You know, now that I’m thinking about it, I missed out on quite a lot of good eats in Taiwan just because I couldn’t be bothered to go out and explore that much.
At the end of each day of planned activities, I would just knock out from all the exhaustion, which is uncharacteristic of me because my previous travels have really been all about food. This time, Taipei was more of a culture trip than it was a gastronomic adventure. As a Muslim traveling in a country with quite the appetite for pork, I was hard pressed to find things to eat.
Further, the communication barrier with the local Taiwanese vendors was something that was a bit hard for me to get over with. I like to know what’s in my food, and diving into local spots and hole in the wall places just wasn’t an option because the stuff looked completely foreign to me. While I only now realized that I should have put more research into it, I just wasn’t in my element, and I accept that. Still, I was able to scarf down on some pretty tasty stuff, which I am going to list down right here:
1) Convenience Store Food
When left without any other viable options, convenience store food is always a lifesaver. Family Mart and 7 Eleven will be your best bets, may it be for a random grab-and-go onigiri you pick up as an impulse buy, or as a midnight meal when everything else is closed for the night. Protip: Load up your Easycard MRT pass with money and you can use it to buy stuff from convenience stores.
2) Scallop and shrimp gratin on the half shell
So sinfully good! A golden find at Ningxia Street’s famed night market, which is frequented by a fairly local crowd. I was so disappointed to find out that in the intervening few minutes that I was enjoying the one piece of whatever this glorious creation is, the gentleman who was selling it already packed up and left. I would have totally bought one more. Fine, two more.
Okay, salmon in Hollandaise sauce is nowhere near Taiwanese but I was just so chuffed to find IKEA there. Because WHO DOESN’T LOVE IKEA?
4) Totoro waffles
Our search for the penis waffle proved to be futile, so instead we ate our weight in Totoro waffles. Sniff sniff.
5) Torched wagyu cubes
This seems to a common denominator in all the night markets we visited in Taipei, and for some reason, the guy wielding the torches would always be quite hunky and good looking, albeit creepy in a trigger-happy pyromaniac kind of way.
With the Mulder sisters as models. (They couldn’t stop gushing about the delicate texture afterwards)
Apparently, the Taiwanese version of the nougat is a local specialty, so much so that it is in every pasalubong bag for those who came to Jiufen or other provinces.
8) Stuffed crunchy pancakes
This proves my point that the Taiwanese have just about any permutation you can do out of the humble pancake batter. They have managed to fill every nook and cranny of their street markets with waffle stands, and man, they smell terrific. And you smell them from a mile away!
“Load up everything with cheese and bake ’em” – The official English translation of the Taiwanese national motto.
There you have it, guys! Just some of the eats I put in my mouth when I was in Taiwan.
What were your best Taipei eats? Should I go back to Taipei and do a proper food crawl? Anybody wanna be my sugar daddy? Please sound off in the comments.