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Food may as well be sacred in Taiwan. With Japanese and Chinese influences, the cuisines range from Sichuan spices to vibrant sushi, and tend to be heavy on pork and vegetables. Whether you’re yearning for a five-course molecular dining experience or simply want to sample the street stands, there is something to satisfy every craving. Here are a few of Forbes Travel Guide editors’ favorite places to eat:
1. La Petite Cuisine. Silky foie gras. Figs. Quail. The rich, delicate combinations at La Petite Cuisine impress all gastronomes. One of Singapore’s most celebrated chefs, Justin Quek, quietly opened this elegant, approachable French bistro in 2008. It has flown relatively under-the-radar, but not for lack of quality. Service is flawless through the Taipei restaurant, and basement seating is especially intimate.
2. Chintai. Serving some of the best seafood in Taipei, Chintai is a must. You’ll have to snag a cab to a forgettable part of town, but the cluster of customers surrounding Chintai augurs well for your meal. The restaurant is unpretentious, serving up formidable heaps of orange salmon roe, cod and prawns to diners sporting everything from three-piece suits to jean shorts. Ask for the “ultimate seafood on rice,” the restaurant’s most esteemed dish.
3. Old Wang Beef Noodle Soup King. A traditional favorite among locals, Old Wang Beef Noodle Soup King is near the presidential palace in Taipei. The constantly long line is a testament to its fragrant broths, juicy meats and springy wheat noodles.
4. DN innovación. For Spanish molecular gastronomy, don’t miss DN innovación in the heart of Taipei city. Brainchild of chef Daniel Negreira, this cozy, ultra-modern spot whips up dishes even more mesmerizing than the décor. From the seemingly simple house-made breads and canon of Spanish wine to the more complicated squid-ink-covered yam, DN innovación marries traditional flavors with memorable haute flair.
5. Ay-Chung Flour-Rice Noodle. Legendary for its thick noodle soup, Ay-Chung Flour-Rice Noodle draws a crowd for good reason. Located in the Ximending district, this Taipei restaurant has been a local favorite since it opened in 1975. It’s hard to miss, as dozens of people are found standing around outside, green bowls in hand.