What to eat in Taichung

What to Eat in Taichung, Taiwan – Markets, Milk Tea and More!

Previously I wrote about things to do in Taichung, so this time I want to share some info about the food I ate in Taichung, Taiwan. This time (as opposed to my Taipei food recommendations) the list of what to eat is a mixed bag — there is local food, snacks in the market and even a couple of modern cafes. Are you hungry?

If you’re travelling to Taiwan, all of my Taiwan posts are here:

http://www.sitdowndisco.com/tag/taiwan/

1. Taichung Meatballs

I’m starting this list with what I think is the most traditional kind of food in Taichung. When I was researching food in Taichung, I found that meatballs seemed to be a typical dish in the city. Taichung meatballs are pieces of pork mince wrapped in a thick layer like mochi, then fried.Mao Chuan Taichung MeatballTaichung meatballs are served hot in a small bowl, sprinkled with spices which go brilliantly with the meatballs themselves. Some use a sweet spicy sauce, but there is also one with soy sauce, a little vinegar and minced garlic. Taichung meatballs are freshly fried to order and are always served fresh from the pan. Yum!Wonton mee Mao ChuanThere are a few places in Taichung which specialise Taichung meatball — I tried Mao Chuan Wonton & Taiwanese Meatball located near Second Market. Besides Taichung meatball they  also serve noodle dumplings which are equally as awesome!

Location: No. 225-1, Zhongzheng Rd, Central District, Taichung
Price: NT$ 100 for 1 meatball and 1 noodle dumpling

2. Three Generations Yee Mien

Located in Second Market, this noodle shop is always crowded. And that’s perhaps because it has been in the same family for the past 3 generations and gained a reputation which is widespread. Yee Mien is Mandarin for ‘dry noodles’. You could say this dish is the same as yamien which is sold in Bandung, Indonesia. They both use yellow noodles that are boiled, strained and then stirred with soy sauce and oil. Delicious simplicity.Three generation noodles TaichungThe topping is usually minced pork with a sprinkle of chopped shallots/spring onions. On the side you can either choose a plain broth or one with a few meatballs added. Interestingly, the meatballs are seafood rather than the more commonly seen beef. It’s located in the market itself, and even though there are actually two kiosks, tables are also placed in the corridor because it’s so popular. Finding this place is easy. Just visit Second Market and look for the busiest kiosk!

Location: No. 1-7, Sec 2, Sanmin Rd (Second Market)
Price: NT$110 for 1 plain yee mien & 1 yee mien plus meatball soupYee Mien Second Market Taichung

3. Ban Yue Shau (pancake)

This is one of the foods I tried at the Yizhong Street Night Market. Literally Ban Yue Shau means a half-moon shaped snack. It’s made from a kind of thin pancake (similar to roti canai but thicker and chewier) filled with 4 choices of meat: pork, tuna, chicken and beef, then folded in the middle so that it looks like a half-moon (ban yue).Ban Yue Shau Pancake TaichungAfter that, fried egg whites are added as well as green onions and soy sauce. For those wanting something even more special, you can even add some cheese. It’s so awesome because the texture is crispy from the skin and juicy from the stuffing. I reckon this is a must-try snack in Taichung! I loved it that much.

Location: Yizhong Street Night Market
Price: NT$40Ban Yue Shau Yizhong Street Taichung

4. Dao Xiao Mien (Knife Cut Noodles)

Because eating Bn Yue Shau was more of a snack than a full meal, I decided to try a more serious sit down meal. This time I went back and forth looking for the store called Shan Shi Dao Xiao Mien Shi Guan. So difficult to find! But the key is to look for noodles being cut with a knife.

It used to be called hand-sliced noodle because the knife is held by human hands, but now technology has taken over and a robot actually cuts the noodles. It’s ridiculous!Knife cut noodle TaichungThe noodles which have been cut and boiled are then drained and served according to your specific order (either stir-fried or in a broth). I ordered the fried noodles cooked with beef, but I found the noodles to but uber-thick and not like I’m used to. The dish was generally enjoyable, but not something I would rave about — mainly because of the weird texture of the thick noodles.

Location: 18 Yutsai South Street, Yizhong Street Night Market
Price: NT$70

5. Yizhong Fong Ran Ice

I love desserts, especially Asian desserts. So it was a no-brainer that I would search for one in Yizhong Street Night Market. I found one dessert stall in a rather quiet area away from the market crowd which looked like a standard garage with a cart out the front.Fong Ran Ice TaichungThey sell dessert called Fong Ran Ice. Fong Ran Ice is shaved ice topped with red beans and ice cream then sprinkled with plum sauce. On first taste, the sauce is weird! It’s a balance strong sweet plum combined with intense saltiness. After a while you get used to it and it becomes really enjoyable. Just strange!Fong Ran Ice Yizhong Street TaichungThere are 3 options: more red bean but only 2 scoops of ice cream (NT$35), 4 scoops of ice cream but a small amount of red bean (NT$35) or plain without red bean and ice cream (NT$25).

