Authentic Taiwanese food is not easy to find for foreign travelers and that's a good thing.
Not only it takes some effort to get to Taitung, searching for local eateries and recommended restaurants may need local assistance. It's all good, because the harder it is to find, the less touristy it is. As for me, I usually like to go where the locals go when I travel.
My group and I had a short mini-getaway to Taitung and we've searched local Taiwanese blogger on the best authentic Taiwanese food recommendations for Taitung. We purposely picked ones that are Taiwanese-style passed from the aboriginals to taste the local dishes as well as seasonal foods. Sounds like your travel style too? Good, read on:)
We went to some restaurants and had few eateries. Here are my recommendations, please prepare for some food porn.
Aunt Ai Jiao (Ai Jiao E 愛嬌姨 ) Homestyle Restaurant
This unique restaurant is up in the mountains and can only access by car. It's very local and not that easy to reach.
The address is: 955, Taiwan, Taitung County, Luye Township, 高台路109巷32弄9號愛嬌姨茶餐
When we stepped into the restaurant, I thought we were invading someone's private home.
We enter through the side door into a spacious house with lots of tables, tea table, gift store, baby crates, what have you. As you know Taiwanese style, it's usually laid-back and fairly informal. The tables are traditional Chinese round tables with lazy Susan in the middle, and there is local specialties souvenir shop on the side for you to purchase tea, pickled items, tea desserts, cookies, and other snacks.
What's interesting about this restaurant is that it's not the ordinary you-pick-from-menu style, rather, they ask you how many people you got and prepare the right amount of food that serves your group. The dishes are based on what's available that day in that particular season. Sounds cool isn't it? So it's almost like you'll never know what's coming. Just leave it to the chef to satisfy your appetite.
The unique side about the dish is that all of them are infused with tea in the cuisines. That includes rice, tofu, soup, stir-fried, noodles, even jelly desserts.
Aside from white rice, Oolong tea rice is their unique way of cooking. The local specialty is the medium-strong spicy peeled pickled peppers, which goes well with Oolong rice. Lily flowers stems are quite tasty and unique. I didn't touch the fatty pork cubes but my sister said it's good.
In case you didn't know, dragon whiskers vegetable are very common in Taiwan and they grow from chayote plants. Obviously, they are my favorite dish because I love greens. The lightly fried tofu has infused green tea powder in the batter before frying. Chicken soup was cooked with pickled pepper, it was okay, I didn't especially like it. Green tea noodles was just okay.
With the homestyle ambiance of this restaurant and the tasty foods, they gave us a feeling as if we were eating at some neighbor or friend's house. We even had tea after the meal with the restaurant boss women and felt really relaxed.
Overall, it was an interesting experience to eat tea-infused cuisine up in the mountains in someone's home.
Mi Ba Nai Taiwanese Aborigines Cuisine 米巴奈
For the second day's lunch, we went to a restaurant that serves authentic Taiwanese Aborigine cuisine. The location is: No. 470, Chuanguang Rd, Taitung City, Taitung County, Taiwan 950
The restaurant used loud colors and colorful wall murals, which made it really stand out and memorable. All the waitress wears apparel that reflects aborigines culture. In general, it's seems very touristy, but the food was quite delicious and interesting. They also have some private rooms that's good for meetup and parties.
The restaurant also prepare the food according to size of the group, so very little food was wasted. We had around 8 dishes of various things. Pan-fried mackerel fish was incredibly delicious in my opinion. The restaurant use ChiShang rice from ChiShang providence; as I was told, it's known to be very delicious that even Japanese people loves it.
All the rest of the dishes uses variety of in-seasoned vegetables with local foods. Most dishes are not too oily or salty, which really suits my group's appetite.
The bacon wrapped baby corn was actually surprisingly good. And the desert is a beautiful dish of pickled Roselle flowers sitting on ice cubes. It's quite sweet and slight sourness like vinaigrette. I like it because I like sour stuff.
Although we enjoyed our foods in the restaurant, there were tour buses that comes in groups with loud tourists so that was a bit icky, but it's Taiwan, people are loud anywhere you go. Overall, the food was good in my opinion, it'll probably be the best to come during weekdays at low season.
These two restaurants were both quite interesting and tasty. It gave us something to memorize for our trip and it's good to recommend to others. Other eateries and local foods were not as special for me to recommend, it was okay and was commonly seen anywhere.
Next time you are going to Taitung and feel like trying local cuisines, these two could be your choices.
If you want to learn more about Taiwan or want to know what's the best way to travel long-term in this beautiful country, you can check out this comprehensive guide I made that'll give you all the detail tips to travel here.