Third time is the charm right? At the end of last year I took my third trip to Taipei in Taiwan and I finally got around to doing some serious eating and exploring. My first two trips involved a lot of drinking and a lot of partying and I can honestly say that as much as I had planned to do, I didn’t see much outside of the 101 building area. However on this trip I was determined to see and eat everything the city had to offer. Note this article was originally set to be a top 10 but somehow I managed to lose quite a lot of my pictures, so I condensed it down until be top 5, but these really were the best of the best.
1.Beef Noodles – This is probably the most famous Taiwanese dish to try, and not only is it cheap, it is delicious too. We went to Lao Wang Ji Beef Noodles (老王記牛肉麵) on Tao Yuan Street which is one of the most famous places in the city to get a bowl of beef noodles. There was a bit of a queue when it arrived at lunchtime, however the queue moved pretty quickly and we were sat down after about 10 minutes of waiting. Everyone around us was just eating the noodles, so we asked for the same, and were offered the spicy version. The broth was so tasty without being spicy at all, and the chunks of beef were so tender they fell apart in your mouth. The noodles were also really special they had a chewiness to them which made them different from other kinds of noodles I have had. At $220 TWD a bowl I think they are a must try.
2. Din Tai Fung – I was super excited to finally eat Din Tai Fung in its motherland, and it was clear I wasn’t the only one judging by the gigantic queue that was awaiting us when we arrived. Luckily the 30 minute wait didn’t take too long, especially after we popped to the 7-11 to get beer whilst we waited. We were super excited to try the Xiao Long Bao but I really don’t think they were any better than the ones I have had in Hong Kong or Shanghai. They were good by all means and still worth trying if you live outside of China, but if you are used to the good stuff, you might not find them worth the wait.
3. Tian Jin Onion Pancake– The low key food truck, located a short walk from Din Tai Fung is a real treasure and not to be missed. Apparently we weren’t the only ones who found out this info because again there was a hell of a queue. There are five different varieties of of pancake available all stuffed with different combinations of egg and cheese, meat and vegetables and they range in price from $25 – $50 TWD . We went for the egg with cheese, and the egg, basil, and cheese. After biting into the golden flaky pastry filled with onions I could tell it was the well worth the wait. It was probably one of the best street foods I have ever eaten.
4. Raohe Night Market – This was the mother load of street food as far as I was concerned. The market opens at 7pm and is one long street jam packed with stalls selling all kinds of street foods. One thing we were told to try without fail was the Black Pepper Buns at the very beginning of the market, this place was absolutely packed so we got in line right away. I have to say they didn’t quite compete with the dumplings, but they are worth trying if the queue isn’t so long. After the pepper buns we were very keen to try the Fried Chicken. We found a store about half way down, and I have to say this is the words biggest piece of fried chicken. It is pounded into a slab then breaded and deep fried and sprinkled with your choice of seasoning. Holy Moly was this yummy, just watch out for the bones which are still inside. Although XLB are the most famous dumplings around, you will find other varieties around the market like the Shanghai Pan Fried Dumplings. These are like a more bready bun filled with a meat ball, and fried so they have a crispy bottom. You will see them in restaurants and at the street stalls. while they are not quite as good as their soup filled cousins they are still worth eating.
5. Brown Sugar Bubble Tea – In the past I haven’t ever been particularly fond of bubble tea. I just find those gelatinous pearls at the bottom a little bit odd, plus cold milky tea is not really my thing. However all that changed when I tried the Brown Sugar Bubble Tea. At the bottom of the cup is a sweet and sticky caramelized syrup and the yummy sweet chewy little balls. Mixed with the milky tea it is a joy. I absolutely loved, it, and have even had it several times since in Seoul. I can’t get enough, in Taipei its everywhere, even the good old 7-11 does a version, which is well worth stopping by just for the snacks too.