Pine & Crane
1521 Griffith Park Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026
Dining date: 9/6/14
Pine & Crane opened earlier this year, bringing Taiwanese food to the Silver Lake neighborhood. Asian food, particularly Chinese or Taiwanese, is always looked upon skeptically outside of the SGV, but Pine & Crane has opened to strong praise early on. The family’s background is in the food business; the Pine & Crane name is taken from a noodle factory they operated in China while all produce is sourced from a family farm near Bakersfield. Sounds like the right ingredients for a successful restaurant.
The restaurant has been very popular and can get pretty crowded in the evenings (evident in the picture below). Food is ordered at the register, you take a number, find a seat, and the food comes straight to your table. The menu is fairly focused, with a handful of small plates (dumplings, scallion pancakes, beef rolls), noodle dishes (both soupy and saucy), and rice dishes.
Din Tai Fung (Xinyi)
No. 194, Section 2, Xinyi Road, Daan District
Dining date: 2/10/14
Din Tai Fung (Zhongxiao)
No. 218, Section 4, Zhōngxiào East Road, Daan District
Dining date: 2/6/14
A visit to Din Tai Fung was an absolute must for me while in Taiwan. In fact, I think it’s on a lot of tourist itineraries as the restaurant has a devoted following from all around the world. I was first introduced to Din Tai Fung’s xiaolongbao (and its oft-overlooked rest of the menu) when I moved to Los Angeles and have thoroughly enjoyed them ever since.
Din Tai Fung, which actually started as a shop selling cooking oil, has a number of locations in Taipei. I was able to try two of them – one near where we were staying in the Zhongxiao Dunhua area and the original location. The original location was crowded with tourists (the vast majority from throughout Asia), all eagerly waiting to dine where it all started. We arrived just after opening on a Monday morning to find a handful of people waiting. It was perfect timing as crowds came soon thereafter; by the time we left the restaurant, dozens waited outside for a seat.
The menu at both locations was significantly more robust than what I had seen in Los Angeles. All of the usual suspects were there – some small plates, soups, noodles, soup dumpling xiaolongbao, and both sweet and savory baos; however, Taipei locations seemed to have more options in each category. Most notably, there were a number of xiaolongbao options I had never seen before. Between our two meals, we dined on some old favorites and some new ones.
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.