Our food writer gives her recommendations in one of Asia’s food capitals
When in Taiwan, the number one thing on your to-do list should be to eat. Taiwan's dining landscape is vast and exciting, with a wonderful range of dining options from street food unique to the land to swanky fine dining experiences of international standards. As an island nation, its seafood, in particular, are fresh beyond compare. Coupled with its rich food history and culture, its culinary scene is not to be missed if you're on a food adventure.
Taipei, Taiwan's capital city, is a good place to start. Home to numerous night markets, Michelin-starred restaurants, and trendy cafés, Taipei is a foodie's dream, a veritable fail-proof hub for anyone on the hunt for the best bites.
See also: A food lover's guide to Bangkok
Start your day at Yong He Soy Milk
Nothing says Taiwanese breakfast like soy milk and rice dumpling rolls, there is no better place for this than at Yong He Soy Milk. Go with a big appetite because you shouldn't miss a thing on its menu including its salty soy milk, pork dumplings, rice dumpling rolls, flatbread fritters, and steamed bread with chicken thigh.
To avoid crowds and long lines, get there in the early hours of a weekday morning.
永和豆漿 Yong He Soy Milk | No. 30號, Section 2, Hankou St, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan 108 | +886 2 2375 6867 | Monday-Sunday, 12 am-2:30 pm & 7:45 pm-12 am
Visit the iconic Shilin Night Market
Of all the night markets that Taipei has to offer, the one you shouldn't miss is Shilin Night Market, which is also the largest in all of Taiwan. It is filled to the brim with the best of Taiwanese street food like pan-fried dumplings, stinky tofu, tian bu la (Taiwanese fish cakes), bubble milk tea, oyster omelettes, Taiwanese XXL fried chicken, grilled king oyster mushrooms, and deep fried milk.
The best part of it is that you won't burn a hole in your wallet. Do some research beforehand and go with some places in mind so you won't find yourself overwhelmed or lost for choice. And don't forget to wear comfortable shoes.
Shilin Night Market | No. 101, Jihe Rd, Shilin District, Taipei City, Taiwan 111
See also: 6 best street snacks unique to Taiwan
For true local flavours, have a meal at MoonMoonFood
Get your fill of Taiwanese staples like lu rou fan (braised pork rice) and braised offals at MoonMoonFood. Do not let the wait for a table deter you as the experienced and quick staff have worked out a system that gets orders in and guests seated as quickly as possible. You must have at least one order of its the braised pork rice, scallion oil noodles, braised offals, and boiled soups.
Each dish is seasoned and cooked to absolute perfection and you will leave with a full stomach and happy heart. The space may be a little cramped but it's comfortable enough. Note, however, that the menu is completely in Chinese.
MoonMoonFood 雙月食品社 | 6-2 Qingdao East Road, Zhongzheng District, Taipei 100 | +886 2 3393 8953 | Monday-Saturday, 11 am–2:15 pm, 5–8:30 pm
Have a fancy meal at Sushi Ryu
Taiwan's selection of fish and seafood are one of the freshest outside of Japan, and Sushi Ryu is the perfect place to get a taste of it. The Michelin-starred establishment prides itself on importing its ingredients from Japan three times a week to ensure freshness and only serves omakase menus.
If you've got a big appetite, Sushi Ryu also offers an omakase option where the chef will continue serving you sushi and other dishes for as long as you wish. Don't miss the ankimo (monkfish liver). Reservation is advisable, as seats tend to be filled a month in advance.
Sushi Ryu | No. 60-5, Section 2, Xinsheng N Rd, Zhongshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan | +886 2 2581 8380 | Tuesday-Sunday, 12pm-2:30 pm & 6pm-10 pm
End your night with a drink at Indulge Experimental Bistro
Crowned the best bar in Taiwan by World's 50 Best in 2022, Indulge Experimental Bistro is Aki Wang's brainchild that serves up some of the most creative and beautiful cocktails, which pay tribute to Taiwan's bountiful produce such as teas.
Creativity, precision, and balance are at the forefront here, along with seasonal specialties. If inventiveness in your drinks are what you're looking for, Indulge Experimental Bistro delivers just that.
Indulge Experimental Bistro | No. 11, Lane 219, Section 1, Fuxing S Rd, Da’an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106 | +886 2 2773 0080 | Monday-Sunday, 11:30 am-2 am
Bring home a bag of instant noodles
If you can't get enough of Taiwanese noodles, then why not pack home a bag of them? Ranging from scallion oil dry noodles to soupy beef noodles, choices are aplenty—especially since the inventor of instant noodles was born in Taiwan. There is one to fit every budget and flavour preference.
My picks are the Uni-President Man Han Feast chilli beef flavoured instant noodles, Tong Yi Mian braised pork flavoured instant noodles, and A-Sha Tainan sesame flavoured noodles.