Traditional Tastes of Taipei
Incorporating cultural influences and history-steeped tradition, Taipei’s culinary gems are famous throughout Asia.
Venture into any local night market to sample an overwhelming array of street foods and classic Taiwanese specialties
When travelling the world, one of the best ways to understand local culture is through cuisine. Here you have an opportunity to learn about tradition, cultural history and the iconic foods that play an integral part in daily life.
This is especially true in Taiwan, where food is an essential part of the culture and one of the main draws for tourists to the island. Street foods make up a large portion of the cuisine, partially due to Taiwan’s diverse history, but they also developed out of necessity. Taiwan is renowned for its hurried lifestyle, where people are constantly on the go, especially in large cities like Taipei. Venture into any local night market to sample an overwhelming array of street foods and classic Taiwanese specialties.
Night Market Snacks
If Taiwan laid claim to a national dish, it would most likely be stinky tofu. The odoriferous snack is a staple at night markets and food stalls around the country. This pungent favourite is typically served deep-fried, drizzled with a spicy sauce and topped with sour, pickled vegetables.
Other traditional goodies available at Taipei’s night markets include oyster omelettes, sausages, steamed buns and dumplings. Many stalls serve a plethora of various meats on a stick, including less conventional options for more adventurous gourmands, such as chicken skin, stomach, heart and duck tongue, to name a few.
Thanks to an interesting history comprising a hodgepodge of cultural influences, Taiwan draws culinary inspiration from many regions, including parts of China and Japan. Many dishes feature pork, seafood, chicken and rice. Beef is not as common, out of consideration for Buddhist culture and a traditional reluctance to slaughter animals used for hard labour. One exception however is the Taiwanese take on beef noodle soup. With a variety of options and spice levels, the delicacy is widely enjoyed across Taipei.
Seafood is another important element of Taiwanese cuisine given its proximity to the ocean. And with the island’s sub-tropical location, an abundance of tropical fruits appear in many dishes, including papayas and star fruit.
While night markets are ideal for sampling a variety of humble Taiwanese street foods, those seeking a more luxurious environment will find that Shangri-La’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel, Taipei, provides exquisite traditional Chinese specialties in a modern, upscale setting.
Shang Palace is Shangri-La’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel, Taipei’s signature restaurant, offering Cantonese cuisine, showcasing four major cooking styles of Guangdong province. Choose from signature dim sum like roasted honey pork loin and chilled jellyfish; or sample hard-to-find dishes like scrambled egg with caviar, crabmeat and bird’s nest, which require days of preparation and are considered a rare treat.
Shanghai Pavilion is the hotel’s Shanghainese restaurant, offering superb cuisine and unsurpassed views of the Taipei skyline. Perched on the 39th floor, menu highlights include drunken chicken; crab in Shaoxing wine and braised pork with salty fish cooked in a clay pot.
If the views in Shanghai Pavilion leave you wanting more, stop by the Marco Polo Lounge on the 38th floor for the most breath-taking, expansive view of Taipei’s signature landmark, Taipei 101. With its chic, cutting-edge décor, a cocktail above the city lights is the perfect way to conclude your Taipei culinary experience.