January 17, 2014 – February 4, 2014 – The last details I left about my previous winter trip in Asia was only about the first leg of my travels in Japan. Actually, my trip was more like an octopus. The second leg of my travels was in Taiwan. I go to Taiwan every year, and it’s a shame I decided to redo my site and removed all my old entries, but that just means I can talk about the same stuff again. Anyway, I’m late with this update, but maybe it’s for the best because now I will only really talk about what was really memorable.
Krispy Kreme opened its first branch in Taiwan and the lines were insane! Hours of waiting for pre-boxed donuts. Sigh. Cronuts were also really in. You have to make reservations and then wait to be seated at Drip Cafe. It was definitely good, but if only everyone there could be here in America to see how little we now care.
My newest love in Taipei was 8%ice 冰淇淋專門店. They do eastern and western flavored gelato, but my favorite is their Asian flavored soft serve ice cream. I don’t know how many times I went. I even filled up a stamp card. Flavors like yuzu, matcha, soy milk and black sesame kept me going back for more. I went a little bit overboard …
I also kept going back to Chun Shui Tang 春水堂. It is said that they invented the pearl and bubble tea drink combo at their original branch in Kaoshiung. Their drinks were always spot on, and I loved their fried radish cake, among many other snacks too, of course.
Din Tai Fung 鼎泰豐 will always be the go to place for soup dumplings, but I also found myself going back to MingYue TangBao 明月湯包 a lot. The skin is not as perfectly refined as DTF, but it was still top notch with the soup and flavors all there, and at a much lower price and shorter wait.
My favorite night market to eat now is Ningxia Night Market 寧夏夜市. The three things I must get: 1) oyster omelet 蚵仔煎 at 賴家雞蛋蚵仔煎, but from what I’ve tasted, they’re good at just about any shop in this night market, 2) deep fried taro ball with salted egg yolk and pork floss at 劉芋仔蛋黃芋餅, and 3) the mochi place right next to the taro ball called 林記燒麻糬. All have insane lines, and with good reason.
I have a handful of favorite places that I like to rotate from when it comes to beef noodle soup. I always have to have beef noodle soup when I’m in Taiwan. I think I had around four bowls this time around. Here’s one from Yong Kang Beef Noodles 永康牛肉麵. Actually, I went here twice in one week heh.
They also opened up a giant fish market called Addiction Aquatic Development 上引水產. (No idea where that English name came from.) Think huge building with live seafood, packaged sushi, and various restaurants, all serving fresh seafood, under one roof.
They also have a Laduree now. Finally, decent macarons in Taiwan. (Trust me, I’ve tried them all.)
I’m happy to announce that western food has finally gotten comparable to that of the west. I was surprised to find a southern restaurant in Taipei. This one is called Nola Kitchen 紐澳良小廚. I ate at a few other western establishments and I enjoyed them all this time (unlike previous years).
And let’s not forget about the ridiculous amounts of tea, milk tea, iced milk, smoothies, anything and everything. I get at least one drink a day. KingTea 清玉好茶 was the hip, new place this year, specializing in lemon tea drinks. Also, when I don’t want to wait at the ridiculous line at 陳三鼎, I wait at the second most ridiculous line at Kenting Tapioca Milk 墾丁蛋蛋ㄉㄨㄞ奶 for brown sugar boba iced milk drink.
Moving on from the food! There were a lot more bicycle stations this time. I rarely took the taxi. Whenever possible, I biked. That and walking were my two main sources of exercise. Hiking is very in now too and everyone and their mamas like to climb Elephant Mountain 象山.
I’ve had the private hot spring experience before in Beitou. This time, I checked out the popular Millennium Hot Spring 千禧汤 in Beitou, which is open to the public for only NT$40. Cheap!
I was also fortunately around for the 老夫子禧戲50年Old Master Q 50th Anniversary Vintage Exhibition. It was a fun, interactive exhibit.
Oh, and I saw some celebrities at a red carpet event in Xinyi. I saw one of my idols – Donnie Yen!
I went on a couple day trips this time to places I haven’t been before. The first day trip was to two places: Shifen 十分 and Pingxi 平溪 in the Pingxi district. Shifen is known for the scenic Shifen Waterfall 十分大瀑布 and Pingxi is known for sky lanterns. Pingxi isn’t the most eco-friendly place in Taiwan, but it was a beautiful site seeing all the lanterns in the sky.
My other day trip was to the Yehliu Geopark 野柳地質公園 in Yehliu 野柳, known for rock formations with cool names. It’s best known for the Queen’s Head 女王頭, which is an iconic image in Taiwan.
Lastly, this year’s visit would not have been the same without all my friends and family that welcomed me.
And that concludes the second leg of my 2014 winter trip. Always a fun time in Taiwan!