Favorite Taiwanese Dishes

Although our IELP students come from all over the world, food unites us all. We all enjoy  tasting new dishes and learning about the favorite foods of our friends and family. Last week, we spoke to Ting-Wei and Jo-Tzu, Taiwanese STEP students who both love Taiwanese food. Ting-Wei’s family even owns a traditional restaurant in Taiwan! To learn more about their favorite dishes, continue reading below:


Lu Rou Fan (Braised Pork Rice, 滷肉饭)


When asked what their favorite Taiwanese dish was, Ting-Wei and Jo-Tzu immediately named braised pork rice. This dish is an important icon of Taiwanese folk life, and is consumed all around Taiwan. However, different areas have slight variations in their dish, such Southern Taiwan using pork with less fat, and Northern Taiwan favoring a greasier version, sometimes with sticky rice mixed in.

Oil Rice (Youfan, 油飯)


Jo-Tzu loves youfan, or Taiwanese “oil” rice. She told us she has fond memories associated with this dish because it is traditionally served to celebrate the birth of a child. However, you can find this dish at New Year’s meals, temple celebrations, and all around Taiwan! You can even order some at the Taichung train station (pictured below), if you are hungry while traveling. Although most variations include rice, pork, and oil, there are differences in the dish depending on the area and the family cooking it.


Stinky Tofu (Chòudòufu, 臭豆腐)


Ting-Wei told us stinky tofu is a traditional dish available throughout Taiwan through stands that sell stinky tofu to locals and tourists (pictured below). According to folk stories, stinky tofu was invented by accident during the Qing dynasty by a man named Wang Zhi-He. Today, stinky tofu is often fried and served with sauce and sour pickled vegetables. Barbecued stinky tofu, where the tofu is cooked with meat sauce, is recommended to people trying stinky tofu for the first time, and is thought to have been invented in Taipei’s Shenkeng District.


Beef Noodle Soup (牛肉麵)


Beef noodle soup is a favorite of Ting-Wei, Jo-Tzu, and IELP staff. This classic dish usually uses brisket or shank only, although some restaurants offer a more expensive version with meat and tendon. Although beef noodle soup is common in both China and Taiwan, it is considered a national dish in Taiwan. It is so loved in Taiwan that Taipei holds a Beef Noodle Festival every year, where various chefs and restaurants compete for the “Best Beef Noodle in Taiwan” award.

Tánghúlu (糖葫芦)


Jo-Tzu’s favorite dessert is a traditional Chinese dessert that is loved throughout Taiwan. Jo-Tzu even said that she found tánghúlu at the Seattle International District-Chinatown Night Market! This snack is usually made with red or yellow hawthorn berries dipped in sugar hard candy. Although hawthorn berries are traditional, other kinds of berries and nuts are sometimes skewered and dipped in the candy. The tangy taste of hawthorn berries go well with the sweet candy coating, which is probably why this food has been loved in China and Taiwan for over 800 years.


After the interview, we asked Seattle locals about their favorite Taiwanese restaurant in the Seattle area. If you are in Seattle and would like to try Taiwanese food, or you are from Taiwan and missing food from home, check out these places:

  1. Looking for Chai Taiwanese Kitchen
  2. Facing East
  3. Din Tai Fung
  4. Dough Zone Dumpling House (Chinese, Sichuanese, and Taiwanese food)

Thank you to Ting-Wei and Jo-Tzu for telling us about their favorite dishes! This post and our conversations with students don’t even scratch the surface of Taiwan’s culinary history. We encourage you to explore different cultures, foods, and restaurants in Seattle, and to find your own favorite dishes!


Photo Credits: Business Insider, Bear Naked Food, i.epoch.times.com, Smart Traveler, Wikipedia, Eater

Seattle Spotlight: Art Walks

While our Calendar of Events is a great place to find events and activities all year long, some popular Seattle events require additional explanation. As Seattle weather becomes cooler and Autumn quarter begins, there are many opportunities for students to explore all that Seattle offers.


