There’s more to Taipei than bubble tea…
Nine out of ten Taiwanese locals will tell you that there’s nothing better to do in the island’s capital than to eat your heart out! With Hokkien, Hakka, Japanese and aboriginal influences, Taiwanese cuisine is a gourmand’s East-Asian dream. Join us as we take you on a 48-hour tour of our favourite Taipei eats, from ridiculously cheap sweet treats to hipster brunch spots…
Breakfast: Fuhang Soy Milk, NT$30 – $90 (approx. $7 – $22)
When faced with a queue, one either braves it or runs from it, and we’d definitely brave it for Fuhang. Locals start queuing at this Michelin-recommended joint for their traditional breakfasts at 5:30am, while tourists start swarming in later in the morning. You might wonder why one would wait for so long for such a humble meal, but one bite of their hou bing dan jia you tiao (厚餅蛋夾油條) and you’ll know why. This heavenly breakfast sandwich consists of a pillow of fried egg dotted with spring onions, set inside a freshly-baked sesame-coated roll along with a savoury stick of cruller for crunch. As for its eponymous soy milk, it’s smooth, creamy, and intensely soy-flavoured. Go early so that you’ll only have to queue for 15 minutes, and not an hour.
Fuhang Soy Milk, Stall 28, 2F, Huashan Market, No. 108, Section 1, Zhongxiao East Road, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan 100, Tel: +886 2 2392 2175
Hours: Tuesday to Sunday: 5:30am – 12:30pm, Closed on Monday
Snack: Ximen Jin Feng, NT$33 – $90 (approx. $8 – $22)
Assuming you heed our advice and have your breakfast at Fuhang early, you’ll probably be hungry by mid-morning. Jin Feng in the Ximending shopping district will satisfy your rumbling belly with its signature braised pork rice– mini chunks of fatty pork belly stewed in a savoury, mildly sweet gravy, served over steamed pearl rice. This quintessential Taiwanese staple can be found across the city, but Jin Feng is where everybody heads to. Its main branch is in the Zhongzheng district, but the Ximen branch is just as good, and even offers an English menu.
Ximen Jin Feng, No. 89, Kunming Street, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan 108, +886 2 2381 2561, www.facebook.com/XiMenGinfong
Hours: Wednesday to Monday: 10am – 10pm, Closed on Tuesday
Lunch: Fuhong Beef Noodles, NT$40 – $110 (approx. $10 – $28)
A mere 10-minute walk from Ximending will take you to Fuhong, a no-frills eatery that serves up some of the best beef noodles we’ve ever had in Taipei (and we’ve had many). Get the large bowl of beef noodles to split between two (it’s more than enough), and you’ll be treated to a generous portion of tender chunks of beef and springy noodles swimming in a rich, beefy broth, topped with a handful of scallions. You can choose between skinny noodles (細麵) and fat noodles (寬麵), but we prefer the fat ones, which seem to hold the al dente bite better. A range of condiments are available at your table but the two pots of orange and brown spicy beef drippings steal the show. These pots of beefy caviar pack a punch, and are worth every single calorie, (you’re on holiday, so who’s counting?)
This place is really popular with locals and was packed even at 2pm when we went. There’s no English menu so if you don’t know Chinese, you’ll have to either point and smile, or show them this “大牛肉麵” for a large bowl of beef noodles. If you’re up for a beef noodle binge, also try Jianhong Beef Noodles round the corner, which is run by the younger brother of Fuhong’s owner following a (rumoured) family feud.
Fuhong Beef Noodles, No. 67-69, Luoyang Street, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan 108, +886 2 2371 3028
Hours: Open 24 hours
Dinner: Wulao Hotpot, NT$600 – $800 (approx. $150 – $200)
Those who have an aversion to the numbing sensation of mala hot pot will love the (non-mala!) spicy herbal broth at Wulao Hotpot, in which over 20 different herbs and spices are simmered for hours on end to form a crazy-aromatic broth for you to cook your food in. Not a fan of spicy food? Its tofu broth is equally amazing, and is also made with over 20 herbs and spices. Tofu skin, duck blood and rice are unlimited so it’s impossible to leave hungry. Servers are (almost too) courteous, and you’ll also get a complimentary jug of fruit slushie to end the meal, which you’re to decant into shot glasses for pre-tipple time shots. Be sure to make a reservation because Wulao gets pretty packed at dinnertime.
Wulao Hotpot, No. 143, Section 3, Civic Blvd, Zhongshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 104, +886 2 2731 7928, www.wulao.com.tw/
Hours: Monday to Sunday: 11:30am – 2am
Tipple time: Kanpai, NT$450 – $700 (approx. $115 – $180)
A 20-minute walk away from Wulao Hotpot is Kanpai, a lively yakiniku (Japanese BBQ) bar that embodies Taiwanese hospitality. Kanpai offers delicious meat for you to grill yourself and a good range of drinks from Japanese beer to highballs and sours, but the electrifying atmosphere is what makes this place truly amazing. The action begins at 8pm, when staff lead the daily “Kanpai” session and introduce everyone table by table (with permission, of course), followed by our favourite bit: a round of drinks on the house if you down your own within the five-second countdown! If it’s a little too early for tipple time, rest assured that the fun lasts throughout the night. At any time, get a free plate of meat by kissing anyone (even servers!) for 10 seconds. Sit at the bar if you get the chance– we had the best time chatting with our bartender, who was very fun and friendly. We also recommend booking in advance as they’re packed all the time.