Location: 6 Yutsai Street, Yizhong Street Night Market
Price: NT$35

6. Caffaina Coffee Gallery

I think this is the most luxurious cafe I visited in Taiwan. Once I saw the front I immediately thought “Wow … expensive!” Entering the 2 floors of the building you’re immediately greeted with a magnificent room with luxurious interior. In one area there is a row of glass displays filled with many dozens of types of cake that look so delicious.Cakes at Caffaina Coffee GalleryMost people come here to drink coffee and eat cake while hanging out with friends. But if you want more heavy food there are also several options which should do the trick. Also, if you’re not into coffee, there are plenty of other hot and cold drinks to choose from.Food and drinks at Caffaina TaichungThe system of selecting food is to pay first at the cashier and then find a seat. You’ll be given a buzzer so that when you’re food is ready, you can go pick it up yourself. This is an expensive cafe and totally different to anything I would normally try in Taiwan. But it’s sometimes great to just escape with a coffee and cake and cool down in the AC — and this is a great place for that. FYI, Caffaina is not just in Taichung, but also other cities in Taiwan.

Location: No. 45, Section 2, Huizhong Road, Xitun District, Taichung City
Price: NT$430 for 2 drinks and 2 cakes

7. Haritts Donuts

Haritts Donuts is located in an area near Fantasy Story which seems like it’s the trendy place with the kids these days.

Although small, the shop is cute, with Japanese-style wooden door and window frames. I wanted a couple of donuts and I wanted to eat them in the air-conditioned shop. But the problem is, Haritts Donuts has this crappy rule which means you need to buy drinks if you want to sit inside at all. You can’t even sit on a bench inside. So in the end, I had to sit in the gutter out the front to eat my donut and that sucks bad.Haritts Donuts TaichungBuuuuuuut… the donuts were awesome! The donuts are more ball shaped than normal donuts and don’t have holes in the middle. The dough is soft, kind of chewy and the filling is also delicious. I tried the matcha and raspberry white choc and they were both crazy good.Haritts Donuts TaiwanInterestingly, the dough of each donut was different based on the filling I chose. These donuts are not expensive (about NT$45-50). I can’t wait to try these donuts in Japan soon.

Location: No. 6, Lane 128, Zhongxing Street, West District, Taichung City
Price: NT$95 for 2 donuts

8. Pearl Milk Tea at Chun Shui Tang

It is true that Pearl Milk Tea is all over Taiwan, in every city, whether it’s a small town or a big city. But if you’re in Taichung, stop by Chun Shui Tang, the birthplace of Pearl Milk Tea, the drink which eventually spread around the whole world. Although Chun Shui Tang has about 40 outlets all over Taiwan, it is certainly great to stop by the original location.Chun Shui Tang TaichungThe first location of Chun Shui Tang in Siwei Street opened in 1983. It originally just sold Pearl Milk Tea, but now they also sell food such as dimsum as well as some heavier meals. The pearls were tasty, chewy, soft and not overly sweet.Chun Shui Tang TaipeiI originally was just going to order the famous Pearl Milk Tea, but I was tempted by the brunch snacks and ordered some shrimp spring rolls, butter toast and a portion of fried mantau with condensed milk for dipping. Delicious!

Location: No. 30, Siwei Street, West District, Taichung City
Price: NT$475 for 2 pearl milk tea + 3 servings of food

9. Chicken Sausage

I stumbled across this randomly in the streets of Feng Chia Night Market. The shape of these sausages is fat not uniform because they aren’t produced in a factory. The sausage is filled with finely chopped chicken and wrapped in a thin skin which I assume is some sort of intestines.Chicken Sausage TaichungThey grill that sucker hard until the skin shrinks and becomes crispy while the inside oozes with juices. Before serving, they sprinkle the sausage with some powder to amp up the flavour even more. So delicious!

Location: Feng Chia Night Market
Price: NT$40 per sausageChicken Sausage at Feng Chia Night Market

10. Specialty Coffee at Coffee Stopover

Finally, some info for coffee lovers. I was quite surprised to find good coffee in Taichung. At Coffee Stopover, not only do they serve world class coffee, they also conduct brewing classes.Bottom floor of Coffee Stopover TaichungThe bottom floor of Coffee Stopover is more for people interested in and wanting to know more about coffee. Scattered around are roasting machines, coffee beans and an assortment of coffee brewing tools. The 2nd floor is for sitting and relaxing and there is a big tall bench that can be used for small groups as well as a few tables & chairs for couples.Coffee stopover TaichungCoffee sold here has been specially formulated and divided into 5 different types: Dancer, Backpacker, Painter, Dauber & Professor. Each blend has a distinctive aroma and strength. If you like strong coffee, choose Professor. If you don’t like strong, choose Dancer. This is one of the best coffees I had in Taiwan. Simply sensational.

Coffee Stopover: No. 24, Lane 217, Minquan Road, West District, Taichung City
Price: NT$220 for 2 cappuccinos

And that’s my recommendation of what to eat when in Taichung! If it’s a nifty little city and well worth a visit. Let me know if you have any favourites in the comments so I can keep this list up to date!

My other Taiwan posts:

Taipei
Best Cafes in Taipei: I Tried Them All!
What to eat in Taipei – Pork, Rice and more Pork!

Taichung
Things to do in Taichung, Taiwan
What to Eat in Taichung, Taiwan – Markets, Milk Tea and More!
Review: Fly Inn Hostel – Good, Cheap Rooms in Taichung

Kaohsiung
Review: Centre Hotel, Kaohsiung

Transport
How to Get From Taipei to Taichung
The Best Way to Get From Taichung to Kaohsiung
How to get from Taipei Airport to Taipei City Centre (incl. New Train!)

 

Things to do in Taichung

Things to do in Taichung, Taiwan

When I booked tickets to Taiwan, I had no idea about the country or how much time I’d need to explore it. In the end I just picked a figure of 3 weeks and started building an itinerary around that. I pulled out a map and looked for cities outside of Taipei and came up with Taichung, Khaosiung and Hualien. Taichung was the first city I visited after Taipei and was I surprised to find that there were lots of cool things to do.

