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Feast Around the Clock: An All-Day Gourmet Expedition in Taipei (TAIPEI Quarterly 2023 Autumn Vol.33)

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Post date:2023-09-11

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TAIPEI #33 (2023 Autumn)

Feast Around the Clock: An All-Day Gourmet Expedition in Taipei


Author Tina Teng, Lin Han-ching
Photographer RAW, Le Palais, Bob Tung, Kerstin Hsu, Lydia Chin

fs_1▲MICHELIN two-star restaurant RAW is the perfect representative of fine dining in Taipei. (Photo・RAW)

Taipei is a world-renowned foodie heaven that never seems to sleep. For travelers venturing to Taiwan, one of the most enticing aspects is Taipei’s culinary delights that promise an unforgettable 24/7 gastronomic experience. But what exactly makes Taipei the undisputed food capital of Taiwan?

Born and raised in Taipei, veteran food journalist Lin Hanching (林涵青) shares her thoughts on Taipei’s culinary offerings. “As the capital of Taiwan, people from all over the country and even the world have come to settle in Taipei, each bearing a delectable piece of their hometown’s cuisine. This diverse migration weaves a captivating cultural fabric that enriches the flavors that dance upon the taste buds of both locals and tourists.” People in Taipei have an unabashed love for food and do not mind spending money to indulge. From hole-in-the-wall street stalls to opulent fine dining establishments, a score of culinary delights caters to a broad spectrum of food enthusiasts.

Taipei boasts a vibrant late-night snack culture, which first emerged to satisfy the appetites of night-shift workers and those who stayed late at work. Over time, this culture became intertwined with Taipei’s unique 24/7 bookstore scene, adding to the city’s unique charm. With the advent of nighttime festivals such as Taipei Lantern Festival (台北燈會), Nuit Blanche Taipei (台北白晝之夜), and Taipei Summer Festival (大稻埕夏日節), Taipei’s nocturnal landscape has been transformed into a vibrant canvas of celebration. These events, combined with Taipei’s convenient transportation and security, laid the foundation for the thriving late-night economy.

Leveraging her extensive expertise in the world of food, Lin has crafted this exclusive one-day culinary guide to Taipei.

07:00 Breakfast

Taipei offers a wide variety of breakfast options unparalleled by other big cities. Don’t miss Fu Hang Soy Milk (阜杭豆漿), once recommended by the MICHELIN Guide (米其林指南) five years in a row. The place is always busy with long queues. Be sure to try their roasted buns with egg (厚餅夾蛋) as the freshly roasted buns always exude a delightful aroma. You can also enjoy the unique flavor of its famous savory soy milk.

fs_2▲Fu Hang Soy Milk is a well-known Chinese breakfast restaurant. 

For the more adventurous visitors, why not take up the challenge and browse the impressive menus of traditional Taiwanese breakfast shops. Egg crepes (蛋餅), turnip cakes (蘿蔔糕), Taiwanese hamburgers and sandwiches, served with black or milk tea, make for a typical hearty local breakfast.

12:00 Lunch

For lunch, venture over to local Taiwanese food stalls. There are more than 20 food stalls in front of Dadaocheng Cisheng Temple (大稻埕慈聖宮), serving up delicacies including pork congee (肉粥), four herbs soup (四神湯), pork rib soup (排骨湯), pig’s blood soup (豬血湯), pork knuckle vermicelli (豬腳麵線), and seafood stir fry (海鮮熱炒). A stop in Dadaocheng will leave you more than satisfied. The locals’ favorite lunch combination is a bowl of rice vermicelli soup (米粉湯) or pork congee with three or four heibaiqie (黑白切), side dishes of various sliced ingredients. Food connoisseur Shu Kuochih (舒國治) once summed up Taiwanese xiaochi (小吃) culture best: “The most satisfying approach is to try a little bit of everything.” Dining under the banyan tree in front of the temple also adds a unique charm to the experience.

fs_3▲Eating Taiwanese traditional food in front of Dadaocheng Cisheng Temple is an especially local way to spend part of the day. 

Beef noodle soup also holds a special place in the hearts of Taiwanese people, with several variations to suit every palate. Whether you prefer braised (紅燒), stewed (清燉), or tomato broth (番茄湯頭), each has its devoted fans. Choose your favorite texture and flavor by opting for either thinly sliced or diced beef. As for the noodles, there are a delightful range of options ― from thin, plain, sliced, to noodle knots.

fs_4▲Beef noodles are one of the most representative delicacies of Taipei. 

Beef noodle soup can be enjoyed at humble roadside stalls or famous establishments such as Yong-Kang Beef Noodle (永康牛肉麵), Jianhong Beef Noodles (建宏牛肉麵), Lin Dong Fang Beef Noodles (林東芳牛肉麵), and Lao Shan Dong Homemade Noodles (老山東). Even five-star hotels such as the Regent Taipei and Sheraton Grand Taipei Hotel proudly offer this fulfilling Taiwanese specialty as part of their dining options.

