I knew it!
When I found out that a new place called Tri-Pot recently opened and that they serves Taiwanese street snacks, I was quite keen to check that out. I knew that this could be something that will get a few people excited. To see if my hunch is right, I tweeted about this place. Lo and behold, there were a number of responses:
That’s right. Every time someone mentions the word street food, people sit up.
Street food has to be the hottest conversation on food these days … especially with the street food pilot program that the city of Vancouver launched a few weeks ago. It did not get off to a great start as everyone know. Anyway, many people seems to have their own opinions about what street food is and what their expectations are.
To some, street food is just about anything that is sold on the street. I hope I did not read it wrong but I think I read somewhere that there is one food cart selling ice cream on croissants. That bizarre idea aside, the prices charged for street food is so expensive that it costs the same as if you are eating in a restaurant.
My expectation … is that the whole premise of street food is that it has to be cheap. That is the model of street food in Asia. In our city, it is anything but cheap.
I don’t know what you call this. Tri-Pot call this the Low-Carb Snack On The Go. So I am making a wild guess here — is this called Tianbula – (甜不辣)?
The words sounded like Tempura and so I could be wrong. 🙂
The way you order this is simple. There are over 50 types of ingredients. Each of them costs $2 (items 1 through 43) and the remaining ones are $3.
Looking at the prices, I reckon people will normally order 3-4 items which will work out to be $6-$10. Not particularly cheap. I am sure it is way cheaper getting this from the streets in Taiwan.
The receipt on the left is mine. Actually mine also included Egg Noodle but it landed on Suanne’s receipt.
It took them a while to prepare this. It wasn’t very long but considering that they had to cut every piece up into small pieces and then cook it, it is perhaps a 5 minute wait. Remember now that this is meant to be a take-away meal.
What happened next … we did not see except that they put your order and boil it on one of those purpose made receptacles.
If you think that this “street food” is served in a cart, it is not. Tri-Pot is a counter located inside of the Zephyr in the Sky restaurant.
While waiting for the food being prepared, a young man wearing one of the Tri-Pot T-shirts approached us. He seems to be the only one who is conversant in English and so we took the opportunity to ask him some questions.
Although I had been to Taiwan before, I had never had street food (it was a business trip). So this is not something I am familiar with.
The food was served in a plastic container with lid. It was quite a sturdy one. I noticed because I was wondering if it will leak knowing how wet it is inside.
We did not want to take it home and asked if it is OK if we eat it inside Zephyr. The guy in the Tri-Pot T-shirt told me that yes, we can but that we should order a drink or something. I can’t remember now but it was like a $3 minimum charge. We are OK anyway since it was quite hot and we wanted to get some drinks too.
Shaved ice. That is what I had been looking for these days. It’s hard to get really good ones (I prefer ones that are not too sweet). So far, the ones I enjoyed most is from Well Tea. The rest of them just doesn’t measure up.
This is $5 and with that I get to choose four toppings. I went with:
- coconut jelly,
- chocolate sauce and
- smoked plum
The smoked plum was an awful choice! I wanted a balance of sweet and sour. However, it was so unbelievably sour that it pretty much spoils it for me. The rest of the toppings were fine. The one thing I like about their shaved ice is how fine they shaved the ice. Well Tea’s ice are way bigger and hence more watery.
Suanne ordered something hot instead. She doesn’t like cold drinks. Too traditional. As a matter of fact, she doesn’t drink soft fizzy drinks, you know that?
The Hot Tofu Pudding is $3.75. You can actually order a cold version if you want. It has two toppings — red bean and taro.
The tofu pudding is strangely in cube form. We were wondering how they make it that way because the Cantonese style ones are scooped out in layers using a shallow ladle. This is a different way of serving tau foo fa … with toppings too.
BTW, Suanne makes wonderful Tau Foo Faa (tofu pudding) at home. Here is her recipe.
The food … whatever you call this.
It is dry’ish, no soup. On top of the ingredients chosen, they added cilantro, green onion, and pickled cabbage. The sauce which has a sesame flavour is what give this the taste. You can choose spicy or non-spicy sauce as a choice.
We were picking up each ingredient at a time until a waitress came over and told us that we should mix it up first before we eat.
Me, I prefer not to mix it up but eat and taste each by itself. I like it better that way.
