My Taiwanese Snacking Adventure

My already tattered mind is suffering from exhaustion after trying to decipher whether this past week's news headlines are reality or if I am indeed living within an exceptionally horrific Black Mirror episode. With that being said, I'm using this post to take a braincation to a less confusing and joyous time to be alive - my recent trip to the lovely city of Taipei, where the boba flows freely and the tofu is stinky AF. Taipei is a fatfuck's paradise and there is nothing more soothing for the soul than wading in a sea of dumplings with your mother.

Once I was reluctantly released from customs, my travel companions (mom and BF) and I got a ride to our hotel from a man who ate a pork bun the entire time he was driving. How and where my mom found this guy is beyond me, So pork bun guy dropped us off at Hotel Papa Whale (LOLOL) in the Ximending neighborhood of Taipei, which is a fairly poppin' neighborhood if you ask me. It was within walking distance of lots of restaurants, shops and even had a TGI Fridays. Tres chic. '

My very first stop in Taipei was Ay-Chung Flour-Rice Noodle, where I copped a bowl of their famous mee sua soup. It was just a counter slanging nothing but this soup and apparently there are usually long lines there, which is the number one indicator that something delish is happening somewhere.

I wasn't really sure what it was at the time, but I swallowed the entire bowl in under a minute. After Googling this place, I am now realizing I ate chicken intestine noodle soup. Good times. 

I ate this bowl of soup while walking cause we were headed to Taipei 101 to see about some dumplins. 

We have Din Tai Fung in LA and I kind of go a lot, but Taiwan is where it all started. I want to say the one in Taiwan was better, but it's hard to say since the consistency at DTF is always pretty on point. 

The one thing that I'd never had before were the PORK AND BLACK TRUFFLE XIAO LONG BAO. Black truffle and soup dumplings joining in holy matrimony is one of the greatest unions in history. I was very glad to house that happy couple in my mouth. 

Their potstickers are basically a sheet of crispy noodle impregnated with a ball of pork. They are kind of awkward to pull apart and share, so I recommend ordering your own portion and telling everyone else to fuck off. 

HOT FLUFFY PORK BUNS THE SIZE OF SOFTBALLS aka the official driving snack of all Taiwanese cab drivers. 

These adorableass shrimp sacks,,,

Taiwan is all about dem NIGHT MARKETS and we hit up the most luscious one of them all, Shilin Night Market.

When I asked my favorite Taiwanesey, Steph where to go in her motherland, she responded with "EAT A FRIED CHICKEN SHEET THE SIZE OF YOUR FACE!!!" And that I did. 

At the Hot-Star fried chicken stand, you get manhandled by this boss lady that makes the Soup Nazi look like a bitch. She was pretty scary, but knew how to batter, deep fry and season the shit out of a piece of chicken. 

This doesn't quite capture how monstrous and sexy this fried chicken sheet was, but it was the highlight of the Shilin Market trip. OMFG I JUST GOOGLED IT AND THERE'S ONE IN ROWLAND HEIGHTS! YES YES YES YES YES YES!!!

Now that is a fuckin sausage. If for some reason I were to ever lose an arm or a leg, I would just import one of these sausages from Taiwan to use as a prosthetic limb. 

The downstairs food court of the Shilin Market is full of stalls all selling pretty much the same standard Taiwanese dishes and we kinda just plopped down at one and started ordering. 

The infamous oyster omelets were actually kinda weird. There was a lot more cornstarch going on than oyster and egg, which I cannot say I loved. 

If you thought that last thing was strange, check out this fried shrimp topped with mayonnaise, pineapple and RAINBOW SPRINKLES. I asked my cousins why the hell they would order this, but then I ate it and it was actually pretty good. I suspect that this is Sandra Lee's interpretation of honey walnut shrimp. 

This tiny mountain of soft shell crabs was wonderful, as all soft shell crab mountains are. 

