Halal food alternatives in Taiwan - Vegetarian meals

Since finding halal food can be quite cumbersome in Taiwan, you can go for vegetarian meals as an alternative. Most Taiwanese practice Mahayana Buddhism which recommends a strict vegetarian diet, and you can surprisingly find a lot of vegetarian eateries around Taiwan. (Some Muslims might have opinions about calling it as an halal alternative since the food were prepared by devoted Buddhist. I'm not going to discuss this, everyone has a choice.) The vegetarians in Taiwan refrain from alcohol too, so to my standard of "halal", it is sufficient. In order to survive in Taiwan, I regularly opt for vegetarian food, and I will share you some reviews and what to expect.

Before I continue, I need to emphasise the importance of asking whether any food is vegetarian (素) or not. Because the Taiwanese put lard (pig oil) and rice wine (alcohol) in most of their food, so, unless they specifically claim the food is "Vegetarian". You might think that there should not be a problem to eat the Taiwan's famous street food onion cake (蔥油餅) or the oyster omelette (蚵仔煎), chances are, most of those stalls use lard as the most basic ingredient. So, please be cautious.

The only irritating fact (for me) is that the Taiwanese vegetarian diet refrain from eating onion, garlic and chili too! It makes our choices less attractable, to be honest I don't think I can survive on them for life. But eating once in a while is still very delicious. In fact, you should slot in at least one vegetarian meal in your travel itinerary to truly enjoy local Taiwanese cuisines.

Pay-per-weight Vegetarian restaurants

Most of the vegetarian restaurants here in Taiwan charge you based on the weight of the food you eat, but the bill always come out reasonable. As of the time I am writing this, it is about 25NT$/100g of food. Two of the largest pay-per-weight Vegetarian restaurant chains are "Minder Vegetarian Restaurants (明德素食園)" and "Quan Guo Vegetarian Restaurants (全國健康素食)". Both have many branches around Taipei, for a full list of locations, please check out the map I have shared previously.

The shop logos: Minder (left) and QuanGuo(right)

The branches nearest to major tourist attractions are :
1. Minder branch at Xing Kong Mitsukoshi (新光三越) Block A8 Food Court (if you are shopping around Taipei 101 area)
2. Minder branch at Eslite XinYi Store (誠品信義店) Food court (if you visit the 24 hour Eslite bookstore)
3. Minder branch at QSquare Mall (京站時尚廣場) Basement 3 Food court (when you shop around Taipei Main Station or Taipei Underground Mall)
4. Minder branch at Eslite Dunnan Store (誠品敦南店) Food court (when you are around the so called "East District" of Taipei (東區))
5. Quanguo branch: few minutes walk from SoGo ZhongXiao Store (忠孝) (This one in East district too)

Let me some pictures to share with you so that you roughly can expect what the food more or less resembles:
After you select your food, you can add white rice/brown rice or porridge. This will be on a day when I am very hungry, the bill will come out around NT$200.
Some shops provide free soup, some shop doesn't. Something like this would cost less than NT$100.
The above is from one vegetarian buffet restaurant. The must eat item every time I go to these shops is turnip cake(蘿蔔糕)!
You will find vegetables in Taiwan is really fresh, besides, that island is blessed with many different types of mushrooms too.
You will be spoilt for choices, I promise! ;)

Vegetarian Fine Dining

If you fancy a vegetarian fine-dining experience, I highly recommend SuFood. They offer 4 course vegetarian meal for NT$398 (with 10% service charge). There are different choices for entrée, soup, main course, dessert and drink. Check out their website for more details. The restaurant ambience is very nice, food are quite appetizing too.
Photos are from my different visits to SuFood. They have a default menu, and some are seasonal items. They used to have more branches, but currently only left with two outlets in Taipei, here are the addresses:

