Renowned as the birthplace of Taiwanese cuisine, Tainan holds the esteemed title of being the flagbearer of culinary heritage, where age-old recipes and culinary traditions come to life in a vibrant tapestry of flavors. Wendy Kung shares her local favorites ranging from the gourmet to the everyday comfort choices.
While Tainan unquestionably holds the title of Taiwan’s gastronomic capital in the hearts of many, it might surprise some to learn that it currently lacks Michelin-starred restaurants. Instead of viewing this as a deficit, some may argue that it reflects the city’s pride in preserving its ancient spirit and resisting the waves of modernization. In this light, Tainan stands out as the perfect city to embark on a culinary adventure through its rich tapestry of small eats and traditional flavors.
Located inside a 5-star hotel, Silks Place, Silks House skillfully blends the realms of small eats and gourmet cuisine. Guided by a team of highly skilled chefs, this restaurant creates a dining experience that is a feast for the senses by harmoniously fusing the rich traditions of Cantonese and Taiwanese culinary artistry. Their standout offering is a delightful reinterpretation of the timeless roast duck, where the local Yilan Cherry Duck meets the aromatic allure of Sanxing scallions. They are open daily for lunch and dinner, and reservations are recommended.
Amei is a cherished restaurant with a culinary legacy spanning over six decades, providing traditional Taiwan Open Banquet Cuisine. It also serves as a beloved takeaway for Tainan locals, the casserole, which is perfect for heartwarming family gatherings at home. With the elegant contrast of red tablecloths against warm wooden tones, the interior is adorned with trophies and historic artifacts. While the menu may be compact, it’s brimming with banquet classics and century-old recipes, meticulously crafted to blend the natural umami of ingredients with the locals’ penchant for savory-sweet flavors. Amei operates on a cash-only basis and is open every day, except for Tuesdays. Reservations are recommended.
Location: 98, Section 2, Mincyuan Road, West Central District 民權路二段98號
Phone: +886 62222848
Best Hole in the Wall in Tainan
Po Jen Tang 博仁堂
A stone’s throw from Chikan Tower, nestled in a tranquil alley is Po Jen Tang, a century-old Chinese medicine shop turned into a therapeutic culinary haven. Run by a sixth-generation proprietor, at Po Jen Tang, visitors delight in therapeutic dishes with distinctive flavors and gentle herbal nuances while perusing a selection of traditional Chinese herbs and ingredients. The ambiance is set by antique apothecary cabinets and an enlightening exhibition of the body’s meridian points, illustrated with figurines. Complete meal sets featuring noodles, a beverage, and sweet soup are also available. Opens daily from 12 pm to 8:30 pm.
Du Hsiao Yueh is a retro-style restaurant situated just across from the National Museum of Taiwan Literature. What began as a modest noodle stall by an off-season fisherman, Mr. Yu-To Hong, has blossomed into a chain of restaurants, symbolizing the evolution of Tainan’s small eats over the past century. The restaurant is known for its signature dish Danzai Noodle, prepared by dedicated chefs in front of everyone in the main dining hall. These famous noodles are also known as “Hsiao Yueh” noodles or “small months” noodles, a fitting and humorous reference to the summer typhoon season that made fishing impossible for the owner and fisherman all around, compelling the owner to craft this dish out of necessity. Open every day , walk-ins are welcome.
Zhu Xin Ju, a charming red-brick mansion dating back to the year 1846, has gracefully revived and revitalized traditional Taiwanese banquet dining since its founding in 2015. This quaint mansion provides an ideal canvas for the head chef’s commitment to preserving authentic, time-honored recipes. The restaurant’s seven-course feast (no a-la-carte menu to choose from) is always crafted with the freshest local seasonal ingredients from Cigu milkfish to Houbi rice, and can be described as a journey through Tainan’s culinary heritage. The restaurant is open daily for lunch and dinner, and reservations are required.
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