Kanpai, No. 5, Lane 169, Section 1, Dunhua South Road., Da’an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106, +886 2 2751 2261, www.kanpaiyakiniku.com.tw/
Hours: Sunday to Thursday: 5pm – 12am, Friday & Saturday: 5pm – 2am
Breakfast: Good Cho’s, NT$130 – $360 (approx. $30 – $90)
Tucked away in the photogenic Four Four South Village is Good Cho’s, a quaint, retro brunch spot best known for its glorious range of bagels. Start your day with homemade specials like the cream cheese and sweet potato bagel or our tried-and-tested favourite– the fermented bean curd chicken bagel sandwich, then wash all that down with Alishan coffee or classic Taiwanese fruit tea. The adjacent store is also really fun to browse and stocks artisanal treats like pineapple jam and hand-crafted nibbles. We spent forever gazing at its pretty pots of locally-made honey, just so you know.
Good Cho’s, No. 54, Songqin Street, Xinyi District, Taipei City, Taiwan 110, +886 2 2758 2609, www.goodchos.com.tw/
Hours: Monday to Friday: 10am – 8pm, Saturday & Sunday: 9am – 6:30pm, Closed on the first Monday of every month.
Lunch: Addiction Aquatic Development, NT$400 – $1000 (approx. $100 – $250)
For some of the freshest seafood in Taipei, head to Addiction Aquatic Development. Its name might conjure up images of a derelict water park, but AAD is actually more of a nirvana for seafood junkies than a cheap substitute for Aquatica. Split into ten sections, each featuring different delicacies from both the land and the sea, this stylish seafood market houses huge tanks with massive crabs shuffling around, an airy, al fresco area where grilled seafood is served, a well-stocked grocery selling both local and imported goodies, and much more. Our favourite has got to be the standing sushi bar, which is helmed by award-winning Japanese chef, Tadashi Takeda. Here, you’ll find super fresh sushi at reasonable prices, which are every bit as good as those in Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market.
Tip: Unfortunately, AAD doesn’t accept credit cards, so you’ll need to have enough cash on you. If the sight of fresh local produce makes you giddy with excitement, be sure to visit the farmer’s market across the street before it closes at 1pm.
Addiction Aquatic Development, No. 18, Alley 2, Lane 410, Minzu East Road, Zhongshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 104, +886 2 2508 1268, www.addiction.com.tw/
Hours: Monday to Sunday: 6am – 12am
Snack: Bulao Hakka Traditional Mochi, NT$10 for six pieces of mochi (approx. $2.50)
This little cart stationed near Hsing Tian Kong temple attracts some serious queues, which thankfully move pretty quickly. Head to Bulao for the squishiest, chewiest mochi that is shaped right in front of you, rolled in golden peanut dust and bursting with fillings ranging from coconut to black sesame. We couldn’t believe the price when we saw it– less than $3 Hong Kong dollars for six delicious pieces! As much as you’ll want to buy more to save for later, it’s best to eat these little nuggets of gold on the spot or the peanut dust will become soggy. You’re also limited to two packs of six per person, which is sad. If you’re travelling to Taipei during the summer months, note that they take a break from July 1 to August 31 because mochi spoils easily in the heat.
Bulao Hakka Traditional Mochi, Lane 297, Songjiang Road, Zhongshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 104, www.facebook.com/不老客家麻糬
Hours: Monday to Saturday: 10:30am – 6pm. Closed on Sunday.
Dinner: Shilin Night Market
Round off your last night in Taipei with the city’s ultimate foodie spot– Shilin Night Market. Sure, it’s very touristy, but it’s touristy with good reason. A buzzing sprawl of street food vendors, game booths and shops selling all sorts of knick-knacks, makes this night market in Taipei the biggest and busiest. We will never forget our fling with a pepper pork bun– it was love at first bite. Catching our attention as it is cooked in a tandoor oven, it looks like any other bun, but we took to its plain appearance in hopes that it’d surprise us with what’s on the inside, and it did. Bite in to its crisp, sesame-clad exterior, and be greeted with juicy, peppery, porky bliss. Don’t forget to try the grilled squid, papaya milk smoothies, stinky tofu and even phallic popsicles, but none of these will ever hold a place in our hearts like the pepper pork bun does.
Shilin Night Market, No. 101, Jihe Road, Shilin District, Taipei City, Taiwan 111 (Jiantan MRT Station Exit 1)
Hours: Open daily. Most stalls are open from 6pm – 11pm, but some open as early as 4pm and don’t close till 1am.
Featured image courtesy of getty images