top of page
  • Writer's pictureJenni Lien

The Yay Guide to Taipei (Food Edition)


Taipei food blog graphic 2024

I think Taipei is a very special place to visit for foodies because it’s difficult to get a range of authentic, traditional, creative Taiwanese dishes elsewhere. Where I live in Canada, there are many Thai, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Sichuan, Shanghainese, Cantonese etc. restaurants that offer various takes on their cuisine. But Taiwanese food? There might be Taiwanese fried chicken stands, bubble tea shops, and beef noodle spots. But what about braised pork rice with oysters, scallion pancakes with egg and basil, or ‘night market’ steak?


After spending five months here, allow me to share some of my favourite spots at different price ranges. Taipei is truly a place where there are so many incredible options that you could eat at a different place for every meal for a whole year and barely make a dent in what’s available. But we can enjoy exploring even a sliver of this city and make this city our own, amen? 


I hope this list (in no particular order) is useful for your next trip to Taipei. If you have any questions or want more details, feel free to comment or DM.


$


China Pizza at Shilin MRT in Taipei

China Pizza 📍Shilin MRT Station, Taipei 

Best version of this street snack in all of Taipei IMHO. Crisp and chewy. They add fresh basil to the egg mixture. Incredible value. There’s always a line. I’ve been eating it since I was a kid AND it’s conveniently located right outside the Shilin MRT station (along with something like seven bubble tea stores). Go! :)


Dong Yi Pork Chop in Taipei

Dong Yi Pork Chop 📍Zhongzeng, Taipei 

Haven’t had nearly enough minced pork rice or pork chops this year! Taking recommendations, but when I have a craving, the go-to (because there’s lots of English, is easy to find because it’s been around for decades, is super tourist friendly and also filled with locals of all ages) is Dong Yi. Chops are crispy. Minced pork is the right amount of fatty. Decor is a wonderful time capsule. Love this place. Don’t miss the pickles. 🫶


Taipei Railway Bento

Taipei Railway Bento 📍Taipei Main Station, Taipei 

When travelling, I like to be at the airport/train station early. Just in case. Lower stress. So when I was heading to Hualien, I got to the station an hour early even though my friends basically said “🤣 go 20 mins early max” (they were right, this would have been plenty). So what did I do while waiting? I always figured I’d get a snack, a Mister Donut mochi ring or something. But then saw a line up for these NT $100 / CAD $4.25 bentos. Fresh, hot, tasty, and a super filling portion. The bentos can be brought on the train or just picked up for takeout. Later I raved to my relatives & everyone seemed to have their own “that place is delicious and incredible value” story. All to say, if you’re travelling on the train in Taipei or otherwise looking for a to-go bite around Taipei Main Station, try this at least once! 💖


Cute cafe in Zhongshan District Taipei

But First Scones 📍Zhongshan, Taipei

My friend lives around the corner and highly recommended their scones. One day I decided to get a little treat and wow — their taro paste-stuffed scone is delightful. The dough is buttery and slightly crunchy, and the filling is the right amount of sweet to allow the taro flavour to shine.



Song Jiang Pie & Porridge 📍Tianmu, Taipei

This is a classic no frills dumplings, buns, and soup place. They have two floors for people to eat in and also a large takeaway stand. I’ve eated in once and also gotten take out a few times. A solid neighbourhood spot. 


A-Yi Braised Pork Rice with Oysters

A-Yi Braised Pork Rice and Yuan Fang Guabao📍Wanhua, Taipei

When in Taipei, why not check out some Michelin-recommeded street food. In Huaxi Night Market there are a few stalls including Wang’s Broth and Yuan Fang Guabao, both of which were open during the weekend lunch hour that we visited. Sadly the line for Wang’s was too long so we ate at the restaurant to the right of it. But no regrets! At A-Yi’s, I saw braised pork rice with oysters for the first time. Loved. This. So fresh.


Yuan Fang Guabao Michelin Recommended food

Someone in our group also lined up for Yuan Fang’s and got these to go for us. Hot fresh and the balance of seasonings (fresh herbs, peanut powder, pickles etc.) is superb. Note you can choose to get the traditional fatty pork belly in your bao or a leaner cut of meat.


Gourmet Wonton restaurant in Taipei

Gourmet Wonton 📍Various locations

A while ago, I was having a day-long hang with my baby brother and we were starving. We came across a Gourmet Wonton shop, tried a few dishes, and were bowled over by its deliciousness (and value!). I promptly messaged our family chat to say we’d found the best wonton place ever. “We’ve been… there are locations all over Taiwan,” said Mom. Oh! Haha proof that chains can still be fantastic places to eat. My pick is either the shrimp wontons with sesame vinegar sauce or the shrimp wontons with noodles in sesame sauce. Don’t miss their house hot sauce. 



Chien Tu Hotpot 📍Various locations

This is my Dad’s favourite casual hotpot chain. Each person gets their own pot, two platters (one with their protein of choice and one with veg and fish balls), and choice of starch. The price also comes with unlimited drinks and ice cream (hard and softserve). No reservations so I’d recommend going at 5pm or 8pm otherwise the wait time can be an hour.



