When you think of a place for foodies, Taipei is not often mentioned. But the city has by far one of the most innovative and fast moving food cultures in the world. Every week there is a new food trend exploding, and a new stall or restaurant garnering long lines of eager eaters, ready to fill their bellies and document their conquest on Instagram. So if you consider yourself a foodie, and haven't gone to Taipei to explore their boundless eateries, you should definitely reconsider. Taipei is the perfect place for you.
Here are all the MUST-HAVES you need to try while you’re in Taipei:
1. Night Markets
There are at least a handful of frequently visited night markets in Taipei that are worth checking out. Shilin Night Market has the most food stalls and there are alleys after alleys of apparel stalls. Raohe has the most interesting varieties of food, oh don't forget to grab a fresh-outta-the-oven black pepper bun. Tonghua is conveniently located in the Eastern district of Taipei and it offers proper street vendor goodies. NingXia is a bit dirtier than the other night markets in my opinion, but my standard for cleanliness drops a notch when I get food from Asian street vendors. The Oyster Pancakes...just thinking about it can trigger the production of my saliva almost instantaneously.
2. Cafe scene
The cafe scene in Taipei is slowly but surely becoming an important part of Taipei culture. Even though the number of cafes isn't as prevalent as Seoul or America, each cafe has its charm. Modern, hip, rustic, minimalistic, kawaii, you name it and the capital of Taiwan has got it. For a list of cafes to visit in Taipei, check out this blog post.
3. Beef noodle soup
There are so many kinds of beef noodle soups in Taipei and most people have their own favorite. Lin Dong Fang is my favorite spot. Every time I'm back in Taipei I need to pay a visit no matter how long the line is. Although it may seem like a simple dish, there is a lot of complexity in this soup and every ingredient is expertly crafted to combine into one of the most satisfying meals you'll ever have.
4. Braised pork rice
Unlike the Beef Noodle Soup, this really IS a simple dish. But nothing satisfies your hunger like a good braised pork rice dish after a long day of traveling and walking around the city. Jing Feng is my go-to food install. It is conveniently located at Exit 1 of Chiang Kai Shek Memorial subway station. Check out my other blog post for more details!
XLB is short for Xiao Long Bao. It can be found many places in Asia, but is also in almost every district in Taipei. If you've never tried the Taiwanese version of XLB, you should start with the famous Ding Tai Fung. If you've already tried DTF outside of Taiwan, head over to Jing Ding Lou for baos with the same quality.
6. Gua Bao!
Gua Bao is like if a steamed dumpling had a baby with a soft taco, gently cradling the tenderest pork inside the softest pillow bun you've ever tasted. It's amazing, and it's a unique thing you won't find anywhere else but Taipei.
Now that you're probably drooling, you should definitely book your next trip to Taipei post haste! And once you have, please share with me any other foods you discover. Taipei truly is a foodie heaven worth making the trip for.