[Suggested] Travel Itinerary to Yilan (宜兰), Taiwan (台湾).

Yilan County (宜兰县), an hour-drive from Taipei City... is booming as far as tourism is concerned especially after the Hsuehshan Tunnel (雪山隧道) was opened to the road users. Travelers can now travel to Yilan County with a breeze and it is now one of the popular choices for a one-day trip from Taipei. The county northeastern of Taiwan is famed for its natural landscape, along with countryside views. It is not as busy as compared to the cities but not as dull as rural areas. There are plenty of interesting places to visit and of course, many exotic foods to try; just to name a few- Cherry Duck, Three-Star Spring Onions, Dried Duck are some specialties native to Yilan County. Getting to Yilan County is easy, you can either opt to take a bus from Taipei Intercity Bus Terminal (Gate 13 or 14) or take the train from Taipei Railway Station that will straight land you at the Luodong Train Station

*This post is brought to you by Taiwan Tourism Bureau (台湾观光局)*
*Special Thanks to China Airlines for making the trip happened*

We were there for a one-day trip and thus, unable to visit many places. If you are planning to do the same, you may refer the below places as a guide to plan your itinerary. 

1) Jimmy Park (几米广场)
Address: 1, Guangfu Road, Yilan Country, Taiwan (宜兰县宜兰市和睦里光复路1号).
Business Hours: 24 hours/ day. Opens Daily.
Admission: Free/ Open to the Public.

A place not to be missed by fans of Jimmy Liao (a famous Taiwanese illustrator), the Jimmy Park was opened in 2013 and has since, lured countless of visitors. One can find many life-sized models of the cartoon characters in the park and it is most suitable for children and adults-alike. The park is also surrounded by greens and if the weather permits, it is best that one could take a leisure stroll around the park and relax. 

2) Memorial Hall of Founding of Yilan Administration (宜兰设治纪念馆)
Address: 260, 
Business Hours: 9 am to 5 pm, every Tuesday to Sunday. Closed on Mondays and the last day and eve of the month.
Contact Number: +886 (03) 9326 664
Admission: NTD $30 per person
Website: memorial.e-land.gov.tw

Yilan County has long history since the Qing Dynasty and Japanese-occupation era. The Memorial Hall of Founding of Yilan Administration is one of the best places to understand the history and the formation of Yilan township. Step in the vicinity and you will be instantly transported to Japan, the building itself is a well-preserved Japanese house with beautiful garden. Inside, one gets to see the old structure of Japanese houses and how the Japanese used to live in Yilan. The place is very suitable for portraiture photographs too.

3) LINK Taiwan- 麟のLINK手创料理
Address: No. 58-2, Taishan Road, Yilan County, Taiwan (宜兰市泰山路58-2号).
Business Hours:Lunch and Dinner. Opens Daily.
Contact Number: +886 (03) 9368 658

[序曲]- Pomelo Vinegar, Rose Chicken and Dried Duck

[滋润]- Braised Chicken Soup

[绿地]- Teriyaki Fish served with flavored Glutinous Rice

LINK is one of the high-standard restaurants in Yilan County, the restaurant has won numerous awards. The dining experience was a whole new experience for us, almost comparable to Michelin-starred restaurants. LINK only serves a fixed menu, our 8-course lunch menu costs NTD $1,500 (excluding 10% Service Charge). While the service might not as attentive as expected but we were blown away by the food quality. Every course was meticulously designed and flawlessly executed. Making a special trip to Yilan County just to have a meal at LINK is definitely worth it.

The first appetizer consisted of 3 items- Pomelo Vinegar, smoked Rose Chicken and Dried Duck served with raw Mango. It was a mixed-feeling start with a little melancholy (thinking that they could have served more) and excitement (looking forward to the following dishes). We then being rewarded with a bowl of piping hot Braised Chicken Soup, served atop of some volcano stones for the preservation of heat. The broth was multi-dimensional, it possessed a good blend of Seafood sweetness and the Chicken essence, well-complemented with premium ingredients such as Dried Scallops, Radish, free-range Chicken and Bamboo Fungus etc. The taste was divine and simply beyond words.

The excitement continued with Teriyaki Fish served with flavored Glutinous Rice; it sort of reminded us of Unagi Sushi in a way. The alluring aroma of the fatty Comet fish was irresistible, almost akin to Unagi while the Glutinous Rice was perfectly cooked and reasonably flavored. It possessed the right texture that again, carried shades of the Japanese Sushi Rice. It was so good that we nearly teared, seriously.

[枝芽]- Three Cup Prawn served with Gao Zha (膏渣)

[绽放]- Pan Fried Lamb marinated with Pineapples and Apples

A three-cup inspired dish, the Three Cup Prawn served with Gao Cha is a clever dish. It uses the Taiwanese national dish- Three Cup Chicken as the foundation, Chicken is replaced with Prawn; served atop of Gao Zha, a famous traditional delicacy in the Yilan County. Making a good Gao Zha is not easy, boiled stock must be used in lieu of plain water to stir the Rice Flour, hence, introducing a flavorful dimension to the seemingly bland Rice cake. The Rice cake is then being deep fried, forming crispy edges outside. 