I like the chicken heart and the pig intestines a lot.
I also got the Tempura Cake and another rice cake that is black in color. I got the black rice because it was unique. It was later that I found out it was BLOOD rice cake. It was not very good
On hindsight, I should have ordered three meat ingredients and one noodle (starch).
When we were about done, the same young man came over and asked how it was. It turned out that he is the owner of Tri-Pot AND Zephyr AND Delicious Cuisine. I could not believe it because he looked so young. I actually thought he was just an overly eager staff walking around trying to encourage people to try Tri-Pot.
He he he … it turned out that he reads chowtimes and he knows who “Ben and Suanne” is. Roger, that’s his name, said that he started working in the kitchen when he was 16 years old and had only recently started to venture out of the kitchen. He said that he bought the recipe for Tri-Pot from Taiwan and had to spend 3 weeks intensive training on making this street food.
When I asked why he did not do this in a food cart because it would be appealing to people (not to mention cheaper to setup), he said the same thing that we all already know … that there are a lot of conditions imposed that it is just not worth the effort. So, he ended up installing a $5000 cooler (the second image at the top of this post) so that he can keep the food at the right temperature all the time.
So, did we enjoy the food. Yeah, the food was good except that we chose the ingredients quite randomly. We should have stuck with the meat ones. The prices are not street food prices. As a matter of fact, it costs almost as much as a normal restaurant meal, depending what you order.
Tri-Pot is located INSIDE the Zephyr in the Sky. You won’t miss it the moment you walk through the door.
So, thoughts? … particularly from those of you who grew up in Taiwan … tell us more about this street food.
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Actually I went to try it after I saw your facebook post. I ordered duck gizzard, pork intestine, pressed tofu and chicken feet. The pressed tofu was my wrong order. I thought it was pork blood coz of the black colour. Anyway, I picked the longer pork intestine not realizing they dont give you the whole piece. They just cut a portion that they think is worth 2 bucks. The chicken feet are 2 pcs for 2 bucks. The small piece of pressed tofu was 2 bucks. There is little value for the money. When I tried the duck gizzard its very chewy and so is the chicken feet. Didn’t like it at all and feel that its too expensive for what you get. They should sell it by weight and not by small pieces. I actually prefer the food stall in Parker Place foodcourt that sells these marinated meats and internals on steam table. The meat is tender and they give you bigger serving. There’s no waiting time to cook too.
What’s the name of the store in Parker Place? Anyone knows? I don’t remember I have seen such vendor.
Dora, the name of the food stall is Connie’s Curry Kitchen, you can choose 2 or 3 or more types of meat to go with your choice of noodles, or no noodles for 1 dollar less. Last time I went there before the HST, their 2 items with noodles was 4 dollars. You can also choose the sauce, either curry, satay or soya sauce.
If I recall correctly (IIRC), the meat choices are:
Small and large pork intestine, beef tripe, beef tendon, beef shank, pork stomach, pork skin, fish ball, tofu, daikon, Chinese mushroom and others.
I usually order 2 items without noodles and order rice separately. Its a good filling meal for 4 bucks. That was before HST. Not sure what their prices are now.
sorry about the portion … we changed weight already since we are just testing run for a week … i found out many of things to improve!!the portion will be almost double as before for those meat ingredient .. thanks for the comments and we are trying to make it better and better to satisfy our customers …thanks again Roger
Hi Roger: Wow, that was a fast reaction to a customer feedback (but then of course Crispy is not just any customer). So how does the pricing work now? Ben
price will be same … most items are 2 dollars and for those fish cake stuff are 3 dollars because it cost a lots in vancouver.. in tw they sell really cheap for fish cake and those ball ball stuff lol… but the wight will be almost double.. for examples pork intestine pig ear will be 1 piece and for duck gizzard and chicken gizzard will be 10 pieces …15 pieces for chicken hearts something like that … its more than those luwei combo in some restaurants or taiwanese noodle house …!! hope it will work well for our lovely customers !!
Hi Roger, I appreciate you listening to customers comments and acting on it. I will definitely give it another try. If I may make a suggestion, I wonder if you can print order sheets. The menu you have on the counter will work well. Just need to add a space for the customer to write down the quantity. It will speed up the ordering process I think.
Thanks Crispy… thats a great idea for speed up the ordering process…really helpful!!
