For so long, the culinary capitals of Hong Kong and Tokyo have been the go-to East Asian destinations for the hungry gastro tourists who travel to eat. But the keen-eyed with an appetite for innovative spots would soon find that it’s the restaurants in Taiwan that are about to pounce on the culinary map.
Yes, the country is better known for its bubble tea and street food; but brush past the facade, and polished fine dining temples come to the fore.
Chef Andre Chiang of Singapore’s acclaimed Restaurant Andre, for instance, has been operating Raw in Taipei for the past three years. The space is placed at number 24 on the prestigious Asia’s 50 Best List 2017 — the highest entry for the entire country. Still, not all the action happens in Taipei, for even Le Moût in Taichung has been making waves. The modern French restaurant is led by chef Lanshu Chen, who was crowned Asia’s best female chef back in 2014.
Part of the reason why restaurants in Taiwan are seeing such growing success — besides the calibre of its chefs — is the fact that the country itself has a reputation for growing quality produce. After all, 24 percent of the country, which is home to 20 micro-climates, is dedicated to farmland. It is surrounded by waters close to Japan (read: quality seafood), and plains from which cattle can graze are aplenty. Its experience under Japanese rule has also instilled infrastructural expertise and an ethos to nurture the best out of nature’s gifts.
“Small independent restaurants are starting to take Taiwanese local produce and doing it in a more international way, with both the cuisine and the design,” said Chiang in an interview with the South China Morning Post.
It’s little wonder then that all eyes are on this nation of 23 million as Asia’s next gourmet destination. Here are 5 restaurants in Taiwan to watch for.