Taipei has grown into a more international City than you might think of. Especially with the XinYi district around Taipei 101, the city has become a magnet for travelers form all over the world. As in every free economy, demand dictates the course and therefor many different cuisines found a new home in Taiwan.
But every big city gives a certain type of business owners a long shot to survive without delivering on their promise. This said, we can not point out all the bad guys out there. The only thing we can do is, to guide you through the jungle of good and bad opportunities
If you are, however, into reading the dark side of the living dining culture, here is a review about a messed up evening in a Thai restaurant in Taipei.Thai restaurant in Taipei
International Dining in Taipei
by – Timothy Bullard, DMA
International dining in Taipei can be as hit and miss as when you get a new boss. You never know how workable the situation is until you spend a bit of time with your new boss how reasonable they are, as with food in Taipei, many times you can’t tell until you try a few of the dishes at the restaurant. There are, however, a few things you can do to ensure your risotto is not made with rice from Ai-yi’s Southern Taiwan rice farm or Thai food is Thai because they add a bit of Taiwanese chili spice along with artificial lemon flavoring.
The first thing you should ask yourself when your looking for an international restaurant is what do you know about the real food from that country and do you expect to get real thing. For gastronomes, it’s a life or death thing to get authentic cuisine. For the general western population, it’s important to get the real thing, but a few changes can be accepted. There is, unfortunately, the Taiwanese general view – “If it’s big and filling and sort of the idea of ethnic food, they will run to that restaurant. If it’s dead cheap, you won’t be able to stand the noise of people who strangely haven’t had a drop of wine or beer with their meals.” It’s truly unexplainable. I will make claim here that there are Taiwanese who understand food, but I am speaking for the majority of the population.
One easy way to tell if the fare is going to be the real shebang is to find out if the chef is from the country of the cuisine’s origin or at least lived in that country for an extended period of time. If this not the case, you only have a 50/50 chance of getting something wroth of being true ethnic food – not Ah-Wei adding a little of his special shacha sauce to the dish to give it his special flair that would cause gastronomes to walk away from that dinner.
Be aware that some ex-pats cooking here will change their recipes to suit uneducated or unwilling to try something new local tastes. How I combat this problem is just tell the server you don’t want the TAIWAN VERSION… GIVE ME THE REAL THING!
There are also some exceptions. If you think the food might be authentic, but the chef has never been to the cuisine’s country, just go to the place and look around at the food. See if the crowd looks educated. Then the final test—order one thing, ask the server for the REAL THING, and pray!
Timothy Bullard, DMA