In 1981, Seattle art dealers printed handout maps and painted footsteps in front of their galleries to attract residents and tourists. With this, the first Art Walk in the United States was born. Art walks are community events where local artists and art dealers display their art to the public, who can view it for free. These events, which typically happen every month, are important occasions to encourage community engagement and appreciation of the arts.

  1. Fremont Art Walk

    Every first Friday from 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm. Located at Fremont Ave. N. and N. 35th St.

    fremont-art-walk-300x210The Fremont Art Walk brings Fremont shops, galleries, and restaurants together to celebrate creativity. You can experience many forms of art – from oil paintings to musical performances – while you walk through the famous Fremont neighborhood.

  2. First Thursday Seattle Art Walk

    Every first Thursday from 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm. Located at 102 First Ave.

    seattle-first-thursday-art-walkPioneer Square has over 35 art venues to visit for free on the first Thursday of every month, and many restaurants to grab a bite to eat. In addition, Pioneer Square’s Occidental Square contains a number of sculptures for visitors to enjoy any day of the month.

  3. West Seattle Art Walk

    Every second Thursday from 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm. Located at California Ave. S.W. and S.W. Alaska St.


    Local artists, galleries, and businesses come together on the second Thursday of each month in West Seattle to display and sell art. Here, you can view beautiful pottery from Washington artists and listen to local musicians.

  4. BLITZ Capitol Hill Art Walk

    Every second Thursday from 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm. Located at Broadway and E. Pike St.


Visit one of Seattle’s most famous neighborhoods and enjoy various mediums of art and artistic performances. Capitol Hill Art Walk features theater groups, art by prolific Seattle artists, and access to a variety of restaurants and coffee shops.

Seattle is an artistic city with a strong sense of community, and Seattle Art Walks are a fantastic way to explore Seattle neighborhoods, interact with locals, and enjoy work by talented individuals. You can learn more and access a list of all neighborhood arts walks here, and find more Seattle events using our Calendar of Events.

Photo Credits: Rich Schleifer, FIUTS, Seattle Artists, West Seattle Art Walk, Capitol Hill Art Walk

Favorite Japanese Dishes

Our IELP students come from all over the world, and our STEP 3 session has a large percentage of Japanese participants. Although I have tried basic types of (American=ized) sushi, edamame, and poke bowls, I wanted to learn more about the traditional cuisine. On our field trip to Seattle Center last Tuesday, I asked the students to share some of their favorites, and did some research to find out more about these dishes and their origins.

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Sakura Yamashita describes her favorite dish she calls “Monja” as a “hot plate mixed with vegetable and meat.”

Monjayaki is very popular in the Kantō region, and is one of Tokyo’s most famous dishes. Although often compared to okonomayaki, a similar dish made in the Kansai region, it is a lot wetter and cooks flat on one side, whereas okonomiyaki is drier, firmer and thicker. The ingredients also differ. Monja is created by frying the dry ingredients (usually some variation of cabbage, noodles, cod roe, mochi, and flour) in a circle, and filling said circle with a liquid batter after a few minutes. The result? A delicious savory pancake with the consistency of melted cheese!


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“I’m from Fukuoka so I like Tonkatsu” -Kazuhiro Fujiyama

Often simply called “katsu” in the States, this classic Japanese dish uses pork fillet or loin that is dipped in salt, pepper, flour, and beaten egg before being deep fried in a coat of “panko” or bread crumbs. It is usually served with cabbage or tsukemono (Japanese preserved vegetables), rice, and miso soup. In Korea, tonkatsu is known as don-gaseu (돈가스) or don-kkaseu (돈까스), which derived from a transliteration of the Japanese word. There are many variations of this dish, and tonkatsu is also popular as a sandwich filling (katsu sando) or served on Japanese curry (katsu karē).

Yamanashi Fruit

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Moemi Okamura explains that “peaces and grapes are the most famous in Yamanashi.”

