Started in early 2015 by a pair of food-obsessed friends rediscovering the culinary masterpieces of their homeland, Taipei Eats’ goal is to offer curated English-language walking food tours that give visitors a “taste” of why Taipei has been called a foodie’s paradise by outlets such as CNN and Conde Nast Traveller. Our tours are geared towards authenticity, leading visitors to spots that local frequent. Through tasting recipes and hearing stories that have been passed down over generations, visitors will enjoy the Taipei that we love, and have come to call home.
I worked in finance before moving back and decided to take a breather and spend time with family – and then starting Taipei Eats. It’s been quite a change – obviously, my job is a lot more fun now.
The mango here is amazing – all the fruit in general, actually. Random fact: The island mango we’re known here is originally imported from Florida. It looks exactly the same as the Floridian variety, but the Taiwanese version is way sweeter and more fragrant. It’s the best version of mango out there.
Some of my favorite memories actually come from the vendors and locals we meet during the course of the tour – they have so much personality. Take the gua-bao vendor we go to: Her sister also owns a gua-bao stall in the south of the city that gets a lot of mentions in guidebooks, etc. But she says her sister’s place got spoiled by the attention, and doesn’t make anything from scratch anymore. All the loyal customers who really know how to eat now go to her. It sounds so cutting – but she says everything with a smile; in fact, she smiles all the time – so I’m not sure how she really feels about it. She also smiles all the time.
Also, the stinky tofu shop we take people to serves a raw tofu that resembles a soft cheese: and there are actually local wine clubs in the city that come to have meetings at the stinky tofu shop – pairing wine with the raw stinky tofu!
I grew up in Hong Kong, but I’m Taiwanese. A few years ago I was doing a lot of travelling and going on food tours was my favorite way to explore new cities. I started spending more time in Taipei to be with my family, and after living here for a while I realised there wasn’t a single good food tour here – a shame when there’s so much amazing things to eat. I live near Yongchun market (the starting point of the Xinyi Tour) so essentially, leading Xinyi tour is like leading people around my ‘hood!
I have a severe obsession with shaved ice. I even go to random, middle-of-no-where places on the outskirts of Taipei just to try a place I’ve heard about it. This summer I’ve been eating them two times a day; its kind of disgusting. I document it all on our Instagram <a href=”https://www.instagram.com/taipeieats/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>@taipeieats</a> – so you can see the proof for yourself.
The stinky tofu shop we go to is pretty unique – it sells stinky tofu at a variety of levels. It begins at 10 and goes on to 12, 15, etc. We try a raw stinky tofu as part of the tour, but recently there was a group of friends from Hong Kong, and they didn’t think the raw tofu wasn’t that stinky, so they asked if there was anything stronger. The shop owner goes upstairs and fetches a jar; when she opened it, it stank up the entire shop. It looked like concrete mud. She warned us not touch the jar with our bare hands, or we’d never get the smell out. So of course by this time the guy had already put his entire hands on the jar (Fun, but gross fact: the paste began to move in reaction to the body heat, because its alive). His hands smelled disgusting for the rest of the tour, and – as he told me later – even hours after.
I came back to Taipei in 2013, after the birth of my daughter, my paternal grandparents’ first great grandchild. Our original plan was to just stay for few months but seeing the joy on my grandparents’ faces, we decided to stay. After living abroad for so many years, it is good to come home.
Several of my favorite foods all have one thing in common: they all have peanut powder and cilantro. It’s a very distinctive Taiwanese combination. You can find it in the Taiwanese burger (Gua Bao), rice cake with congealed pig’s blood, and even in an ice cream dessert!
I love exploring the wet markets. It’s always interesting to see what produce is in season, and then try to figure out what I can do with it. There are also stalls in the wet markets that sell snacks and drinks. Wet markets can give you a quick glimpse of what the locals eat at home daily.
I was born in Taichung. When I was 2, my family moved to El Salvador so I grew up in a Latin environment. I have been traveling since really young and have returned to Taiwan every now and then to visit my grandparents. I would be so excited because I loved Taiwan so much. Two years ago, I moved back to Taiwan for university and not surprisingly I fell in love with the city once again because of our people and food.
It is so hard to choose as Taiwanese food is so varied. Amongst my favorites I absolutely love the beef noodle and the Taiwanese Pork Burger also known as the gua bao!
I love to just be a city wanderer. It works because the quality of food in Taiwan is so good that you can just wander into any restaurant or street stand and the food would most probably be really good. In addition, people are really nice so there is no need to worry about getting lost or anything as if you do, I’m sure someone would give you a helping hand!