Taiwan’s fine dining scene is more exciting than ever. International heavyweights like Frenchmen Joël Robuchon and Yannick Alléno have established outposts in the country. Other Michelin star recipients who have done the same are Chef Seiji Yamamoto of RyuGin in Tokyo and André Chiang of Restaurant André in Singapore.
In addition, a crop of competent young chefs is harnessing Taiwan’s seasonal bounty and contemporary European cooking skills in inspired and beautiful ways. MUME is one of Taipei’s hottest reservations, right up there with André Chiang’s RAW. Le Mout in Taichung is where you will find Lanshu Chen flaunting her consummate talent. Wu Pao Chun has bagged top prizes in world bakery contests with European-style /pead infused with local wine, fruits, and flowers. You can find his namesake bakeries in Kaohsiung, Taipei, and Taichung. This modern gastronomic approach is best captured by the name of one restaurant – Tairroir, a combination of the words Taiwan and terroir. The form may be European, but the contents are Taiwanese.
There are also restaurateurs who strive to revive and reinvent tradition. Taipei’s Mountain Sea House recreates the labor-intensive dishes that graced the banquet tables of Taiwan’s affluent families from the 1960s to the 1980s, like tea-smoked soy sauce chicken.
Whatever your preference, the epicurean journey does not end here. Taiwan’s specialty coffee enjoys a solid reputation worldwide, and its roasters and baristas shine at overseas competitions. Pick one of the island’s plethora of atmospheric cafes to savor a cup, or do a coffee crawl. Alternatively, make your way to a coffee farm up in the hills in Gukeng, as the local connoisseurs do, and sip your joe while enjoying the scenery.