Wistaria Tea House
First stop: Wistaria Tea House. The political and cultural history behind this teahouse (built in the 1920s) is incredible...and so is the tea. Pick from a thoughtful selection of everything from oolongs to pu'erhs (I had the jin xuan oolong), and a small menu of sweets and savories to pair with the teas. You may prepare the tea yourself ("gongfu cha" technique), and if you don't know how, the servers are more than happy to demonstrate. Glass tea kettles, kerosene boilers, the most serene setting in town. What more could you ask for?
L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon
Dinner at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Bellavita is a splurge. But the lunch is a bargain at $980 NTD (about $30 USD) for a full three-course affair. Sit at the bar (which is also perfect for solo diners) to get a front row view of all the kitchen action.
Le Salon De Thé de Joël Robuchon
After lunch, head two floors down to Robuchon's Salon de Thé. Taiwan and Japan are the only two places in the world where Robuchon runs a full bakery/tea salon. Sit in for an afternoon of tea and dessert or get something to go. Pictured here is Robuchon's delicate, super buttery version of the Chinese moon cake.
Brasserie at Regent Taipei
Shilin Night Market
If I had more time in Taipei, I'd head to a different night market every evening (to do list for the next trip!) I made it only to Shilin Night Market on this visit, but it still proved extra satisfying with hot bowls of savory flour rice noodles from Ay-Chung. It's halfway between soupy and saucy, dotted with chopped intestines. Don't forget to add in extra garlic and chili sauce...
Shilin Night Market
...and then make your way through the market for oyster omelets, the giant fried chicken stand, and deep fried scallion pancakes (topped with a fried egg). Final bite of the night? Stinky tofu and pickled cabbage.
Shilin Night Market: No.101, Jīhé Rd, Shilin District, Taipei City, Taiwan (map)
Maokong (which was the biggest tea growing region in Taipei many years ago) is 30-minutes from the center of the city. Make the short drive, take a ride on the gondola and settle in for a day of teahouses. It's touristy but worth visiting. There are dozens of teahouses spread across the mountain, each with their own charm. I stopped at Yaoyue Teahouse for crisp red bean pancakes, a steamer of oolong-infused dumplings...
...and hours of tea tasting. Till next time, Taipei!