Japan’s Yamanashi prefecture is dubbed the “kingdom of fruit,” and rightfully so! The reason lies in Yamanashi’s weather– low annual precipitation and extreme differences in heat and cold help to create sweet, juicy fruit year round. Not only is Yamanashi the biggest producer of peaches and grapes in Japan, but there are fruit picking facilities year-round boasting multiple varieties of cherries, plums, pears, strawberries, blueberries, and apples. People from all around the world flock to Yamanashi to admire their expansive orchards and to pick fresh, delicious produce.


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 “My mom buys the eel in the supermarket but will make it at home.” -Chisa Tomono

Unagi is a cult summertime favorite among Japanese, but can cost up to 30 American dollars served in a restaurant. For this reason, many have incentive to make this delicacy at home. This calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and iron-rich treat is known to help combat the scorching summer heat. One student adds that July 25th is the designated “unagi day!” Intrigued, I did some research and discovered that the name of the period for eating Unagi is called ‘Doyo-no Ushi-no hi’. “Doyo” is an 18 day period between summer and autumn, mid July to early August, and is the hottest time of the year in Japan. “Ushi no hi” can be directly translated to Ox day, originating from the traditional Japanese calendar that uses the Chinese Zodiac system. Legend has it that a struggling eel restaurant owner during the Edo period began advertising unagi on the day of Ox, because both Ushi (Ox in Japanese) and Unagi begin with the letter ‘u’. This play on words worked well as a promotion, and eventually developed into a Japanese folklore that if you eat unagi on the day of ox, you will regain power!

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Obviously, this blog post does not scratch the surface of Japan’s rich culinary heritage. Other favorites frequently mentioned include sushi, nikujaga (boiled meat and potato), nattō (fermented soybeans), shabu-shabu (meat and vegetable hot pot), udon (thick wheat flour noodle), soba (thin buckwheat flour noodle), and wagashi (sweet snack often served with tea). However, I hope that this post could provide some insight into traditional Japanese cuisine and inspire you to try something new!


American as Apple Pie

Hot dogs, milkshakes, and grilled cheese are all iconic American foods, but none are quite “as American as apple pie.” A pie is a baked dish made up of a pastry dough exterior that is filled with sweet or savory ingredients. However, not all pies are made equal. Pie was initially a practical dish because it required less flour to make than bread, making it the ideal, cheap, and filling dish for hungry immigrants. As colonists (and their pie recipes) spread towards the West, variations developed and came to represent different areas of the United States.

In Northern states, Native Americans taught settlers how to extract sap from maple trees, and pumpkin pies sweetened with maple syrup became very popular in this area. Maine, which boasted a plentiful blueberry harvest each year, claimed blueberry pie as their signature dessert. The Midwest, with its abundance of dairy farms, specialized in cheese and cream pies. Southern states indulged in various kinds of “chess pie” which was filled with rich buttermilk or cream, sugar, egg, and sometimes bourbon.

Today, pies of all kinds are enjoyed throughout the States, especially during American holidays like Thanksgiving and Fourth of July. If you haven’t tasted pie yet, it is a classic (and delicious!) part of American heritage that you need to try at least once while in the States. With Independence Day coming up, you will likely find pies on display in any major American supermarket, but Seattle also has a slew of specialty pie shops if you want a taste of the traditional homemade goods. Here are a few of the most popular:


Pie Bar Ballard


This family-owned business has a weekly-rotating menu of sweet and savory pies as well as craft cocktails and ciders to compliment! Check out their unique selection of treats here.

A la Mode Pies


“Quite simply, exceptional pie – the kind Mom would be proud to serve.” – Chris Porter (Owner)

This hand-baked pie shop has expanded from its original location in West Seattle to open a second in Phinney Ridge across from the Woodland Park Zoo. Their 9-inch pies are made-to-order with the fruit filling sourced from local, organic farms. They also offer pie-making classes on Tuesdays and delivery for orders consisting of of 5 or more pies. Explore their website to browse their flavors, order online, and check out their extended summer hours.




As its name would suggest, this is a one-stop-shop for all of your pie needs. Baked fresh throughout the day, each one (meat pies, vegetarian pies, sweet pies, savory pies, morning pies, late- night pies) is individually sized which ensures freshness and the perfect portion. Their menu changes daily in rotation so you can expect a new treat for your taste buds with each visit!



