The Old Street of Nan-Zhuang ~ Part One

I think it’s safe to say that summer has arrived. It is hot, hot, hot, and no more cold fronts until fall/winter. *Sweat* Nasty. Oh, and Happy Zhong-zi Festival to those who celebrate (aka Dragon Boat Festival). To celebrate the holiday, I should probably do a post on zhong-zi, but I’m not a big fan of the food, and we don’t really eat it at home (except for my mom). So, instead, I will post about our little trip to Miao-Li’s Nan-Zhuang (苗栗南庄老街).

The little town is about two hours drive from Taipei (more if there’s traffic), and my cousin and her husband’s been talking about going there for a while. We finally decided to go yesterday, although weekends are for sure packed with people. It was also a super hot day; apparently the temperature was around 35 C. Holy Cheese, that’s hot. Luckily I dressed appropriately in tanks and shorts. Cannot imagine how I’d suffer if I was wearing the usual jeans and t-shirt.

We headed out bright and early, and the drive was rather uneventful. Some traffic, but not bumper-to-bumper, thankfully. Since the sky was blue and pretty clear, you could see mountains after mountains after mountains. And then as we got closer, the drive was through the mountains with lots of greenery and prettiness. I love looking at mountains; there’s just something so peaceful and soothing about them, on a bright sunny day.

Old buildings and mountains in the distance.

We reached our destination around noon, and many of the parking lots were already full. We could also see loads of people walking around with their umbrellas and long-sleeved shirts (especially the girls). I really cannot understand how they manage not to pass out from heat stroke wearing that much @.@. The price of maintaining pale skin, I guess. So we finally find a parking spot and went in search of lunch.

We stumbled upon this old theater, which had been turned into a restaurant (南庄戲院餐廳).

Apparently, the inside was actually still theater-like, and it showed Taiwanese movies, so it seemed pretty cool and we decided to eat here. Well, the atmosphere and decoration was really old-school and nice. But the food was disappointingly average, and the service was meh. The waitress kept asking us if we needed the menus after we ordered. And we did want to keep it for a bit to take pictures of and also calculate whether we got ripped off or not. But she just kept coming and asking, and when another waitress came and asked, we gave it back to her. Then the original waitress came and asked us again if we had returned the menu (-.-). Seriously, did they think we were going to steal the menu? Anyway, it wasn’t a happy lunch for sure, especially because the food was so uninspiring. My cousin felt like we had been tricked into coming in because of the outside and concept of the restaurant, which is probably true.

Inside was two floors with wall-to-wall decoration of old Taiwanese posters, banners, figurines, etc. Now that I think about it, it was probably super dusty in there. Surprised I didn't get an allergic reaction.

The menu that was so coveted by the waitress.

Movie playing on the theater screen. Even though it was pretty dark inside, the movie still wasn't very dark.

Rice with pig oil (豬油). Sounds a bit better in Chinese. The rice was too hard, not very chewy.

Braised pork and veggies. Feh. Unimpressive.

Bamboo shoots. One of the better dishes, although spicy!

Tofu. Another ok dish.

Pork and veggie soup. Meh.

Stir-fried cabbage. Feh.

Some of the decorations.

I realized I’m missing a picture of the chicken dish, but meh, no great loss there. Heh. So yah, if you decide to go to Nan-Zhuang, word of advice is to not eat there. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to see the inside of the theater without eating because they won’t let you in just to see the interior. Bah. Ok, enough about the restaurant.

To be continued ……. Next post will be about the actual old street (along with pictures of dessert. Mmmm, dessert).