Fried Chicken Master 📍Various locations

I live around the corner from one of these takeaway stalls and there’s almost always a line. Everything is made fresh to order — no chicken waiting under heat lamps here! The seasoning is great, but I love the toppings as well. My pick is the “Chinese hot sauce” which comes with a Sichuan mala sauce, sliced raw garlic, chili, and spring onion. Also try their wings — the crunchy cracker-like batter is delicious. 


Sun Dong Bao hotplate steak

Sun Dong Bao 📍Various locations

I used to be so judgy when my brother raved about “night market steak” (aka a casual dish concocted by a former chef at the American Club decades ago when Taipei had a surplus of beef). Then I tried it and boy is it satisfying. Had it twice. Need to have it again.


Ijy Sheng croissant

Ijy Sheng Bakery 📍Various locations

To be honest, I’m usually so-so about local bakeries. Taiwanese breads are usually very soft and sweet, and I like breads a little heartier, flakier, chewier etc. So I wasn’t expecting much when I visited Ijy Sheng but its selections are great! Almost everything I’ve tried is excellent: the grain loaf with nuts and orange peel, ‘pineapple’ croissants, pork floss and spring onion rounds, sesame mochis, caramel puddings etc. If you’re looking for a snack or to buy breakfast for the next day, definitely give Ijy Sheng a try.


$$


NCISushi restaurant in Taipei

NCISushi 📍Songshan, Taipei 

Many of my friends here are Taiwanese-Californians. When looking for a restaurant for a friend’s surprise birthday lunch, someone suggested NCISushi (which stands for Northern California Inspired Sushi). I love a good American-style sushi roll and was definitely up for this. We went for lunch and all got sets which were very fresh and great value. It’s also got a great vibe with fun decor and a bit of buzz. I wanted to go back again with friends in the evening but alas ran out of time! Next time, perhaps.


Second Floor Cafe in Breeze Taipei

Second Floor Cafe (Breeze) 📍Xinyi, Taipei 

After church, my friend and I were wandering around when she saw a sign for Second Floor Cafe. There is one in her neighbourhood and she goes often with her kids but hadn’t been to the one here. Was I up for it? Sure! Then we walked in and wow the Xinyi location is gorgeous. A quick Google search later showed it’s also quite the trendy, Instagrammable spot. Happy to report the food is also solid and lunch sets come with unlimited drink refills. 


Supranormal Bakery Cafe

Supranormal 📍Tianmu & Zhongshan, Taipei 

A bakery cafe that does what it does so well. 🫶 When I moved to Taipei, half a dozen people said I needed to try this place. I finally did when a friend came to visit and over the course of two days I think we tried 75% of their pastry options. We also realized they (at least on one of the days we visited!) give 2 for 1 pain au choc when they come out different sizes. Later I met another friend for a coffee and cake sesh and they have the best carrot cake I’ve had in Taipei too. Fave indie cafe find of the year. 


Addiction Aquatic Development

Addiction Aquatic Development 📍Zhongshan, Taipei 

So what is Addiction Aquatic Development? A gourmet marketplace linked to Taipei’s fish market! And an amazing place for solid prices on delicious seafood. Hadn’t been in years but then a few of my girlfriends visited from Hong Kong and wanted to go. During our trip, I remembered that, while the prices aren’t necessarily super cheap, the portions are plentiful and the quality is excellent. Def worth a stop. Especially loved the charred tuna “steak” (taste and look). 🩷


Aqua Deck afternoon high tea in Beitou Taipei

Aqua Deck 📍Beitou, Taipei 

Thinking back to this sweet afternoon tea when my mom and sister were both in Taipei this past summer. This tea was so creative! Used lots of local ingredients and genuinely tasted delicious (would def recomment for a quality escapist tea with a resort vibe).


Hale Japanese restaurant in Tianmu Taipei

Hale 📍Tianmu, Taipei 

Cute set meals at this Japanese spot. Light and fresh. Bright and airy decor. But I’ll probably most remember it for the “no way” run in my lunch date had with her husband at the resto haha. Of all the restaurants in Taipei (and I think Taipei is huge and spread out!), they happened to both have lunch meetings at the same spot. 💖


Power Beef restaurant donburi bowl in Taipei

Power Beef 📍Zhongzeng, Taipei

When a friend sent me four options for dinner, of course I chose the one called Power Beef. 🥩 It’s a super cute date-y izakaya-style spot with great food (mixed bowl was good but I’d get all beef next time).


闔家小館 restaurant in Da'an Taipei

闔家小館 📍Da'an, Taipei

For one of my final girls dinners, I asked to go somewhere with traditional Taiwanese dishes. My friend recommended this spot that was owned by a friend. We ordered a variety of stir-fried dishes and some deep friend treats as well. The fried squid with Taiwanese-spiced sweet sauces is a highlight!


