Shi Lin (士林夜市) is Taipei’s largest and most famous night market. Night markets are big outdoor marketplaces that have tons of street food, games, shopping and other small stores. They are a lot of fun and happen to have some wonderful food. This night market is massive and has a huge amount of food vendors.
The main area for food vendors is an indoor area away from the main night market that has rows and rows of food vendors. I always look to see who’s busy as local Taiwanese will really flock to a place if it’s very good. We saw a huge line at Hao Da Da Ji Pai (豪大大雞排), which has no English name. We decided that is where we were going to eat (we had eaten a lot earlier so that is why I don’t have more pictures).
Hao Da Da Ji Pai serves a big fried chicken chop (雞排) that is similar to a pork chop except chicken. Taiwanese fried chicken tastes much different than American fried chicken because the batter is different; I believe it uses corn starch and sweet potato starch. It’s very crispy, not as oily as American fried chicken and the batter has a lot of five spice powder (wu xiang fen / 五香粉) and white pepper in it, so it’s quite flavorful. They dust it with a red pepper powder. It’s awesome and the version here is probably one of the best I’ve ever had. The outside is so crispy and flavorful, but the inside remains perfectly juicy. Really amazing fried chicken. It also happens to be massive, one piece is about as big as your face. 8.75/10
I highly recommend this if you are at Shi Lin although I’d recommend sharing it as it’s a lot of fried chicken for one person (I wasn’t really hungry after I ate it!).
Din Tai Fung (鼎泰豐) is a Taiwanese chain of xiao long bao (soup dumplings) restaurants that are probably the most famous in the world and among the best in terms of quality.
They have multiple branches in Taiwan, Japan, China, Singapore, Indonesia, Korea, Los Angeles, Malaysia and Sydney. I’ve always been surprised that they have been able to maintain their quality given the number of branches they have. Normally, restaurants that branch out like that tend to lose quality over time. I’ve been to the Fu Xing branch in Taipei, the Paragon branch in Singapore and Arcadia branch in LA and all of them are quite good (if anyone at DTF is listening…please open one in NY, you’ll crush the competition).
This review is for the Fu Xing branch in Taipei. The restaurant is located in the basement food court at the SOGO department store on Zhong Xiao East Road. There is always a fairly large wait and the waiter comes out gives you a number and a menu where you pre-order what you want, which is great because it’s extremely efficient. The restaurant is reasonably nice and the service is fine.
We only got two things, but multiple orders of it because we wanted to stick to the classics:
Xiao Long Bao (Soup Dumplings):
The dumpling skins at Din Tai Fung are the best I’ve ever had; they are very thin and delicate, more so than any other version I’ve ever had. That is the where I think DTF really excels. They are among the best dumpling skins I’ve ever had. The filling is very good as well (the best I’ve ever had though goes to Fu Sing Shark Fin Restaurant in Hong Kong), the meat is great and the soup is light and not greasy at all. Just an all around great soup dumpling. 8.75/10 (9.25/10 for the skins, 8.5/10 for the filling)
Beef Noodle Soup (Hong Shao Niu Rou Mian):
Beef noodle soup is one of the national dishes of Taiwan and DTF makes a pretty respectable version. Beef noodle soup in Taiwan is sort of similar to ramen in Japan in that there are tons of places that specialize in it and people tend to get pretty picky about it. I may not be as picky as I once was about it because in the NY a really good version doesn’t exist, so it’s rare that I get to have a really good bowl of it. The version here wasn’t the best I’ve ever had in Taiwan, but it was very good. The beef was excellent, very tender and flavorful. The noodles were excellent as well, al dente with good flavor. The broth was very good, not overly salty, that great hong shao (red cooking) flavor although I prefer mine a bit spicier and flavorful (the best versions I’ve had have a slightly deeper flavor). Overall though it’s a very good bowl of beef noodle soup. 8.5/10
DTF is very famous and famous for a good reason. If you are in an area with a DTF, I highly suggest going.
B2F., No.300, Sec. 3, Zhongxiao E. Rd.
Da-an District, Taipei City 10654, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
(B2F of Fuxing SOGO Department Store)
Taipei is known for it’s large night markets. Night markets are big outdoor marketplaces that have tons of street food, games, shopping and other small stores. They are a lot of fun and happen to have some wonderful food. The largest and most famous is called Shi Lin (士林夜市), however there are many other night markets. One that is close to my friends’ condo is called Rao He (饒河) which as it turns out is the first night market in Taipei. It’s much smaller than Shi Lin with basically one long street in front of a big temple.
