Chef's guide to Taipei

One of the world’s great food cities, Taipei is a melting pot of eye-opening culinary experiences. Lara Brunt gets a tasty tour with chef Yannick Alléno, the brains behind the city’s applauded STAY by Yannick Alléno.

Chef Yannick Alléno may have earned his stripes in his native France – two of his restaurants there have been awarded three Michelin stars – but these days he spends almost as much time outside of the continent as in it. Alléno manages a 16-strong restaurant empire, which stretches from Morocco to Dubai and Taiwan. Flying the flag for French gastronomy in the Taiwanese capital, his restaurant STAY by Yannick Alléno serves up dishes that unite local ingredients with classic cooking techniques – think confit duck in oolong black tea, and lobster with stone lotus. When the chef isn’t in the kitchen, he’s always on the lookout for delicious dining experiences. Here, his guide to local restaurants, and must-see attractions to entertain between meals.

 

1. Mume

Mume is a great casual fine-dining restaurant helmed by Australian chef Kai Ward, Hong Kong-born Richie Lin and American Long Xiong. Named the 43rd best eatery in Asia in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards in 2017, Mume’s food is European-Asian fusion with Nordic influences and a lot of local Taiwanese ingredients. The whole Mume kitchen came to STAY last September to cook for two amazing dinners.

28 Siwei Road, Da’an District; +886 2 2700 0901; mume.tw

 

2. Din Tai Fung

This is the best chain of restaurants for traditional Taiwanese food. Din Tai Fung is one of Taiwan’s most famous exports, with outlets all over the world including Sydney and Melbourne. It’s very good. They have a dining room in the landmark Taipei 101 tower, where STAY Taipei is located, so I go there quite often to eat black truffle and pork xiao long bao, a modern version of their classic steamed pork dumplings.

Taipei 101 Mall, 45 Shifu Road, Xinyi District; +886 2 8101 7799; dintaifung.tw

 

3. Domaine Wine Cellars

I am really passionate about wine and I love spending time in cellars. Domaine has a very comprehensive offering – you can find the best French wines, they specialise in Burgundy and Champagne, and also discover a lot of interesting alternatives. They have a lounge where you can sit and enjoy a bottle of wine at retail prices, and they regularly host masterclasses and winemaker dinners. 

383 Ren’ai Road, Da’an District; +886 2 2776 0066; domaine.com.tw

 

4. Sweet Tea

Making pastries was my first job and it has remained an important part of my meals. Sweet Tea is our French patisserie in the Taipei 101 tower, where people come to eat in or simply take something away. I recommend the mille-feuille – we have about 10 different flavours to choose from.

Taipei 101 Mall, 45 Shifu Road, Xinyi District; +886 2 8101 8277; staytaipei.com.tw

 

5. Elephant Mountain

After lunch or afternoon tea at Sweet Tea, you can hike to the top of Elephant Mountain (Xiangshan) for stunning views of the city and the Taipei 101 tower. It takes around 15 to 20 minutes to get to the top and there are a lot of stairs, but it is worth it. Go at sunset.

Trail starts near Xiangshan metro station, Xinyi District.

 

6. Tonghua Night Market

Located in downtown Taipei, this is the city’s most local night market and definitely a must-visit if this is your first visit to the city. There are stalls everywhere serving popular street foods such as fresh dumplings, gua bao (pork belly buns) and yan su ji (salt-and-pepper chicken). It is crowded and I love the atmosphere. The downside is you could eat all night long.

Linjiang Street, Da’an District

 

7. Mountain & Sea House

Set in a townhouse dating from the Japanese colonial era, Mountain & Sea House is the best place to enjoy fabulous Taiwanese food such as five-spice tofu, stir-fried clams and crispy suckling pig. It is completely organic and produce is sourced entirely from local farms. This is very important for me – in fact, we initiated the Terroir Parisien culinary movement in 2006 to encourage people to eat local.

16 Zhongshan North Road, Zhongshan District; +886 2 2511 6224; facebook.com/vintagetaiwancuisine

 

8. Eighty-Eightea Rinbansyo

 

Tea has always been an important inspiration for me – I really enjoy infusing ingredients with tea, as it gives them an unrivalled smoky flavour. I am especially fond of oolong, which happens to be Taiwan’s national brew. A traditional Taiwanese tea ceremony is something to experience at least once, and this atmospheric teahouse is located in the restored wooden quarters of a Japanese priest.

174 Zhonghua Road, Wanhua District; +886 2 2312 0845; eightyeightea.com

 

9. Museum Of Contemporary Art (MOCA)

Contemporary art is my second passion and everywhere I go, art follows. I spend a lot of time visiting contemporary art museums and galleries, and it inspires me. At MOCA, there is a real contrast between the colonial architecture – the redbrick building dates back to the 1920s – and what is inside.

39 Chang’an West Road, Datong District; +886 2 2552 3721; mocataipei.org.tw

 

10. Chi-Wen Gallery

My wife [Laurence Bonnel] is a sculptor and she owns a gallery at the Paris flea market; I spend almost every Sunday there to discover new artists. When I travel, I love to seek out independent galleries like Chi-Wen, which showcases contemporary Taiwanese art. The collections change each time I go to Taipei, so it is always a treat.

32 Zhongshan North Road, Shilin District; +886 2 2837 0237; chiwengallery.com

 

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