Ground pork and vegetable buns at Din Tai Fung.

The Best of Taipei Food

Sep 22, 2014 - Julie

I came into Taipei (and Taiwan in general) with very high expectations of amazing food and I was not disappointed. We had a ton of delicious street food as one should in Taiwan, but that will be discussed in detail in a later post. Here we will focus on a few restaurants with our favorite Taipei food.

Din Tai Fung (鼎泰丰)

Our first official meal in Taipei (and Taiwan) was here at Din Tai Fung, and there really could not have been a better way to start our Taiwanese food adventures. A Michelin-star restaurant, Din Tai Fung is a global chain known for soup dumplings (小笼包). I have previously dined at a branch in Hong Kong, but decided to take Carlos for his first time at the original location started many years ago here in Taipei.

Carlos at the original Din Tai Fung restaurant in Taipei.
Carlos at the original Din Tai Fung restaurant in Taipei.

We stayed in the Dongmen area of Taipei, so the original Din Tai Fung branch was only a few minutes walk away. We went out the first day and literally stumbled upon it, it was almost magical. A hostess approached us and seated us immediately, which was again almost magical considering the number of people waiting outside.

Soup dumplings with shrimp and green squash at Din Tai Fung.
Soup dumplings with shrimp and green squash at Din Tai Fung.

We ordered a feast for ourselves. Soup dumplings with pork, chicken, shrimp and green squash. Buns with pork, vegetable and ground pork. Noodles in spicy sesame sauce and wontons in hot sauce.

Ground pork and vegetable buns at Din Tai Fung.
Ground pork and vegetable buns at Din Tai Fung.

The soup dumplings were perfect. The dumpling skin was very thin. With a 3:1 vinegar to soy sauce combination and ginger julienne strips on the side, each one is a little bite of perfection that leaves you wanting the next one. The buns were filling but tasted light. We also enjoyed the noodles and wontons, but the soup dumplings were definitely our favorite, as expected.

Mini red bean buns at Din Tai Fung.
Mini red bean buns at Din Tai Fung.

We also had mini red bean buns for dessert. They were just like a soup dumpling, but filled with red bean instead. I had never had sweet dumplings/buns at Din Tai Fung before, but I really liked the mini red bean ones. They were a great way to end the meal.

Jin Ji Yuan (金鸡园)

Jin Ji Yuan is also known for soup dumplings. While Din Tai Fung is much more famous, Jin Ji Yuan offers a much better price. Their soup dumplings are bigger, and come 8 in an order, as opposed to the 5 at Din Tai Fung. They are also meatier, but with thicker dumpling skin. They may not be as delicately made as the ones at Din Tai Fung, but they’re bigger, cheaper, and pretty delicious as well.

Soup dumplings with pork at Jin Ji Yuan.
Soup dumplings with pork at Jin Ji Yuan.

Besides the soup dumplings, we also had the fried pork chop rice, which was fantastic. The pork chop was nicely fried and not too oily. The rice comes with some braised meat on top (鲁肉饭), which is popular in Taiwan. I really liked the side dishes that came with the rice – seaweed wakame, green beans, and bamboo shoots – which complimented the meal nicely.

Fried pork chop rice at Jin Ji Yuan.
Fried pork chop rice at Jin Ji Yuan.

Yong Kang Beef Noodles (永康牛肉麺馆)

Beef noodle soup is practically the ‘national dish’ of Taiwan – so much so that there is even a Beef Noodle Festival held annually in Taipei where chefs compete for the ‘best beef noodle’ in Taiwan. Yong Kang Beef Noodles restaurant in Taipei supposedly serves some of the best, if not the best. There was a line for the restaurant, even at 2pm on a Tuesday.

Yong Kang Beef Noodle Soup.
Yong Kang Beef Noodle Soup.

We ordered their classic beef noodle soup. The beef pieces were soft and delicious. The broth was rich and beefy, with a hint of spicyness. The noodles were chewy and springy, which is just the way I like it. Overall it was a hearty meal.

These were just three of our favorite restaurants in Taipei, but only a small, small fraction of the good food in the city. Stayed tuned for all the food posts to come!