A- Main Mua Chee／阿綿麻糬 打動人心
A- Main Mua Chee
◎English translation: Chares Lin
A-Main Mua Chee (Sticky Rice cakes) is always filled with customers. Always browsing the variety of flavors, they select their favorite handmade treats. The shop is tucked away in Kaohsiung's Yancheng District and run by owner Tan Yi-jhen. Although the store has recently reopened, the loyal customer following continues to grow.
Seven years ago, Ms. Tan decided to return to her hometown of Kaohsiung in order to better care for her family. Instead of looking for a job, she decided she would work for herself and establish her own Mua Chee shop. Her decision to go into Mua Chee production was inspired by memories of her grandmother's delicious Mua Chee which she always made during Mid-Autumn festival. Ta Yi-jhen decided to name her shop A-Main, the name her father always used to fondly refer to her throughout her youth.
Ms. Tan explains the process of making Mua Che. She starts off by making the liquid rice milk, a process that can take up to 8 hours to complete. She then fills the delicious desserts with local, all natural ingredients, such as peanuts from Beigang, taros from Tachia, wild strawberries from Miaoli and Mangos from either Fangshan or Yuching. She insists on everything being handmade and always includes the best ingredients. A wonderful sweet aroma can be enjoyed as she slowly roasts the peanuts and sesames. She insists on carrying out every step of the production herself, in order to ensure her customers receive the best quality. She feels the nutritious and all natural desert should sell itself, so she created a slice of white irregular shaped Mua Chee to represent her business.
Over the years, Ms. Tan has mastered the skill of wrapping each Mua Chee within 3 seconds. This swift and great ability would come in handy at times like when a man from Hong Kong placed a rush order of 200 fruit flavored Mua Chee to take home to share with his friends and relatives. Although, she admits the hard work can sometimes be exhausting, she thoroughly enjoys what she does and gets a great sense of achievement from it.
||A-Main Mua Chee
||Address: 198-27 Sinle St., Yancheng Dist., Kaohsiung City
Guang-de's Banana Waffles
◎English translation: Peng Hsin-yi
◎Photos by Lu Yi-lu
Guangde produces one of Kaohsiung's most popular desserts which are literally peddled from the backseat of a bicycle. The sweet treat has been developed by its namesake owner and pastry chef Mr. Jhang Guangde. The popular pastry is a combination of waffle and crepe and filled with banana and marshmallow. They are then baked in a waffle iron, which has been installed on the back of his bicycle. The inspiration to sell the desert off back of his bike came when his popularity increased and he received invitations to sell his treats at several exhibitions. Not only did it make transport easier, but people also began to seek out the "banana waffle guy with the bike".
The banana waffles are made from a Japanese waffle batter. Mr. Jhang first splits the banana-marshmallow combination, drizzles them with sweet, condensed milk and chocolate sauce and coming off the iron, it is quickly folded into a wrap and left to set. The waffles are served piping hot; however it is suggested to wait 3 to 5 minutes so the banana flavor is further accentuated and the multi-layered dessert becomes crispy like an ice cream cone. Mr. Jhang explains how cooked fruit will release a full-bodied sweetness and aroma. Finally, the subtle marshmallow flavor contributes to the texture and binds it all together.
For three years Mr. Jhang worked in Japan as a baker. When he returned to Taiwan, he hoped to integrate local traditions and culture into his business, but still keep it relevant and modern. He drew his inspiration for his portable waffle stand, from a time when vendors would peddle through the streets and alleys of Kaohsiung and transport their goods on the back of their bicycles. His modernized version of this historical phenomenon soon became a hit with the locals.
Even though he sells his wares off the back a bicycle, Mr. Jheng ensures his customers get the finest ingredients. He does not use any artificial flavoring or additives. He also only uses wild bananas from Taidong County because they are comprised ofless water and are more flavorful when cooked. His batter is made with French butter brand Beurre d'Isigny and vanilla extracted from fresh pods. He does not use baking powder, because it can cause gas in some people. He also hopes his customers will also identify with his vision of using all-natural, flavorful ingredients, that won't create any side effects.