Raohe Night Market
Shilin Night Market
Tonghua/Linjiang Night Market
Dining dates: 2/6/14, 2/10/14, and 2/11/14
Like a lot of cities in Asia, Taipei is famous for its street food. Everywhere I went, there were plentiful restaurants and street vendors selling whatever their specialty was. Seriously, food was almost everywhere, indicative of Taiwan’s dining culture which is rooted in these affordable, quick eats. The night markets, with its concentration of food/shopping options, were a great opportunity to eat my way through it.
I had the opportunity to try three of Taipei’s largest night markets – Raohe, Shilin, and Tonghua/Linjiang. Dining in these night markets were often a hectic proposition, so I ditched the DSLR – all of the photos in this post were taken with my iPhone. This picture-heavy post recaps my experiences in all three of these markets.
Taipei 101 85F-1
No. 7, Sec. 5, Xinyi Rd.
Dining date: 2/9/14
Shin Yeh is a restaurant that I came across a lot in preparation for my visit to Taipei from friends, bloggers and various news articles. It offers an upscale take on Taiwanese food and the restaurant group has a number of locations in Taipei, Singapore and Beijing. The best views, and one of the nicer ambiances, is at this one on the 85th floor of Taipei 101. While the original location (also in Taipei) is cheaper, this figured to be a unique opportunity to dine at (or near) the top of one of the tallest buildings in the world.
Fu Hang Dou Jiang 阜杭豆漿
Hua Shan Market, 2F
No. 108, Zhongxiao E. Rd., Sec. 1
Dining date: 2/8/14
I’ve only had Taiwanese-style breakfast a few times in Los Angeles. It’s a heavy carb-laden meal centered around various iterations of fried and baked dough with soymilk (presumably power-packed with enough calories to get through the day or, in our case, to lunch). It’s a unique meal and, from what I heard from multiple friends, a must-try while in town.
One of the most famous breakfast spots in Taipei is this one located in a very unassuming market food court. We first attempted to come here on a Friday and found this restaurant closed on the second floor of a very quiet market (we ended up going to another notable breakfast spot in the vicinity – Yong He Dou Jiang Da Wang). We came again on the next day; the scene was unmistakably different as we walked up the stairs from the train station.
An extraordinary line wrapped around the market covering a good part of two city blocks, then snaked its way up to the second floor food court. Bracing ourselves from the cold with a latte from the across-the-street Starbucks, we waited a full hour until it was our turn in line. Apparently, this was the place to be.
Salon de The de Joel Robuchon
Bellavita Mall 3F
No. 28 Song Ren Road
Dining date: 2/6/14
For my first meal in Taipei (which happened to be solo), I figured I’d ease into it by dining somewhere sort of familiar and possibly more Western-friendly (turns out Taipei has been one of the more English-friendly international cities I’ve been to). Joel Robuchon has two restaurants in Taipei, his ‘casual’ L’Atelier and his even more casual Salon de The. Plans to dine at L’Atelier were already booked later in the trip, so I stopped by the Salon for lunch.
Similar to my experiences with La Boutique de Joel Robuchon in Tokyo, the Salon de The includes a retail patisserie serving a fairly large variety of breads, pastries, cookies and sweets. Definitely a nice stop for a quick treat.
1104 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Dining date: 1/24/14
Melisse, like the restaurant of my last post Providence, is oft-considered one of the best restaurants in the city for its French-Californian cuisine. It’s truly one of the few refined fine dining destinations that has survived through all the food trends Los Angeles has seen since it’s opening in 1999. Like Providence, Melisse garnered 2 Michelin stars in the last guide; while I have been familiar with Providence ever since it opened, my first visit to Melisse didn’t come until a relatively late 2010. I’ve now had a few meals here (including a very memorable Farewell to Foie last year) and have thoroughly enjoyed them.
The impetus for this dinner was the restaurant’s participation in dineLA’s new $85 price level, an opportune time for 4 friends’ first visit. As with many dineLA options I wondered – what type of meal would Melisse provide at this lower price point? Would it still reflect a ‘regular’ Melisse experience? I was pleasantly surprised on both counts.
5955 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90038
Dining date: 1/16/14
I’ve generally considered Providence one of my favorite restaurants in Los Angeles since it opened in 2005. I first had chef Michael Cimarusti’s food at downtown’s Water Grill in college and followed him here. This was my fifth visit overall, but my first in about 3.5 years. I’m not totally sure what took me so long to return, but part of it was the fact that my last two visits didn’t live up to the high expectations created by the first two. Providence is consistently in the conversation of top special occasion fine dining restaurants in the city, so it’s a place I like to stop in every so often.
Cimarusti has been a busy man since my last visit and has presumably spent progressively less time in this kitchen, especially with the opening of Connie & Ted’s last year.
A number of menu options are available. A three course a la carte is $95, while 5-course and 9-course market tasting menus are $105 and $140, respectively. At the highest end, a chef’s tasting menu is available at $195 per person. We stuck to middle ground, ordering the 9 course market menu.