Hu Jiao Bao (Pepper Bun):
We saw a huge line in front of this stand and basically anytime you see a long line in Taiwan for food it’s almost guaranteed to be awesome. This was no exception, I think this might be one of the best street foods I’ve ever had. This was cooked like a cylinder oven very similar to how Indian naan bread is cooked. Not surprisingly the bun itself actually tastes fairly similar to Indian naan, but the inside has pork, minced mushrooms and scallions in it, which tastes very Chinese. The bread is awesome and tastes so good. The filling was amazing, really flavorful, think about the best dumpling you’ve ever had and this is better than that. So good. 9.25/10
Fruits in Taiwan are really good, here’s a pic of a fruit stand. The guavas were really good. 8.75/10
This was interesting, this was some type of preserved squid. It’s interesting as it’s much more firm than regular squid and they put a pretty good sauce that was a bit spicy and had a lot of garlic in it. 7.5/10
I think I’m the only person who likes this, but its roasted corn that is basted with a spicy soy sauce mixture. The version here was decent, but not the best I’ve ever had in Taiwan. 7.5/10
This is grilled squid that is basted with a soy sauce mixture. It’s pretty good, I like it with beer. 7.75/10
Squid Vermicelli Soup:
This isn’t actually in Rao He, but it’s in a small street stand that is close to Rao He. They serve something that is similar to oh ah mi sua (a famous oyster vermicelli soup), but instead of oysters, they put squid in it. The soup is fairly thick and has a mild taste, but they give you vinegar and chili oil, which go really well with the soup. They also put cilantro, bean sprouts, pickled vegetables (suan cai) in it as well. The squid is really good and tender. Overall, it was excellent. 8.5/10
Overall, a fun and good night market, I highly recommend for the hu jiao bao place.
Here’s a map to find it: https://www.raohe.com.tw/e4-1.htm
Yong He (永和) is an area in Taipei that is known for it’s Taiwanese breakfast. You will find many restaurants in the US serving Taiwanese breakfast and a great deal of them will be called Yong He. Taiwnese breakfast consists of things like sweet soy bean milk, salty soy bean milk (soy bean milk mixed with vinegar, pork floss, pickled vegetable and chili oil), fan tuan (a rice roll stuffed with pickled vegetables, fried crueller and pork floss), luo buo gao (fried turnip cake), shao bing (a baked wheat bread with sesame seeds) and you tiao (fried crueller).
Yong He Qing Zhou Dou Jiang Da Wang /永和清粥豆漿大王 is among the most famous of the breakfast places. In December 2009, I got a chance to try Yong He Qing Zhou Dou Jiang Da Wang and it more than lives up to it’s reputation.
Sweet Soy Bean Milk (Tian Dou Jiang):
This was the best version I’ve ever had, it’s made fresh at the restaurant. It’s served hot and comes out in a bowl. It’s not too sweet and has such a clean soy bean milk flavor, not chalky whatsoever. My GF doesn’t even like soy bean milk and she thought it was really good. I mean it’s pretty self explanatory, but simply amazing. 9.25/10
Salty Soy Bean Milk (Xian Dou Jiang):
This was also the best version I’ve ever had as well. Same soy bean milk as the sweet soy bean milk except it has vinegar, pork floss, pickled vegetable and chili oil in it. The vinegar causes the soy bean milk to curdle, so it sort of has chunks of tofu in it. Same thing, my GF doesn’t even like this stuff and was like this is really good. Amazing. 9/10
Egg Pancake (Dan Bing):
This is a thin pancake that has fried egg on it. Their version was outstanding, so fresh and the thick chili paste they gave you has some type of bean in it that was really good and matched up perfectly with dan bing. 9/10
Fried Turnip Cake (Luo Bo Gao):
This is different than the Cantonese version which I’m used to eating. It’s prepared the same way, but they put a different sauce on it, I believe it was some sort of oyster sauce, but different than the regular oyster sauce. These were amazing. The turnips were properly minced so that there weren’t strands in it. The ham in it was really good. They were fried perfectly, so they were crispy, but not oily at all. One of the best version I’ve ever had. 9/10
Rice Roll (Fan Tuan):
This is rice that is stickier than normal that is rolled up sort of like a sushi roll and stuffed with pickled vegetables (suan cai), fried crueler (you tiao) and pork floss (rou song). This was so good. The pickled vegetables were really good, I’m pretty sure that they make it themselves, I don’t know how to explain how taste, but the Taiwanese suan cai is one of my favorite pickled vegetables. Everything was just so good about this especially when you dip it into the xian dou jiang. 8.75/10
Wheat Pancake (Shao Bing):
They baked these fresh and they literally pulled them out of the oven when we ordered them. You take these and dip them in the dou jiang, again the best version I’ve ever had. 8.75/10
I can’t say enough about how good this place and it was also exceptionally cheap (3 of us at for $5 USD total). If you are in Taipei this is a “must go” type place.
No. 102, Section 2, FùXìng South Rd,