By Nora Chang
Obscure and nestled away like normal streets, Huaxin Street (華新街) lies Taipei’s Little Burma, the heart of Taiwan’s largest Burmese-Chinese community (ethnically Chinese from Myanmar) accounting for a good amount of population of Zhonghe (中和) in MRT Nanshijiao Station (南勢角站), the terminus of Orange Line.The Burmese-Chinese people now call Taiwan home after moving here decades ago owing to the Chinese civil war.
It is not very easy to find, yet once you set foot in the area, pieces of Myanmar start to emerge and reveal itself such as Burmese scripts or owl totem on every sign of restaurants, cafes, and grocery stores, and elders sipping tea and savouring Indian cakes at the side of the road, bringing a Burmese vibe to the relatively indistinctive neighborhood.
Cuisine in the district is diverse and authentic, often a mix from Yunnan (雲南), Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and India. To offer a great place for immigrants who move here to work to go to when they are homesick, restaurant owners make the price reasonably affordable and try their best to make the dishes exactly the same as in their hometown in terms of flavor, ingredients, and cooking styles.
The one I went to the other day is Jin Long Diner (金龍小吃店). What makes it stand out from others is the variety and diversity of food it provides. The cuisine includes Indian, Vietnamese, Thai, Yunnan, and Myanmar flavors, all of them at the same time while the other diners might only offer two or three flavors.
Being asked what is the most Burmese dish, the owner Mrs. Shen recommended me curry chicken noodle and pease pudding (豌豆粉), complementing with a cup of Myanmar milk tea, which is a must order. Different from Taiwanese tea, it is thicker and condensed with its strong flavor.
The diner has already existed for more than 30 years. A few years ago the current owner Mrs. Shen took over the store from her aunt and innovated more dishes like Thai and Indian flavors, and even new beverages like lemon coffee, herbal jelly milk, and Burma drinking yogurt, adding creative and fresh elements into the traditional creation.
“Actually a lot of Taiwanese come here to dine now,” Mrs. Shen said. And the day I went yes, not only Burmese Chinese people visit the restaurant but also the locals.
If you’ve never been to Myanmar, Huaxin Street is the perfect place to sample the amazing dishes and have a taste of the Burmese culture lies in the little street in Taipei.