food | 17 June 2016
There’s no better way to start a Taipei journey than at the Shangri La Taipei.
Taipei isn’t exactly one of those places that are on the hot list of top travel destinations. But ask anyone who has been to the city how it was and their stories will trigger a wish to visit the place. Wandering in Taipei is made easy through the well connected public transportation services (something you can’t always rely on in other Asian countries). Taipei is known for its peaceful surroundings, its grand shopping centers, vibrant night markets and hot springs. Meanwhile the minimalistic design in coffee shops will make you feel like you’re in some Scandinavian country, but rest assured, this is all Taiwan. An East meets West on a perfectly balanced island right off the southeastern coast of Mainland China.
The interior at the Shangri La Taipei Far Eastern Plaza is a combination of modern luxury and Eastern design and features many artworks inspired by classic Sung Dynasty pieces. The hotel offers grand panoramic views of the city, especially when you head up the rooftop swimming pool (where you literally swim under the stars mind you). From the Shangri La Taipei you’ll find yourself in the shopping districts (like Taipei 101, Eslite, and Taiwanese department stores) within fifteen minutes. Below are our Taipei highlights!
Liberty Square is home to the Memoriall Hall, built in memory of Chiang Kai Shek, former president of the Republic of China, the National Concert Hall and the National theatre and is located in the Zhongzheung District in Taipei. The landmark design is done in an imperial style, with orange roof tiles and green, red and gold colored ornaments. The Chiang Kai Shek monument has a blue tiled roof (symbolizing the sky).
When you’re in Taipei, you need to make a stop at the Beitou hot springs. Under the Japanese rule, the Japanese culture of spring soaking was brought to Taiwan. If anything, Beitou shows the significant amount of influence Japan has had on Taiwan. There are public and private hot springs, with springs reaching up to 90 degrees Celsius.
You cannot visit Taipei without doing at least one tasting at the infamous Din Tai Fung. We ordered three plates of xiaolongbao (trust me, you’re going to want more) and some side dishes such as noodles with minced pork, noodles with spicy sesame and peanut sauce, potstickers and steamed layer cake. We loved all the food we had in Taipei (from Japanese to authentic Taiwanese) but the xiaolongbao at Din Tai Fung made us go back three times!
The night life culture in Taipei is all about eating and trying out things at the food markets. At 8pm it will still be quiet but come back at 10pm and it’s an eating fest. From young to old, night markets are visited all throughout town for a late night snack. We sampled a variety of steamed pork buns (juicy and tender), fried chicken dishes, potstickers, and bubble teas. Beware of the stinky tofu stands though (they’re everywhere)!
Taipei has a crazy amount of shopping streets and malls, but with the little time that we had, we visited Taipei 101 only. But the mall is big enough to spend a whole afternoon there. Cross the street to visit one of Taipei’s famous bookstores, Eslite. Eslite is a bookstore chain that puts other bookstores to shame!
In the evening the Shangri La Taipei‘s rooftop swimming pool is a great place to wind down. The heated swimming pool may be too hot during the day but in the evening it offers a pleasant temperature for swimming. In the morning, breakfast is served in the Café at Far Eastern or the Club Lounge. The Club Lounge features an a la carte menu of breakfast dishes like eggs Benedict (perfectly poached mind you) and waffles.
We headed down to Shang Palace for lunch the day after to enjoy Cantonese cuisine at its best. From their award winning pan-fried wagyu in a mini pumpkin (which was exceptional) to a fragrant broth served in a teapot and an orange bird’s nest dessert, it was the perfect way to end our Taipei journey.