line for 8 lamb skewers (for the seemingly high price of 10$).
The skewers were well spiced, well cooked, and very tasty.
Next my friends Jack and Jill (yep that's right) went to get Japanese style octopus balls. I went to get some clams, which were sold out so I got mussels.
The mussels were cold when we got them I had a few and went to get something cooked. I went to get some grilled squid, whilst my friend Kel lined up for more skewers. Jack and Jill were still no where to be found.
The squid was chewy, not very well spiced, and cold. Not that pleasant.
The second patch of skewers, this time a variety of chicken, beef, and lamb, were under spiced, but still tasty.

At this point in the evening, whilst still waiting for Jack and Jill to return, Kel ventured out to find some more stuff. Sometime later Jack and Jill returned with the plate of deep fried octopus balls. Now some of you may be thinking, is this what he meant by 'Oh my ballz'? No it isn't keep reading. Hah.
Very tasty, at first (since I didn't know what they were) thought it was a sweet thing, but when I tasted it and it was savory thought it to be chicken. Although on my second I realized it was in fact the Japanese treat of octopus deep fried in batter.

Now Kel has still been missing for sometime since Jack and Jill returned. So they ventured out to get (to my dismay) a dish of stinky tofu for us to eat. About half hour later, and still no Kel, Jack and Jill return with 2 containers of stinky tofu. Now, I'm not usually one to pass up trying something, but from the fact I could smell it through the closed container, I had my reservations.
Fortunately Kel returned in the nick of time with 2 large pineapples, filled with juice.
2 hulking pineapples filled with juice. Mmm Mmm Mmm. Delicious. Just what I need, a tasty beverage to wash down what was one of the most offensive smelling foods I've ever eaten. I worked up my courage and plowed a massive piece of stinky tofu into my mouth. Now at first it didn't seem so bad, hardly any flavour. But the more I chewed, the more the taste came out. And the more the taste came out, the less I wanted to swallow. The more I started to swallow the more I wanted to vomit. It tasted exactly like it smelt. Eventually after 5 minutes of chewing I swallowed, and quickly washed down with pineapple juice, but nothing could get the taste out. If you eat stinky tofu, and enjoy it, I say kudos to you. This was one delight, I could not delight in.

After finish the pineapple juice, Kel and I decided to walk the market grounds and see what we might find.

Yes this is it! The moment that made my night folks. If only I could have captured the sound of the Chinese guy outside it yelling "Oh! My Ballz!" into a microphone in a bad Chinese accent to draw attention.

On the loop back around we stopped for bubble tea at a stand next to a stinky tofu stand, it was a long wait. We got a mango kiwi slush each, although they forgot about mine a few times, I think they just wanted us to soak in the stinky tofu aroma.

After which we met back with the rest of the group, and it was time for dessert.

Dessert was something I had been quite curious about since seeing the vendor name on the website. Marbolicious, stir-fried ice cream.

Now I'm not exactly a stranger to deep fried ice cream, but stir fried? Now that's a new one.

It seemed they had cast iron plates that they were placing the ice cream and toppings on, and using to large spatulas to rotate the ice cream. Although I admit, due to the crowds it was hard to actually see what was going on.

I ordered the fruit explosion, consisting of frozen shaved berries. Now I'm not exactly sure how stir-frying it helped the flavour, maybe it was just a gimmick. But I know this, it sure was tasty.

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