Pie-history Credit:



Top 5 Spring Break Activities

Spring break is coming! Time to pack your suitcase and go on a short journey with your friends around Seattle!

Don’t know where to go? No worries. We have listed top 5 spring break activities for you. Let’s check them out!

1. Visit one of Washington’s three National Parks!  

Washington State is well known for its three beautiful national parks: Olympic National Park, North Cascades National Park, and Mount Rainier National Park. You can go boating, fishing, camping, hiking, tidepooling, climbing, and see various wild animals in these parks. If you are a wilderness explorer, definitely check it out!


Olympic National Park, Credit to RootsRated, Marmot


North Cascades National Park, PHOTOGRAPH BY GREG VAUGHN, National Geographic 


Mount Rainier National Park

2. Visit San Juan Island! 

San Juan Island is the second-largest and most populous island of the San Juan Islands. Originally served as the seasonal fishing island by Native Americans and local people, San Juan Island is now a popular tourist site. People usually visit San Juan Island for whale watching, kayaking, cycling, fishing, hiking, and enjoying local seafood.

3. Take the ferry to Victoria, British Columbia!

Victoria is internationally renowned as the “City of Gardens”. It is also the capital city of British Columbia in Canada. You can find heritage architecture, outdoor adventures, beautiful gardens, and local seasonal events in Victoria. And it is very convenient to take the 2.5-3 hour ferry between downtown Seattle and Victoria’s Inner Harbor.

4. Take a train down to Portland or up to Vancouver

If you can’t drive to Portland or Vancouver, it is a great idea to take the train: Amtrak Cascades. Amtrak Cascades connects Vancouver, British Columbia, Seattle, Portland and Eugene, Oregon. You can also see Mount St. Helens and the Columbia River Gorge during your trip. You will get a chance to see some of the best city views and natural attractions on your way.


Amtrak Cascades, Credit to Dealmoon

5. Have some fun in Leavenworth!

Leavenworth is a city in Chelan County, WA. The entire town center is modeled on a Bavarian village. It is a good place to relax and enjoy some local food.


Leavenworth, Credit to Pinterest

Have fun during spring break!


keikoDo you ever imagine where you will be in 30 years? Maybe you will be in the IELP! That’s what happened to Keiko Monden. Right now, Keiko is a student in the Business-focused Short Term English Program (STEP). But her UW story started 31 years ago, when she came to the IELP to participate in the Tsuda School of Business Intensive English program. She fell in love with Seattle. She remembers her dorm room in Haggett Hall, a class trip to the Burke museum, and a lasting friendship she made with the Hanzeli’s, a prominent UW family.   She has been back to Seattle to visit several times. But Keiko recently celebrated her 31st anniversary at the Central Bank of Japan, and she decided to use her leave time to return to the UW as a student. I asked her what has changed in the last 30 years ago. “The internet!” she said right away. When she first came to Seattle, she needed a printed map to get around now. Now she just uses her smartphone. “I can’t be lost anymore.” She is also surprised by some of the changes on campus. She is staying in the new dorms, and loves the remodeled HUB. Although she remembers Suzzallo library, she did not recall its beauty. Keiko admits that studying in STEP isn’t as relaxing as being a tourist, but she is still managing to catch up with old friends and explore the city she loves. When she returns to Japan, she hopes to use what she has learned in Seattle to help plan international conferences.

Taiwanese Food in Seattle

This blog post was written by Yu-Wei Chen, a Campus IEP student.

I believe that everyone embraces the excitement of first coming to Seattle, but after a few months, we all confront some level of homesickness for our country. Whether you are missing your family, your friends, or your culture, and the delicious foods near your house. I spent some time exploring Taiwanese restaurants in Seattle. I tried to find the flavors from my hometown. Even though it is not exactly like my hometown flavor, these are my recommendations if you want to try some Taiwanese foods in the Seattle area.

Bubble Tea

Bubble Tea

The most famous food/beverage from my country is bubble tea. Many of my friends like to drink bubble tea and it has become their favorite beverage.