I went to Taichung on a local train rather high speed rail (HSR) because last minute tickets on the HSR were expensive! The 4 hour journey is perfectly comfortable and not too slow for such a long trip — it’s that the HSR is so fast!Local train from Taipei to TaichungTaipei city is modern and sophisticated with everything  organised. In comparison, Taichung immediately feels more hectic, rustic and full of character. I spent 3 nights in Taichung and while there aren’t any headline tourist attractions like Taipei 101, it is an enjoyable city to wander around and take in the sights.Taichung City scene

1. Feng Chia Night Market

In almost every city in Taiwan, there are incredibly popular night markets and Taichung is no different. Feng Chia Night Market is a crowded and vibrant market due to its proximity to the nearby university. As with most Taiwanese night markets, an assortment of stalls, food carts and traditional shops combine to keep you occupied and your belly full. In addition to food, Feng Chia Night Market also has lots of clothes, shoes and trinkets.Feng Chia Night Market

2. Taichung Park

Taichung Park is just one of many public parks in Taichung. It’s a large clean park with a bunch of paths winding their way around a picturesque lake and at night, it really comes to life with a bunch of cool lighting features. It’s possible to rent a small boat and row yourself around the lake as many locals do, particularly on weekends, but it’s not something I tried.Taichung Park

3. Rainbow Village

Rainbow village is a small cluster of brightly coloured buildings famous for their murals and quirky residents selling various arty knick-knacks. Originally part of a military establishment, the buildings eventually fell into disrepair at which point large brightly colour murals were painted on their outside.Rainbow Village TaichungWhen I visited, some of the houses were being renovated so not all the alleys could be explored. The artist who painted the walls is still there and sits in the house selling souvenirs. Most people will come here, take a few photos and leave again within about half an hour. The best way to get her is by bus — directions available on google maps.

4. Maple Garden

I actually stumbled upon Maple Garden by chance when changing bus on the way to the Rainbow Village and I’m really glad I found it! The garden is modern with futuristic roofs and bridges that curl and wind their way down to a lake surrounded by green grass and plenty of trees. There’s a cafe/restaurant within the park and it’s a pleasant place to spend a bit of time during the day.Maple Garden Taichung

5. Chun Shui Tang

Like bubble tea / pearl tea? Well it turns out pearl milk tea is originally from Taichung. In 1983 Chun Shui Tang started this worldwide phenomenon by adding pearls to their milk tea. Since then, bubble milk tea began throughout Taiwan and of course around the world.Chun Shui Tang Taichung Chun Shui Tang already has about 40 branches all over Taiwan, but if you want to visit the first location, you can stop by Chun Shui Tang in Siwei Street, Taichung. They not only serve bubble tea, they also dish up a range of food from snack to main meals — the snacks I had were tasty! It’s possible you’ll have to line up to get a seat, but it’s worth a visit anyway.

6. City Hall

Actually, City Hall is not a tourist attraction. But for those who like architecture, this building is quite interesting because it was built in the Japanese colonial period in a Fench colonial style. Weird! Looks straight out of Europe!Taichung Town Hall

7. Second Market

For those who like wandering around markets in Asia, Second Market is quite an interesting one. This undercover market houses the typical range of fresh meat, fruit and vegetables but also some awesome hole in the wall eateries. Most are open in the morning and close late in the afternoon, so it’s best to head here for breakfast. Knowing which eatery to visit is easy — just visit one with lots of customers. I highly recommend Three Generations Yee Mien.Second Market Taichung

8. Liuchuan River

If you’ve been to Seoul may know the name Cheonggyecheon Stream, it’s a river that flows through the middle of town with banks which are paved so that people can sit around hanging out with friends. Some areas along the Liuchuan River in Taichung are also made that way and in the afternoon many people bring children to play around on the edge of the clean and neat river. In addition to a pleasant walking path, there are plenty of trees and flowers and loads of grass.Liuchuan River Taichung

9. Yi Zhong Street Night Market

I actually visited this night market because it was within walking distance of my hotel (Fly Inn Hostel – great value –> check it out on booking.com) in Taichung and I’m really glad I checked it out. The main area of the market is on Yi Zhong Street, but also extends into some nearby side streets where there was quite a few good food options such as hand cut noodles. The main negative point about the market is that it’s open to through traffic so you’re constantly having to dodge cars and bikes!Fantasy Story Taichung

10. Fantasy Story

I did some browsing first before visiting Fantasy Story, but couldn’t quite figure out what it was. So I walked there to find out for myself and still could quite get it! What is certain is that there are lots of cool looking buildings which are instagrammable and a Haritts Donuts which I really liked. But other than that… I’m not really sure. To be honest, I’d like people reading this to go there and get the low down so I can update this section!Fantasy Story TaichungNot bad hey? Taichung is definitely worth spinning around for a few days. It’s not going to be your Taiwan highlight, but if you’re in Taiwan for a week of more, add Taichung into your itinerary.

My other Taiwan posts:

Taipei
Best Cafes in Taipei: I Tried Them All!
What to eat in Taipei – Pork, Rice and more Pork!

