Fuck soggy kebab and pizza- when it comes to late night eating, the Taipei’s night owls turn to spicy hot pot and beef noodle soup. Taiwanese culture is notoriously food-obsessed: most gatherings revolve around eating, and many residents will think nothing of loitering in line for hours on end to get a taste of a hyped-up culinary trend. Combine this kind of determination with an incredibly affordable and robust nightlife scene, and you’d hardly be surprised at the copious amounts of after-hours institutions around town, dedicated to feeding diners who have imbibed a bit too much. Most of Taiwan’s late night culinary options seem to orient itself around steaming bowls, where you can practically dunk yourself in broth in an attempt to
wake up sober the fuck up.
Even if you’re not inclined to hit the bottle in the hazy maze that is Taipei nightlife, wandering through these haunts for a midnight snack will put you in contact with a range of interesting characters from all subsections of Taiwanese society: young families – toddlers in tow- assuaging late night cravings, taxi drivers raucously joking around while wolfing down nourishment before the graveyard shift, and even shadowy figures that glower from the corner as they slurp their noodles in enigmatic silence.I
I will now proceed to rank Taipei’s late night eats by an arbitrary system of levels.
Super Fucking Weak: This is when you’re absolutely dying to go home but there’s someone you might want to take home and you’re still sort of hopeful that if you hang around, they’ll bite the bullet. It’s this place called McDonald’s. Or 7-11. Get your hash brown, get your seaweed rice ball, snag your one-night stand by the hand, and go the fuck home.
Weak: Taiwanese Breakfast
Okay, so I guess we’re not calling late night binge eating – call it “very early breakfast”. Carb-haters, do not inquire within: at Yonghe Doujiang世界豆漿大王 open 24 hours a day, one can indulge in Taiwanese breakfast classics such as “fried stick of dough stuffed in a baked flatbread”. If that much carb-on-carb isn’t your thing, try the egg-topped scallion pancakes, radish-stuffed pastries and rice rolls. Wash down all that carb with a cup of soymilk, available cold or hot. Soyyyy good.
Yonghe Doujiang 世界豆漿大王: No. 284, Section 2, Yonghe Road, Yonghe District, New Taipei City
Weak: Miso Soup with Meatballs & Cold Noodles
There are innumerable joints around town serving up this uniquely Taiwanese blend of hot & cold dishes, 劉媽媽涼麵 is the happening spot in the wee hours of the morning. Although less of an actual restaurant than a shack and a spread of rickey metal tables laid out across an underpass, the noodles are refreshing, the soup is hot and the company entertaining: a consistent range of rowdy taxi drivers making pit stops right off the highway. Note to all the hundreds of boys that I know want to take me home: this is my favorite food in the entire world – regardless of whether or not I am intoxicated. I always suggest this to people after the club, and I only get my wish about 2% of the time. 涼麵 is apparently not in vogue right now.
Liu Mama Liang Mian 劉媽媽涼麵: No. 37, Section 5, Civic Blvd, Songshan District, Taipei City
Alright, Now We’re Talking: Beef Noodle Soup
A veritable Taipei institution, Lin Dong Fang is far from some random, late-night slop joint. It just so happens to serve up bowls of its multi-award winning beef noodle soup – through the night until 6:00am. A bowl of tender noodles and beef tendon will set you back a whopping $6 USD – and that includes free refills of broth. Un-beef-lievable.
Lin Dong Fang Beef Noodle林東芳牛肉麵: No. 274, Section 2, Bade Rd, Zhongshan District (台北市八德路二段274號)
Eating at a Fucking Buffet at 5am, Pretty Hardcore: Porridge
On main Taipei artery Fuxing South Road 復興南路 stands three adjacent shrines to the Taiwanese culinary institution of rice porridge, or shi fan. The watery rice soup, dotted with chunks of boiled sweet potato, acts as the base for a range of hold and cold dishes, served buffet-style. Spicy eggplant, pig ear’s, stinky tofu and three-cup chicken are perennial favorites. While it definitely makes sense to eat a piping hot bowl of rice porridge after a long night, the wisdom of laying out a full buffet spread in front of anyone remotely intoxicated is questionable.
Damn, Son: Spicy Hot-Pot
“Ma La” translates from Mandarin as “numbing spicy”, and there ain’t no false advertising at Ding Wang Spicy Hot Pot, open until 3:00am. Everything you order to be cooked in the roiling, herb-filled red broth, from phoenix talons (chicken feet), to beef slices, to mushrooms, to stinky tofu – will take on a fiery coating that grabs your tongue (and your stomach, and your intestines) and refuses to let it go for days afterwards. It’s the most delicious type of torture in existence. Note: I have never, ever made it to spicy hot-pot after a night of drinking, and I’m kind of okay with that.
Helllll Yeah Fuckin’ Right: Cashbox KTV 錢櫃停車場 Food
The best-kept secret in Taipei: Cashbox KTV has amazing food. Every single time I am dragged to KTV, all I do is studiously ignore the microphones and whiskeys (why is it always whiskey at KTV) being shoved in my face (just sing 紅豆 one time and we’ll leave you alone), pick up that magic phone on the side and order all the things. My go-to order: onion rings (they are so crispy) and the beef noodle soup, which honestly is my favorite bowl in the city (shhh – yes, I sometimes have to pretend to be a food critic).
Cashbox KTV 錢櫃停車場: No. 22, Section 4, Zhongxiao E Rd, Da’an District, Taipei City
photos c/o black-buddha