Sunday, January 27

Taiwan Trip 2011 Day 6 Hualien Chishingtan Katsuo Museum

[continued from Taiwan Trip Day 5 Nanbin Night Market Hualien ]

Day 6 in Taiwan and today we will be going via scooter to the Chishingtan beach and the Chishingtan Katsuo Museum.

Hualien train station from our hotel room. Tour buses ferrying tourists, many from mainland china are especially plentiful on weekends.

As we scootered around looking for breakfast, we came by this stall by chance.

Apparently it is quite a famous dessert shop. It is a small corner shop with a competitor selling similiar stuff next door. I must say this is the place to eat tapioca balls. Much nicer tapioca balls than even those made by the grandmothers in Jiufen! As you can see from the picture, I thought this place was selling waffles! That's why we went in for breakfast!


 But only after sitting down did we realise they were selling icy cold tapioca ball desserts and drinks.

We promptly ordered the house special. It is a mega big bowl of tapioca balls, soft tofu and green beans covered by shaved ice, drizzled with brown sugar syrup and milk. The tapioca balls are different colours due to yam, sweet potato, green bean and other natural ingredients used. This is the one that you should order.

After our dessert breakfast, we headed out for the  Chishingtan Katsuo Museum.It is just a short ride from Hualien city to the Chishingtan Katsuo Museum.

Chishingtan Katsuo Museum

Chishingtan Katsuo Museum

This museum is built on the site of a former bonito production factory. Unfortunately they don't smoke this fish at this facility anymore.

Just outside the Museum entrance, there is a canteen area with stalls all around selling local seafood here. Time for brunch!

Lots of local delicacies sold here. Just order and pay at the main counter and wait for you order. We ordered a plate of flame seared tuna sashimi as it looked really special. In fact the preparation of it was quite a spectacle as you will see below.

The fish meat is first seared with hot flames from the BBQ pit made by burning hay. Hay burns at very high heat for only a short time, so this fella has to quickly light the fire and sear the fish before the flames die down...

The flame seared tuna meat, still mostly raw inside is then passed on to this other fellow.

The meat is then thickly sliced and some ginger juice is squeezed on it.

flame seared tuna sashimi

Because this was done over a fire as opposed to using a gas flame like most restaurants do, you get the extra smokey flavour which is so much better, just like BBQ meat done over a charcoal fire. Served with soy sauce, garlic and shallots. Very very nice!

Takopachi octopus balls smothered with the famous katsuo flakes on top with mayo and wasabi sauce. sooo yummy... This is a must have when you are travelling around Taiwan.

Sunfish fishball soup with bits of chinese parsley. First time for us eating this type of fishball. Quite nice, texture was a bit like beef balls though hahaha...

Seaweed Cold Noodles
Another dish smothered with the famous local bonito flakes. Basically some cold noodles tossed with some wet and dry seaweed in addition to the bonito flakes and topped with shallots. Flavour was good and the noodles were bouncy. I really liked the plate :D

Before stepping into the Museum, most visitors would obsess with taking pics of the fish in this salt water aquarium.

All sorts of sea anemones, colourful clams and fish. Taiwan does have some really nice coral reefs as we were to find out later in the trip when we visited the Green Island (lyudao island).

Unlike some other tourist buildings and places, the Chishingtan Katsuo Museum looked quite new and well maintained.

Different species of tuna
This is basically a small double storey museum with exhibits showing the history of the ocean and beaches around Hualien.

This exhibit shows how the bonito fish were smoked in the past. The fish are put on racks and smoked for months with specially selected firewood like apple or peach wood which imbue the special smokey flavour into the bonito. They end up like pieces of hard wood.

Some old machines used to make flakes out of the dried smoked fish.

More aquariums inside the museum. Local seahorse, coral prawn, camouflaged squid and cute little tigerfish.
There is also a tank with a MONSTER GROUPER in it! Longer than my arm!! DO NOT PUT YOUR HAND IN THE TANK!!

After you have had your fun looking at the fish, you can go upstairs to look at the history of the fishery in the sea around Hualien.

We were lucky to see this. Some workers were making huge bags of bonito flakes. So at least some remnant of the old factory still remains. This place was closed when we visited again in 2012.

These are bonito flakes and smoked tuna flakes for sale. It says welcome to try, please open the cover.

Those bored by the museum stuff will no doubt be happy with the gift/food shop. All the seafood products are nicely package and make excellent gifts.

In case you don't like or are allergic to seafood, they even sell fresh hand made mochi which Hualien is famous for.

Shopping done, we walked around the place a little bit.

There was a row of houses where the local fishermen and their families lived behind the museum. They even had their own chicken and bird cages! Nothing like a fresh raw egg in the morning.

Having done the museum we scootered on down to the beach which we had passed by on a previous night. There is an airbase next to the beach. I managed to sneak a picture of what was probably an F-16 fighter jet parked in its own cement bunker.

Chishingtan beach is a very very long pebble beach with quite a nice breeze and has an endless ocean view into the horizon.

Chishingtan beach 3

 You can see some fishing boats with long nets fishing offshore.

Every now and then airplanes will fly by as well. Managed to get a shot of a military cargo plane flying by. Looks like the one from Con-Air.

After some time enjoying the breeze at the beach we headed towards our next destination south of Hualien, the Liyu Lake.

[continue reading Taiwan Trip 2011 Day 6 Liyu Lake and Hualien at Night ]

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