We carried a note in the local language with our requirements: “No meat, fish, shrimp or fish sauce, etc. Egg OK, Milk OK. Chinese spices OK. Same oil if used for cooking meat OK.” – this was our gateway to trying Taiwanese cuisine! To read our post about things to do in Taipei, click HERE. We stayed in the city centre, but explored different Taipei vegetarian eateries around the whole town. We also googled different coffee shops before going, but it wasn’t a problem finding one!
Taking forever to get ready, we left at 9 AM and picked up a deep-fried pastry from a street vendor we saw before. It was the bomb! It wasn’t too greasy, had a spring onion filling, and it was cheap. As soon as we took a bite, we turned back around for one more. They tasted exactly like eastern-European CEBUREKAI (link). We felt like home haha. At one point we were like “We could actually live here…” – it was that nice, cosy and relaxed. There are also a number of places that do hot milk tea, and we even found one that served almond milk tea – it was delicious. I tried tofu at the Night Market (not sure if it was stinky tofu) which was delicious, with spicy sauce, and only for NT$ 45! So coming back to CEBUREKAI… They are one of the greasy things that we crave. The Lithuanian version is deep fried and the first ones we tried were exactly like that! But different vendors used different amounts of oil, so some of the other ones were very thin, with little filling, but also almost dry-fried and just as tasty. In no way they were healthy, but they tasted so damn good.
We went to our sandwich place for avocado-veg baguette. It felt like we went there for the gazillionth time in those couple of days, and the manager even gave us complementary deep fried pastries as a good-bye gift! Which tasted exactly like another eastern European delicatessen – ZAGARELIAI! (link) We don’t know what kindled the home (food)-sickness – but I can only guess that both the Chinese/Taiwanese and Eastern European cuisines have had influence from Russian/Asian mainland.
National Taipei University.
We found a little hut with loads of people queuing up, so we joined in. That’s what you do right? OMG the huge cup of milk tea was seriously tasty, not too sweet, and we struggled to finish the whole cup between the two of us. We got it with a big tasty soft waffle with whipped cream. It wasn’t at all greasy or overly sweet – it was just right. And it cost like pennies. Then we bought ‘butter-beer’ from the students and it was just… greasy beer. You have to try to find out though, right?
We had instant noodles far too many times, but they had a proper vegetarian option – kimchi flavour. They were good. And you can actually eat inside some 7-11’s, and drink beer too. Although the cheap local beers weren’t nice at all, just watered-down pop.
Our trip to the vegetarian restaurant called Miss Green was a mistake – we travelled a long way, paid loads (NT$ 330 for a burger, NT$ 250 for pasta) and the dishes were plain bland. We felt good just because at that moment we appreciated our own cooking skills. Interestingly, it was featured in a tourist publication we picked up at the airport.
The coffee scene in Taipei is bustling. There are many nice places to sit down and have a drink. Most of them are independently run, with single-origin beans available, and have a certain theme for their shop, be it vintage or modern. There are also Starbucks and other chain stores. Quite close to our hostel there was a cosy vintage coffee shop (pictured above) with owners roasting coffee beans right at the entrance. We went there like twice and had a chat with a Chinese-American lady about Taipei and stuff, and it felt like being on a Central Perk set for filming an episode of Friends. THAT cosy.
The name is actually misleading, as it was just perfect. Modern interior, large space, bright non-dominant colours and hanging lamps made every corner of the place cosy. They served different origin roasts, including typical lattes and cappuccinos. The menu was quite extensive, but our eyes were caught by a potato-cheese bake – for only 100 NTD. Oven-baked goodness of real potatoes and real cheese. We ordered another one of those, or two I can’t remember. It was de-li-cious.
It opens early, and has free wi-fi. We had a funny sandwich which was stuffed with salad, tomatoes, peanut butter, mustard, pineapple, apple, and cheese. L. O. L. It was edible and affordable, although not very tasty. It was warm and cosy just to sit there, and an hour later the place was full! There were people reading newspapers, playing computer games, checking their phones, etc – it was busy.
In general, most of the vendors and shops sell world-famous beef noodles and pork pies on just around every corner. However, we were very pleased to find vegetarian soup (most have some chicken base or ingredients). Also, with so many street vendors, and most of them not speaking English, you may miss out on some tasty stuff, and if you’re adventurous, you may just buy loads of meaty buns or something without knowing. But you definitely can’t go wrong with coffee shops – there are so many of them, and they’re all nice!