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Where to eat in Taiwan according to Chef Hansang Cho

If you’ve never tasted Taiwanese food, you’re missing out. Chef Hansang Cho, from Taipei restaurant Gēn Creative, reveals the island’s best eats from street food to fine dining

Where to eat in Taiwan according to Chef Hansang Cho
Scallion pancake. Image: Getty

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Taiwan is fast gaining recognition as a global culinary destination. Restaurants such as Din Tai Fung — which makes the best xiaolongbao (soup dumplings) — put it on the radar, and now Taipei has its very first Michelin Guide. But eating here isn’t just about fine dining — some of the best food is to be found at night markets and casual cafes. Fresh, subtropical ingredients make the island a haven for both chefs and foodies, especially in summer, which brings fruits such as pineapple and watermelon, alongside local staples like aubergine, water bamboo and peanuts.

Must try
Scallion pancake: Flaky layers of dough packed with spring onions. This is a classic that’s normally eaten for breakfast. I like to eat them with egg and sausage; my Taiwanese version of a breakfast burrito.

Where to eat in Taipei

Tairroir
Try chef Kai Ho’s menu to experience the true essence of Taiwanese ingredients. He uses produce from all over the island — the 65C egg with sakura shrimp is a must.

Jin Feng 
This casual dining spot is all about lu rou fan — pork belly braised for hours, served over rice. I get huge satisfaction from eating this simple yet complexly flavoured dish. 12-1, Section 1, Roosevelt Road.

Le Blanc 
I’m a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy, and when I’m in the mood for steak I come here. Classically trained chef Long Xiao makes simple yet well-executed dishes.

The ingredients

Chilli: You’ll see red chillies in any Taiwanese restaurant. I pickle them and use them as a garnish for dishes that need a kick.

Figs: Due to the climate, various varieties of figs are available throughout the year. They’re tasty as they are, but dressing them with vinegar and salt brings out even more of their floral flavour.

Pork: Meat from Taiwan’s southern regions has a sweet and subtle flavour without being gamey. I’m a fan of the less popular cuts like cheek and neck.

Green mango: Unripened green mangos are sold in spring and make an excellent sweet pickle.

Hansang Cho is a Korean-American chef. He’s co-founder of Gēn Creative restaurant in Taipei, where he creates inventive dishes using local and seasonal ingredients.

Published in the June 2018 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)