Our tummy spaces were almost filled up at this stage but the main course was just about to serve. The Pan Fried Lamb was first marinated with a combination of fresh fruits, perhaps as a form of natural meat tenderizer. We were told to enjoy the dish with grilled Chili. Delicious but not mind-blowing. 

[满足]- Rice Congee (糜) with Anchovies

[结果]- Almond Dessert with Seasonal Fruits

To put a complete end to the meal, we had a comforting serving of Rice Congee with Deep Fried Anchovies and Almond Dessert with Seasonal Fruits. We could not find a trace of Rice in the Congee, the Rice was first cooked and literally melted in the water. It was a mere thick fluid containing the mellow-starchy Rice aroma... complemented with the crispy, savory Deep Fried Anchovies. 

Sweet ending was the award-winning Almond Dessert with Seasonal Fruits; it was more of Almond Jelly instead of the conventional Almond Soup but the flavors were bold and most comforting. All dishes in the course-meal were well-planned and carefully thought through. We were indeed, deeply impressed with the arrangement and planning. 

4) Luodong Farmers' Alliance (罗东镇农会)
Address: 14, Cangqian Road, Luodong Township, Yilan County, Taiwan (宜兰县罗东镇仓前路14号).
Business Hours: 9 am to 5 pm. Opens Daily.
Contact Number: +886 (03) 9518 667

Soya Milk

Century Eggs

Short walking distance from Luodong Night Market is Luodong Farmers' Alliance, a huge space dedicated to fellow Luodong farmers in displaying their products for sale. There are a wide range of snacks, gifts ideal to be given as souvenirs here. Goods are typically cheaper over here (considered direct sale). Interested parties may also partake in their Tofu Fah and Tofu-making contest, available daily at 9 am/ 10:30 am/ 1:30 pm and 3 pm (NTD $ 150 per person per DIY item/ all ingredients are included); 4 times a day (duration is 1.5 hours).

5) Luodong Night Market (罗东夜市)
Address: Minquan Road, Luodong Township, Yilan County, Taiwan (罗东镇民权路).
Business Hours: 5 pm to 12 am. Opens Daily.

Dang Gui Lamb/ 当归羊肉 (NTD $65) and Stinky Tofu/ 臭豆腐 (NTD $40)

One of the most famous Night Markets known to tourist in Yilan County is Luodong Night Market. The Night Market is not as huge as compared to some of the major night markets in Taiwan but it is still comparatively larger than some. While one may notice some familiar snacks and local delicacies in Luodong Night Market, there are a handful of delicacies that are native to Yilan County can be found here. One of such is the Ah-Zao-Pek (阿灶伯)'s Dang Gui Lamb and Stinky Tofu. Visit later than 6 pm and you will notice a snaking long queue right in front of the stall; securing a seat is near to impossible without a long-wait. Business is brisk for take-away though. The Dang Gui Lamb sees paper-thin Lamb slices submerged in piping hot Dang Gui broth; it uses the heat of the broth to cook the Lamb. As a result of that, the Lamb slices are tender while the meat-juice is locked within the dish. The Dang Gui flavor is light and the dish is most comforting to be eaten especially during a chilly autumn night. 

Their Stinky Tofu may not be favorable to many Stinky Tofu connoisseurs, the flavor might be a tad too mild but for us who are not in favor of the unpleasant odor (also for new comers whom want to try for novelty sake), it might be a good option. 

Dragon Phoenix Roll/ 华记龙凤卷 (NTD $20 each)

Three-Star Spring Onions Bun/ 三星葱饼 (NTD $35)

Another highlight of Luodong Night Market is Dragon Phoenix Roll- minced Pork well-wrapped with webbed Pork Lard and deep fried till perfection. It was nothing out of the ordinary except that the minced meat was brimming with the fragrance of Pork Lard... affordably priced at NTD $20 per stick.

Those who visited Yilan County without trying Three-Star Spring Onions should not clam that they have visited Yilan County. The Three-Star Spring Onions are believe to be sweeter and bigger in sizes. One of the delicacies produced by using the greens is the Spring Onions Bun- generous helping of Three-Star Spring Onions encased within a Bun and deep fried till perfection. The aroma itself was irresistible. This is definitely one of the must-haves we reckon... and must be enjoyed while warm.

Taiwanese Popiah/ 润饼 (NTD $40)

Taiwanese Beef Noodles 川东牛肉面 (NTD $100)

Taiwanese Popiah is a little different from Penang's; the Taiwanese eats their Popiah dry while we like ours wet. Jicama is replaced with Cabbage and Sprouts while the Seafood is replaced with Pork. The texture and flavors were more or less similar... portion seems to be more substantial though. 

We had another popular item- Taiwanese Beef Noodles at Chuan Dong Restaurant; it was disappointingly average, though the flavors were alright. The noodles were springy and the broth was cleverly flavored, decent but we've had better one at Taoyuan International Airport (Terminal 2).

Have Fun in Exploring Yilan County!