XiHu Market (西湖市場) is in the North of Taipei, and the market is connected to XiHu MRT station, inbetween JiaNan Road Station and NeiHu Station on the Brown Line. This place is perfectly convenient for a stroll around Northern Taipei, and maybe over to Miramar/The NeiHu Wheel for the afternoon. Inside XiHu market, you can find a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, meats and clothing stands within the market. On the second floor of the market, there is a large restaurant area with a variety of different vendors offering a variety of different cuisines. You can have Indian curry, Italian style pasta, Japanese noodles or a range of classic Taiwanese meals.
This Japanese RaMen noodle place offers a variety of different dishes, but their signature dish is the one in the picture below. LaMien (拉麵) is a very popular style of Japanese cooking in Taiwan. This place is a perfect example of good quality at a good price. $150 for a bowl of this is absolutely worth it!
On top, you can see a thin slice of nice, fatty pork. The pork is served, cold, on top of the warm noodles in soup. This allows the meat to warm up quite quickly and remain delicate. Beside the pork you can see some dried onion flakes, green onions and also jew’s ear. Beneath this, within the beautifully rich broth, sits a bowl of fine, but not too fine, Ramen noodles. These are cooked al dente, and continue to cook from the moment they’re served in the broth. For anyone who has had Ramen Noodles before, I challenge you to describe the broth. For me, its almost like a rich, buttery taste. There’s an acidic element in there, there’s definitely some onion and garlic running through and its also quite salty. I have heard that in some Ramen Noodle dishes, the broth should not be consumed as it is too salty. With this, I would definitely recommend getting a few spoonfuls in, but maybe not consuming it all!
Here, we have something similair to the bibimbap dish well-known in Korea.
The rice underneath, is cooked and then fried inside this stove top pan in which it’s served. Sat atop the rice is a helping of pickled cabbage, other pickled vegetables, half an egg, 1/4 of a sausage and a generous helping of barbecued chicken. It’s fantastic, really. I am, unlike many people, a real fan of that rice that is stuck, almost burnt, to the side of the pan. It crunches in your mouth and has a burnt flavour to it, love it. The barbecued chicken here is also a triumph. On the outside there is a salty, sweet skin with an impossibly moist chicken on the inside. Taiwanese sausage, let me address my issue with it: It’s sweet. I’m not used to sweet sausage. Coming from the UK, places such as Lancashire and Cumberland are famed for their sausages. But they are in no way sweet. Often peppery and salty, in fact. This sausage is sweet, but it does actually help with the sourness of the pickled cabbage and also the saltiness of the barbecued chicken. Served with a rather stock standard Miso Soup, this dish is a real winner, all for $100!
This place – wow. It’s amazing. Any of you familiar with ‘Paul’ bakery in Taipei will know that there are definitely some places where you can rely on their pastries to blow every other Taiwanese bakery out of the water. For me, this place definitely competes with Paul.
This pattiserie is located on the second floor, just outside one of the doors connected to the main food restaurant area. It’s in a tiny shop, with only take-out options available. We went for the Custard tart, Macadamia and Red Bean Macaroon, Milky Coffee and, of course, the Canale. They were all absolutely French < that's a top compliment, not only from an Englishman, but also for any pastry in the world.
The Canale (top right corner), is a caremlised shell of almost burnt perfection, within which sits an almost gooey inner; sweet, rich, crunchy, soft. I cannot recommend this enough.
Bottom right we have the Macaroon. For Macaroons, there is a lot that can go wrong and, quite frankly, often does go wrong. Most places where I’ve eaten macaroons, I shall not be returning to. However, this is not one of those. The macadamia flavour on the outside of the macaroon is wonderfully nutty and decadent, whilst on the inside, the nice flavour of the red bean contrasts well. A good macaroon shouldn’t be over sweet – and this wasn’t.
Top left we have the, simply phenomenal, custard tart. As you can see, the inside solid custard has visible vanilla seeds, just bursting with flavour on each mouthful. It is quite simply, awesome. The outer pastry is crunchy, yet a little soft. The flavour is perfect, not too sweet but also not too savoury. As you can see, on top of the solidified custard, there is a thin, caremelised skin.
For well priced foods, and a fun atmosphere, this is a good place. People next to us were drinking beers, you can get some Taiwanese goodies at the market beneath you, and by the early evening you can be getting on the NeiHu wheel to see Taipei at dusk.
西湖市場, 內湖區, 台北市
XiHu Market, NeiHu District, Taipei City