Tokyo + Taipei
Written on 12.23.17.
We are so excited to share our first guide to our favorite eating spots abroad, some well-known and some off-the-beaten path. While Tokyo is an excellent destination in itself, it's also great as a stop-over on your way to Taipei since the two islands are only about 3 hours apart by plane. Together, you get two of the top culinary destinations in the world (in our opinion!). Tokyo is definitely a bit fancier than Taipei, which is a very casual city. Both are very walkable and clean with great subway systems. Both have an incredible food culture with some of the best eats hidden in small stalls, subway stops, and other unexpected locations. If you hit up any of the spots below, drop us a line and let us know what you thought!
- Tsukiji Fish Market - yes, this place is touristy but when you're jet-lagged and bored at 3am, you might as well get up and have some of the freshest sushi you can get in the world for breakfast. Check out the tuna auction the first time but skip it on your subsequent trips. The two most popular sushi spots are Sushi Dai and Sushi Daiwa. Skip the 3-hour long lines at both of these tourist spots and head to Sushi Bun. The fish is extremely fresh and the miso soup of the day, which always incorporates some type of seafood, will make you crave miso soup when you go home. Sushi Bun is where locals go for sushi if they go to the market.
- Tsukiji Outer Market - Right outside of the main seafood market, there are a few side streets of different types of small vendors. There are some great ceramic stands and tomago stands. Make sure you head to Kitsuneya for the beef stew with onions over rice. You'll be able to smell the delicious beefy aroma from a block away. Avoid inadvertently making eye-contact with the elderly woman who runs it or she will actually shoo you away.
- Yakiniku Nakahara - An incredible meal recommended by our food and travel writer friend Kat. Chef Nakahara is known for his exquisite cuts of wagyu, especially the tongue. The atypical thick slices of wagyu tongue have to be reserved beforehand. Make sure you reserve a counter seat so you can watch the magic unfold and definitely get the wagyu katsu sandwich (pictured above).
- Kagari - This 8-seat ramen counter below the Ginza subway station is renowned for its thick and rich chicken stock ramen. Definitely add an egg on top.
- Nikunotajima - Walk up to the 3rd floor to find this hole-in-the-wall sukiyaki spot. Sukiyaki is like hot pot but you cook the food in a light sauce instead of broth. The thin slices of wagyu melt in your mouth.
- High Five - This is a serious cocktail bar with no menu. The mixologist will ask you what spirits and what flavor profiles you enjoy and come back with a unique concotion. Extensive and impressive Japanese whiskey collection.
- Satou - Get the all beef croquette and skip the beef and potato one. These croquettes are the size of baseballs and somehow the breading is so light. The inside tip (thanks Albert) is to go to the one in Ginza, which has a way shorter line than the other location.
- Silkream - You'll be able to find this cremia ice cream around Tokyo but everyone says this location has the best version. The soft-serve is made with 12.5% fat milk from Hokkaido and fresh whip cream. Served in a crispy cookie cone, it is a must try.
- Akomeya - Picture a small Japanese version of Eataly. Your friends who love to eat will thank you for all the specialty food items you bring back.
- Mitsukoshi - Head straight downstairs in this large luxury department store and marvel at all the beautifully prepared foods available. Everything is so carefully packaged, and you should definitely stock up on food for a great travel snack.
- Koffee Mameya - This little coffee shop is very aesthetically pleasing and the espressos and pour-overs are a great afternoon pick me up. They sell about 16 different types of beans.
- Tao Yuan Jie Beef Noodle Shop - Everyone has their favorite bowl and it's a topic that's hotly debated among locals. We grew up eating the spicy version at Tao Yuan Jie Beef Noodle Shop when we came back for summertime Chinese School and it's still our favorite. Other popular spots are Yong Kang and Ling Dong Fang (our parents' favorite).
- Fu Hang Dou Jiang - Breakfast has its own culture in Taipei and most breakfast spots open by 6a. Make sure you try sao bing stuffed with an egg and you tiao (a fried piece of dough) with hot sweet or savory soy milk soup. We like the thin sao bings and the savory soy bean soup the best here. Add extra chili oil and vinegar and live your best life.
- Yong He Soy Milk King - If you don't feel like waiting 45 minutes for Fu Hang, there are a few locations of Yong He, which are all very good. Get the sao bing, soy bean soup, and dan bing (a scallion pancake rolled up with egg).
- Fan Tuan - This is a breakfast rice roll comprised of sticky rice, pork or fish floss, different pickled vegetables, you tiao, and an egg. Our favorite one operates out of a Taiwan sports lottery store and opens at 6:30a until they sell out (by 11a). Google map Louisa Coffee on Lane 135, Section 1, Fuxing South Road behind the SOGO. To the left of Louisa is the lottery store where you will find the one-man stand. Get the purple sticky rice with spicy pickles, fish floss, and scrambled egg (pictured above).
- Addiction Aquatic - This massive fish market gets all of its seafood flown in daily from Japan. There are a bunch of different food choices, bars, and stands serving all kinds of Japanese seafood. Upstairs, there is a shabu shabu restaurant that serves a great seafood hot pot and you should make reservations. At the end of your meal, you'll be offered a bowl of rice to make seafood broth shi fan with nori and scallions. It's an epic finish and you should 100% do it.
- Lan Jia Gua Bao - Pork belly buns are an OG Taiwanese dish, topped with pickled mustard greens, crushed peanut sugar, and cilantro. This stand in the Shida Night market is one of the best in Taipei. Get the half fatty and half lean mix.
- Jialai Chuan Xiangcai Guan - This is one of our absolute favorite things to eat in Taiwan. It's a sour white cabbage pork belly hot pot and the sour tang comes from the fermentation of the cabbage. Our Uncle always brings us here and he has never steered us wrong in terms of food.
Shop and To Do
- Tea shops and natural beauty products - Google map Tian Jin Pancake. You will see a long line for the pancakes. It's right in the middle of a very cute neighborhood that's full of great tea shops and small beauty shops.
- Pineapple cakes - Chia Te Bakery and Sunny Hills are known for the best pineapple cakes. However, there are a lot of great bakeries these days and pineapple cakes, sun cakes, and wife cakes are great treats to bring home.
- Hiking - Yang ming shan is beautiful and worth a trip if the weather is nice. There are some great restaurants that sell organic vegetables farmed on the restaurant's own farms.
- Hot Springs - Take a day trip to Beitou and soak in the natural hot springs. Most of these spots have a good restaurant for you to enjoy a meal after.