We said our goodbyes to China and arrived in Taipei. Almost at once we were shocked by the change in temps and humidity. We went from cold to sticky hot in just a few hours and as always we were starving and anxious to taste the renowned Taiwanese cuisine. Harry’s uncle Yeh, or fat fat (it was easier for me to just call him Yeh) took great pride in being our guide to some of his favorite food spots in Taipei. Being a food lover himself, he was the perfect man for the job and was more delighted at how much Harry and I could eat than we were to be sampling so many of his favorite dishes. Harry covers the food Uncle Yeh brought us to. I’ll cover the markets.
It was evident just from driving ten minutes across town how prevalent food was in Taiwanese culture- especially at night. The setting sun gave way to twinkling neon signs and dingy incandescent bulbs illuminating food stalls, stinky tofu carts, dessert bars and late night restaurants – shop after shop, block after block. Not to say that every dumpling house is equal. Its best to have some insider info, but here’s a tip for travelers venturing out to the night markets. Bigger is not better. Taipei is vast and each neighborhood has at least one if not more night markets. The guide books recommend Shilin but here’s my advice for foodies: Avoid Shilin. While its certainly the largest market the quality of food is lacking. Head either to the Tonghua or NTNU’s night market where the locals will agree the food is better. Pick a place where the lines are long and wait for a table. Try the soup dumplings, the pork over rice, or another local favorite – the oyster omelet. It’s easy to get full at one place but I’d recommend sampling just a few dishes from many different places and for all my sweet-toothed brethren, for a refreshing dessert try a Bing. It’s a small mound of shaved ice covered in your choice of beans or fruits or tapioca jello and finished with a coconut milk drizzle. Delicious.
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