December 3, 2015
The time has finally come! We’ve been talking about it for a while, and now we are ready to share our 48 hours food porn paradise video. Allow us to present to you Taiwan: The Heroin of Food. No no, The Crack of Food…no wait…the Ecstasy of Food. Yeah. That sounds better. That’s how addictive Taiwanese food is and that’s how blown away we were with Taiwan.
One thing we can honestly say is that we didn’t know what to expect from Taiwan. Korea and Japan are places we’ve had on our bucket list and had readily tasted the food and the culture from back when we were living in Canada, but Taiwanese food and culture? Wow were we ever pleasantly surprised. Everything was so fresh and flavourful, the people are so friendly, and the city has the razzle dazzle of a big city with small alleyways still loaded with small town charm. If you’re planning on traveling to Taiwan, and we strongly recommend that you do, I hope this blogpost will help get you started on all the epic things you must experience!!!
To begin with, we stayed at the Shangri-La’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel in Taipei and holy smokes, we got some epic views of the city. All those gorgeous time lapses you see of the clouds rolling in over the city are from the top bar at the hotel called the Marco Polo Lounge. We were able to relax and chill with a nice drink while the camera just snapped away from the window beside us. We had originally planned to hike up a big mountain to get an epic view of the city but honestly, my busted knees just wouldn’t make it, so the hotel was a great option. Plus we got to drink some amazing cocktails while we were waiting…hahaha! We haven’t stayed at a hotel in a long time and this place was awesome. Everyone spoke English fluently, were super friendly, and the breakfast buffet was AH-mazing. They had every type of breakfast food possible: Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Taiwanese, Western…a freakin juice bar, it was insane. Picture me happily skipping with a plate stacked with dim sum (that isn’t over cooked) Chinese noodles, Japanese miso soup, a single croissant, and local fruit. It was a weird but wonderful combination.
Also, we didn’t film all of it because it felt like we were intruding on the moment, but we went to a tea ceremony with the hotel’s tea expert and we learned about the differences between hand rolled tea leaves, black tea, green tea, the first pour and more. Simon had the very first cup of green tea that he didn’t hate and it was made by Taiwanese monks in the mountain. That’s one of those experiences where you’re like, “great, now I have to fly back to Taiwan if I ever want to have this one cup of tea I like.”
Speaking of tea, boba or bubble tea is on a totally different level in Taiwan. I didn’t know that boba was invented in Taiwan, but supposedly the tea shop we went to Chung Shui Tang was founded by the original creator! How cool is that. I also didn’t know that they MAKE THEIR OWN FREAKIN BUBBLE PEARLS. Most places order pre-made factory bubbles that they rehydrate/cook but not this place. Home. Freaking. Made. We actually tasted three different teas but we didn’t film it all. We tried the original Pearl Milk Tea, Tie Guan Yin Tea, and a Pomelo Tea (all with bubbles) and they were fantastic. The Pomelo was surprising because it was actually very refreshing. It’s like a citrus or grapefruit and it has a refreshing taste kind of link pink lemonade without being too tart. I don’t know how to explain it since it was my first pomelo experience. I think what shocked us the most was all the side dishes you could order. Our favourites were the sticky rice covered dim sum thingy, the radish cake, and the vegetables which are just mind blowingly crispy and fresh tasting.
There are tons of street food markets all over Taiwan and they all have different types of foods. For example, I heard that if you go to one closer to the coastline, you’ll get a lot of seafood specials. We spent hours walking around the night market trying to decide what to eat. We actually had a full plan which was to only order one of something and just share it so that we could save room for many little meals, but that eventually got thrown out the window after we stopped sharing with each other.
This place was totally overwhelming and we could have filmed all our Taiwan videos there. I mean, we didn’t have one bad meal and we didn’t get an upset stomach or anything. Simon and I disagree with our favourite meal in the market. Simon loved the Fried Chicken Cutlets (Ji Pai 雞排). Like scream out loud when he had it kind of loved it. It was amazing, I’ll admit. Perfectly thin, perfectly breaded, perfectly cooked. It was easy to bite through, juicy, and the seasoned perfectly.
However, I am a dumpling person. That half-boiled, half pan fried dumpling (which BTW had a HUGE lineup) was mind blowing for me. The inside was so tender and perfectly seasoned. It didn’t have any lumps of fat or hard bits to chew through, just juicy, garlic, ginger, perfection ….UGHHHHHHHHH. All the dumplings we tried had slightly different seasonings on the inside so it wasn’t like having the same filling over and over again. Like the Pepper Cakes (Hu Jiao Bing 胡椒餅) were so crispy and juicy.
