Sen Tian Wu
All of the districts in Taipei offer a plethora of Japanese restaurants and Wanhua is no exception. Hop off the subway at Ximen. One street away from the station, you will find this beautiful little Japanese venue. Upon climbing the short, steep flight of stairs, lies this quaint, lantern-wreathed room. It serves up fresh, light bowls of udon and delicious bento boxes. Sen Tian Wu provides customers with a quick stop in which you can escape from the crowds, from the street below, for a refreshing bowl of soup and crisp tempura shrimp.
The name is a play on the combination of the hotel name, Amba, and the Chinese phrase ‘chi’, which means ‘to eat’. Chiba is a restaurant that describes itself as a place for the creative nomads. Recently opened, this trendy space, flooded with natural light, contains large communal tables among shelves upon shelves of books, plants and other collectibles. Chiba is more than a pretty restaurant though. It also has an open kitchen serving up breakfast, a buffet lunch, an all-day menu and afternoon tea. There is a focus on fresh produce. Salads, pastas, Asian specialties, breads and freshly squeezed fruit juices make up just a sample of the menu.
5F, 77 Wuchang, Street Section 2, Taipei City, Taiwan +886 2 237 55 152
Ay-Chung Flour-Rice Noodle 阿宗麵線
This establishment has been around since 1975 and is a very famous and popular noodle shop in Taipei. Daily crowds await the steaming bowls of long thin rice noodles and pieces of pig intestine in a thick broth, full of flavor. A small bowl can be eaten on one of the nearby stools or while walking around the markets. This is a must-try during your visit to Taipei. Don’t forget to scoop up some of the chili sauce, garlic paste and vinegar from the vats on the side to make it perfect to your own preferences.
So Free Pizza
These homemade pizzas are all baked fresh to order in the wood-fired oven. Everything is vegetarian at So Free Pizza and there are a number of vegan options too. Don’t let that put you off if you’re a meat lover – these pizza bases are so delicious and mouthwatering that you won’t miss the pepperoni. More creative combinations include smoked cheese, rosemary potato and even sweet options, such as apple cinnamon and banana almond.
No. 1, Lane 50, Xining South Road, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan, +886 2 231 46 225
This is a clear favorite for those with an appetite for the unusual, and with stronger stomachs. The inspiration for this rather novel spot came to the owner when he was reading the manga cartoon Dr Slump while sitting on the toilet. They began mainly selling fluted piles of chocolate ice cream in containers shaped like white ceramic squat toilets. Modern Toilet is all about the visuals rather than the taste, but is still worth a visit. They even have both styles of the sit or squat toilet so no one feels left out.
Hong Kong isn’t the only island around here with unforgettable dumplings. This establishment arguably offers Taipei’s very best. Dianshui Lou is technically on the border of Wanhua and the Zhongzheng district but only a 10-minute walk from Ximen station; it’s a must when you’re in the area. The fantastic baskets of xiaolong bao (steamed buns, usually filled with pork) are worth it. Famous traditional Chinese dishes include crab in red bean paste and onion barbecued carp.
64 Huaining Street, Taipei City, Taiwan, +886 2 2312 3100
Jian Hong Beef Noodle Stand
In a city where beef noodles are a favorite – there is even an annual beef noodles festival at which awards are given for quality and creativity – the dish is an obvious must-try. Popular among locals, but lesser-known among tourists, this 24-hour stall serves consistently generous bowls of thick beef soup with fresh handmade noodles. It’s a simple concept but packed with memorable flavor. Ask for some niu rou mian on this quiet street away from the brighter lights of the shopping district. Here, you will receive a local and authentic experience.
District, No. 45, 45-46 Luo Yang Street, Taipei City, Taiwan, +886 2 2371 2747
Lane 50 Wucheng Road
Although not technically a restaurant, this small street has been operating as a food market for longer than many of the surrounding restaurants have been in operation. The unusual, but delectable, choices on offer range from hot cheese potato with various toppings, sweet potato fried balls and ice cream and buns. There is also the ingenious creation of grilled mochi on a stick which you can eat savory or sweet. The black sesame flavor is highly recommended.
Mala No Guo
This aquatic-themed buffet and hot pot restaurant may be lesser known than grander competitors in the area, such as the enormous Mala Yuanyang Hotpot on Sining South Road. It contains fun, original decor complete with portholes in the walls. If this isn’t enough to entice you inside, perhaps the convenience and improved hygiene offered by individual hot pots will tempt you. Also, the father and son working at Mala No Guo will make every effort to provide the friendliest service that’s hard to be matched elsewhere. Choose your soup base from spice, curry, kimchi, soy milk or herb, and gorge yourself on fresh fruit and vegetables, all for NTD 280/330.
2F, 46 West Ningan Street, Songshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan, +886 2 2314 0773
Yu’s Almond Tofu 于記杏仁豆腐
As a dessert to finish off a day of gastronomic experimentation, or perhaps as a palate cleanser between all the other samplings, head to Yu’s for a bowl of their famous almond milk shaved ice. Taiwan is well known for its popular shaved ice and cool desserts in general. However, the almond milk version is different and vegan-friendly. It comes atop almond tofu and with a sachet of their almond milk to pour over the top. It’s silky, nutty, cool goodness. Although this is in the Zhongzheng district, boundaries are quite vague in Taipei. The restaurant is next to Ximen station, so it’s a close place to eat at when in Wanhua.
101 Hengyang Road, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan, +886 2 2370 1998