Down the graffitied back alleys of Ximending, you'll find young Taipei-ites hanging out with their friends in here. With very decent burgers, of course, and towers of French toast layered with fillings amongst other things on the menu, it's a tasty business for late Sunday breakfasts and lunch. The menu's in English, the staff are friendly, and their veggie burger is well meaning: it just comes without a burger patty. It's a collaboration between two previous establishments, Hometown Development x Mary's Burger茉莉漢堡.
🌯 Raohe Night Market
What wonders the night markets of Taipei ushered in to our lives... Raohe Night Market, glitzed up and packed with throngs of people, got us salivating like crazy over rolled barbecued pork stuffed with green onions and spiced to taste. Then there was a green onion pancake wrap with meat, peanut dust, tofu and chilli sauce. This is a big claim, but we think it's the best wrap we ate in Taiwan (vegetarian option: minus the meat and more vegetables).
🍖 Shilin Night Market
One of the most fun night markets in Taiwan. The gurgling energy of the city can be found as you walk along the sidestreets casually grabbing snacks from a crazy array of vendors; people gather near the metro station and spill out on to the surrounding streets, meeting up with friends and enjoying what the city has to offer. Also equals delicious food. Has its own site. We tried stinky tofu here, the spicy type, and yes: the smell is almost blinding, but the taste is somewhat neutral, with a hint of that fermented-foodstuff tang. We found a more heavenly morsel in the form of Taiwan-style green onion bread rolls stuffed with minced pork.
🍺 Drink At A Roadside Bar
Not really a "roadside bar" but we made do. Drinking is not so big in Taiwanese culture, but beer can be bought and drunk in small local roadside eateries, pretty cheaply too. We went somewhere down the same road as this Italian restaurant, for example. Foreign beers are on offer but when in Taiwan it's Taiwan Beer for us please sir.
🍢 Ningxia Night Market
This smaller market is sensibly located on Ningxia Road. Try out the tasty Taiwanese pig's blood cake, they are more doughy and salty, much less bloody than you'd imagine from the name. Here we also sampled another type of green onion pancake wrap, this time filled with sliced beef and onions, greens, bean sprouts and egg. Salty, sweet, warm and gooey in equal parts, the deep-fried combo of pickled egg yolk inside a mashed taro ball is unusual but worth a try (see below). The stall, piled with pyramidal stacks of these bitesized snacks ready for the plunge, is quite famous and seems to be known to some people as "Deep Fried Taro Balls and the Ones with Pickled Egg Yolk" (劉芋仔香酥芋丸蛋黃芋餅). Google Maps says it's here, but just go to the market and you'll find it easily enough.
🧀 Prince Cheese Potatoes
A classic Taipei street food, this stall in Ximending featured its own menu guy who quickly dealt with dithering patrons to keep things rolling. Deep-fried potato croquette islands in a flood of cheesy cheese sauce and topped with anything from meat and vegetables to pineapple and egg. So, so good, especially with a Taiwan Beer.
🍉 Smoothie/juice/bubble tea
Every corner, everywhere, try out the juices and bubble teas—the constant antidote for the humidity of the summer in the city.
🍞 Green Onion Bread
Walking around the sights of Taipei in the heat, green onion bread (a thick version of the thinner pancake version, 葱油饼 Tong Yo Bin) sold by street vendors is a life-saver. Cheap, filling and tasty it is the perfect, most basic snack for taking a break in the park or Botanical Garden. A real delicacy for lovers of stodgy, properly mouth-filling food. Our favourite lady served us from behind a glass shelf stacked with piles of the stuff in a tiny shop somewhere on Hengyang Road, maybe at this point, on the way to the 228 Park from Ximen MRT. It was yellow, if that helps.
THINGS THAT ARE NOT SO TASTY / HYPEFRAUD
🍜 Ay-Chung Flour Rice Noodles