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How to Eat like a Local in Taipei

From tangy pineapple cakes to tea-infused cuisine, here are seven Taiwanese specialties to keep you fuelled beyond the city’s night markets.

YaoYue Teahouse

The Tea-infused Cuisine at YaoYue Teahouse

Make the trip to scenic Maokong – Taipei’s former largest tea-growing region – to partake in a traditional tea service at this popular 24-hour teahouse. Learn to perfectly brew one of 20 locally grown teas in dainty Yixing clay teapots with a self-guided tutorial. Feast on a range of tea-infused dishes, from mountain-grown shanshu (a type of fern native to the South Pacific) stir-fried in tea oil to wine-marinated chicken perfumed with floral osmanthus. For an earthy kick, try the spicy and sour brisket prepared with pu’erh, and cleanse your palate with a tea jelly.

No. 6, Lane 40, Zhinan Rd., Section 3, 886-2-2939-2025, yytea.com.tw

Fu Hang Dou Jiang

The Traditional Breakfast at Fu Hang Dou Jiang

It’s part anticipation and all deliciousness when it comes to this institution’s shao bing. Order their signature egg shao bing – a thick sesame flatbread wrapped around a sheet of scallion-flecked omelette and airy fried cruller – and watch it being baked inside a tall cylindrical oven in the glass-encased production kitchen. Pair your breakfast sandwich with a bowl of savoury soy milk soup (dou jiang) christened with fried dough, punchy pickled vegetables, dried shrimp and chili. Pro tip: Go before 7:30 a.m. to avoid lines that wrap around the block.

2nd Floor Hua Shan Market, No. 108, Section 1, Zhongxiao East Rd., 886-2-2392-2175

Chun Shui Tang Teahouse

The Bubble Tea at Chun Shui Tang Teahouse

One of the first establishments to serve the sweetened tea-based drink, this teahouse offers plenty of options to satisfy your cravings for the country’s most famous culinary export. Quench your thirst with the signature pearl milk bubble tea or if you’re feeling adventurous, try the black sesame of ginger variations. Combine your chewy tapioca balls with locals-approved pan-fried turnip cakes and spicy king oyster mushrooms.

Multiple locations, chunshuitang.com.tw

SunnyHills

The Pineapple Cake at SunnyHills

Cake meets pastry in feng li su, a shortbread-like dessert stuffed with rich pineapple jam. Recent takes on the classic treat replaces the usual sweet interior with a filling made from locally grown sun-dried seasonal pineapples. (Most brands are blended with winter melon pulp.) At SunnyHills, the finger-size confections are encased in a crumbly short-crust pastry made with New Zealand butter and Japanese milled flour. Enjoy it with a cup of complimentary oolong tea.

1F, No. 1, Alley 4, Lane 36, Section 5, Minsheng East Rd., 886-2-2760-0508, sunnyhills.com.tw

Lin Dong Fang

The Beef Noodle Soup at Lin Dong Fang

Snaking lines form past 1 a.m. on weeknights at this beloved noodle joint. Slurp on hearty, fresh noodles splashed with an ever-simmering beef broth laced with a blend of traditional Chinese herbs. Elevate your bowl with tender beef flank, creamy tendon and a generous dose of the all-star chili- and spice-infused paste prepared from rendered beef fat.

No. 4-2, Andong St., 886-2-2752-2556

Tianjin

The Scallion Pancakes at Tianjin

There’s something impressive about the speed and efficiency at which the operation’s “aunties” sling out heaping orders from the stall’s open kitchen. Served plain or stuffed with a combination of egg, ham or corn, this benchmark-setting street snack (reminiscent of a less oily roti prata) shelters sliced scallions between soft, flaky layers of dough. Although intimidating-looking, the queue moves quickly to connect you with the city’s finest griddled dough.

No. 1, Lane 6, Yongkang St., 886-2-2321-3768

Da Lai Xiao Guan

The Braised Pork Rice at Da Lai Xiao Guan

A staple of Taiwanese cuisine, this humble homestyle favourite embodies childhood comfort in a hand-held bowl. Fluffy grains of rice are mixed with meaty minced chunks of slow-cooked pork belly with soy sauce, shallots and five-spice blend. Fragrant bamboo and sharp pickled mustard garnishes cut through the lip-smacking pork fat reduction for a well-balanced dish.

No. 2, Lane 7, Yongkang St., 886-2-2357-9678, dalaifood.com

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TAIPEI     TAIWAN