There are some things every tourist who visits Taipei must try. The amazing street food, stinky tofu, beef noodles, and of course, the famous pineapple cake. This sweet cake has become one of the most sought-after souvenir treats on the island. However, there are good pineapple cakes and bad ones, and the last thing you want is for your first taste of this traditional treat to be a less than appealing experience.
Avoid the convenience stores
First off, although the local convenience stores are pretty amazing, they rarely have any good quality pineapple cakes in stock unless it’s Chinese New Year. Any other time of the year they usually stock the cheap variety that are often incredibly dry and sometimes overly sweet. Avoid these at all costs.
Try the tourist shops
It should come as no surprise that you can buy one of Taiwan’s most popular souvenirs in a souvenir shop. The Taiwan Handicraft Promotion Center or one of the city’s many duty-free stores are the perfect locations for finding some decent cakes. Buy from a souvenir store and you may be able to get your cakes in a tin to keep them intact on your journey home.
Look for the most famous brands
There are several local companies that make pineapple cakes with Chia Te and Li Yi being two of the most famous. These brands are so popular that they now mass produce pineapple cakes which makes them a quite affordable option. While Chia Te and Li Yi specialize in pineapple cakes, other food manufacturers such as Chimei and Imei have got in on the act too. This means locals and tourists alike are spoiled for choice when it comes to good quality pineapple cake.
If you’re unsure about a particular brand, ask the store owner. Taiwanese people are incredibly helpful and very proud of their local food products so they’ll be only too glad to steer you in the right direction.
Try Taiwan’s most in-demand brand
SunnyHills is Taiwan’s newest pineapple cake brand and to say they’re popular would be a huge understatement. They started small but now boast stores in Tokyo, Singapore, and Shanghai.
While many other pineapple cakes are similar in taste and appearance, SunnyHills is something new that breaks away from the norm. Their cakes can vary in taste depending on the time of the year (local pineapples are sweet in summer, tangy in winter) and their pastry is a delight.
You can visit the Taipei store and enjoy an afternoon tea or coffee along with a pineapple cake or simply pop in to pick up your souvenir treats. The store is right by Minsheng Park, and it’s a nice spot to sit and take a load off.
If all else fails, try the airport
If you’re here on vacation and somehow forgot to buy your pineapple cakes before checking out of the hotel (sacrilege) then don’t worry about it. The airport duty-free shops always have a good selection of pineapple cakes, and you might even get a chance to taste some.
But no matter how much you’ve gone over budget on your trip, don’t buy the cheapest variety. This is a game of hit and miss, and you really don’t want to take a chance. Look for those well-known brands such as Chia Te or Li Yi, and you can’t go wrong or just pop into the SunnyHills store located in Terminal 2.