I asked them about their favorite place, and found out that most good bubble tea shops in Seattle are near the University of Washington.

Sharetea UW (U District)

3510 Stone Way N Seattle, WA 98103

Yelp rank: 4.5(230 reviews)/price $

Tea Republik (U District)

4527 University Way NE Seattle, WA 98105

Yelp rank: 4.5(184 reviews) /price $

WOW Bubble Tea (U District)

4527 University Way NE Seattle, WA 98105

Yelp rank: 4.5(184 reviews) /price

Oasis Tea Zone (U District)

519 6th Ave S Seattle, WA 98104

Yelp rank: 3.5(519 reviews)/price $

Jewel Box Cafe (Northgate)

321 NE Thornton Pl、Seattle, WA 98125

Yelp rank: 4(506 reviews)/price $

As you can see, there are many bubble tea shops new UW and even more in the whole Seattle area. I hope you can find your favorite flavor in these shops.

Next, I will introduce some Chinese/Taiwanese restaurants.

Boiling Point (International District/Bellevue)

International district: 610 5th Ave. South Seattle, WA 98104

Bellevue: 1075 Bellevue Way NE. Bellevue, WA 98004

Yelp rank: 3.5(445 reviews)/price $$

Boiling Point

Boiling Point is a traditional Taiwanese style hot pot restaurant. It is a good idea to go there if the weather is cold. Remember that they only accept customers who show up in line and sign up on the list. There is no reservations in this restaurant. Boiling Point 2

Looking for Chai Tawianese Kitchen (Edmonds)

22511 WA-99 #100, Edmonds, WA 98026

Yelp rank: 4(137 reviews)/price $$

Looking for Chai

This is what it looks like outside

Chai Pork Buns

The best pork buns in Seattle?!

Chai Milk tea

The bubble tea here is pretty good and called “Cookie Milk Tea”

Facing East (Bellevue)

1075 Bellevue Way NE B2, Bellevue, WA 98004

Yelp rank: 4(1293 reviews)/price $$

Facing East

This is one of the best Taiwanese restaurant in the Greater Seattle area. It is close to Bellevue square so the location is pretty nice. The price is a little bit expensive, but I recommend that you try it at least one time when you live in Seattle.

Three Cup Chicken

Many people like their “Three Cup Chicken”

Facing East Braised Pork Hock

Braised Pork Hock is really nice!

Din Tai Fung (University Village/Bellevue)

University Village: 2621 NE 46th St

Bellevue: 700 Bellevue Way NE #280

Yelp rank: 4(1057 reviews)/price $$

Din Tai Fung

The most famous Taiwanese restaurant also has branch stores in the Seattle area. Din Tai Fung was awarded one Michelin star and has a good reputation all over the world. If you want to try Taiwanese food, Din Tai Fung can be your number one choice. Notice that this restaurant also doesn’t accept reservations, so go there early to enjoy the delicious Taiwanese meals.


Although there are lots of good Taiwanese restaurants in Seattle area that I haven’t introduced, I hope this brief introduction can intrigue your interest in Taiwanese cuisine.

A Week in the Life of an IELP Student

This blog post was written by Kota Washimi, an IELP Student.

Break Time

IELP students spend every day with friends from different countries. We not only can improve our English skills, but also learn about various cultures, which makes our lives in IELP so exciting. Though it depends on people and their time schedule, we also enjoy chatting with friends during break time.

In the Class

Of course, all of the classes are so exciting. Teachers are great, and kind enough to answer students’ questions anytime. You will learn what you wanted to in any class.

Culture Night

On the weekend, many kinds of activities are held. You can join many of them for free, and you can enjoy practicing speaking as wells as enjoy beautiful views in Seattle. Moreover, you’ll get your language partner, with whom you talk with in English and your own language.

Notes from the Editor:

Here are some fun activities you can do!

– Join FIUTS

-Join us on IEP Activities! Visit our Facebook page for more information about activities

-Check out some RSO (Registered Student Organizations) at UW here



Using the Libraries at UW!