16:00 Afternoon Tea

With so many options, it is never easy deciding on your afternoon tea snack in Taipei. At Guting, there is always a long line of foodies in front of Wenzhou Street Radish Pancake (溫州街蘿蔔絲餅達人) patiently waiting for their freshly fried treat. Meanwhile, outside Guang Hua Digital Plaza (光華商場) and Qingguang Market (晴光市場), street stalls selling red bean cakes (紅豆餅), also known as wheel pies (車輪餅), offer delicious afternoon pick-me-ups for visitors and locals alike. Wherever you go, just follow the crowd.

fs_5▲In the afternoon, you can have the famed Wenzhou Street Radish Pancake for a snack. (Photo・Kerstin Hsu)

On the other hand, traditional desserts like tofu pudding (豆花) and shaved ice (剉冰) are also wonderful and affordable options. You can never go wrong with beloved tofu pudding shops such as Beans Village (豆花莊) in Ningxia Night Market (寧夏夜市), Chuan Tong Zhi Zui Dou Hua Tang (豆花堂) in Beitou and Longtan Tofu Pudding (龍潭豆花) in Gongguan (公館); Bai-Shui Douhua (白水豆花) on Yongkang Street (永康街) and Yu Nau Chuan Douhua (芋艿川豆花店) in Neihu are popular, trendy, up-and-coming shops. For shaved ice, traditional ice shops such as Lung Tu Shaved Ice Shop (龍都冰菓專業家), Taiyi Milk King (臺一牛E%大王), Eastern Ice Store (東區粉圓) and Sweet Uncle (水龜伯古早味) are popular with locals. The best thing about Taiwanese shaved ice is the variety of toppings you can choose from to create your own personal favorite, such as taro balls and tapioca. 

fs_6▲Traditional ice dessert shops have a wealth of ingredients that can be freely mixed and matched. (Photo・Lydia Chin)

19:00 Dinner

RAW, a renowned two MICHELIN-starred restaurant, has become the epitome of Taiwanese fine dining on the global culinary scene. The chef’s masterful use of locally sourced Taiwanese ingredients and the deconstruction of elements of Taiwan’s beloved street food are masterfully incorporated, resulting in a remarkable and distinctive expression of Taiwanese bistronomy.

Japanese cuisine in Taipei is also of an exceptionally high standard. Of the 35 MICHELIN-starred restaurants in Taipei in 2023, eight are dedicated to Japanese cuisine. In particular, Sushi Nomura (鮨 野村) excels at edomae nigiri-zushi (江戶前壽司), earning a well-deserved one-star status for six consecutive years. Meanwhile, Ken Anho (謙安和) embraces a minimalist Japanese aesthetic in both its decor and culinary offerings. On the other hand, Mudan Tempura (牡丹), which elevated from one star to a two-star Michelin restaurant this year, presents an understated yet refined tempura menu that captivates diners with its exquisite flavors.

fs_7▲Cantonese Style Crispy Roast Goose is the signature dish of Le Palais. (Photo・Le Palais)

Indulge in the richness of Chinese cuisine at the acclaimed Cantonese restaurant Le Palais (頤宮), a six-time MICHELIN three-star winner. Be sure to pre-order their signature dish ― Cantonese Style Crispy Roast Goose Course (火焰片皮鵝) ― an absolute must. For Taiwanese delicacies, Shin Yeh Taiwanese Signature (欣葉・鐘菜), also MICHELIN-starred, offers a delectable array of local dishes in a cozy, family-style dining environment. And for a taste of the opulence of the 1930s, Mountain & Sea House (山海樓), having won both MICHELIN star and MICHELIN Green star, offers a fine dining experience reminiscent of a bygone era.

21:30 Night Market

Don’t hurry back to your hotel just yet. Visit the vibrant and bustling night markets and try out all that they have to offer. This part of your gourmet expedition is not to be missed! Raohe (饒河), Ningxia, Shilin (士林), and Linjiang/Tonghua (臨江/通化) are some of the most famous night markets in Taiwan. Even at 10 pm, these busy markets remain vibrant, with irresistible aromas wafting from the various street food vendors lining the streets. Food lovers will find iconic Taiwanese snacks such as stinky tofu (臭豆腐), oyster omelette (蚵仔煎), pork intestine vermicelli (大腸麵線), Taiwanese popcorn chicken (鹽酥雞), luwei (滷味) (Taiwanese braised dishes), fried chicken cutlet, and the ever-popular bubble tea.

fs_8▲There are always a variety of food stalls in the night market to choose from. (Photo・Lydia Chin)

23:00 Bars

As the night deepens, Taipei becomes even more enchanting, providing a haven for sake, wine, whiskey, craft beer, and cocktail enthusiasts. In recent years, the city’s innovative cocktail scene has garnered international acclaim, and the renowned Indulge Bistro has consistently secured a spot in Asia’s 50 Best Bars. This year, the British-inspired The Public House made its debut on the prestigious list. For those intrigued by old-fashioned charm, WOSOM ASW Tea House (沃森茶酒館) on the second floor of the historical Watson’s Pharmacy (屈臣氏大藥房) building in Dadaocheng (大稻埕) comes highly recommended. Its vintage, nostalgic setting and Taiwan’s tê sio-tsiú (茶燒酒) (tea-infused spirits) promise a unique and delightful taste of Taipei’s nighttime allure.

fs_9▲There are many specialty bars where you can go for a drink and experience the nightlife in Taipei. (Photo・Lydia Chin)

02:00 Midnight Snack

Hungry again after a round or two at the bar? Xiaolizi Rice Porridge (小李子清粥小菜) on Fuxing South Road (復興南路) is open from 5 pm to 6 am, with nearly 100 kinds of side dishes to choose from. Hong Soy Milk King (洪記豆漿大王), Ruian Soy Milk King (瑞安豆漿大王) and Fu Te Cold Noodle (福德麵) are affordable options at your disposal around the clock.

fs_10▲A porridge and side dish restaurant, open from evening to early morning, is the best place to go for a late-night snack.

And this is how Taipei keeps you fed and happy. As a matter of fact, Taiwan’s convenience stores always have an array of delectable options readily available. From classic tea eggs, hot dogs, and oden, to a variety of coffee choices, as well as Chinese and Western-style food boxes made in collaboration with renowned restaurants, the selection is bound to impress. The sheer assortment of snacks and food offerings at these convenience stores goes beyond what one can imagine. Whatever you’re craving, Taipei has you covered with a delightful array of treats at your fingertips.

🍷Excessive drinking is hazardous to your health.

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