Taipei is a culinary lovers’ dream. With offerings ranging from quick snacks served in dark alleys to Michelin rated multi-course meals surrounded in elegance, this cosmopolitan metropolis has it all and at a price that won’t break the bank

With a varied political and culinary history, Taiwan offers diners food from across Asia and beyond, with strong influences from Japan and Southeastern China.

With all of this along with delights that are pure Taiwan, it was difficult to narrow it down to just 3 meals.  Here are the 3 that rose to the top

Budget Meal

Taiwan night markets are a cornerstone of the food and cultural experience. A mix between a public market and a carnival, these neighborhood gathering places spring up at dark and fade away again before first light, leaving only smells and a few scraps of paper

Many people, ourselves included, come to these night markets to eat dinner or catch a late night snack. One of our favorites is the Rao He Night Market, where one small food stand in particular draws a crowd night after night.

Hu Jiao Bing - Pepper Buns

Hu Jiao Bing – Pepper Buns

This small outdoor restaurant on wheels will often have a line of more than 50 people, with wait times over an hour.  The wait is part of the draw, as you can watch each bun be hand rolled and stuffed with a mix of ground pork, green onion, and garlic.

Pepper Buns Ready for the Oven

Pepper Buns Ready for the Oven

The pepper buns are then placed into a metal drum heated with charcoal and slowly roasted. The result is a piping hot flaky bun placed right into your waiting hands. Careful! The first bite must be delicate to avoid a wide spray of hot, garlicy awesomeness (We are not liable for damages)

Ready to Serve

Ready to Serve

3 Pepper Buns: (1 for Winnie, 2 for me): 150 TWD (~$5)

Total Bill: $2.50 per person

Midrange Meal

A staple of the Taiwanese diet, found in a wide range of shapes, colors, flavors, and sizes, is a bowl of Beef Noodle Soup. An annual Beef Noodle competition will range 100’s of competitors, and the winners will find themselves inundated with customers until next year. One of our favorites is served just around the corner from us, at a place called Little Shanghai

Beef Noodle soup is usually served as a large bowl of secret recipe beef broth, filled to the top with noodles and large pieces of beef and/or beef tendon.

Beef Noodle Soup, A Classic!

Beef Noodle Soup, A Classic!

Some Westerners may be turned off by the tendon, but it is a must try. Sometimes a bowl of soup with some sides will serve as a complete meal for two, and other days we each get our own bowl

As dessert, a personal favorite of mine is the sweet sesame buns, a light rice dough filled with sweetened black sesame paste and steamed to perfection.

Black Sesame Buns

Black Sesame Buns

2 Bowls of Beef Noodle Soup: 240 TWD (~$8)
1 Order of 2 Sesame Buns: 60 TWD (~$2)

Total bill: $10 ($5 per person)

Living Large

On the North end of town is an old run-down fish market turned upscale attraction, just one example of gentrification throughout the city.  Numerous restaurants and a small grocery offer dining options across a range of prices, but at the heart of it all are the wells of living seafood. It doesn’t get much fresher than this

Clawzilla, Creeping from the Depths

Clawzilla, Creeping from the Depths

An Abundance of Fresh Seafood

An Abundance of Fresh Seafood

With this much fresh seafood, sushi is almost a requirement. Our most recent visit was for a set meal, including sushi, fish and miso soup, a seafood green salad, and grilled lobster

Sushi Plate

Sushi Plate

Seafood Green Salad

Seafood Green Salad

Grilled Lobster

Grilled Lobster

1 Set meal (sushi, soup, salad, lobster): 980 TWD + 10% service charge (~$36)

Total Bill: $72 ($36 per person)

 

In a city this large, certainly it is impossible to explore every option available, but we look forward to trying.  As of yet, even our most expensive meal has been delightfully inexpensive by US standards, and the numerous budget and midrange meals can please at almost any budget

Have you had a great dining experience in Taipei that you would like to recommend?  Please share in the comments.  And why not consider sharing this post on Facebook or Twitter?

Happy Travels and Happy Dining

Jeremy and Winnie, Go Curry Cracker!

Retire Early.

Travel the World.

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