The pineapple cake wars

18 Jul

When I had gone to Taiwan for the first time at the beginning of May, my colleagues had lists and lists of foods that they wanted to try.  They had done research about the best purveyor of all types of Taiwanese specialties.  I was along for the ride and hadn’t done any research.  I accepted what they said and ate lots of good food as they searched things out.

My recent trip to Taiwan I decided to see for myself what some of the differences were.  In doing so, I tumbled head over heels into one of the longest running debates in Taipei.  Who makes the best pineapple cakes (Feng li shu -凤梨酥)?

The name of this food confused me from the beginning because pineapple is boluo (菠萝) so I could never remember the appropriate name.  No matter what they are called though – they are delicious.

According to my colleagues there are two schools of thought on the best type of pineapple cake.  Some people like a treat that is a little sour and a little sweet and others like it to be completely sweet.  Each side believes the other is wrong.

They are made fresh with an expiration date of no more than two weeks, so it’s not something you can buy a lot of and then store – best for immediate action.

The sweet/sour camp is championed by a small local shop that only sells pineapple cakes.  It is off the beaten path and is called Sunny Hills (微热山丘).  I went there on a rainy Saturday afternoon and was welcomed at the door with a fresh cup of tea and a pineapple cake to taste before purchase.  It was a very homey experience.

Packaged to last

Packaged to last?

The sweet camp (which according to my Taiwanese colleagues is more preferred by mainland tourists) hangs its hat on a shop called Chia Te (佳德).  It is right on Taipei’s Nanjing Road and it also has many other sweets that are available.  I actually ran out of time to go there, but my last day in Taiwan a colleague insisted on buying two boxes of treats for the Shanghai office, so I got to taste that one as well.

Bringing back gifts

Bringing back gifts

Bringing the boxes back to Shanghai the first day I got all kinds of comments – “Chia Te is the best!”  “Wow! You got the right kind.” and one person who said, “Did you go to Sunny Hills?”

On the plane ride back from Taiwan, there was a small pineapple cake included in the lunch menu.  It wasn’t a brand I recognized – too sweet.  My favorite – the sweet/sour combo.

Ready to dig in!

Ready to dig in!

Seems that the pineapple wars will continue…

Which would you prefer?

22 Responses to “The pineapple cake wars”

  1. LFFL July 18, 2013 at 9:11 am #

    That looks good!

    • gkm2011 July 18, 2013 at 7:39 pm #

      It was! Have you ever had one before?

      • LFFL July 19, 2013 at 6:03 pm #

        I’ve had pineapple upside down cake, but not one that looked liked this before.

      • gkm2011 July 19, 2013 at 9:31 pm #

        It isn’t pineapple upside down cake, more like a very thick cookie or fig newton with pineapple in the middle. The translation may be a bit misleading.

      • LFFL July 20, 2013 at 2:15 pm #

        I thought it looked different.

  2. pollyheath July 18, 2013 at 12:47 pm #

    Definitely sweet and sour! Is it really moist or kind of dry? I’m try to imagine this thing.

    • gkm2011 July 18, 2013 at 7:41 pm #

      It is kind of like a very large pineapple fig newton. The cake is moist on the inside and soft and a little crumbly on the outside.

      • pollyheath July 18, 2013 at 10:04 pm #


  3. Every Day Adventures in Asia July 18, 2013 at 1:24 pm #

    My vote? Sweet n sour – definitely!

    • gkm2011 July 18, 2013 at 7:44 pm #

      I could have guessed that one. Next time you’re in Taiwan get over to Sunny Hills!

  4. ladyofthecakes July 18, 2013 at 3:38 pm #

    Now THAT is a feud after my own heart….

    • gkm2011 July 19, 2013 at 7:54 am #

      Sweet or sweet/sour? Thus far everyone commenting wants the latter, but Chia Te does very good business so perhaps the sweet people are afraid to speak up!

      • ladyofthecakes July 19, 2013 at 2:33 pm #

        I meant a cake-centred feud in general. I think I’d be in the sweet/sour camp myself…

  5. I’m definitely a sweet and sour kind of gal. Life’s too boring if we live on only one dimension. In fact, that’s how I prefer my food done – complex taste with a little bit of many different flavors.

  6. stupiduglyforeigner July 20, 2013 at 4:10 am #

    So now I have another reason to return to Taiwan.

    • gkm2011 July 20, 2013 at 8:19 am #

      Yes, they were delicious. Not sure if it is something non-Asians look for, but totally worth the trip. The food in general there is extremely high quality.


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