I once did a speech in my college Speech class on the topic of boba, where I declared, "The word 'boba' derives from the Chinese phrase, 'boba nai cha'. In English, that translates to 'breast milk'." After beginning and ending my speech with that statement, the entire class stood up and cheered. Needless to say, I got an A on that speech and that averaged out my final grade in that class to a C-. Not only was it the pinnacle of my academic success, but it was the day that I vowed to one day have real Taiwanese boba. Twelve years later, I found myself standing in this market at the Kung Fu Tea  stand and I said, "NOW IS THE TIME TO GRAB DESTINY BY THE SCROTES!"

DREAMS COME TRUE, GUYS. The boba balls melted on my tongue and the milk tea was perfect. Breast milk, indeed.

The next morning, we explored the street food scene in the Ximending area. My boyfriend and I had a full breakfast between the two of us for FOUR BUCKS and it was not McDonalds?!

We found this woman selling these beautiful little potstickers and we copped 9 of them for a dollar. These were the most perfect dumplings I've ever sank my teef into - so light, crispy and juicy. We covered them in chili oil and ate them while squatting in front of an H&M. 

A few feet away, this saint of a man was making fresh scallion pancakes. He pressed the dough with this contraption and grilled them to delicate crispy perfection. We got some with ham, cheese and eggs melted and sandwiched into them, which was probably the best breakfast sandwich I've ever had.

This snacklet will haunt me forever. 

Pretty much right after we finished this life-altering breakfast, we went to Mala Hot Pot. This place is a chain restaurant that serves ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT HOT POT! There is a two hour time limit and we hit the ground running. 

We ordered towers of MEATS ON MEATS ON MEATS. 

And some shrimps, squid, crab and vegetables so that other people wouldn't think we're complete savages that only eat beef. 

The spicy broth made me lose all sensation in my mouth and it hurt so good. 

Allow me to blow your mind real quick...this place has ALL-YOU-CAN-DRINK BEER! I pretty much stood at this beer dispenser for two hours downing cups of beer while I had my mother fling beef across the restaurant into my mouth with chopsticks. Teamwork makes the dream work. 

As if this deal couldn't get any better, there were three full refrigerators filled with self-serve Haagen Dazs ice cream. 



We had to try beef noodle soup at least once since it is the national dish of Taiwan. Or at least I think I heard Eddie Huang say something along the lines of that once. 

I'm not sure what this place is called, but it was in Ximending and it was a hole in the wall filled with locals. 

The noodle master dipping his noods. 

They sat us down at a table with another family and we all smiled at each other nervously. That is them in the photo along with all the beef noodle soup accoutrements that I wasn't sure what to do with. 

I ordered the beef noodle soup with the thick noodles and thicky-thick they were. The flavor in that broth was outta control. Like that broth has been through some things and you can taste it. The beef was so tender and pretty much just fell apart on it's own. Who needs teeth with beef like this? No one. 

My online research and countless recommendations led us to Addiction Aquatic Development, which despite it's name is not a drug rehabilitation facility for crustaceans. It is actually a seafood wonderland that I can best describe as a hybrid between Disneyland and the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo. 

Once you're allowed to enter, you walk through this aquarium full of live sealife. I watched Finding Dory on the plane and this was totally the place Dory was from. 

The other part of the development has a sushi bar, a market where you can grab to-go sushi and hot food and a restaurant where you pick out fresh seafood and it's grilled for you. This shit right here is a hunk of toro that made me sob like a child upon first sight.


If I didn't know how delicious the meat inside the legs of this monster is, this would terrify me.

We tried to wait for the sushi bar, but we decided against it when we saw how fresh the to-go sushi was. The sushi chefs were preparing these salmon chirashi bowls and I was seduced into grabbing one of them along with a box of toro and grilled eel. We ate this as a snack while we waited to be seated for the restaurant, which took around two hours. 

We were shown cases of meats and fresh sea life after being seated and selected all the meats we wanted grilled. 

They brought each item out one by one and placed them on these hot stones to keep them warm. Everything was so fresh and all we really needed was salt to sprankle on everything. The whole meal took forever so we almost missed our flight back, but IT WAS WORTH IT.

I cannot recommend Taipei more as a travel destination. The city was beautiful, the people were incredibly welcoming and nice and obviously, the food is on another level. I swear I did some sightseeing and didn't just stuff my face the whole time...OR DID I!?!? 


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