1. SuFood Chongqing branch
Address in Chinese: 台北市中正區重慶南路一段58號3樓
Address: No. 58, Section 1, Chongqing South Road, Zhongzheng District
Operating hours: 11:30-14:30, 17:30-21:30 (open till 10pm on public holidays)
How to get there: NTU Hospital Station Exit 4 (Actually very near to Taipei Main Station area too)

2. SuFood Banqiao branch
Address in Chinese: 新北市板橋區遠東路1號
Address: No.1, Yuandong Rd., Banqiao Dist, New Taipei City
Operating hours: 11:30-14:30, 17:30-21:30 (open till 10pm on public holidays)
How to get there: about 8 mins walk from MRT Far Eastern Hospital station

Kind reminder, please double-check whether the shops are still there prior to your trip planning because businesses in Taiwan come and go in the blink of an eye. They frequently close down some branches and open new branches.

Wherever you visit in Taiwan, you are likely to find a vegetarian restaurant. Just try to remember the word "素食" (Su4 Shi2 - don't pronounce 'su-shee'), if you don't know how to speak Mandarin, just print out that two characters, and show them to any passer-by. Taiwanese are friendly enough to help you find nearest one. Next post I shall write about food that you can actually enjoy in night markets. 

Other related posts:


Taiwan Halal Food Review - Beef Noodles

Prior to moving to Taiwan, I lived in Malaysia for about 10 years thus I was spoilt for choices of halal food, which makes surviving in Taiwan a little hard for me. Here, I frequently cooked at home but I am also constantly looking for halal restaurants and Muslim-friendly street food. The most budget-friendly and special halal food in Taipei is none other than "Beef Noodles".

This entry will be all about beef noodles, for a full list of other halal and vegetarian restaurants in Taipei, please refer to my previous blog post: The halal food hunt in Taipei, Taiwan

In Taipei, there are 2 halal beef noodle shops near XiMenDing shopping district, one near Sun Yet Sen Memorial Hall and another one near Taipei 101. 

1. 張家清真黃牛肉麵餃子館(Chang's beef noodles shop)
Address in Chinese: 臺北市中正區延平南路21號
Address: No. 21, Yanping S Rd, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan 100 
Phone: 02-2331 2791
Business Hours: 10:30am-8:00pm
GPS Coordinates: 25.045669, 121.510750
How to get there: MRT XiMen Station Exit 5, walk about 5 minutes

 These photos are from my many trips to this restaurant over the year.
You can ask for menu in English. The price may have changed a bit by now, but this two shops remains the most economical eat-out place in Taipei for us 😉
Top Left: Beef Noodle in clear soup(清燉牛肉麵), Top Right: Dumpling soup(湯餃) 
Bottom: Braised beef Noodle soup (紅燒牛肉麵) 
The dumpling soup is my all-time favorite. The original braised-beef noodle soup (紅燒牛肉麵) is a must try here, the noodle, the beef, the soup, everything is just perfect. (But, I once tried their spicy-sour noodle (酸辣麵), it was terrible for my taste, so don't bother trying that one.😀)
Fried Potsticker (煎餃/鍋貼) 
Potsticker is another name for fried dumplings, it probably is a direct translation of 鍋貼 😅 I am not really a fan of Taiwanese dumplings, the outer flour layer is too thick, I prefer Japanese gyoza. We usually order beef soup (without noodles) to eat with potstickers.
Side dishes (小菜) 
You can pick your own side dishes at the counter near the entrance. They are TW$ 25 each by the time I am writing this post. Most of the side dishes are vegetables except the fried anchovies. I loved all of them: the cucumber salad, seaweed strips (海帶絲), tofu strips (豆腐絲), dried tofu(豆乾), fried bean sprouts, etc. The side dishes are very traditional Taiwanese recipes, I find them quite special. Besides, you can also order Taiwanese traditional Onion Prata (蔥抓餅) and dumpling with leek filling (韭菜煎包). Drinks option at this shop is quite limited, they only have soy milk and iced tea. In fact, Taiwanese don't really drink during meals, we usually go and drink bubble tea after meal.

