Amidst the bustling lunchtime crowd that fills Taipei’s Huaxi Night Market, a cloud of steamy hot bun air hangs over their heads. It happens every time 80-year-old Taiwanese street food vendor Wu Huang-Yi lifts the lid on a giant steaming basket to unveil his piping-hot batch of buns. A queue has already formed around his stall, eager hungry customers gather to wait their turn at a chance to taste the pork belly that sits in a bubbling steel pot.
The self-taught Wu has perfected the meat marinade that creates the beautiful aroma wafting from his pot. It’s taken him 20 years of heading out at 5am every morning to hand-pick his pork belly to achieve the perfect blend. The meat then has to stew for hours in his special blend of ingredients before its ready to be plated up to the hungry crowd.
“My buns are different from others, it’s all handmade. It’s tasty because it’s so soft and yet chewy,” Wu says. “Everything is done according to tradition, and that’s the reason why it tastes good.” So he claims.
This year it’s not just the Taiwanese hungry for a lunchtime bite that recognises the greatness of this man’s US$2 buns. Wu’s buns have made the Taipei Michelin Bib Gourmand list, which has steadily been increasing in size since they started recognising the glories of street food.
The Gua-bao is a circular flat steamed bun, which is folded in half and stuffed with braised meat, salted vegetables, coriander and ground peanuts. In Taiwanese the bun is also known as ho-ga-ti (tiger bites pig) and it’s shape resembles the ancient Chinese boat-shaped ingot. This is why it signifies prosperity and is often served at wedding banquets and corporate functions.
Wu is helped by his whole family, including his wife, three adult children and a grandson in running the famed stall. Hard work for all of them has paid off with the recognition by the Michelin award. The list is typically given to eateries that serve a top-class three-course meal for less than US$34.
Although with great fame comes great responsibility and hoards of newcomers, lets hope Uncle Wu doesn’t have to suffer through too many customers to deal with like some other recognised street food vendors.
Source: AFP Relax News
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