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A Foodie’s Dive into Taipei: Unforgettable Bites and Hidden Gems With Ivy Chen

Forget the tired Thailand mix-up, Taiwan has stepped into the culinary spotlight, and cookbook author Ivy Chen is here to be your guide. Chen, co-author of the acclaimed “Made in Taiwan,” isn’t just sharing recipes; she’s unlocking the island’s vibrant food culture, one delicious bite at a time.

Beyond the bustling night markets and photogenic street food, Taiwan boasts lush landscapes, snowy mountains, and a unique cultural tapestry reflected in its cuisine. This very essence is captured in “Made in Taiwan,” which earned a spot on the New York Times Best Cookbooks list for 2023.

Want to delve deeper? Join Chen on her culinary adventures. For over 25 years, she’s led traditional cooking classes and local market tours, offering a crash course in Taiwanese tastes. Gone are the days of endless potsticker requests (though she happily teaches those too!). Today, her classes cover xiaolongbao, beef noodle soup, and gua bao, taking you on a flavor journey through the island’s culinary soul.

lauraswanderlustjourneys | Instagram | Experience the modern comforts and diverse food stalls at the Shilin Night Market.

Instagram | lauraswanderlustjourneys | Experience the modern comforts and diverse food stalls at the Shidong Market.

Ready to explore Taipei’s diverse palate? Here are a few of Chen’s must-try recommendations:

Immerse Yourself in Tradition at Shidong Market

Forget cramped alleys, Shidong offers modern comforts like air conditioning while retaining the charm of fresh produce and prepared delights. Look for the “wealthy ladies’ market” nickname, and don’t miss the Hakka stand selling handmade rice cakes (kue).

Chen particularly recommends the mugwort herbal rice cake from a veteran vendor boasting over five decades of expertise. “It’s soft and chewy when warm, firm and chewy when cold,” she enthuses, “a testament to her secret ratio.”

Michelin-Starred Indulgence Awaits at Golden Formosa

This family-run restaurant, now in its third generation, boasts a Michelin star and dishes that celebrate diverse regions of Taiwan. Chen’s personal favorite? The signature fried pork ribs, marinated in a special house sauce and twice-fried for that irresistible crispy skin, “It’s practically a must-order!” she smiles.

tastesinlife | Instagram | Signature pork ribs: marinated and double-fried for extra crispiness.

Instagram | tastesinlife | Chen loves the signature fried pork ribs marinated in a special house sauce.

Tea, Both Old and New: Wangtea and Wangtea Lab

Established in 1890, Wangtea preserves the art of Taiwanese tea production. Step next door to its trendy sibling, Wangtea Lab, where modern blends cater to both connoisseurs and newcomers.

Experience a new style of tea appreciation, from traditional roasting to innovative brewing inspired by whisky, wine, and sparkling drinks. Take a tour of the “tea encyclopedia” and indulge in a tasting – Chen suggests the Oriental Beauty Tea for a unique experience.

Creative Twists at Longtail Restaurant & Bar

Fusion can be risky, but chef Lam Ming Kin at Longtail masters the art. In this upscale yet casual setting, expect globally influenced dishes using seasonal Taiwanese ingredients.

Instagram | | Chef Lam Ming Kin at Longtail demonstrates mastery in the art of fusion.

Chen highlights the sweetbreads with custard apple and peanut-betel nut leaf sauce alongside the kaya French toast with soy caramel and espresso ice cream. “Adding fruits is my passion,” says Chen, “and chef Kin shares this philosophy, creating exciting seasonal menus featuring persimmon, guava, and custard apple.”

Regional Street Food Finds at Chuan Yeh

Craving bawan, those jiggly Taiwanese meatballs? Head to Chuan Yeh, a casual haven just steps from Bangka Longshan Temple. Here, the signature bawan boasts a unique Hsinchu twist. “The pork and bamboo shoot filling is seasoned with red rice yeast,” explains Chen, “and the bright pink sauce adds another layer of flavor.” She praises the perfectly balanced dough, ensuring a soft and chewy texture with every bite.

So, ditch the stereotypes and embark on a delicious journey with Ivy Chen. From traditional markets to Michelin-starred delights, Taipei’s culinary scene awaits, promising unforgettable bites and hidden gems at every turn. Bon appétit!

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