If you are a fan of Oriental food, to eat or to cook with, and Chinatown in Binondo is rather out of the way, there are a few shops where you can get your green tea, peanut oil, cooking wine and Oriental spices. One of them is Shuin Food Products along Araneta Avenue in Quezon City which specializes in Taiwanese food. And it isn’t just a food shop, it is a restaurant as well, small as it may be. My husband and his officemates often go there for lunch and he swears that the food is just great. He has brought home Shuin’s smoked whole chicken and frozen dumplings a couple of times and I have to agree. The smoked chicken, in particular, is simply fantastic. Smoked in tea leaves, most probably, just as my father used to do.
When you enter Shuin, it is the shop that you see first. On the left side are the dry food products — an array of noodles, soy sauces, cooking oils, spices and condiments. Then, there are vacuum-packed dried tea leaves. If you think that drinking tea from teabags is the ultimate tea experience, well, wait until you’ve tried authentic Oriental teas. My father used to buy them directly from Chinatown and the variety is just amazing. If the Chinese merchants are to be believed, there is a variety of tea for just about anything — from maintaining a clear skin to curing diabetes to losing weight.
From the dry food section, I bought a liter of peanut oil and a pack of vacuum-packed dried green tea leaves (above) plus a pair ceramic cups with their own ceramic tea strainers.
On the opposite side of the shop are the refrigerators and freezers. There are Chinese vegetables, frozen dumplings, different kinds of tofu and whole lot of other goodies. The one that caught my eye was the mochi.
Traditionally a Japanese delicacy, mochi has found its way into many Asian cuisines. There is a winery in Central Taiwan that sells ice cream stuffed mochi. According to Wikipedia, the Filipino version is palitaw.
I bought a tray of mochi from Shuin, my kids weren’t impressed and said it was just tikoy but managed to stuff themselves at the backseat of the car, scattering powdered sugar on the seats much to their father’s dismay. My 15-year-old daughter, Sam, the more vocal of the two with her best unimpressed reaction, ate two pieces within a span of a few minutes. Just tikoy, eh?
Next time we go to Shuin, I hope they’ll be ready to sell those soup-filled dumplings that Din Tai Fung in Taipei is famous for. They had a tray of the stuff in the freezer but it wasn’t for sale. According to the sales girl, the dumplings were still in experimental stage. I hope the experiments succeed soon. Taipei is too far and too expensive to satisfy the craving for soup-filled dumplings. :)