Tired and hungry after your flight? Start your trip with these 5 Taiwanese places that satisfy the stomach and give you a taste of how delicious Taiwanese food is.
You’ve just gotten off the plane, and it’s been a long journey. Your 14 hour plane ride has been bumpy and tiresome, but you’ve landed in Taipei safely. Yay! However, your stomach is unsatisfied from the lackluster plane food and you’re in desperate need of a pick-me-up.
As someone who has gone on my fair share of long plane rides to get to Taiwan, I am very familiar with that feeling of fatigue, exhaustion and hunger. The good news is that Taipei is a 24/7 city so there will always be options (woo hoo)–including a corner 7-11 that is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Those 7-11s are a Godsend in any hour of the day.
However, I’d like to propose a few more places you can put onto your travel list. This gets me into what I look for in my post-flight eats: the food needs to be…
2. comforting, and
3. quintessentially Taiwanese
A nice-to-have is that the place is easy to get into since the last thing I want to do is to wait for a table in this exhausted/excited/confused state. So, where can you go to eat and come back to life?
(yī liú qīng zhōu xiăocài)
This place is open from 11am-3am, giving you a great window to grab food at a late hour. Even though I know this place for post-clubbing eats, I am in the same mental state and have the same needs. All I want to do is sit down and ravage on good food.
This is one of the best places to eat after a long tiresome journey. After all, you’re served hot delicious food in a clean and quiet space. They have a huge selection–think Taiwanese cafeteria style–so you can choose whatever peaks your fancy. There are various Taiwanese comfort foods such as rice porridges (稀飯), minced pork belly rice (滷肉飯), sautéed vegetables, braised tofu, and more. Don’t be shy – walk up to the buffets areas to pick out what you like. For the dishes on metal plates, they place them onto a hot burner to keep it warm as you eat. How awesome is that.
Dishes are cheap here (e.g. rice porridge ~$20NT), so feel free to go ahead and get lots of dishes. Treat yo’self.
(yì miàn wáng)
I love 意麵王. They’ve been around for decades serving these noodles, about 80 years in fact. For this type of noodle shop in still be around in Taipei, it’s got to be really good. For yi-mian (意麵), a lot falls on the sauce. Since every vendor has their own version, some might be saltier or have ground pork bits, it boils down to a personal preference for what place is “the best”.
In general, yi-mian (意麵) is a pretty simple noodle dish – it’s typically comprised of scallions, egg noodles and sauce. That’s it! 意麵王 makes their sauce on the sweeter side, and I love it this way.
Not only are their noodles delicious but so is their fish ball soup (魚丸湯)–I’d go as far as to say, it is essential. The broth is fragrant and filled with umami, with added bits of scallion to add a crisp freshness to the soup itself. The fish balls actually have some ground pork in it, so when you bite in you get all the flavors from meat and fish. I will always get noodles and soup.
There are also a selection of side dishes, which are delicious. They’re also known for roast pork (紅燒肉) so you can certainly try that. If you’re feeling adventurous, get some of the plates of offal. Each of these offal side dishes are served with a sauce, typically a combination of soy sauce paste and a lightly sweet red sauce with ginger.
Okay, and if that wasn’t enough, don’t miss out on their dessert. They serve traditional Taiwanese shaved ice, bowls of shaved clear ice with condensed milk and large red beans, peanuts, etc. amongst other toppings.
They’re open from 10:30am until 10:30pm, so a pretty great place to stop by throughout the day or night.
(sān liăng rì shì shāo ròu)
There’s nothing like grilled meats to makes me feel happy and full, and that’s exactly what this restaurant will provide–comfort. It’s an all-you-can-eat yakiniku place that serves cheap beers that you guzzle down as you’re stuffing your face with charred thin slices of meats. It’s casual, low-key and meat-centric.
They use real coals so you get the REAL smoke. None of that clean refined BBQ-ness here. You will likely come out of this place smelling like meat, but let’s be honest, you will probably really need a shower anyway. The patrons around you won’t even mind or notice either. They will be stuffing their stomachs of meat, rice and beer too before heading off to the local bars and clubs nearby.
It’s open from 5pm-2am–prime time pre-gaming hours.
Most Taiwanese people will know this restaurant–it’s a household name at this point–since it’s such a well-established Taiwanese institution. They have been making spectacular Taiwanese food since 1977, and most recently are included in Michelin’s Bib Gourmand guide. I come here at least once every time I am back in Taipei because my relatives still enjoy their food. That says a lot because Taiwanese people are hard to please.
Their menu is big so it might not be the easiest thing to navigate. You can always ask a server for help. Personally my favorites include traditional Taiwanese noodles (切仔麵), braised pork belly (滷肉), five-spice chicken rolls (五香雞捲), pan-fried turnip egg cake (正宗菜脯蛋), and most importantly their house-made almond tofu (手工杏仁豆腐).
They are most famous for this dessert–the texture of the almond tofu will be unlike what you’ve had in other places in the world, let alone in Taiwan. It’s silky, smooth and glides off your spoon. It’s delicate and perfectly sweet.
They have a few locations around Taipei so it won’t be hard to go to one of them. They’re open 11:30am-2:00pm, 2:30pm-4:30pm and 5:30pm-9:30pm.
(fù háng dòujiāng)
I am going to warn you that there will be a line for this place, and it’s going to look big and intimidating. Sure, the line wraps around the block, up the stairs, and then into a room where you will find a counter to place your order. But let me reassure you–it will go by quickly.
They serve traditional Taiwanese breakfast, and all the things I love are done right. They make crispy fried cruellers (油條) that don’t taste oily. Their salty soy milk (鹹豆漿) has a great consistency, while the egg pancake (蛋餅) and sesame bun filled with an egg and fried crueller (薄蛋夾油條) beautifully introduce the egg into the breakfast equation.
It’s the epitome of Taiwanese breakfast and this is what Taiwanese people crave that they cannot easily get in the States. Eat it up! This filling meal will set you up for an exploratory day ahead in Taipei. They’re opened from 5:30am-12:30pm.
If you’ve landed yourself into a delicious Taiwanese food stand/restaurant, take in that moment–you’ve made it to Taipei. Enjoy the rest of your trip, and know that there will be many more delectable foodjournies!
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