[TW] 12 Food Places to Visit in Taipei

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Beholding the many sights of Taiwan, some may lament that Taipei is too much of a cosmopolitan, a typical city landscape with too much bustle going on. While I'd loved the nature and adventure of Hualien and Kenting, the place with the most memorable food for me had to be Taipei.

No doubt it's a city that's busy like Singapore, but it's also a place filled with much variety to excite your palate. Compiling the best of Taipei I've tasted over my two trips there, these feature places that are worthy of repeat visits! Do pardon my photos though, taken under very rushed and bad lighting conditions. ):

Classic souvenir from any trips to Taiwan - pineapple tarts! 

1. Ningxia Night Market

If there's one night market that you must go, this is it. Known for the myriad of night markets in foodie heaven Taiwan, this is certainly an understated one! Strongly recommended by the locals themselves, they've stopped us from going to the famous Shihlin and insisted that we visit Ningxia instead while we were asking for directions.

Much smaller yet serving the most number of hits in this compact street. Be sure to try the mochi ice, orh luat mee sua (we like this a lot better than Ah Zhong Mian Xian!), grilled scallops and 月亮虾饼.

Ningxia Road, Taipei

2. Din Tai Fung

My favourite Chinese restaurant chain in Singapore, visiting its very first store was a must for me. Indeed, it didn't fail our expectations, with exceptional service and comfort food. Be sure to go early to avoid the snaking queues!

Tip: We went at about 11am on a weekday and thankfully we were seated almost immediately. After we finished at about 12pm, we saw tour buses ferrying hordes of tourists over! :/ 

No.194 Second Section,
Xinyi Road,

3. Ice Monster

We went in summer and this was such a pleasant treat. Mango flavored snow ice topped with generous amount of mango cubes, we loved the velvety texture with a strong mango taste. Must-try for mango lovers, it's just shiok especially under the sweltering hot sun!

No.297, Section 4,
Zhongxiao East Road

4. Jiufen popiah icecream peanut wrap

One of those old school treats, it's the perfect combination of peanuts, and ice cream wrapped in a thin popiah. They grate the peanuts on the spot and seeing how much peanuts went in just made us ecstatic, a sinful comfort food that's too good to resist!

Jiu Fen Old Street 九份老街
Ruifang District, New Taipei City

5. Danshui fish crackers 

Avoid those fanciful packagings, a chat with the stall owner got us addicted to the plain no-brand fish crackers, that we regretted not getting more! Handmade fish crackers compared to those factory produced and packaged ones, these are more flavourful and crispier.

Prawn cracker specialist, with equally good fish crackers! 

Forget about the branding and presentation. With this, it's back to the basics, with just good food and sealed plain plastic bags. 

Before Danshui Old Street | 淡水老街

6. Chia Te

原味佳德鳳梨酥 | Pineapple Pastry
太陽餅 | Sun Cake

When in doubt, just follow the queue. We went in midday and the queue went all the way to the end of the street. We queued for close to an hour and most of their new specials were sold out. In any case, be sure to get your hands on their pineapple tarts. It's really the best in Taiwan.

Tip: second time visiting, we went there at around 7.30pm and to our pleasant surprise, it was almost empty! 

No. 88, Section 5,
Nanjing East Rd, Songshan District,

7. Raohe takeaway bento box

Most would think of Raohe night market for their pepper bun, but we had a nicer one recommended by our Taiwan friend at Ruifang (next on the list). While Taiwan is also known for its bian dang he (bento boxes), this was a better one that we've had. Tucked in this small corner in one of the alleys, it's indeed a well hidden treasure. Must try their pork chop bento box!

Directions: From the main exit where you'd spot the famous pepper buns, walk straight till you walk past this stall (on the right side) selling Roast Suckling Pig, then turn left into the alley and walk right to the end. It looks pretty dodgy with a small dining area on elevated platform enclosed in transparent doors, with them handling mostly deliveries.

Raohe Street Night Market 饒河街觀光夜市
Songshan District, Taipei

8. Ruifang Pepper Bun | 瑞芳林記福州胡椒餅

A pit stop on our way to Jiufen, Ruifang is where you can catch a glimpse of the not-so-tourist side of Taiwan if you make your way into the town. Walk all the way in to the 'hawker' and you'll find a maze of small food stalls. Pepper buns are snapped up really quickly here and luckily we managed to snag a few before they ran out of it!

Ruifang Food Street | 瑞芳
Directions: Exit the train station, cross to the opposite side (where you'd take the bus towards Jiufen)  
and walk straight into the lane, right till the end. 

P.S.: On the way there, there's a small perpendicular lane in on the left side, (right side if you're 
walking back), stop by for one of the next best mango ice!

No.32 Minsheng St, Ruifang District, 
New Taipei City

9. 肥前屋 Unagi Don

I've never been a fan of unagi but this bought me over completely, despite the arduous 20mins queue under the sun. A simple comforting box of unagi well-marinated for a balanced savoury touch, everything was done just right. And the best guarantee was probably spotting several tables of Japanese dining there, and leaving the place with nods.

With their affordable pricing and food done well, it's no wonder there's a queue! Though do be assured that the queue moves pretty fast 'cos no one really stays for too long in there given the cramped space that was pretty warm. 

No.13-2 Alley 121, Section 1,
Zhongshan North Road, Taipei
Opening hours: 11.30am - 2.30pm & 5.00pm - 9.00pm

10. Wang's Steak

For one of the most successful chains in Taiwan, splurge a little to experience what great hospitality is like. It was one of my most memorable dining experiences with every single touch points done well, excellent and attentive service with a personal touch, paired with decent food.

I was impressed by how service staff took the effort to explain the menu in detail, and upon serving our mains, even helped to slice up our steaks after waiting patiently for our cameras to finish eating. They'd even helped to slice up my portion of ribs, then wrapping the end of the bone with aluminum foil to make it easy for me to eat without dirtying my hands. I'd also spotted them helping to de-shell prawns for another table.

Go there especially if you're celebrating any occasions, and they'd be happy to present you with a small token and snap photos for good old memories.

No. 177, Section 1,
Heping East Rd, Da’an District

11. Ximending | 西門町原住民不滿族 大腸包小腸

I've wanted to keep it to 10 places initially, but these are just too good not to share! Hidden in one of the alleys in Ximending, beside Koi and some Teh Tarik place, we chanced upon it the first time while exploring xmd, and I couldn't stop going back.


Their sausages were well-marinated with just a thin layer outside that bursts with the flavorful flesh within. Having tried the ones from Tai Chung, Kaohsiung, Hualien and several night markets in Taipei, I still like this best!

No.3-1, Lane 82, Section 2
Wuchang Street

12. Caramel Latte at Shifen Waterfall

One of the best coffee moments I've had, sipping a cup of warm coffee while enjoying the breeze and view of "Taiwan's Niagara Falls" which is the broadest in Taiwan with vertical cascade. The cafe right beside the waterfall is a worthy try with their signature caramel latte that was really good, and decent waffles! The coffee was done just right with robust coffee in the first sip, finished by the sugary bits at the cap foam when you lick it off your lips.

With good coffee, great ambience, comfortable weather and such a scenic view, I was overwhelmed with bliss and contentment. This cup of coffee now holds a special place in my heart :')

Shifen Waterfall
10 Gankeng Road, Pingxi District

Last but not least, don't forget their bubble tea that's really nice almost everywhere! It was too good that we had them almost everyday after meal! :p Looking back at these, we can't wait to go back yet another time! Do share with us any personal favourites you've got but not listed here too! 

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