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The area of Hualien and Taitung is blessed with majestic mountains and fine waters that provide very pleasant scenery. The area's residents are categorized into four main groups: indigenes, southern Fujianese, Hakkanese, and Mainland Chinese who came to Taiwan with the Nationalist government in the late 1940s. The area's special geographic features and diversified ethnic makeup have produced a culinary culture that is far removed from that of the western part of the island. Come to this part of Taiwan and you can savor all kinds of healthy foods that have their own local characteristics-Taiwanese, Hakkanese, and indigenous cuisine, it's all here.
What tourists from outside like most, however, is the food that the indigenes make using fruits, flowers, and wild plants. The indigenes emphasize simplicity in their cooking and take original flavor as the supreme principle of culinary pleasure. With special local farm products and the unpolluted environment, they help visitors savor the special tastes of dishes made from such wild ingredients as yellow rattan hearts, reed hearts, betel hearts, sorghum hearts, betel-nut flowers, and wild bitter melon.
Thanks to the influence of a moderate winter climate, the fruits produced in Hualien and Taitung are extremely high in quality. These include the sugar apples, pineapples, watermelons, and other fruits of Chishang, the daylilies of Taimali, the chipped dried fish of Chenggong, and the fresh milk of Chulu, all in Taitung County; and the Wuhe tea, Hualien sweet potatoes, and Hualien taro of Hualien County.
The diversified flavors of the snacks produced in this area make them alone worth the trip. They include the local delicacies produced at the Yexiang Dumpling Restaurant in Hualien, which has been in business for 70 years; the goat-meat stew of Yuli; and the dried bean curd of Deli, which are known throughout the island. The Nanbin Night Market on Heping and Hai-an roads in Hualien City and the Siwei Road Night Market in Taitung are good places for savoring the local regional snacks, including seafood and all kinds of hot and cold drinks. Gourmands who like seafood can find the freshest anywhere at Shitiping, Chenggong Fishing Harbor, and Fugang Fishing Harbor.