My Favorites from Taipei, Taiwan
“Taipei is the new foodie destination,” said so many friends when they heard that we were going on a family vacation. I wasn’t sure what they meant – until we got there and we ate roast duck, noodle soup, torched beef, and multiple bubble teas.
I admittedly didn’t know much about Taiwan until my parents floated the idea of going there after my youngest sister got married in the Philippines (Taiwan is just north of the Philippines.) We stayed in Taipei, the capital, right after Eater published The Eater Guide to Taipei, which helped us navigate our delicious journey along the city that has become the epicenter of Taiwainese food culture. Here are some of my favorites from our trip:
Raohe Night Market
Taipei comes alive at night, and there’s no better place to be than the night markets. The streets are crammed with food and shopping stalls, packed with both locals and tourists, smelling of hot oil and spices and tofu. One of the most popular markets is Raohe, known for its vibrant lights and variety of street food.
We went around the market sampling the many delicacies, but the torched beef was the best thing we ate in Taiwan. It’s tender cubes of marbled steak that’s grilled and torched on the spot, then blanketed with sea salt. It was so fantastic (and cheap – each order was around $8) that we got a second bowl immediately after finishing our first order.
I also liked the fried mushrooms, and the noodles with veggies and Chinese sausage. But to this day, I still think about the torched beef.
Kam’s Roast at Taipei 101
I’ve been hearing about Kam’s Roast from friends and family who visit Hongkong – a casual (but Michelin-starred) restaurant that’s popular for it’s roasted meats: goose, duck, suckling pig. I was very happy to see that Kam’s Roast was located right at Taipei 101 – which is one of the more popular attractions in the city.
Taipei 101 is the tallest green building in the entire world (101 floors!) It used to be the tallest building ever, but was eclipsed by the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. It looms over the city, shaped like a bamboo stalk but all modern and shiny inside and out. The tower houses multiple stores, offices, observatories, and restaurants – with Kam’s Roast as one of them.
As soon as I saw suckling pig in the menu, I knew we had to order it. We also got the roast duck and noodles with scallions, and all were very delicious. The suckling pig was one of the best I’ve had – mouth-wateringly tender with the crunchiest exterior. Between the four of us (me, Matt, my sister Patty, and her husband Marlon) we cleaned out our plates to the last morsel.
Ximending (Shi-men Ting) is a pedestrian shopping neighborhood, likened as the “Shinjuku of Taipei” because of the trendy vibe and the wide variety of fashion boutiques, eclectic restaurants, bars, and clubs. It was raining when we went, but it didn’t stop us from exploring – and eating more.
First, we got more torched beef (apparently a common thing in street markets). The beef was as tender and dreamy and salty as the first time we tried at the night market. Then we got some Hot Star Chicken, which is a GIANT crispy fried chicken breast. See pic of Marlon and Matt holding it up for size context. Then we got the best bubble tea in the world: the Brown Sugar Pearl Milk from Tiger Sugar.
If you are not familiar with bubble tea, also known as boba, it’s a dessert drink that originated in Taiwan, originally made with black tea, milk, syrup, and tapioca pearls. It’s gained worldwide popularity over the years and nowadays comes in a variety of flavors. Here’s a handy article from Eater that explains how to order it.
While I do like milk tea a lot (my number one is Coco Bubble Tea), I could not get enough of the brown sugar version. It actually does not contain any black tea, but instead is a blend of fresh cold milk, brown sugar caramel, and tapioca pearls. It’s like creme brulee in a glass, but with the added bonus of the chewy pearls. It’s soooo creamy and sweet, which is exactly my type of dessert.
I love exploring new destinations, but I love spending time with my family more. We took this trip in the summer, right after Patty and Marlon got married, so we were all deliriously happy. I felt very fortunate to have spent time with my parents, siblings, and husband – navigating the outskirts of Taipei, releasing paper lanterns with our wishes, enjoying Taiwanese delicacies, and hanging out in our beautiful hotel, The Grand Mayfull Taipei.
We could have gone any place else, or we could have just stayed in my family’s beautiful home, and my time with them will always be my top favorite any time, any where.
Hope you are all enjoying some downtime as the year winds down. I have been behind in posting my travel adventures, but I will get back to the blog soon! xo