Taichung
Things to do in Taichung, Taiwan
What to Eat in Taichung, Taiwan – Markets, Milk Tea and More!
Review: Fly Inn Hostel – Good, Cheap Rooms in Taichung

Kaohsiung
Review: Centre Hotel, Kaohsiung

Transport
How to Get From Taipei to Taichung
The Best Way to Get From Taichung to Kaohsiung
How to get from Taipei Airport to Taipei City Centre (incl. New Train!)

 

What to Eat in Taipei Taiwan

What to eat in Taipei – Pork, Rice and more Pork!

Every time I travel to a new place I try to have a balance between ‘eating what we know is delicious’ or ‘eating local food for sake of it being local food’. Make no mistake, it does not mean local food isn’t tasty. But hunting local food can be a challenge primarily because it’s a pain to get the good stuff, but also because some of the flavours are unusual and we just never know whether we’re going to like something or not.

Here is the result of my hunt for local food in Taipei City. It’s a mixture of food I found in the night markets and from local recommendations from research on the internet. Bottom line? Food in Taipei is incredible and far beyond what I had anticipated.Raohe Night Market Taipei

1. Stinky Tofu

Stinky tofu seems to be the culinary icon of Taiwan and in Taipei it’s easy to find. If you smell food, but the odour is nasty, you’ve found yourself a stinky tofu stand. It smells a bit fermented, but when you taste it, the fermented flavour doesn’t really come through. There’s also a sourness in the smell that you definitely get a hint of when you eat it.

The original variety is square shaped with a sprinkle of pickled vegetables and watered-down chilli sauce. I decided to try the funky hipster version, shaped into long sticks and coming with a choice of cheese sauce, tartar, honey mustard, wasabi, etc. It’s certainly worth a try!

Price: NT$ 60/cup at Raohe Night Marketstinky tofu taipei

2. Scallion Pancakes

I love scallions and it’s the scallion aspect of these delectable morsels that tempted me. If you’re not into scallions, it’s probably wise to stay away from these pancakes because it is chock full of them. The raw pancakes are shaped into large donuts and then lightly fried until golden brown.

The skin of the pancake becomes a little crispy and the inside remains doughy and bread-like. These scallion pancakes are a classic Taiwanese snack and are a must try when in Taipei.

Price: NT$40 at Raohe Night Marketscallion pancake taipei

3. Frying Milk

The Taiwanese call this stuff Frying Milk. We assume they mean Fried Milk, because that’s exactly when this snack is. So how do you make Fried Milk? It appears from the stock they use that it’s simply milk with perhaps a setting agent such as gelatine which allows the milk to be cut. 3 pieces of the milk are then skewered and fried.frying milk shihlin market taipeiSellers will usually grab a freshly fried milk stick and hand it to you while saying “careful hot”. And it bloody well is — I burnt my mouth immediately! The outside is crunchy, the inside gooey and the flavour predictably like milk. This isn’t a meal in itself, but it’s worth a try when passing through one of the markets.

Price: NT$20 at Shihlin Night Marketfrying milk taipei

4. Pearl Milk Tea

Your trip to Taiwan is not complete without drinking Pearl Milk Tea in the country that invented it. It is said that Pearl Milk Tea was first popularised by a particular store in Taichung in 1983 (which I visited and will write about shortly). Pearl Milk Tea is ubiquitous in Taiwan and you can’t walk more than a few hundred metres without seeing someone sell the delicious drink.

In my opinion, the pearls in Taiwan are smaller in size and more soft than in the West so you’re jaw isn’t going to be aching from all the chewing. There are so many flavour options of milk tea in Taipei, but I like the original Brown Sugar Pearl Milk Tea. Simple and delicious.

Price: NT$40-60 depending on flavour at Shihlin Night Market

5. Hot Star Fried Chicken

The first time I saw Hot Star Fried Chicken was at Shihlin Night Market and the queue was long. It is said that the original outlet is here and they just sell 1 type of food — large fried chicken. The shape and size of the boneless fillet is simply massive. The batter is actually quite thick — perhaps a little too thick. But it’s the flour which has all the flavour with a mix of herbs and spices which drive the whole flavour sensation.hot star chicken shihlin market taipeiBefore being given your hunk of fried chicken, you’ll be asked if you prefer spicy or not. Even if you choose the spicy option, it’s not too bad — just a little bit of a kick to turn the flavour up to the next notch. I also found Hot Star Fried Chicken again in the Ximending area, but in this outlet the food options were many. Not just large hunks of fried chicken, but also fried mushrooms, fried boneless chicken nuggets, fried scallops and squid balls, tempura, etc.

Large fried chicken: NT$70 at Shihlin Night Markethot star large chicken taipei

6. Xiao Long Bao (steamed soup dumplings)

Din Tai Fung is perhaps the most famous Xiao Long Bao restaurant in the world and it has spread to so many countries that its name is now synonymous with these silky smooth soup dumplings. The original Din Tai Fung location is on Xinyi Road, Taipei City and the lines are always long.

I decided to skip the lines and try the dumplings elsewhere as there are just so many different restaurants serving them. This place was just across the road from where I was staying and I have to say they were fantastic. Certainly not as refined as those from Din Tai Fung, but who wants refined when eating this sort of food anyway?

