By Megan Huang, a food editor who between her love for hiking and inventing new recipes is learning German. Edited by Kyra Tarr
If you’re looking for the best places to eat in Taipei, you’ve come to the right place. As someone who's lived in the city for more than 20 years, I think it would be fair to say I know a thing or two about the food culture here. It’s my job, after all! The best thing about the culinary scene in Taipei is that it’s for anyone, anywhere, at any time. Think fast-paced and on the go, without compromising on flavour and quality. My favourite area to go to in search of new flavours is the west side of the city. It reminds me of an old town, with its Japanese and Qing Period architecture. Under these sloped roofs in famous Dihua Street, you’ll find bustling markets that sell all sorts of exotic products (especially during the Lunar New Year holidays), like dried fruits, nuts, dried meats, dried seafood, healthy snacks and fresh drinks - my friends and I love it - but, if you really had to ask me where to eat in Taipei, this would be my ultimate list, including everything from Taipei street food to must-try bakeries and wonderful hot pot restaurants!
Sukhothai, Sheraton Grand Taipei Hotel
Location: 12 Zhongxiao East Road Section 1, Sheraton Hotel Taipei
Sukhothai is rumoured to serve some of the best food in Taipei. Its dishes are elegant and beautifully plated, packing concentrated, refined flavours into every mouthful. Think sleek interiors and clean, modern surfaces - the focus is on the food here, and you won’t be sorry you indulged. Since you’re seated and comfortable, it makes sense to splurge on a few courses. Personally, I’d recommend the papaya salad and yellow curry - absolutely delicious! Because the restaurant falls under the blanket of the hotel, expect slightly raised prices, but the overall experience is more than worth it. Between you and I, it also offers a bit of a reprieve from the relentless heat outside. Oh! And the cocktails are decadent too.
Orange Shabu Shabu House
Location: Da’an District, Section 1, Da'an Road, 135
This has got to be one of my favourite dining experiences in Taipei, and it’s made even better by the fact that they serve the tastiest hot pot in the entire city! Hot pot is similar to the Western concept of fondue, but instead of oil or chocolate to dip ingredients it, the “hot pot” in the middle of the table is a steaming vat of flavoured broth - absolutely scrumptious. Into this you dip a variety of raw ingredients like thinly sliced meat, seafood, leafy vegetables, mushrooms, wonton, noodles, tofu, and various meat balls. Once cooked, you select a dipping sauce (sesame and citrus are my two favourites) and there you have it. Another factor that makes it one of the best restaurants in Taipei is the absolute privacy each party of guests is afforded. Each little booth is separated by screens, so that you feel as if you’ve disappeared utterly into a world of seclusion and sensation. Fair warning though, if you’re going to the Da’an District branch, which I think is the better of the two, owing purely to the vibe of the neighbourhood, then a reservation is necessary - call in advance!
Location: 10 Zhongxiao East Road, Sec. 5, Xinyi District
From the weekend brunch menu (which I’d consider to be the best breakfast in Taipei) to its weekday seafood buffet, Woo Bar is everything trendy, plush and innovative. If my younger guests were to ask me what to do in Taipei, this is where I’d send them. Its lounge-style atmosphere immediately puts you at ease and its extensive cocktail menu is the final catalyst on the road to complete relaxation. Many city locals associate Woo Bar with clubbing (since it morphs into one at night), but few know that its restaurant, less commonly referred to as The Kitchen Table, is one of Taipei’s best-kept dining secrets! Desserts can be eaten at any time, right? Why not try their red bean cake with coconut milk? Or, perhaps indulge in a bit of white chocolate mousse with exotic fruit gel.
Location: Zhongxiao East Road, Da’an District
No Taipei food guide would be complete without including Burger Ray in the mix. I know you might be thinking that you could try burgers anywhere in the world, right? That might be true in most cases, but Burger Ray really adds its own Taiwanese spin to the American classic. The atmosphere is cosy, pretty quirky and downright fun. Nobody is here to impress you; it’s just honest, hearty food. You order the basics, selecting what kind of bread base you’d like and which drink option tickles your fancy, and the rest is DIY! Stack your patty high with the dozens of free toppings options available - the only limit is your stomach’s capacity. Messy, cheesy fun - that’s Burger Ray for you - and we love it here.
Inge’s Bar and Grill
Location: Zhongshan District, Lequn 2nd Road, 199
Inge’s must be one of the best places to eat in Taipei, if only for that view! It’s situated at the top of the Marriott Hotel on the north bank of the Keelung River and you can just imagine how the skyline lights up after dark. Yummy food accompanied by dazzling lights sees many people coming to Inge’s for special occasions and birthday celebrations - I’ve even witnessed a proposal or two! But rest assured, the atmosphere, although elegant, is not stifling. It’s a comfortable space to unwind and relax. Locals might come here for post-work cocktails or to escape the rat race on the streets below. If it’s your first time in Taipei, why not go for the tasting menu and sample a little bit of everything. Urban, cool, chic - thats Inge’s.
Tonghua Night Market
Location: Alley 1, Lane 40, Linjiang Street, Da’an District
It’s no secret that Taipei’s most authentic cuisine is found on the streets - Tonghua Night Market is one of my favourite places to go to sample all sorts of dishes in one convenient location. It’s smaller than other night markets in the city, making it manageable (in my opinion) and it’s all about getting the best cheap eats Taipei. Some of my favourite dishes include braised pork rice, beef noodle, Xiao Long Bao and spicy hotpot. If you’ve yet to sample bubble tea - this is the place to do it! One sip and you won’t look back. The atmosphere? Steamy and exciting, with fragrant smells, plenty of laughter and of course, smug faces at all the bargains to be made. For a first-time Taipei visitor, this is also a great night market to take the training wheels off at. It’s here where I get my sushi fix - there’s one stall that sells sashimi for an absolute steal!
Chia Te Bakery
Location: No. 88, Section 5, Nanjing East Road, Songshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 105
Do you have a sweet tooth? Pineapple cakes might be the answer you’ve always been looking for, and when it comes to where to eat in Taipei, the Chia Te Bakery is not to be overlooked. Pineapple cakes are one of the best-selling souvenirs in all of Taiwan, and nobody does it better than this tiny bakery that packs a tangy punch. The owner opened it when she was only 26. The daughter of a fisherman, she began her apprenticeship at a local bakery and moved to Taipei to pursue her dreams when she was 18. Now she has a booming business, with daily queues out the doors filled with people hoping to get a sample of her buttery soft pastries filled with tart, fruity goodness! Pineapple cakes come in a bunch of different flavours (Taipei is nothing if not overwhelming to the senses), so pick yours - there’s strawberry, melon, egg yolk, cranberry and even prune - among many others.
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