Libraries are excellent places to borrow books, study, do research, or complete your homework! Here at the University of Washington (Seattle Campus) there are many libraries – the East Asian Library, the Law Library, Drama Library etc. However the two major libraries on campus are Odegaard Library and Suzzallo Library.


Students at UW call Odegaard Library “Ode” (pronounced Oh-d)

Odegaard Library has three floors – the bottom floor has a lot of tables for studying in addition to white boards! You can ask for white board markers from the information desk near the doors.

The second floor is full of computers and printers; you only need your UW netID and password to be able to use the computers.

The third floor is a quiet floor – loud talking and noises are not allowed. This floor has several bookshelves for research and a lot of desks for studying in silence. Monday- Thursday the library is open 24 hours! However, you will NEED to have your husky card with you if you want to be in the library after 7PM.


You need your husky card to be in the library after 7PM

Suzzallo is another great library! It has several floors and a lot of study space available. On the third floor there is the famous Reading Room. Students call it the Harry Potter Room because of the architecture style. This is a silent study space. You can find more study spaces in Suzzallo here.


The Reading Room is a beautiful, quiet study area

If you want to check out any books from the library you only need to use your husky card. Bring the book to one of the help desks and they can check it out for you! You can also check out movies from the Media Centers in the libraries.


This is where the Media Center in Suzzallo is located

Don’t be afraid to ask the librarians at the help desk for help! They love questions!


Find a Help Desk if you have questions!

You can find the hours and contact information of the UW libraries here

Getting to Know UW’s Campus


This map of campus can be found online here.

It can be a little difficult to find your way around UW’s campus. Here is a virtual tour of the UW’s Campus. For new or prospective students, it is good to know major landmarks on campus in order to get around. For current students, you may learn more about buildings you see every day!


Red Square is officially called Central Plaza.

Red Square is truly the heart of UW’s campus. Known for its red brick, Red Square is located between two major libraries: Odegaard Undergraduate Library, which can be seen on the right side of the photo, and Suzzallo Graduate Library. Be careful though! The bricks are super slippery when they are wet!


Suzzallo Library on a rainy day by Katherine B. Turner

When facing the Suzzallo library, if you turn to your right you will see a big fountain. Drumheller Fountain is another major landmark on the UW campus. On a sunny day you can see a beautiful view of Mt. Rainier – This spot is called Rainier Vista.


Drumheller Fountain with Mt. Rainier in the background by Doug Plummer

To the left of Drumheller Fountain is Guggenheim Hall. Guggenheim is where our new students take their placement tests!


Guggenheim Hall is where new IEP students meet on the first day of orientation!

If we now go the opposite direction from where we came, past Red Square, we can see the Quad! The Quad is one of the most photographed parts of the UW Seattle Campus. During the Spring time when the cherry blossoms bloom, it is beautiful!

Cherry blossoms on the UW Quad. Katherine B. Turner/ UW

Cherry blossoms on the UW Quad by Katherine B. Turner

Another beautiful spot on campus Sylvan Grove, is somewhat difficult to find. Known as the Sylvan Grove Theater and Columns, this outdoor space of land has four Ionic columns from the original University of Washington building, back when it was built in 1861!

Sylvan Grove Map

Sylvan Grove is located near the fountain

Sylvan Grove theater can be accessed near the fountain. There is also a path on East Stevens Way. Each of the four columns has a name: Loyalty, Industry, Faith, and Efficiency; together spelling LIFE.

Sylvan Grove Columns on a sunny winter day. Photo by Katherine B. Turner/ UW

Sylvan Grove Columns by Katherine B. Turner


George Washington Statue by Katherine B. Turner

Another major meeting spot and landmark on the UW campus, is located near Red Square. The George Washington Statue can be found just before entering Red Square from 15th Avenue. He is located between Odegaard Library and Meany Hall. This is where IEP Students meet to go on activities!


The UW Tower is where the IELP office is located: on the 13th floor!

And last but not least: The UW Tower! This is where our offices are – on the 13th floor! Most of orientation for new students will be held here. If you have any questions or concerns please visit us here. We are open from 8AM to 5PM on weekdays.