I think Simon and I both agree on the magic of the Peanut Brittle Shaved Ice Cream wraps. We had to chase this dude down because he closed up shop to move to a different part of the market on his little rolling cart. I had passed that giant peanut brittle brick earlier on and during my pre-Taiwan web searching, I had read about this epic food. When I saw him rolling away I was like, “NOOOOOOoOOOoooOOOoooOOOOoo” and we managed to stop him near an nice open space. YAY!
When we were visiting California a couple years ago our friend Jen took us to Blockhead in LA which was our first time trying such thinly shaved ice dessert. While she originally compared it Korean patbingsu I see now that it was its own category of dessert. Ice Monster was absolutely incredible. I mean, Blockhead’s was super great, but the intense mango flavour at Ice Monster was insane! I didn’t know that mangos were a thing in Taiwan but apparently yes, they are grown there amongst the other magic fruits I tried. Also, it turns out that thing we thought was tofu on first glance was actually a cream pudding. Damn. I really want Ice Monster now.
If there is one thing you MUST do in Taiwan it’s go to this place. I’m sure local Taiwanese foodies could recommend more awesome breakfast locations, but we went here twice (once for pre-dinner snacking) and it was just epic. The menu is pretty overwhelming and they don’t have anything written in English, but they do have that outside display case where you can see what they have to offer! But no matter what you get, you MUST have the shredded radish cakes Luo Bo Si Dan Bing 蘿蔔絲蛋餅 Oh MAH GAWD! This was just…dream food. Just creamy, salty, mashed potato, I-don’t-know-how-to-explain-it delicious rectangles of joy.
So if you leave Taiwan without having a really tender, really savoury beef noodle soup, you failed you trip. I didn’t know Beef Noodle Soup was such an epic Taiwanese thing, but apparently it is. We had about three on our trip but the best by far was one we found down some random alleyway near our hotel. Of course it was down a random alleyway. I didn’t get their business card or anything but I literally spent 10 minutes on google maps scrolling down the side streets until I found it. HA! They had a big pot of broth boiling out front and it was the first thing you laid your excited eyes on as you approached the modest looking restaurant. I ordered the beef noodle soup with wontons and Simon got the straight up original. It’s such a small place, maybe 6-8 tables, that I watched the chef make my wontons fresh through the thin glass divided us from the kitchen. There is something great about being able to see your food being made, you know? Anyhow, here is the address of the most delicious beef noodle soup we had on our trip. Sorry we don’t have the name but if you use google maps you can see the restaurant located right on the corner with the big silver pots.
27 Lane 1, Section 3, Heping E Rd, Taipei, Taipei City
We’ve got a few pictures of the trip in a gallery below, including the awesome pics of the Nasties we met up with! We spent so much time filming we forgot to take actually pictures with our camera. Haha vlogging life.
Otherwise, if you’re coming to Taipei, and want to visit some of the places we went to, here are their names and addresses. We put them in order of appearance in our video to make it easier for you to sort.
世界豆漿大王 World Soymilk King (for amazing breakfast and freshly made soy milk)
No.284, Sec. 2, Yonghe Rd., Yonghe Dist., New Taipei City 23445, Taiwan
春水堂 Chung Shui Tang (for the original bubble tea)
No.20-1, Zhongshan S. Rd., Zhongzheng Dist., Taipei City 10001, Taiwan
紫琳蒸餃館 Zi Lin Steamed Dumplings (where Simon abandoned me so he could eat dumplings and didn’t even share)
B1, No.97, Sec. 4, Zhongxiao E. Rd., Da’an Dist., Taipei City 10690, Taiwan
士林夜市Shilin Night Market (all the awesome street food we got was from roaming this market for hours) MRT Jiantan Station
北投麗禧酒店 Grand View Resort Beitou (the hot springs with the epic view)
No.30, Youya Rd., Beitou Dist., Taipei City 11243, Taiwan
鼎泰豐 Din Tai Fung (oh yeah…xiao long bao soup dumplings)
B1, No.77, Sec. 6, Zhongshan N. Rd., Shilin Dist., Taipei City 11155, Taiwan
Ice Monster (we recommend the mango, the coffee, and pearl milk tea boba shaved ice)
No.297, Sec. 4, Zhongxiao E. Rd., Da’an Dist., Taipei City 10696, Taiwan
品鱻熱炒 Pin Xian Stir Fired Bar (I don’t know what to recommend because we ordered EVERYTHING)
No.68, Leli Rd., Da’an Dist., Taipei City 10679, Taiwan
李白居 Li Bai Lounge (for the modern-meets-traditonal cocktails we had at the end of the video)
6F, No.201, Sec. 2, Dunhua S. Rd., Da’an Dist., Taipei City 10675, Taiwan
And of course, we had so many extra scenes. Check out the behind the scenes and extra food porn if you dare!