2. 清真牛肉麵館 (Halal Beef Noodle Shop) 
Address in Chinese: 臺北市中正區延平南路23號
Address: No. 23, Yanping S Rd, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan 100
Phone: 02 2331 8203 Business
Hours: 10:30am-8:00pm
GPS Coordinates: 25.045669, 121.510750
How to get there: MRT XiMen Station Exit 5, walk about 5 minutes
Braised beef noodle soup (紅燒牛肉麵) 
This shop is right beside the first shop and serves very similar menu. The beef noodle soup is a bit oily, but the dumpling soup (湯餃) here is much better, unfortunately I don't have much photos of food from this shop.

3. 清真中國牛肉館 (Halal Beef Noodle Shop) 
Address in Chinese: 臺北市大安區延吉街137巷7弄1號
Address: No. 1, Alley 7, Lane 137, Yanji Street, Da’an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106
Phone: 02-2721 4771
Business Hours: 11:30AM - 2:30PM, 5:00PM - 9:00PM
GPS Coordinates: 25.042147, 121.554966
Nearest MRT Station: MRT Sun Yet Sen Memorial Hall Station Exit 1 (捷運國父紀念館站)

 4. 清真中國牛肉麵食館 (Halal Beef Noodle Shop) 
 (This one is a branch of the shop #3 above, near to Taipei 101)
Address in Chinese: 新光三越信義新天地店A8 B2
Address: Shinkong Mitsukoshi Department Store, near Taipei 101, Block A8, Basement 2 Foodcourt
Phone: 02-2721-4771
Business Hours: 10:00am-9:00pm
GPS Coordinates: 25.038199, 121.566796
Nearest MRT Station: MRT City Hall Exit 3 (捷運市政府站), opposite block from H&M

Shop #3 and #4 have similar items on their menu. The #4 is very near to Taipei 101, so if you are around the area sight-seeing, or shopping, you can consider dining there.&nbs
the shop at Shinkong Mitsukoshi Department Store Level B2 Food Court
beef noodle, quite a big portion

斤餅,合菜玳帽,京醬黃牛肉絲 
This two shops is more of Northeastern Chinese-style cuisines. We ordered set meals with another beef noodle. The set meal includes some bread like roti prata (they called it Jin Bing), assorted vegetables in a fried egg, and beef strips fried with soy sauce. The Jin Bing taste pretty nice, quite chewy, so you are supposed to wrap fried beef and some leeks inside the Jin Bing and eat (like how they eat peking duck). Quite a memorable taste.
Steamed dumplings 
The best food in this shop is their steamed dumplings. It's about NT$150 for eight pieces, the beef filling is very tender and juicy. Compare to the first two shops, the shop #3 and #4 are about double the price so we eat here less frequently. There are many others in the menu to choose from, but i haven't tried much, so I can't really recommend others.

 Enjoy food hunting in Taipei ~

Other Related posts:



The halal food hunt in Taipei, Taiwan

Halal food hunting in a non-Muslim country is always challenging, Taiwan is no exception. You need to plan well not to get starved. This post is long overdue since I promised my friends to compile a list of halal food options, I will write up brief food reviews later :) 

Note: Some of the restaurants doesn't open all day long, they have separate opening hours for lunch and dinner. Please note the time and plan your meal time accordingly. The numbering below is not in any particular order, most of the shops have menu in English translation. Print out the addresses in Chinese too, trust me, it will be useful when you take taxi here in Taipei ;)

Halal Beef Noodles

1. 張家清真黃牛肉麵館(Chang's beef noodles shop) 

Address in Chinese: 臺北市中正區延平南路21號 
Address: No. 21, Yanping S Rd, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan 100 
Phone: 02-2331 2791
Business Hours: 10:30am-8:00pm
GPS Coordinates: 25.045669, 121.510750
How to get there: MRT XiMen Station

2. 清真牛肉麵館 (Halal Beef Noodle Shop)

