This is the sixth of eleven posts on Taiwan. Check out our other posts here:
- Time for Taiwan: An Introduction
- 5 Nights at the Haunted Grand Hyatt Taipei
- Sweating to Taipei’s National Sites
- Taking it to the Streets: Taipei’s Night Markets
- Hiking Elephant Mountain
- Taipei’s Cheap Eats: Savory Edition
- Taipei’s Cheap Eats: Sweets Edition
- Heading to Green Island
- Green Island’s Sites
- Hiking Taroko Gorge, Part 1
- Hiking Taroko Gorge, Part 2
Taipei is known as a mecca for cheap, delicious food. While I touched on some of the Night Market eats on Thursday, in today’s post I’ll talk about some of the better brick-and-mortar restaurants we visited.
These restaurants were more expensive than night market stalls, but they were still insanely cheap: $195 TWD (~$6.50 USD) for the cheapest meal, and $506 TWD (~$16.60) for the most expensive.
Keep in mind this was for two people and you get a sense of just how cheap good dining can be in Taiwan. Now on to the eats!
Beef Noodle Soup
A well known Taiwanese dish – braised beef is served with noodles in a slowly cooked broth with thinly sliced green onions. On the surface it sounds very similar to Japanese ramen, but Beef Noodles are a horse of a different color.
We tried this at two different restaurants: Yong Kang Beef noodle, and Tao Yuan Street Beef Noodle.
Yong Kang Beef Noodle
About a 5 minute walk from the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall, Yong Kang Beef is a simple little sit down joint that offers a variety of different soups.
We sat down at a table and a server came by with a menu, at which point we selected the standard beef noodle soup for $240 TWD (~$8 USD) per person. The menu was in Chinese and English, since the restaurant has no doubt received a bump in English-speaking tourists thanks to a visit by Anthony Bourdain.
The soup came a few minutes later.
Salty, spicy, and deeply savory, this was the first Beef Noodle soup we tried, and it only whetted my appetite for more. So good.
Tao Yuan Street Beef Noodle
Located close to the Ximen Subway station at No. 15 Taoyuan Street, Zhongzheng, the Tao Yuan Street Beef Noodle had even less frills. The restaurant is a sparsely decorated building with people making noodles out front – I don’t even recall getting a menu, we just pointed!
That being said, the beef noodle soup was cheaper at roughly $180 TWD (~$6 USD) and was just as delicious as Yong Kang, if not more so.
Each table came with an optional topping, which I assume was some kind of pickled cabbage. They also had free water, served out of a water cooler which we drank once we noticed everyone else was getting some.
Pork Rice at Jin Feng Lu Rou Fan
Located at No 10. Roosevelt Road, Section 1, Zhongzheng District, right next to the Chiang Kai-Shek memorial hall station, Jin Feng Lu Rou Fan was by far the most hole-in-the-wall restaurant we ate at during our entire stay in Taipei.
We ordered pork rice, greens, and hard-boiled eggs in soy sauce.
The meat was fatty and delicious, with a savory aromatic sauce that the rice greedily absorbed. Without hesitation we downed the whole thing and had to flag down a server to order the pork belly fried rice.
Cooked in a very similar sauce, it was even fattier and oh-so-delicious. After ODing on pork belly in Okinawa, I didn’t think I’d be game for another round, but it went down surprisingly fast.
Even more surprising, however, was the fact that the entire meal was $6 USD for Mrs. Selfish and I. So. Awesome.
Flour Noodles at Ay-Chung
Located near Xiamen Station (No. 8之1號, Emei Street, Wanhua District), Ay-Chung serves up cheap, delicious, savory vermicelli noodles with oysters in a thick brown sauce. Lines can be long for this small take away counter, but service is fast – they only serve oyster vermicelli. Gotta love it!
You have a choice of one of two sizes, small for $50 TWD (~$1.75 USD), or large for $65 TWD (~$2.10 USD).
After ordering they garnish the top of this savory snack with fresh parsley at which point you can add additional toppings like garlic, vinegar, or chili oil. Tasty, cheap, and utterly unique – my favorite kind of food.
Eating Everything at Slack Season
The only proper restaurant we ate at our whole time in Taipei, Slack Season is located near the Zhongxiao Dunhua Station (No. 12, Alley 8, Lane 216, Section 4, Zhongxiao East Road, Daan District).
Slack Season was started by a fisherman who started selling noodles during a slow season. The restaurant became so successful that he quit the fishing business altogether to pursue cooking full time. And man I can see why!
Slack Season serves up fresh, delicious food, quickly and at a very reasonable price. They also happen to make their noodles in house, a plus for any eatery.
Here’s what we ordered:
Tan Tsi Noodles
Slack Season’s signature dish. Fresh shrimp soup served on top of bean sprouts and minced pork with their home made noodles, topped with fresh cilantro. I love pretty much any combination of surf & turf that includes pork, but the broth was especially light and tasty on this one.
Traditional Braised Pork Rice
Delicious meat-filled fun on rice. Not nearly as cheap as Jin Feng Lu Rou Fan, but still a creamy, salty, savory delight.
I like oysters as much as the next man, but there is something magical about having them deep fried and slightly crispy. These were demolished immediately.
Grilled Pepper Pork
Pepper is one of my favorite spices and pork is my favorite protein, so I’m a bit biased when it comes to a dish like grilled pepper pork. That being said, the charred pepper-coated skin had a very unique flavor that makes it a must try in my book.
This was our most expensive meal in Taipei, and came out to a whopping $506 TWD (~$16.60) for two people, or the cost of a sandwich in San Francisco.
Join us tomorrow for part 2 of our cheap eats in Taipei, when we’ll move on to dessert!