Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Tainan Wagui 碗粿

Wagui is another one of those snacks in Tainan that is an attraction unto itself. It's not much to look at and often comes in chipped or faded bowls in bustling little stores, but its a traditional comfort food that cannot be missed.

Wagui with hot sauce, garlic, and wasabi

Like it's food brother bawan, wagui is made by grinding rice up and turning it into a sticky mass then packing it with meat. The main difference is that wagui is packed into a bowl and features a few more ingredients than bawan. Expect all the fillings to be in the middle of your bowl and should be eaten slathered in sauce once you dig your way inside.

In addition to its popularity, a big reason the bowls are all faded and chipped is because wagui comes served straight in the bowl it was cooked in. Before it is served it gets covered with a thick brown sauce which is rich and satisfying without being over the top. Those seeking more flavors should add some hot sauce, garlic, and wasabi to spice things up a bit. Once you doll out your condiments, spread them through the sauce and prepare to eat.

It'll show up looking like this

Stores will have small wooden paddles like you'd use for ice cream, and environmentally conscious ones will have little steel forks too. Use the fork to cut the wagui into sections like you would a pizza, making sure you press down all the way into the bowl. Spear a cut section and lift it out of your bowl and into your mouth. Then repeat repeat repeat.

Spear out a piece and enjoy

There isn't one definitive place to get wagui, although there are a few stores which are both old and famous and - naturally - draw huge crowds. It'll be easy to spot a wagui store - if you're looking for one - no matter what market you stumble into.

The photos for this entry all came from the 68 year-old 富盛號碗粿, located in the second shop along Guohua street 國華街 after turning off  Minzu road (民族路). It's already marked on most maps and is in the yongle market 永樂市場 along with tons of other good food.


You'll find a group of stores selling wagui around the Chikan tower 赤崁樓 although some of them aren't as good as others. Try the store a few shops east of the tower right on Minzu road with giant log-like tables inside if you're looking to get something quality without making a special trip to get it.

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