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Shrimp fresh from the pool | © David Hsu/Flickr
Shrimp fresh from the pool | © David Hsu/Flickr
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A Guide to Shrimping in Taipei

Picture of Ciaran McEneaney
Updated: 10 July 2017
If you’ve ever gone shrimping, then you’ll know that it’s usually done off a boat or a seawall. In Taipei, however, there are no boats or large bodies of water in sight, and there’s usually a beer fridge behind you. Shrimping restaurants in Taiwan‘s capital are something of a lovable oddity – here’s why.

Where

Just ask any local in Taipei for the best catch-your-own shrimp restaurant, and they’ll likely point you in the direction of Shilin where, just past the National Palace Museum, you’ll find a strip with several shrimping restaurants. These intriguing places are unlike anything many visitors have seen before, but they’ve been going strong in Taiwan for decades now.

Why

On this island nation obsessed with seafood and having a particular fondness for the novelty factor, it’s unsurprising that you can find an establishment where you have to catch your dinner yourself. It adds another level of excitement to the dinner table, and if there’s one thing that the Taiwanese love when it comes to food, it’s the unusual.

How

The basics

Once you arrive at your chosen shrimping spot, you pay a pretty reasonable fee of about US$10 (TWD$300) for the use of a pole, a plastic chair, and a bucket of bait for an hour. You then find yourself a place at one of the rectangular pools and set up alongside your fellow shrimpers. One thing you must realize before going in though, if you don’t catch, you don’t eat. That’s right – you’re paying for the use of the equipment only, and if you happen to catch a shrimp, then you can eat it for free.

Waiting for a bite
Waiting for a bite | © David Hsu / Flickr

Insider info

Apparently, the trick is to not reel in on the first tug on your line, but then every expert shrimper will tell you something different. Don’t be scared to ask the people around you for some tips. The famous Taiwanese warm welcome extends to helping out aspiring fishermen (and women) too, so you are bound to pick up some great advice.

The end result

Once your hour is up, if you have caught any (Anthony Bourdain only caught one) then it’s time to hand in your fishing gear and get started on cleaning the shrimp. Of course, you need to do all this by yourself, so some prior experience prepping shrimp for the grill might come in handy. Pull off all the legs, wash them, salt them, skewer them on a stick, grill them, eat them. A simple plan, but one that is only possible if you manage to bag some shrimp from the pool.

Shrimp under the grill
Shrimp under the grill | © Richard, enjoy my life / Flickr

The area

The reason the majority of the city’s best shrimping restaurants are located in this area is due to the freshwater springs from the nearby mountain, ensuring that the shrimp swim in the cleanest water you’ll find in the city. The neighborhood is at the foot of Yangming Mountain in Yangmingshan National Park, an area famous for its thermal springs, so should you wish to make a day of it, you can visit a hot spring, take a tour of the National Palace Museum, and finish off the day with a spot of shrimping.

As far as days out in Taipei go, that’s a pretty good one. Relaxation, culture, and delicious grilled shrimp washed down with local beer to finish off the day; what more could you ask for?

Spring City Shrimp Fishing Restaurant, 471 Zhishan Road Section 2, Shilin District, Taipei City, Taiwan, +886 2 2841 1997