New Taipei is Foodie Haven with New Spin to Chinese Cuisine

Can Chinese cooking transcend the traditional moo goo gai pan, sweet and sour pork? New Taipei, Asia's food haven, is taking the traditional out of the take-out boxes. Taiwanese chefs are using natural ingredients to enhance tastes and flavors, making it better. The days of Formica tables and gaudy red and gold decor are over.

At the Night Market

In Search of the Best 

We set out to find out why Taipei is causing a stir. The night market was our first stop. Night markets are prevalent in Asia. It's a combination of a flea market, an open fresh market with food stalls for street food. There were many in Taipei, some touristy, and others more local.

Street Food

Day 1 Stinky Tofu

We set out to find out why Taipei is causing a stir. The night market was our first stop. Night markets are prevalent in Asia. It's a combination of a flea market, an open fresh market with food stalls for street food. There were many in Taipei, some touristy, and others more local.

According to my friend, who had her head buried in several guide books, we must not leave Taipei without tasting three things: stinky tofu, the XIAO LONG BAO, the world's best pork dumpling, and the best beef noodle soup.

On our first night, off we go to find that stinky tofu. It shouldn't be hard to see it. Just use your nose.

We went to the TONGHUA Night Market, the favorite of locals, where there was an endless variety of exciting food and fruits, clothes and trinkets and people. After much looking and tasting, trying, and buying, we still hadn't encountered the stinky tofu. Finally, we found, or rather, smelled it. Following our noses, we found the stall selling stinky tofu stew. How was it? Four pictures say a thousand words... 

Stinky Tofu

Day 2 Pork Dumpling 

According to my friend, who had her head buried in several guide books, we must not leave Taipei without tasting three things: stinky tofu, the XIAO LONG BAO, the world's best pork dumpling, and the best beef noodle soup.

On our first night, off we go to find that stinky tofu. It shouldn't be hard to see it. Just use your nose.

We went to the TONGHUA Night Market, the favorite of locals, where there was an endless variety of exciting food and fruits, clothes and trinkets and people. After much looking and tasting, trying, and buying, we still hadn't encountered the stinky tofu. Finally, we found, or rather, smelled it. Following our noses, we found the stall selling stinky tofu stew. How was it? Four pictures say a thousand words.

Again, according to the guide book, we should go to DIN TAI FUNG restaurant, with a branch located at the Taipei 101 building, where the lines are not as long as in the original restaurant. Since we also had to see the former world's tallest building anyway, that's where we headed. The guide books were not kidding about the lines. If we wanted to be seated, we would have to wait at least 45 minutes.

If ordered "to go," it would be about 10-12 minutes. We decided on the take-out order and to eat al fresco. Given the lengthy menu, we got the famous Xiao Long Bao and threw in other requests for crab and shrimp dumplings. In no time at all, we had our orders, and we proceeded to our alfresco dining spot - outside where there was plentiful seating.

The xiao long bao, with its characteristic broth, lived up to the "hype" and was delicious...so pure and clean, tasty, with just the right amount of seasoning. But as delightful as this pork dumpling was, the crab and shrimp dumplings were even more delicious! Go figure. 

Delightful Pork Dumpling
Eating Al Fresco

Day 3 Beef Noodle Soup 

We asked directions frequently until we found someone who spoke passable English. With the twists and turns, we managed to explore an upscale neighborhood with its beautiful residential buildings, expensive shoes, and clothing establishments, convenience stores, but no PIN CHUAN LAN.

After over two hours and sunburn, I declared that we would eat at the next restaurant we came across.

As we entered the next restaurant, in a last-ditch effort, my friend showed them our Chinese notes. The waiter took us out the door and pointed us to a sign three doors down.  Now that is a friendly competition!

At long last, we were seated to try the best beef noodle! And was it the world's best?

First, let me describe it. Take Wagyu beef, already one of the finest beef there is, then take the prime rib or prime rib-eye, one of the choicest of cuts, with its excellent marbling.  Char and slice it very thin, arrange it in a large bowl over noodles, and pour a boiling, aromatic, tasty broth over it.

My description does not do it justice. Maybe the following pictures will help.

Rib-eye Noddle Soup
Beef Noodle Soup

So was the best beef noodle soup in the world worth the sunburn from a two-hour walk?  You bet!  (By the way, the two-hour walk would have been unnecessary had we taken the right train stop, which was two stations from where we started.!)  

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Wednesday, 22 September 2021
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About the Author

I am a recent retiree, and have been taking advantage of my newfound freedom to travel the world. So far, travelled to over 55 countries on six continents, and I've set might sights on 30 more countries while I am still able.
This blog is my journal of the wonderful cities, less traveled, that should be on everyone's proverbial bucket list.
Happy Traipsing the Globe!