I am generally not a big fan of conducted tours. But, as far as food themed ones go, it’s always a pleasure to hang out with fellow foodies. Food tastes better in good company and, with Taipei Eats, we truly had all the ingredients for a delicious morning that went on beyond schedule.
Like many food tours do, and understandably so, our morning started with a visit to a local market, which our guide Mike took us around. Before you try the highlight dishes of a given cuisine, it makes sense to look into what type of ingredients are involved and where they come from too. Only then, you can start to understand what the local food traditions are all about.
At the wet market we tasted seasonal fruits, sweet and savory snacks (mega thumbs up for the green onion pancakes!) and, probably the best part, we interacted with the vendors. Making justice to how incredibly nice people in Taiwan can be, they were open to having us browse their merchandise while proudly showcasing their products. We even got to try some items that were not part of the tour… simply because people are genuinely welcoming around here!
This Taipei Eats tour featured a smart mix of street food, items that we got to eat sitting down at small family eateries, fancy treats and several desserts too. Hands down, the most complete food tour itinerary I have ever experienced!
Taiwanese culture mixes local food traditions with a large Chinese and Japanese influence (egg drop and miso soup, anyone?!). As such, the range of flavors you’ll encounter is quite distinct and nuanced. Sweet after-tastes in main dishes, nutty flavors (derived from sesame and peanuts) and pork meat cooked until really tender and juicy are common place in Taiwan.
During the course of this tour, we tried noodle dishes, preparations with rice, the popular Gua Bao (aka Taiwanese burger), several types of dim sum including Xiao Long Bao (soup dumplings) and desserts such as pineapple cakes and sorbet made with local fruits (plum, pineapple, peanut and taro).
Overall, we sampled around 15 dishes, including the (in)famous stinky tofu which indeed smelt foul, but was tastier than I expected:
Even though betel nut is very popular in India, it seems like we had to come to Taiwan to finally give it a go. Pan (as it is known in India), unlike a lot of the items we sampled during this tour, is not something I’d consume everyday. Chewing this nut is supposed to make you mildly high (perhaps more if you are on an empty stomach, which was clearly not the case here…). I didn’t feel light headed but, still, I convinced myself that it gave me the munchies, so that I could keep on making the most of this foodie walk around Taipei.
If spending several hours stuffing ourselves with some of the best treats in town and talking about the local food culture wasn’t enough, Taipei Eats followed up with an email full of food recommendations: where to find the best beef noodles in Taipei, street food and night market highlights, must-try Taiwanese breakfast places… they made sure we’d keep ourselves busy and full for the remaining days of our stay in the city.
Taipei is an incredible city to eat around. And this tour sure does justice to that!
Cost: US$70 (NTD2,200) per person (includes all food and beverages)