The Cheng Sisters grew up in Taipei, so most of these recommendations have been tested time and again for decades!
In photo above, Cynthia (left) and Celia (right) in front of the Sun Yat-Sen Memorial.
On weekend mornings when I was growing up, our Shanghainese family would always visit either Kao Chi or Ding Tai Fung for breakfast. Kao Chi has excellent Shanghai pan-fried pork buns, which we dip in black vinegar. This family habit must come from my grandfather who ate these weekly until he passed at the age of 99!
Ding Tai Fun now has franchises worldwide, but my family still goes to the same one we’ve always frequented, the original, on Shin Yi Road. There is no doubt that the food is excellent with its perfect flavors and textures, but another key to their success is consistency and superior service. The myriad servers are so well trained;... full article
These little soy milk joints used to be everywhere, but since globalization, now Starbucks is everywhere. Open 24/7, they are most popular for breakfast or a midnight snack. Standard fare is Chinese flatbread stuffed with fried dough; egg pancake; sweet or savory glutinous rice rolls, and sweet or savory soy milk. It’s inexpensive and extremely satisfying.
In Chinese food, we have small dishes that precede the appetizers and entrees. While I love all the food at Sho Lan — the best Shanghainese restaurant in my book — I love their small dishes most. Our family tends not to restrict ourselves; we order almost all the small dishes they have available. From the bean sprouts to eggplant,... full article
Kuen Yang’s beef noodle soup’s base is in the style of Sichuan braised soy sauce, which is richer in flavor than clear broth. You can choose between thin or wide noodles, normal or spicy broth and type of beef — shank, shank and tendon, or shank, tendon and tripe. In most restaurants, when you order “half shank and half tendon,”... full article
Hua Lin is an old school noodle institution that specializes in “dry noodles” — the most basic of noodles. There are only three types of noodles on the menu: dry, soup and meat sauce. Dry in English is a bit of a misnomer, just meaning that they’re not soup noodles. The noodles are seasoned with a little pork lard, soy sauce, vinegar... full article
The beef noodles at Lin Dong Fong are served in a clear broth. The broth is made with some Chinese herbs, which are beneficial to your health, but the essence of the herbs is not overwhelming. The rich beef broth is delicious, and it’s essential to add a little beef lard to the soup to make it even more flavorful. The preference is to... full article
Shaanxi Province is close to Sichuan so its cuisine also has a good amount of spice. The lamb noodles at Qin Wei Guan are for noodle aficionados who love über springy noodles. The texture of the springy noodles makes you never want to eat soft noodles again. The lamb is tender and the carrots soft, plus there’s a hidden spice that... full article
I mentioned carbs at Yin Yi. Well, our family does NOT like to choose between dishes so we always get everything. That means, we order about four noodles, dumplings, and whatever else we want, enough to feed eight. Here are the famous Shanghainese eel noodles. You can order it dry or wet (soup noodles). Either way these luscious eels with noodles are delicious!
Conveniently located across the street from Cathay General Hospital, one of the busiest hospitals in Taipei, is an unsuspecting little eatery called Za Chia Chu Fong (Our Kitchen) that serves the most delicious stewed pork over rice (lu ro fan). Lu ro fan, pork belly stewed for hours in a soy sauce base and drizzled over white rice,... full article
In the steak business for over a decade, Chef Danny Teng knows his beef. His signature steak at Danny and Company — a teppanyaki steakhouse — is the US dry-aged rib eye cap from Idaho. This cut has less muscle, more moisture, and a richer flavor. Cooked beautifully medium rare, as I requested it, the outside is perfectly crispy and the inside... full article
There’s nothing that warms you up the same way as a hot pot in the winter. Wei Lu, Taipei’s most famous hot pot restaurant happens to be in my neighborhood. The name of the restaurant literally means to gather around a stove. It doesn’t matter if it’s lunch or dinner, summer or winter, they are always booked because it’s so good! They have an amazing lunch deal for just NT$380 (~ $13).
Chef-owner Max Tseng sources local ingredients like pickled Chinese mustard vegetable in one of his signature pasta dishes. In a completely new interpretation of a vegetable typically found in a traditional soup noodle dish, here it yields a spicy chicken spaghetti ($480 N.T. ~ $15). The paprika-marinated chicken is cooked with butter,... full article
In the hustle and bustle of busy Taipei life, one can still find surprisingly serene and idyllic spaces. Wistaria Tea House, located in an old Japanese-style house, is one such oasis. It has long been on my must-visit list for Taiwan. For me, this one spot satiates so many desires at once: teahouse, tea shop, historic site, gallery and restaurant. It... full article
I love my iced espressos. Yes, I do. I have favorites in every city I frequent. In Taipei, I love the freddo espresso shakerato ($4.50) from Puro. What does it for me is the frothy top with the intense dark-roast flavors. Like wine, it’s not easy to find coffee with perfect balance and structure. Jamais facile, mais toujours... full article
Have you ever tasted black olive coated in dark chocolate? Well, it might not seem like the best marriage, that is, until you taste the one I had in Taipei recently. Olives noires (NT$35 or ~$1) from artisan chocolatier, Truffle One, surprise the palate as the olive isn’t salty yet still retains its briny olive essence. The 67% dark... full article
Le Ruban specializes in roll cakes. While the bakery’s other pastries, like the lemon tarts and pear mousse below, are also good, the roll cakes draw queues before they go on sale each day at 2 p.m. They sell out quickly, so if you don’t come early, you won’t get a cake. Each customer is limited to buying one, but on my first visit, the man... full article
Our current favorite Taiwanese bakery is Boite de Bijou. The authentic patisserie now has two locations making intricate cakes, breads and chocolates. After Christmas Eve dinner, we tried the fruitcake. With a perfect proportion of cake to cream and fruits, it was as delicious as it was beautiful. (Cyn added the vintage palm tree ornament for a tropical feel.)
In the last couple of years, there has been a craze for bread by Wu Pao-chun, a Taiwanese baker who won the title “Bakery Master” for bread making at the 2010 Bakery World Cup in Paris. There are lines out the doors at both of his bakeries in Kaohsiung and Taipei. We chanced upon the Taipei store one day and decided to see what... full article