As part of my summer holiday, I’ve decided to take a few weeks abroad. The first country I visited, Taiwan, I spent a week in. Most of my extended family lives in Taiwan, and so I’ve been visiting Taipei (the country’s capital) on and off for a solid 2 decades. Also, since I’ve been visiting since I was a infant, I know a lot of local places and don’t usually go visit tourist-y areas because what’s the point, you know?
I stayed in New Taipei, in one of my grandfather’s buildings (he’s a real estate developer and mainly builds apartments/condos). Right down the block was a night market and right below us was a 7-11. For those of you that don’t know what that is, 7-11 is basically like a drug store/ gas station store that is amazing anywhere but in America. I’ve been to the Japanese equivalent and the Taiwanese version and both contain amazing fast food in comparison to the United States.
But I digress. So the first thing that I had to do was get my nails done. I went to Rue 216, which is in Taipei–right near MinQuan E. Road Section 3. The ladies there do such a fabulous job and there are an obscene amount of colors to choose from. The gel nail set and regular manicure set are cheaper than anything you can get in Southern California. I got jewels placed at the top and picked a nice pinky-peach color for the Summer. Honestly, this is my favorite place to get my nails done in Taiwan and trust me, there are a shit ton of places you can get them done. But my Aunt is friends with the store’s owners and she is honestly so nice and accommodating to like scheduling/services so I would 10 out of 10 recommend.
Now, there is a lot of really good food in Taiwan. Some of which they are particularly famous for and most of which you can grab at the local Night Market. Some Night Markets are more famous than others. My personal favorite is:
- Raohe St. Night Market (Fuyuan St. Songshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan)
The Night Market has some seriously dope ass food. Like you’ll find all kinds of stuff to eat, some of which you only see on like food shows about bizarre foods on the Food Network or Bravo or whatever. And it honestly is so good because the produce is so fresh and everything is super well seasoned. Like those vendors have been there for decades and they are like 3rd or 4th generation because their whole family has basically been working it. So not only are Night Markets basically an iconic part of Taiwan, it is so worth it because of the cheap, delicious food and all the extra goodies you can buy there.
The weather is pretty unforgiving in the summer. Taiwan is an island, more near the equator than many people are used to, and its capital city Taipei is in between a valley which only makes the heat worst. It’s a sweltering, oppressive heat that kind of makes you want to faint. I’ve had heat exhaustion so many times when I visited there during the summer it’s insane. So stay hydrated, always try to be indoors unless you’re walking somewhere, and the air conditioning will be your new best friend.
One of my favorite restaurants to go to in Taiwan is Saboten (address: 100, Taiwan, Taipei City, Zhongzheng District, Section 1, Zhongxiao West Road, 66號) which is a tonkatsu place that is known for their 1) sesame salad dressing and 2) their 25-layer pork tonkatsu. The entree is juicy, crispy, and tender and is accompanied by a few side dishes, miso soup and rice. I ordered the pork tonkatsu and shrimp tempura combination and it was honestly so good. The restaurant has a bit of a wait but it is totally worth it. The atmosphere is super friendly and rowdy, making it a great family place.
Another restaurant which I like to go to is Daniel’s which is in the Brother Hotel, located in Taipei, Taiwan. Daniel’s is an Italian restaurant (I know, Italian in Taiwan?) that is so good if only because the ingredients are so fresh. The first dish I ordered was the Caprese Salad which was composed of a variety of tomatoes, beets, basil, arugula, and topped with a dollop of buffalo mozzarella and caviar. The highlight of this dish was most definitely the buffalo mozzarella. You want find something like this in America. The cheese is made out of buffalo milk and is both creamy and delicately flavorful.
The second dish/ entree I ordered was Bistecca which was basically strips of rib-eye steak with saffron rice garnished with peas, caviar and tomatoes. The rice had a strong saffron flavor that wasn’t too overpowering, despite the intimidating colour. The steak was well-cooked and also very savory. I would 10 outta 10 recommend.
The last thing on my list of things I ate at Daniel’s include a tiramisu that was both sweet, spongey, and decadent that was topped with gold flakes and accompanied by two pieces of biscotti. It was the perfect way to end my dinner.
Well, that’s all for now. I’ll be back later with some reviews on places I been in Japan!