Taipei and I have history.
It is a city that is a food lover’s dream, with so many different and unique flavors, and a lovely attitude towards all things delicious. However, the last time I was visiting Ilha Formosa, I had an unfortunate case of bronchitis. After a visit to a Taiwanese doctor, I was promptly restricted from eating anything spicy, oily, fried or cold. In other words, everything to be found at a street market was off the menu for me. Being ill is probably the only time when I am not hungry, and while I saw a lot of what Taipei has to offer culturally and historically, my experience with Taipei’s food culture was limited to some steamed dumplings and rice porridge that I could barely taste due to my stuffed nose.
I was so happy to be able to spent some time over New Year’s to finally explore and eat to my heart’s content. I should be a bit embarrassed to admit how many things we ate in Taipei, but you won’t find a shred of regret! I was lucky to go with two friends who love food just as much as I do, and didn’t think I was crazy at all for wanting to try a different night market every night, or take a train out of Taipei just to eat dinner.
I thought I would show you some of my favorite eats of the trip, starting off with turnip cake 蘿蔔糕, also known as radish cake, or luo buo gau, cai tau kueh, and various other names. I think most people have had the Cantonese version at dim sum, which is pan fried and served with a hoisin sauce. The deep fried turnip cake topped with a taro root croquette we found at the morning market near Zhongshan station was an awesome way to start off the day! The turnip cake is made from shredded daikon radish steamed with rice flour, dried shrimp, Chinese sausage and spices, then deep fried a light golden brown,
Served with a spicy chili sauce and sweet hoisin sauce, the turnip cake is soft and light with just enough substance to be picked up with a toothpick. The taro croquette is smooth and dense, and I happily alternated bites between the two as the three of us shared a little table and stools just out of the rain pouring down in the early morning.
Morning market near Zhongshan Station@ Taipei, Taiwan