The One With Tales of Taipei, Part 1

Taipei has been gloomy and wet from the moment we touched down, but in our state of involuntary sleep displacement, the dreariness escaped unnoticed. Which is probably a good thing. We were focused on food (that is to say, I was, and the better half had to go along), and to food places we went.

But first, a word about our hotel.

Hotel 73, Taipei

The better half choose Hotel 73, which is very reasonably priced for its city-center location, though the room is quite small. Hotel 73 is somewhat like a design hotel, with little touches of arts and attention to details evident from its lobby to the lift to the walkway to the room itself.

Hotel 73, Taipei

The service had always been pleasant, though at times language can be a barrier especially at late nights when the crew became skeleton at best. Breakfast was hearty without being overwhelming, the selections adequate. Wifi is free and strong (probably helped by the fact that the router for our floor was wedged right behind our flat screen TV). A word a caution though – do not go for their in-house recommended massage place. I don’t want to waste time writing about it but let’s just say it was the worst experience I had over the entire trip.

Now back to the food of Taipei.

Adventures at Yongkang Street

Taiwan takes its food seriously. Even from the pre-trip research I have done for places to explore and food to try, the possibilities are mind boggling. Where do you start? How should you start? So we went for the road more traveled and started with exploring those around our hotel.

Adventures at Yongkang Street

Yongkang Street is famed for local delicacies and street food. This is where you find the popular Din Tai Fung (the famed original branch) and the very traditional, very local Lu Sang. Alas by the time we arrived, it was 4 p.m., neither lunch nor dinner, and most of these local places were closed.

Adventures at Yongkang Street

Instead, we ventured into the unknowns the way clueless travelers do. Like the Tainanese place where we sampled its delicious cubed tomatoes with ginger sauce. Like the roadside egg & cheese pancakes where the menu was confusing and the queue even more so. Even when we returned close to midnight, the street vendors were still going at it. Where else can you get the only fries in the world who can beat McDonald’s? (Their words, not mine).

Adventures at Yongkang Street

Dinner was with my friend Perris at Natural Japanese Shabu Shabu, where set meals are way too large for one person, and service is top-notch. The story: One of the platter of sliced fish (meant for one, easily serve two) seemed not fresh and smelled “fishy”. The waitress insisted that our platter to be replaced, but since we are already filled to the brim with other things, we hardly touch the new plate. In the end the cost of the fish set was waived.

You would never find this in Hong Kong. No wonder my friends are VIP at this place.

Natural Japanese Shabu Shabu

I also have a celebrity story to share. After dinner we went to this painfully hip, upcoming Italian fusion restaurant called Destino for a bit of a nightcap. More friends of friend were there. While we were enjoying glasses of wine, I was unceremoniously told that I was sharing the table with a Taiwanese actor (whose movie poster was right behind us), and a Taiwanese singer (who just did a concert last November – I saw the photos).

I didn’t know what to say. It wasn’t a case of star-struck; more like star-dumb. I didn’t even recognise them! Only in Taiwan you get to share a bottle with celebrities and not even know it.

That was pretty much my first day in a nutshell. We went to bed early(ish), but not before I devoured a final cocktail bun.

Like I said, Taiwan takes its food seriously. And when in Rome…

See more of my Taipei 2013 posts:

Eating Out & Restaurants

Natural Shabu Shabu Hot Pot & Japanese Cuisine Restaurant
No. 126, Shìmín Boulevard, Daan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106
Tel: +886 2 2741 8696

Exploring Around & Attractions

Yangkang Street

Staying In & Hotels

Hotel 73
No.73, Sec. 2, Xinyi Rd., Zhongzheng Dist., Taipei City 100, Taiwan
Tel: +886 2 2395-9009

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