Probably the thing I most want to try from this stall is the blood rice cake. Might drop by one of these days to have just that.
mmmmmmmmm…yummy…i love blood pudding!!!
Oh, they just put the blood rice cake in your bowl as well. I thought they’d roll the thing up in crushed peanuts and top with cilantro. Okay, no need for me to get it then. Thanks, Ben and Suanne. 😉
Whoa the food there looks amazing! Is this a permanent set up? Definitely going to take a look at this.
Hi Chris: Tri-Pot is a permanent setup in Zephyr. They are closed on Tuesdays and are opened only from 4PM. Ben
“tian-bu-la” or how ever you spell it, is #52, fried fish cake… This kind street food reminds me of the HK cart noodles.. But in a deconstructed style.
One of my must-haves whenever I go to Taiwan!!! YUM!!! I gotta drag Buddha Boy with me this weekend!!! Thanks for posting Ben!!! Funny how they used the name “Tri-Pot” since Tri-Pot in Taiwan is totally different…LOL!!! But I guess it’s just the name!!!
Hi Buddha Girl: What is Tri-Pot in Taiwan, please tell. Ben
Ooops sorry Ben…correctly speaking…it’s Tri-Pot here…but Tripod in Taiwan…but the Chinese name is the same, 鼎王…Tripod in Taiwan is a well-known hot pot chain that only serves two types of hot pots: spicy (麻辣鍋) or sour cabbage (東北酸菜鍋)…and usually need to book days in advance. That’s why I find it funny they used the name 鼎王!
Thanks Buddha Girl.
Tian-bu-la is a Taiwan-ized version of tempura (“tem-pu’-ra”) but became a general reference to all fish/shrimp/squid/crabmeat-derived deepfried “fritters”.
甜不辣 = tempura, but also oden, and deep-fried fish paste (fritters)…usually it’s one of the items in street stalls…
And I believe “甜不辣” is just a phonetic translation of tempura, even though it reads “sweet not spicy hot” 🙂
thanks for the review … next time when you come remember to find me i will explain and introduce some right and good dishes …!! i am sure you guys will enjoy it …
Hi Roger: So, you do really read chowtimes like you said you do. LOL. I am impressed with what you did with Zephyr, Delicious Cuisine and now Tri-Pot. I like Delicious Cuisine a lot. Good work! Ben
you are wrong … i do read chowtimes a lotz…thats why i think i can introduce you more amazing dishes (like you said there are some dishes without english name lol oh yeah i will improve that !!)i just had a interview with local writer Jane Mundy and US journalist Sue Frause on last Friday at Delicious Cuisine ..they really enjoy my “taiwanese dishes” and they told me they think taiwanese restaurant AKA “bubble tea place ” before they tried my food and they dont have any sense to order in taiwanese restaurant(you know there is not many taiwanese restaurant in vancouver except those bubble tea place )
after i read your review about delicious cuisine i found out that i can show you lotz more better dishes ..so thats why i said please let me know when you guys next time visit …i just wanna tell everyone in vancouver “BUBBLE TEA STYLE IS NOT TAIWANESE FOOD “!! lol looking foward to see you guys any time soon !!
Hi Roger!!! Thank you so much for clearing that “BUBBLE TEA STYLE IS NOT TAIWANESE FOOD”…I have been repeating and repeating that to my non-Taiwanese friends for years but they still think so…OMG!!! They think BBT restaurants are “typical” and “original” Taiwanese! 3Q3Q for bring something from “home” to 604!!!
Hi Buddha girl.. I work hard to promo our Taiwanese food for so long just sometimes my eng is not good enough to explain really clearly to ppl ..but I will never give up … But yes bbt is not taiwanese food lol ..
I like the fact that space on Alderbridge is becoming a one-stop-shop for all sorts of Taiwanese delights. Now, all I need is a Taiwanese bakeshop, fully-stocked please, with plenty of goodies on the shelves, in there as well. 😉
JS, the old location of X-Cargo across from Zephyr is being renovated to possibly a bakeshop. I took a peak and saw some bakeshop type display cases inside. It’s either a bakeshop or a restaurant with a bakeshop. It’s actually quite a large space.
oh izumia jap market rent the old location of X-cargo and i think they are going to build a food court (thats what i heard from property manager) they have been changed their mind for so many times already …first idea was a japenese restaurant and then i heard that they wanna open a bakeshop and now become a food court ..i have no idea lol…
Great review! I want to try it sometime! The desserts and meals look good really delicious! PS. the receipt says Tripod instead of Tri-pot! Totally different meaning.