Price: NT$150/10 pieces at a local restaurantxiao long bao taipei

7. Lu Rou Fan (braised pork rice)

If you’ve ever eaten pork in soy sauce in Asia or at Asian restaurant and liked it, you’re going to be a fan of Lu Rou Fan. Similar in flavour to pork soy sauce dishes you’ve had before, Lu Rou Fan is served as a hunk of pork belly and it is out of this world! There are 2 options — the cheap which is small squares of pork and the expensive which is the thick pork belly, both covered in soy sauce. But prices are all relative and the expensive option is still cheap by international standards.Lu rou fan taipeiLu Rou Fan small portions are very cheap and quite filling, but I did spot a guy eating two portions of it — depends how hungry you are, I guess. I tried the Lu Rou Fan at Jing Fen Braised Pork Rice where the line is long, but the turnover very fast. I highly recommend it. There are braised pork rice joints all over Taipei, so don’t be afraid to try other places as well.

Price: NTD$30 for a small portion, NT$65 for rice with pork belly at Jing Fen Braised Pork Rice.Lu rou fan small taipei

8. Candied Fruits

This snack is actually really simple, but it looks quite tempting and that’s why I just had to try it. Similar to candy/toffee apples in Western countries, large pieces of fruit such as strawberries are skewered and then dipped into a sugar liquid. The liquid sugar hardens as it hits the cool air and creates a fantastic glossy coating on the fruit.candied fruits taipeiI thought strawberries were a fantastic fruit to coat in sugar and I actually prefer them much more than I do a standard candy/toffee apple.

In addition to strawberries, some vendors also coat cherry tomatoes, kiwi fruit, plums and sliced starfruit.

Price: NT$50 for 1 skewer with 3 strawberries and 1 tomato cherry.candied strawberries taipei

9. Fu Zhou Noodle

If you’ve ever been to Bandung in Indonesia, you’ll probably have tasted yamien which is similar to Fu Zhou noodle. In essence, Fu Zhou noodle is boiled yellow noodle stirred with sesame oil and then sprinkled with fresh chives. It’s a simple but incredibly tasty dish. Interestingly, the Taiwanese called their dry noodles ‘yi mian’. I suppose that’s where the term yamien comes from.

I ate the version topped with minced pork cooked in soy sauce and it was delicious.

Price: NT$40 for a small portion at Yi Ping Fu Zhou Noodle Housefu zhou noodle taipei

10. Taiwanese Breakfast

This really is referred to as Taiwanese breakfast and during my 2.5 weeks in Taiwan, I saw these shops everywhere. The food served is varied, but one common theme is soy milk!

What’s interesting is that besides soy milk which is consumed sweet, there is a so-called salty soy milk! You don’t just drink salty soy milk, you also eat it. How so? Well, plain soy milk is mixed with savoury ingredients such as green onions, fried onions, savoury donut slices and dried shrimps. The result is a salty porridge of sorts which is weird, but certainly worth a try.Taiwanese Breakfast TaipeiClenched in the hand of the soy milk seller there is a secret ingredient which functions as a thickening agent for the soy milk. The milk separates into a clear liquid and clumps of more solid soy milk (tofu!). It tastes good and the texture is like eating fried tofu without the skin on the outside.

Aside from soy milk, these eateries almost always sell youtiao (chinese savoury donuts). In addition you can sometimes find Chinese pancakes filled with omelet or pork chop. There are also varieties which are pork floss and pieces of youtiao wrapped in a layer of steamed rice which is then wrapped in an omelete. It’s freakin’ awesome.

Each place has its own flagship menu. Popular breakfast spots in Taipei include Fu Hang Soy Milk and Yong He Soy Milk King.

Price: up to NT$100 for breakfast for 2 people at Yong He Soy Milk.Breakfast Spot Taipei

11. Dessert

There are so many special stores selling desserts in a bowl containing anything ranging from taro balls, chewy sweets, tofu pudding, almond pudding, jelly, black jelly, red beans, etc.

In the bowl you can expect to have shaved ice added as well as sugar syrup or some other sweet ingredient such as mango puree.Dessert Bowl TaipeiI tried a version at Raohe Night Market and I wasn’t that impressed to be honest. The texture was so overly chewy and it wasn’t pleasant despite many locals seeming to enjoy themselves. The more modern style is that of Hong Tang which is available around the world. But if you can get it anywhere in the world, it’s not really special to have it in Taiwan. For me, these desserts are a work in progress!

Price: NT$50 at Raohe Night MarketMango Dessert Taipei

12. Matsusaka Pork

When you hear the word Matsusaka, your mind immediately drifts to the top beef in Japan such as Kobe and Hida. But apparently Matsusaka Pork doesn’t necessarily have to be from Japan. It is said that since the name Matsusaka ensures the meat is of high quality (having a certain ratio of meat and fat), many food businesses in Taiwan also use that name to ‘sell’ the product. Who knows whether it’s legal to do that. Probably not!matsusaka pork raohe night marketI tried the grilled pork lightly sprayed with lemon juice. The texture is to die for, soft when chewed but still crunchy. The flavours also are not over the top because they don’t use a lot of spice or lemon spray — just a sprinkle to freshen things up and cut through the fatiness.

Price: NT$100 for small portions, NT$150 large portion at Raohe Night Market.matsusaka pork taipei

13. Grilled Mochi

I found this grilled mochi while exploring foursquare in the Ximending area. Sounds interesting, mochi grilled then dressed with topping options which can be either sweet or salty. The sweet toppings are sweetened condensed milk, chocolate sauce, green tea sauce, cheese, nuts, black sesame. The salty choices are BBQ sauce, spicy Thai, Thai curry and Japanese soy sauce.grilled mochi taipeiThe mochi which is shaped into a block is stabbed with a skewer. It’s then grilled like satay, flipped back and forth until it’s charred on the outside. The queue is sometimes long, but in my opinion the sauce was rather disappointing and not worth lining up for.

