TaipeiPerspective > Travel > Taipei
Bubble Tea, is a must try from the various street vendors around the city, it's a local thing, invented in Taiwan in the 1980s. A chilled milky tea with tapioca 'bubbles' that are soft and chewy, it's deceptively tasty and definitely more palatable than a shot of snake blood you might be tempted to throw down your gullet whilst sampling the street food in Snake Alley, one of the oldest night markets in Taipei.
Light touch cooking is a movement that more and more restaurants have embraced, this means that instead of food laden with MSG, soy sauce and other less desirable ingredients. Light touch fare is cooked in olive and goose oils. To sample some of the best head to hidden gem Si Zhi Tang located in a quirky building designed by Taiwanese architect Wang Da-hong. The salad for starters is prepared on a rustic table in low amber lighting fusing fresh tomatoes, dried but incredibly moist banana, star anise, leaves and lush dressing. You will be served with a complimentary local purple fruit drink, to accompany your mains, try the steamed sea bass and pork stew. Book ahead for a table.
Another quality destination is Non-Zero, an organic eatery that does clean, healthy food and leans heavily on western influences and food. A good place to relax if Taipei's sights, sounds and local food become a little too much for you.
All the big chains are here, from the W to the Shangri-la and if that's your comfort zone, then either of these two hotels will have you located pretty much where you want to be to explore the city. Alternatively book a private room in Eight Elephants hostel where the staff were super friendly and will tell what you want to know but don't forget to take your shoes off before you enter the building, this hostel is like a big house and local house rules apply. A private room sleeping three person for four nights is great value at USD $120.
We linked up with Taipei's GXXXF when in town a streetwear brand who where shooting a promotional video, below is a behind the scene video we shot when hanging out in a plush pad in the leafy hills of Taipei.
We partied into the early morning on our first night with a Taiwanese gangster, resulting in free entry and drinks in all the big clubs. We danced with active alcoholics and the gangster's token western girls before ending up in the favourite place of all Taiwanese, a karaoke bar. This is where the gangster's facade dropped. There was much shenanigans but his renditions of most of the Backstreet Boys' back catalouge left an indelible mark on our memories, but hey this is Taipei and it's always good fun at a karaoke.
There's a banging trance movement in Taipei, and Armin Van Buuren was in town when we were visiting to pay testament to this. The kids were getting their tight jeans in a twist about his impending arrival, actually we're sure they couldn't have been wetter if they'd spent five minutes out in the frequent monsoon down pours. We didn't attend but sampled the local offering of trance which pretty much meant you could be in any club in the world that plays trance, although to be fair the clubs were expansive and the lighting superb. A quirk about these commercial clubs is that they all seem to be located in shopping malls, and one on top of each other. This appears to be a very Asian thing.
There are some really cool bars, such as Barcode and InHouse both in the same building close to the main action. The music is softer and a mixture of house, funk and disco with a few curve balls thrown in. People in these places are really open and friendly which lends itself to an easy going relaxed atmosphere. The W bar is probably the most lush, however, if you are planning a big night out, best to start at Barcode or Inhouse and then all the clubs are just a few steps away. An alternative night is Revolver, a bar but laid back with a small club space on the first floor which was spinning some tasty tunes on one of the nights we visited. Revolver is a good place to hang out, if we lived there would probably be our local.
Give Carnegie's and Brass Monkey a miss, unless you want a pseudo-Irish bar with fat expats burping and farting everywhere.
Every Sunday there is a creative market in Huashan 1914 Creative Park, check it out, lots of art, cool kids and handmade delights. When we were there a DJ was also busting out some storming tunes as nearby skaters, flipped and ollied the day away.