Just cos he is young doesn’t mean he shouldn’t have initiative. I think it’s great that he is young!
Reheat Luwei is a new style street snack in tw .. Now is very famous ..why we call tri-pot as ” low-carb snack ” because in tw most customers are female .. They think reheat luwei is a light meal for them but when they wanna have a meal as dinner they will add instant noodle or other different kinds of noodles … They add noodles as a ingredient with cabbage or some other vegetables plus the broth will make those noodles very tasty so hope you guys give a try … It is good .. Now reheat luwei is a new concept in vancouver you can pick up whatever u want to eat and we will cook for you just like we “hot-pot” for you with out secret sauce .. Once you try it you will love it .. And its good snack for beer too lol
This post intrigues me…being from Taiwan, I have never seen this type of street food ever! But then again I haven’t been back in a long while.
There are however some very yummy ingredients I see….ahh rice blood cake, how I miss you. I hope this place is authentic enough.
And as a lot of people have mentioned 甜不辣 is basically referring to deep fried fish cakes. The container box has it as 滷味 (which is stuff marinated and cooked in soysauce and other herb things) and from the looks of it, most of the ingredients are what Taiwanese people usually use for 滷味. However, we don’t generally put noodles in our 滷味…that is an odd thing for me. 滷味 is more like a snack (kind of like the Taiwanese version of chips and dips or cheese and crackers) not really a meal…so definitely an interesting post. I must go see (and try)
Hello wata!!! Like you, I never put noodles in my 滷味, but I saw many people doing so in Taiwan…maybe it’s more filling?!?! Btw, which city were you originally from?
滷味 would be ok on rice, me thinks. Or even mantou/饅頭.
But definitely not with noodles !
AGREE!!! Especially with 山東大饅頭!!! Or 窩窩頭…my favorite!!!
Uh oh, I’m getting really homesick for Taipei 🙁 (34 yrs away and counting …..)
Somehow I’m missing stinky tofu right this minute !
LotusRapper. Stinky tofu, do you know where to get it? I tried it once many years ago. This first bite was the hardest but it actually tastes better with every bite. The stinkier the better right? So where can one get real STINKY ones? Ben
I don’t know what it is with this post. Maybe it is because of the word “street food” or maybe it is the word Taiwanese that drew so much traffic. For the first time, there is over 1,000 views on a single post in 24hrs (where a good post is 800 hits in the first 24hrs). Me thinks there is a pent up demand for “real” Taiwanese food. LOL! You know, it is so hard these days keeping up with comments on the blog. We are averaging 30 comments and the word count from comments are now even more than the post itself. It is not supposed to be that way but I like it! I am learning a lot from your comments/input … keep it up! Ben
thanks Ben and really like your reviews for vancouver restaurants ..!! you are working hard too … lol
Hahaha street food makes me more excited than fine dining restaurants!
Dinesty has stinky tofu on their menu, although the tofu is not really that stinky. It’s kind of a “baby” or “starter” stinky tofu as it was very, very, very mild.
Thanks JS. I recall a Chowhound discussion about it but forgot which resto has it. Hmmm, long weekend coming …… I see stinky tofus in my crystal ball 😉
Got it … here is the chowhound thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/714471
Oh that’s a start even though it is very-very-very mild stinky tofu. Thanks JS.
Didn’t night market use to have stinky tofu? I remember walking very fast everytime I pass by hahaha!
Coming back to Vancouver from a month+ in Taiwan and seeing this post realllly makes it even harder for me to settle back into life here.
I miss Taiwan food so much…gaaaawd!
Welcome back Kevin. Looking forward to reading your adventures in Taiwan. Ben
:O ~~ i think i heard about it on the radio~ but looking at your review gets me real excited!! 🙂 wanna go see~!! hopefully it’s somewhat like what I used to have in tw when i was a kid~~~ would be so nice to taste something authentically taiwan in vancouver ~~~ 😀
It just looks like Hong Kong style street food. I ate these in Hong Kong before.
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