I chose the chocolate sauce and it was so so thin meaning the mochi was just like eating a block of plain sticky rice with hardly any flavouring. I’d like to try this again and see if I just got a bad batch because in theory, it should be delicious! Give it a try and let me know in the comments if I was just unlucky.

Price: NT$35 in the night market in Ximending area.grilled mochi chocolate sauce TaipeiI tried every single one of these dishes myself, so you know this is not one of those random listicles that someone researched from their bedroom without actually visiting Taiwan!

For most of these foods, there are many locations you can try, but I just mentioned the places I visited and the prices I paid. Different locations may be different prices. There are some other local foods that are notoriously popular in Taipei but I did not have time to try them for various reasons such as: other priorities to try first, sounds disgusting or simply that the line is too long.If you’re curious and have the chance, I recommend you also try: Beef Noodle, Ah Chung Rice Flour Noodle in Ximending, Beef Cubes and various grilled seafood. For those who want to know good cafes in Taipei, please read my post on all the cafes I tried in Taipei!

PS. People have emailed me asking where I stayed in Taipei. I actually stayed in two totally different areas and I actually preferred Ximending. I stayed at Ximen Taipei DreamHouse and it was cheap, comfortable and most importantly conveniently located. I got a good deal on booking.com for about US$38 per night –> Check current prices here.

My other Taiwan posts:

Taipei
Best Cafes in Taipei: I Tried Them All!
What to eat in Taipei – Pork, Rice and more Pork!

Taichung
Things to do in Taichung, Taiwan
What to Eat in Taichung, Taiwan – Markets, Milk Tea and More!
Review: Fly Inn Hostel – Good, Cheap Rooms in Taichung

Kaohsiung
Review: Centre Hotel, Kaohsiung

Transport
How to Get From Taipei to Taichung
The Best Way to Get From Taichung to Kaohsiung
How to get from Taipei Airport to Taipei City Centre (incl. New Train!)

 

VCR Cafe Kuala Lumpur

Review: VCR Cafe — Is This The Best Cafe in Kuala Lumpur?

I’ve been visiting cafes in Kuala Lumpur for as long as I can remember and to be honest, they’ve largely been mediocre. Crass copies of things that were going on in Australia a decade earlier — they felt old and nasty.

But I really should have been coming to this place all along because it’s now my favourite cafe in Kuala Lumpur. I might even go so far as to say it’s the best cafe in Kuala Lumpur. It’s been around a few years now and I just never got around to trying it.VCR Best Cafe in Kuala LumpurLocated on a small road off Jalan Pudu, VCR is in an inconvenient and odd location. You have to go out of your way to visit it. And that’s why it wasn’t that busy when I visited. I mean, most tables were filled, but there was no waiting list or anything. And I’d kind of expect a waiting list at a place this good.

To get here, your best bet is to get off the monorail or train at Hang Tuah and then walking a couple of hundred metres or so.Coffee at VCR Cafe Kuala LumpurThe coffees I had here were excellent (RM11). Silky smooth milk, a strong coffee flavour, great temperature.

I also had a bowl of granola with yoghurt, milk and fruit which was awesome (RM19). A little small for my liking, but actually a really good size for a normal meal. I probably just usually overeat when at cafes.Breakfast Granola at VCR Kuala LumpurThe fitout is a good one with plenty of tables for singles and couples meaning you can easily set up a laptop here without feeling guilty. And the wifi is good!

I’m a big fan of VCR and I think most people will be too. Highly recommended if you’re into coffee and are in KL.

VCR
2 Jalan Galloway, Kuala Lumpur
+60 3 2110 2330
Opening Hours: 08:30 – 23:00
Coffee: RM11
Granola: RM19

Kaohsiung Central Hotel

Review: Centre Hotel, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

As we’ve moved further south from Taipei, hotels have seemingly become cheaper until the point of craziness. Centre Hotel in Kaohsiung is incredibly cheap for what you get.

For US$14 per night, you get a modern and clean room with big bed, writing table and chair, toiletries, tea making facilities, LCD TV with international channels and lots of space to store you luggage.Room at Centre HotelThe bathroom is basic, but clean and has hot water, but no shower curtain. The floor does get wet when you shower.Bathroom at Centre Hotel KaohsiungThe price of this place is incredible. It’s cheaper than backpacker budget, but the facilities are definitely in the flashpacker range. That is, you get a proper hotel room for next to nothing. It’s one of the best value hotels we’ve ever stayed in.

Oh and did I mention that breakfast is included in the price? It’s a basic breakfast and you might want to skip it, but it is free!Facilities Centre Hotel KaohsiungThe hotel is located in the very centre of town at the big round about. The MRT is a 30 second walk away.

There is no reason to stay anywhere else in Kaohsiung unless you have a budget up around the $60 per night mark. And even then, you’d be wondering where the extra money goes.Big bed at Centre Hotel KaohsiungOf course, this hotel is not for everyone. It’s still a budget hotel and not everything is perfect. But it’s good enough for most people and I recommend staying here.View from Room Centre Hotel KaohsiungMake sure you check the price on Agoda first to ensure you get a good deal. I found Booking.com to be slightly more expensive.

Centre Hotel
No. 6, Zhongzheng Bridge, Xinxing District, Kaohsiung City
+886 7 285 2520
www.centrehoteltw.com

Double Room: US$14 (Check current price on Booking.com)

My other Taiwan posts:

Taipei
Best Cafes in Taipei: I Tried Them All!
What to eat in Taipei – Pork, Rice and more Pork!