Mamak Malaysian Restaurant in Taipei

Mamak 📍Da'an, Taipei

Having lived in Singapore for four and a half years, I am picky about my Singapore/Malaysian foods. It never occurred to me to look for my favourite dishes in Taipei but one evening I was out with my friend J and started to get peckish. She mentioned she'd passed Mamak a few times but not been. So we tried it... and it was great! Really great. We had the char kway teow and the chicken curry. Mamak is part of the Sharetea group and its chef, Anand Pusudoray, grew up in a family that cooked for the Malaysian royalty family.



have a sEAT (Eslite Nanxi) 📍Zhongshan, Taipei

Growing up, we loved hanging out with our Gugu (Dad's sister). She always knew the coolest spots... and she still does! One Sunday, we met up for a girls day and started with lunch at have a sEAT in Eslite Nanxi. It uses locally sourced ingredients from small farms to create set menus with traditional Taiwanese flavours. A lovely place for a leisurely lunch.


Japanese restaurant in Zhongshan Taipei

稲町家食堂 📍Zhongshan, Taipei

Love a visually chaotic (in a good way) restaurant! Less love a restaurant with an hour-long, no resos wait time but most places in this part of Zhongshan are like this & got to chat and catch up w P while we waited (ty for letting me steal some of your Stories for this post!). As for the food, simple satisfying izakaya bites. Would def eat this crunchy, onion-y karage again 🩷🩷


Giguo Hotpot in Taipei

Giguo Hotpot 📍Various locations

This meal is a special memory for me. The best part? Getting to spend quality time with relatives we haven’t gotten to see since before covid. The second best? My uncle insisting he treat us to the world’s cutest soup bears (and the reminder that I’ll always be a kid in his eyes haha) - creamy cheese and sichuan pepper. Cute but also checks out flavour wise (hotpot and the cooked food section). We ended up going again with even more of our extended family a few months later.



Chun Shui Tang 📍Various locations

Had a lunch date and my friend suggested Chun Shui Tang… aka the restaurant that invented bubble tea. 🧋 Simple and good lunch sets but perhaps mostly cool to say you’ve had bubble tea at the place that invented it.


$$$



Dimsum Buffet restaurant in Shilin Taipei

Dimsum Kitchen 📍Shilin, Taipei

Blessed to go twice this year and love it! Picture a super busy kitchen full of chefs constantly cooking: wok-ing, frying, steaming, making… so good. Taiwanese places do buffets right! Hot tip: I don’t usually eat liver but their stir fried sticky sweet version is addictive. It’s not a Taiwanese place but it's definitely worth a visit when in Taipei :) 🫶


Hi-Lai Harbour Buffet in Sogo

Hi-Lai Harbour Buffet 📍 Various locations

Of all the buffets I’ve tried this year, Hi-Lai Harbour might be my favourite. It’s delicious! We had a reservation for a party of 6, but even with this… the lines! There must have been nearly 100 people in line before the restaurant opened; people start lining up say 30 minutes before the restaurant opens in order to be the first to enjoy their seafood-heavy selections. We went to the Tianmu location which is located in a mall and also has a lovely view. 


Woman in front of Christmas tree at The Grand Hotel in Taipei

The Grand Hotel 📍 Zhongshan, Taipei 

I always knew the Grand Hotel was iconic, but only this year did I realize (via my Singaporean friend haha) that 1) it was commissioned by Madame Chiang (CKS’s wife) for hosting and 2) there are secret escape tunnels! 


“In 1970, two tunnels were added to the plans for Taipei's Grand Hotel, one running from the west wing of the hotel and the other from the east wing. The secret passageways were constructed to enable Chiang and VIP guests to evacuate from the hotel quickly in the event of an attack by People's Liberation Army (PLA) forces.” (via Taiwan News) 


Buffet at The Grand Hotel in Taipei

Was invited for lunch (if you go, it might be more for the vibe than the food), went to freshen up, stumbled upon this sign, snooped around for a sec hah though didn’t manage to see much. Next time, hopefully. Still so much to learn about Taiwan’s history. 🫶


Bars


Cocktails at Kavalan Whiskey Bar in Taipei

Kavalan Whisky Bar 📍Zhongshan, Taipei 

One of the sweetest surprises this season? A few months ago, I randomly thought to check-in with my old friend P and we found out… that after 7 years of living in different cities, we were going to overlap in Taipei for 6 weeks! Celebrated our 10 year friendship anni over cocktails (finally tried Kavalan, Taiwanese spirits brand), truffle fries, and heart talks. Loved the service, skill and vibe at Kavalan — polished yet super relaxed.


Cocktails at AHA Saloon in Taipei

AHA Saloon 📍Daan, Taipei 

The night I realized cocktail bars in Taipei don’t get busy until midnight (but… I’m asleep by then…) haha. Still fun times with P who had 3 cocktails to my half of one. Great service. A bit touristy (#asias50bestbars) but a cute place. Oh and right beside a breakfast place. Fried dough sticks and cold soy milk post bar is 👌


Happy eating and adventuring!

Top Stories

bottom of page