October 24th, 2019 – October 29th, 2019
- Flight: EVA Air
- Hotel: AMBA Hotel
- Ji Pin Seafood (吉品海鮮)
- Dong Qu Fen Yuan (東區粉圓) – traditional Taiwanese desserts
- San Jing (三井) – higher-end Japanese cuisine
- Rao He Night Market (饒河夜市）
Dragging my ass to Taipei was a multi-parter for sure since I had to get to JFK (Megabus-LIIR-AirTrain) to meet my sister (who goes to school in upstate New York), where we got on our flight to Taipei. We typically book flights from EVA Airways, a Taiwanese airline with pretty good fares and great inflight service. The flight from JFK to Taipei’s Taoyuan Airport (桃園機場) is about 15.5 hours and 14.5 hours on the way back. Plenty of time to sleep, watch a movie (or a few – I have mixed feelings about Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), and / or continuously snack.
It’s always nice to get back on solid ground after a long flight, especially in a place where you know you a friendly face will be picking you up. Due to the 12-hour difference, we essentially lost a day and arrived at the butt crack of dawn on October 25th. This time around, we stayed at the AMBA Hotel, which is just across from the Song Shan Train Station (松山火車站). It’s a great hotel with modern, spacious rooms and a delicious breakfast buffet (our favorites included the salad bar, fresh soy milk, omelet station, and handmade sticky rice rolls).
You’ll notice a pattern here where most of my time is spent eating – the food in Taiwan is unreal and so much more affordable than most places in the US (especially New York City). It’s not even a competition. There’s also a culture of these crazy multicourse meals, especially on special occasions or during family reunions (both of which applied in this case). This type of traditional meal was served at both dinner on our first night at Ji Pin (吉品) and for our cousin’s wedding banquet (typical dishes include baked lobster, whole fish, sticky rice, and guava for dessert). OH, and also an incredible steamed rice cake.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, is our favorite dessert spot in Taipei, Dong Qu Fen Yuan (東區粉圓), which serves up the most incredible traditional sweets for 60 TWD (about 2 USD). There are hot and cold options for bases including grass jelly (燒仙草), soft tofu (豆花), shaved ice, and plain sugar water, and numerous toppings – must-tries include chewy taro and sweet potato balls, sweet red bean, and the traditional sticky rice balls. Truly one of the treasures of Taipei.
And what vacation is complete without at least one fancy meal? Our meal at 三井 Japanese Cuisine was a standout with multiple customizable courses at 1800 NTD, or about 60 USD. Completely worth it especially considering the exceptional ambience and attentive service.
I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been as full as I have been on this trip. I LITERALLY could not finish my meal, which is extremely rare. BUT no matter how full or jet lagged you are, you still have room for the night market. How could you not?