Taichung
Things to do in Taichung, Taiwan
What to Eat in Taichung, Taiwan – Markets, Milk Tea and More!
Review: Fly Inn Hostel – Good, Cheap Rooms in Taichung

Kaohsiung
Review: Centre Hotel, Kaohsiung

Transport
How to Get From Taipei to Taichung
The Best Way to Get From Taichung to Kaohsiung
How to get from Taipei Airport to Taipei City Centre (incl. New Train!)

Richmond Hotel Nagoya Shinkansenguchi

Richmond Hotel Shinkansen-guchi, Nagoya, Japan – Near the Train Station, Very Comfortable

The first hotel I ever stayed in in Japan is the Richmond Hotel Shinkansen and it was an awesome way to start the trip.

I stayed in this hotel as part of my trip with Japan Tourism and Cathay Pacific to Nagoya, Takayama, Shirakawa-Go and Kanazawa and because it was my first hotel in Japan, I was curious about the general standard of hotels.Room at Richmond Hotel NagoyaFirstly, the checkin procedure took less than 5 minutes and we were on our way to our room. As is with the case with many Japanese hotels, rooms here are quite small.Goodie bag richmond hotelBut small doesn’t mean crappy. The bed was layered with quilts and soft coverings, the TV was a massive thing of more than 43″, it came with phone charging adapters, pyjamas and the coolest little bathroom!

The bathroom has a deep bath, shower that has good pressure and is hot, electronic toilet with a bunch of settings and even a mirror that doesn’t steam up after you’ve had a shower. Incredible!Bathroom at Richmond Hotel NagoyaThe breakfast downstairs is often included in your room price and offers a wide range of Japanese food as well as a few Western style dishes such as cereal and bread. It was definitely filling and we were happy with it.Breakfast at Richmond Hotel NagoyaLocation of this place is really good if you need to catch a train because it is literally 5 minutes from the Nagoya train station, 2 minutes from the nearest convenience store, but about 2km from the main central district of Nagoya. And that’s something you’re going to have to think about when staying in Nagoya. Do you want to be close to the train station so you don’t have to carry your luggage far, or do you want to be close to the very centre of town so you don’t have to walk far to see the sights.Richmond Hotel Shinkansen guchiFor our first hotel in Japan, Richmond Hotel Shinkansen was a winner! And judging by many of the other reviews we’ve since read, most people agree.

Richmond Hotel Nagoya Shinkansen-guchi
2 Chome Kamejima, Nagoya
en.richmondhotel.jp
Double Room: US$100 (Check current price on booking.com)

Best Western Takayama Japan

Review: Best Western, Takayama, Japan – Near the Train Station and Centre of Town

Located about 100m from the Takayama Train Station, the Best Western Takayama is one of the best located hotels in Takayama mainly because of how close it is to the train station.

Checkin at Best Western was super fast and we were in our room with minutes. We immediately cranked up the thermostat to 25°C and despite it being -5°C outside, the room was sooooooo warm. If you’re in Takayama in winter, you will appreciate this!Room Best Western TakayamaThe rooms here are quite spacious, the bedding soft and the included pyjamas very comfortable. The TV is a big one and the wifi is fast.Room at Best Western TakayamaThe bathroom featured lots of good amenities and the shower was super hot and super strong. Cleanliness of the whole place was excellent.Bathroom Best Western TakayamaWe ate at the in-house restaurant twice. Once for incredible Hida beef at dinner and once for breakfast. Both were really impressive.Local food at Best Western TakayamaIn fact, the breakfast was excellent with a wide range of dishes including salmon, pastries, bacon and crispy fried chicken.Breakfast buffet Best Western TakayamaThe hotel itself is located just around the corner from the train station so you don’t need to a taxi to get there — you simply walk perhaps 150m. The old town is 750m away which is easy walking distance.

We really loved Best Western Takayama and highly recommend it if you need a good hotel in Takayama.

Best Western Takayama
6-6 Hanasato-Machi, Takayama
www.bestwestern.co.jp/english/takayama/reservation/
Room with Breakfast: US$124 (check current price on booking.com)

Best way to get from Taichung to Kaohsiung

The Best Way to Get From Taichung to Kaohsiung

Endless rice paddies, small villages and an imposing mountain range all flash by as you speed between the two western Taiwanese cities of Taichung and Kaohsiung. There’s no better way to get between the two cities than by train.

There are basically 2 types of trains from Taichung to Kaohsiung. A fast one and a slow one. The slow one is cheaper than the fast one. The fast train takes about 1 hour for the 200km journey and the slow train takes over 3 hours.Inside Taiwan High Speed Rail Train Carriage

But when you consider how cheap the fast one is, it sort of seems mad to choose the slow one! I got my ticket on the high speed rail for NT$630 (US$20) and that was a discount from the full price because I bought it a few days in advance and I recommend you do that if you want to get a good price.

Taiwan fast train

Tickets for the high speed rail can be bought at the Taichung main train station or even Taipei main station if you want to buy even earlier. It’s also possible to buy tickets on the day of departure, but you aren’t guaranteed to be seated next your travel partner and you’re going to pay more.

