March saw the launch of the inaugural Michelin guide to the Taiwanese capital, but you’d be missing out if you skipped the sidewalk eats. Here, four newly starred chefs share their local favorites.
1. Breakfast with Kai Ho of Taïrroir
“For an authentic Taiwanese-style breakfast, you can’t go wrong with Fu Hang Dou Jiang (2F 108 Zhongxiao East Rd.) on the first floor of Huashan Market.
My pick from the menu is shaobing, a sesame flatbread that’s wrapped around a youtiao (Chinese cruller) and a fried egg—it’s so good! The shop is immensely popular, and queues sometimes start as early as 5 a.m., stretching out all the way onto the street. But after your first bite, you’ll know that it was well worth the wait.”
2. Lunch with Lin Ju-Wei of The Guest House
“On the rare occasion that I have time for lunch outside the restaurant, I like to keep it simple and very local. I love xiaochi, literally “small eats,” around Taipei’s Yonghe district. One of my favorite stalls for this is Lehua Xiaochi (26 Baofu Rd. Sec. 1). The rou geng (thick noodle soup with meat) here is perfectly cooked, and doesn’t have the gamey smell you’ll often notice elsewhere. Its dry noodles are great, too. Not far away, Chiayi Shan Yu Yi Mian (367 Yongzhen Rd.) serves delicious fried eel noodles with a distinctively smoky and complex flavor.”
3. Dinner with Richie Lin of MUME
“My go-to local dinner spot is Xianjin Haichan (5 Yanji St. Lane 23), a humble seafood joint in Taipei’s Songshan district. I usually order tons of seafood from their daily selection; it’s fresh, affordable, and can be prepared in any way you like. The steamed fish is particularly good, as they use a special seasoning and add some Chinese wine into the soy sauce. Best of all, after you finish they take the leftover sauce back into the kitchen and make an amazing scrambled egg with it. Xiaozhang’s Seafood (73 Liaoning St.) in Zhongshan is another favorite; the seafood there is as fresh as it gets.”
4. Late-night eats with Lam Ming Kin of Longtail
“After a shift, I usually take my team to one of the many spicy hotpot restaurants around town. The mala hotpot at Chan Chi Hot Pots Lab (178 Nanjing East Rd. Sec. 2) is a personal favorite, and the complexity and depth of the flavors inspired me to create Longtail’s beef tenderloin with mala sauce and spring garlic puree. I also enjoy hitting up Linjiang Street Night Market, one of the few locally popular night markets that isn’t full of tourist traps. Try the marinated chicken at Honghua Yanshui Ji (99 Linjiang St.) and seek out Ice Wonderland (56 Tonghua St.) for traditional Taiwanese desserts like aiyu, a natural gelatin served with lemon over ice.”
This article originally appeared in the June/July 2018 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Tucking Into Taipei”).