Tina Fong has always been motivated by food. Whenever she travels, her main goal is to taste the local cuisine, of course, and visit the wet markets to explore the area’s unique ingredients. That’s why, in early 2015, Fong and her friend Mike Lee established Taipei Eats, a walking food tour company based in Taiwan’s capital.
“It’s kind of like having a local friend that navigates tasty food,” Tina says of Taipei Eats, which allows for guests to save their time and research. The company—comprised of six guides, including Fong and Lee themselves—takes participants to two main areas of Taipei, partnering with around 20 food vendors in both regions. The first area is the modern district of Xinyi, where the Taipei City Government building and iconic Taipei 101 tower are located. The walking tour, however, does not visit these attractions but the local neighbourhoods in Xinyi instead. “We [explore] the market,” says Fong, “and go to where everyday people have a snack or lunch.” Another district is Dadaocheng, which is known for its rich history due to the influences from the Dutch, Japanese, and Chinese. (There is also a night market tour that can be added to either of the Xinyi or Dadaocheng experiences.)
Some of these delectable spots in Dadaocheng include an 80-year-old bakery selling salted plum with five-spice powder pastries; addictive pork floss (a cotton candy–like seasoned shredded pork); and Taiwanese-style shaved ice with topping such as taro balls and almond tofu. Shops selling to-go steamed pork buns—rich with pork, onion, and black pepper—are also frequented, as well as dried goods stores selling tea, mushrooms, seafood, and fruits. “I think it’s really interesting because Taiwan [is] like a melting pot for a lot of different regions of mainland China, as well as Japan,” explains Fong, noting that there are a lot of varieties in Taiwanese dishes. “I just want to present what Taiwan or Taipei has to offer. I’m proud to take them to these hole-in-the-wall places that have been around for a while.”
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