Taiwan (Taipei) recommendations
I will be in Taiwan for 12 days in January, primarily Taipei. May also visit other places/towns/regions but really have not decided yet.
Last time I went back (which was for less than a week) one of the best memories was the food. I remember eating at Din Tai Fung (main branch), oyster noodle at Shih Lin night market, excellent fish ball soup and various other goodies at Dan Shui, awesome Taiwanese breakfast at Dou Jang Da Wang (Soy Milk King) in Yung Ho, a fantastic cheap bien dang (bento) lunch close to I think was FNAC Taipei, dan bing (basically an egg burrito for breakfast right off the street from a shop). So much good food, so little time...
One less than stellar place was a sushi boat conveyor belt place in Xiemen Ding, and another average place I remember was the buffet on top of this Japanese department store somewhere.
I know there's a lot more good stuff there, so I'm looking forward to the next chow adventure. :-)
Can someone recommend the following for the Taipei area? (any websites for restaurants, if available and prices are very much appreciated!)
In no particular order:
1) Beef noodle soup; common food item but everyone's spin on it is different. So where do people go for the best and what makes it the best than another stall's?
2) A good & authentic Italian restaurant. Looking for something that has a good reputation (and of course good food) and is not a fancy/snotty/pretentious/pricey place.
3) What's a good sushi bar/Japanese restaurant in the Taipei area, that serves fresh fish imported from Japan/US, remains fairly authentic Japanese, and good value?
4) Korean restaurant, either BBQ or tofu pot/stew. Basically something that the locals like going to?
Sounds weird that I'm asking for other ethnic food, but 2-4 are really ideas for taking the in-laws and family out to places they've likely not been to or experienced.
Have I witnessed the best of what Taipei street food has to offer if I stroll through every stall in Shih Lin and Dan Shui? Is there something that is must try in other areas? :-)
Get off the street and sit down in relative comfort for a change.
For example, the Taiwanese cooking at Chi Chia Chuang (Ji Jia Zhuang) -- I think this is the original of several restaurants by that name -- is very good:
55 Changchun Lu
TEL 2581-5954, 2551-4068
If you can find it, this little eatery serves fresh, tasty and relatively inexpensive pan-Chinese snacks and dishes:
Hsiao Chia Hsiao Kuan (Xiao Jia Xiao Guan -- The Xiao Family's Little Restaurant)
1st Floor, Number 3
Lane 40, Alley 216
Section 4, Chunghsiao East Road
Italian restaurants are still popping up all over Taipei. I was taken to a very good one several months ago:
No. 352, Sec. 1, Fuhsing Nan Lu
The food was very good, the staff was welcoming and the atmosphere was very pleasant, but it was a bit pricey. Ditto for the very good Italian restaurant at the Sherwood, as well as other hotels.
I don't know about Korean food in Taipei, but you can get very good Thai food at:
Thai & Thai
Mandarina Crown Hotel
166 Dunhwa North Road
TEL 2712-1200 ext 2168
It's a huaqiao hotel so the food's for people who know what it should taste like, not just for tourists. My companion's family is from Hunan and she loves the place. If spice is a problem for some guests, there are also some relatively low-heat Chinese-style dishes on the menu. Again, maybe a bit pricey if you're taking a whole tribe of relatives.
I used to live about two blocks from Ding Tai Feng, and although it was great chow, after a while I got tired of fighting the crowds for the dumplings. I got on a beef noodle soup kick, and found that I liked it at this place more than at any other:
Ban Mu Yuan (Half-Acre Garden
)33 Dongfeng Jie
The noodles used for the niuroumian are knife-cut, uneven and rustic; the broth has a rich beefy flavor with a star anise note, and the dish is garnished with diced pickled mustard greens. It's a pretty big bowl, too. The shop makes other noodle dishes -- I like their zhajiangmian in particular. They also offer a selection of Shanghai-style appetizers you take from a case near the door, and they make great roubing/meat pasties on which I always burn my tongue, no matter how long I wait for them to cool. This is not a problem, because the beer is always cold. (This hole in the wall now has several U.S. branches, including two in the Washington, DC, area, both of which measure up very well. But I love the original, which is about a ten-minute stroll from the Howard Plaza Hotel. Most cab drivers know Dong Feng Jie, and #33 is right on a corner, so it's hard to miss).
Hope this helps.
re: David E. Miller
I lived in Taipei a long time ago and loved the noodles at Yongkang Gongyuan Niu Rou Mian (Yongkang park beef noodles), not far from Ding Tai Feng. The restaurant is just east of Jinshan Nan Lu (Jinshan south road), about two alleys south of Xinyi Lu (spelled Hsin Yi in Taipei, I believe). That area, centered on Yongkang Jie and Lishui Jie, is a gustatory paradise. Or was. The beef tendon (niu jin) noodles at Yongkang Gongyuan Niu Rou Mian were especially good.
For street food, i also recommend hopping in a cab for a ~30min ride to Ki-long (sp?) miao ko (translate to in front of temple), the northern port town of Taiwan. Highly recommend the fried oyster/egg (egg, starch, a bit of green, and fresh oyster) on the left side on the main drag.