High Speed Rail trains depart from the outskirts of Taichung at a dedicated High Speed Rail station. You’ll need to catch a local train from Taichung main station to Xinwuri which takes less than 10 minutes. Xinwuri is connected directly to Taichung HSR station by a walkway. Check the High Speed Rail timetable here and enter Taichung and Zuoying as the start and end points.phone showing speed of taiwain high speed rail between Taichung and Kaohsiung

Trains going to Kaohsiung terminate at Zuoying which again is on the outskirts of Kaohsiung. From here, you have to catch the subway to where you want to go. I caught the subway to Formosa Boulevard because my hotel was right next to it — and it was incredibly cheap (around US$17) and excellent! Check it out on Booking.com here.

So there you have it. The best way to get from Taichung to Kaohsiung is by High Speed Rail! I hope you find this useful… hit me up in the comments if you have questions.

PS Slow trains depart from Taichung Main Station and arrive at Kaohsiung Main Station and cost between $2 and $5 less than the high speed train. Check here for details.

My other Taiwan posts:

Taipei
Best Cafes in Taipei: I Tried Them All!
What to eat in Taipei – Pork, Rice and more Pork!

Taichung
Things to do in Taichung, Taiwan
What to Eat in Taichung, Taiwan – Markets, Milk Tea and More!
Review: Fly Inn Hostel – Good, Cheap Rooms in Taichung

Kaohsiung
Review: Centre Hotel, Kaohsiung

Transport
How to Get From Taipei to Taichung
The Best Way to Get From Taichung to Kaohsiung
How to get from Taipei Airport to Taipei City Centre (incl. New Train!)

Taichung Fly Inn Hostel Double Deluxe Room

Review: Fly Inn Hostel – Good, Cheap Rooms in Taichung

After a disappointing experience with an AirBnB in Taipei, I thought I’d switch things up a bit and choose a regular hotel for my trip to Taichung. And I am so glad I did because Fly Inn Hostel was great value for money.

Because I usually like to stay in private rooms rather than dorms, it’s always going to cost me more than a traditional backpacker for accommodation. But Taiwan isn’t as cheap as many parts of Asia, so I was so happy to find this room for under US$30 per night!Facilities Fly Inn Hostel TaichungLocated a 10 minute walk from the main Taichung train station, this hotel is in a great location. It’s also close to Taichung Park and Yizhong Street Night Market. There was no sign out the front and it didn’t really look like a hotel, but I asked a passing local and they pointed me in the right direction.Bathroom Fly Inn HostelAs of March 2017, it felt new! Fittings were clean and not broken, paint was quite fresh and the bathroom sparkling.Facilities included a private hot water bathroom, air-conditioner, wardrobe, table and chair, relatively fast wifi, a couple of cups, a hairdryer, small toiletries set and a TV with international channels. Everything you need really.Toiletries Fly Inn Hostel TaichungThe room is small, but it sort of doesn’t matter because it’s comfortable.

The only negative was that when I was there it was really cold outside and the room doesn’t have heating. It wasn’t the end of the world, but it wasn’t ideal either.Fly Inn Hostel Taichung recommended budget accommodationAll in all, I thought this hotel was fantastic for the price. I paid about US$30, but you can check the price on booking.com here.

Fly Inn Hostel
10 Lianwu Road, East District, Taichung, Taiwan
+886 985 603 099
Deluxe Double: US$29.50

My other Taiwan posts:

Taipei
Best Cafes in Taipei: I Tried Them All!
What to eat in Taipei – Pork, Rice and more Pork!

Taichung
Things to do in Taichung, Taiwan
What to Eat in Taichung, Taiwan – Markets, Milk Tea and More!
Review: Fly Inn Hostel – Good, Cheap Rooms in Taichung

Kaohsiung
Review: Centre Hotel, Kaohsiung

Transport
How to Get From Taipei to Taichung
The Best Way to Get From Taichung to Kaohsiung
How to get from Taipei Airport to Taipei City Centre (incl. New Train!)

Kanazawa Train Station

Review: Dormy Inn, Kanazawa, Japan – Near the Train Station, Comfortable Rooms

We stayed at Dormy Inn when we visited Kanazawa and it was quite good, but there were a few things that could have been better.

Dormy Inn is a bigger hotel than any we’ve stayed in in Japan so far, so the checkin process was a little more crowded. But amazingly, they still checked us in within 5 minutes of us arriving. The Japanese are so efficient and you needn’t worry about checkin efficiency here.Room at Dormy Inn KanazawaThe rooms at Dormy Kanazawa are quite small, but come with large LCD TV (no international channels), fast wifi, smallish double beds, air conditioning and older style bathrooms. Even though the rooms were a little bit older than we’ve previously experienced, they were very clean and comfortable.Bathroom at Dormy Inn KanazawaThere’s a free onsen onsite, but we didn’t try it but friends of ours did. They were suitably impressed!

Breakfast in the morning had a great selection of Japanese food, so if you love Japanese food, you will love this breakfast buffet. But if you prefer Western breakfast, you will be slightly disappointed with this buffet as there are hardly any options — and the options that do exist (like croissants) are quite poor.Breakfast buffet at Dormy Inn KanazawaThe breakfast issue aside, Dormy Inn Kanazawa is a decent option if you’re visiting Kanazawa as it’s incredibly close to both the train and bus stations so that you can just walk around the corner to check in. Kenroku-en is a 3km walk away. Awesome.Dormy Inn KanazawaThe latest prices for the hotel can be found here on booking.com

Dormy Inn
2-25 Horikawa ShinmachiKanazawa
dormy-inn-kanazawa.hotel-rn.com
Double Room: Rp1.150.000