Travel Diary: 7 Things To Eat In Taipei
Taiwan, and its capital city of Taipei in particular, might just be the culinary destination you never knew you needed to visit. Known for having the best sushi outside of Japan and an impressive street food game, my husband and I were in heaven eating our way through the city. The people are friendly, the metro is easy to navigate, and the food is incredible. Here are 7 things you must eat in Taipei.
Taipei’s original Din Tai Fung is the place responsible for making soup dumplings an international sensation. With locations all over the world, Din Tai Fund churns out xiaolnogbao with the utmost precision and skill. The dumpling wrapper is paper thin and so delicate, but can still withstand being stuffed with soup and pork. They are, very simply, some of the best dumplings in the world.
Because the original spot can get so crowded with wait times surpassing a few hours, order takeout from the counter and eat your delights on the street.
2. Boba Tea
Taiwan is also responsible for bringing the world boba tea, which has been adopted all over the world as bubble tea, tapioca tea, pearl tea, etc. Sometimes it’s not even made with tea but is more a concoction of condensed milk, flavorings and sweetener. We didn’t go to one place in particular, since the beverage is available on basically every street corner, meaning you have no reason to skip.
3. Scallion Pancakes
These are unlike any scallion pancakes you’ve ever had, and the place to get them is from the street stand, Tianjin Flaky Scallion Pancake. Hungry customers can select from a few varieties including original and ones cooked with eggs, cheese and meat, which sort of comes off like a Taiwanese crepe. We went original, and also went back to the stand multiple times for more. The crisp, flakey pancake was perfectly cooked with a soft, gooey center. They only cost a few cents.
4. Beef Noodle Soup
I didn’t make it to a beef noodle soup shop, which is basically considered blasphemous in Taipei. Don’t make the same mistake I did and head to Yong Kang Beef Noodle, stat.
Taiwan is known for having the best sushi outside of Japan, so it’s a must on any trip to Taipei. You must book a table in advance. Try grabbing a spot at Sasa Sushi or KITCHO, which are considered some of the best spots in town.
6. Oolong Tea
Taiwan is known for its oolong tea, which makes up about 20 percent of the world’s tea population. Traditional tea houses are situated all over the city, and range from formal to casual. We visited Eighty Eightea Rinbansyo, a charming spot with traditional tea service. Patrons can sit at a table on the floor as a waiter comes by to guide you through the process. I learned that if you are having a guest over for tea, it’s considered rude to not first warm their cup with hot water that you then dump into a very respectable looking discard bucket.
7. Shaved Ice
We almost left Taipei without trying this strangely satisfying dessert, and thank goodness we didn’t! We loved the bowls at Smoothie House, which has ads everywhere in the city. But feel free to venture out — it seems like a tough dessert to mess up. Traditionally, shaved ice is topped with chunks of mango, but flavors range from chocolate to red bean to strawberry.
A few other things to keep in mind when visiting Taipei:
1. You must visit a night market. Shilin is the biggest one in the city, covering multiple square blocks with shopping, food and more. Prepare yourself for massive crowds.
2. There’s hiking and hot springs just north of the city, which you can reach by the metro. Head to Beitou to dip in a hot spring, and to Yangmingshan National Park for a hike or two.
3. Use the metro, but have cash on you. The metro is extremely accessible, clean and basically a dream of a transit system compared to anything we have in the U.S. You can purchase unlimited passes based on day or hours — just keep in mind that day passes end at midnight, so purchasing a 24-hour pass may be preferable.