Address in Chinese: 臺北市中正區延平南路23號 
Address: No. 23, Yanping S Rd, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan 100 
Phone: 02 2331 8203
Business Hours: 10:30am-8:00pm
GPS Coordinates: 25.045669, 121.510750
How to get there: MRT XiMen Station Exit 5, walk about 5 minutes 

3. 清真中國牛肉館 (Halal Beef Noodle Shop) 

Address in Chinese: 臺北市大安區延吉街137巷7弄1號 
Address: No. 1, Alley 7, Lane 137, Yanji Street, Da’an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106
Phone: 02-2721 4771
Business Hours: 11:30AM - 2:30PM, 5:00PM - 9:00PM
GPS Coordinates: 25.042147, 121.554966
Nearest MRT Station: MRT Sun Yet Sen Memorial Hall Station Exit 1 (捷運國父紀念館站)

4. 清真中國牛肉麵食館 (Halal Beef Noodle Shop)

(This one is a branch of the shop #3 above, near to Taipei 101)
Address in Chinese: 新光三越信義新天地店A8 B2
Address: Shinkong Mitsukoshi Department Store, near Taipei 101, Block A8, Basement 2 Foodcourt
Phone: 02-2721-4771
Business Hours: 10:00am-9:00pm
GPS Coordinates: 25.038199, 121.566796
Nearest MRT Station: MRT City Hall Exit 3 (捷運市政府站), opposite block from H&M

*You can read my review on beef noodle shops here.

Halal Yunan-Thai Fusion restaurants

5.  清真媚力泰 (Beautiful Thai)

Address in Chinese: 台北市中和區中和路26巷3號
Address: No. 3, Lane 26, Zhonghe Rd, Zhonghe District, New Taipei City
Phone: 02-8242 3802
Business Hours: 11:30-14:00;17:00-21:00 (Close on Fridays)
GPS Coordinates: 25.00159, 121.49959
Nearest MRT Station: Not in a walking distance from MRT station, suggest you take a cab from MRT JingAn Station or NanShiJiao Station. 

6.泰旺泰式料理 (Thai Wang)

Address in Chinese: 新北市中和區南華路50號
Address: No. 50, Nanhua Rd, Zhonghe District, New Taipei City, Taiwan 235
Phone: 02-2242 6188
Business Hours: 11:30-14:00;17:00-21:00 (Friday noon off)
GPS Coordinates: 24.99689, 121.50437

Nearest MRT Station: MRT JingAn station, about 8 mins walk

7.清真泰富豪 (Yunus Halal Restaurant)

Address in Chinese: 臺北市松山區北寧路36號
Address: No. 36, Beining Rd, Songshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 105
Phone: 02-25790528
Business Hours: 11:30-14:30, 17:00-22:00
GPS Coordinates: 25.04946, 121.55279
Nearest MRT Station: MRT Taipei Arena Exit 3 (捷運小巨蛋), 3 mins walk

8.泰鄉雲餐廳 (Halal Bismilla Restaurant)

Address in Chinses: 臺北市松山區北寧路40號1樓(近臺北小巨蛋)
Address: No. 40, Beining Rd, Songshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 105
Phone: 02-25779271
Business Hours: 11:30-14:30, 17:00-22:00
GPS Coordinates: 25.04971, 121.55278
Nearest MRT Station: MRT Taipei Arena Exit 3 (捷運小巨蛋), 3 mins walk

Indian/Middle Eastern/Chinese Fusion

9.  昆明園 (Kunming Islamic Restaurant)

Address in Chinese: 台北市松山區復興北路81巷26號
Address: No. 26, Lane 81, Fuxing N Rd, Songshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 105
Phone: 02 2751 6776
Business Hours: Mon-Fri 11:30-14:00, 17:00-21:30 (Saturday and Sunday: only open in evening 17:00-21:30)
GPS Coordinates: 25.05114, 121.5453
Nearest MRT Station: MRT NanJing FuXing Station (捷運南京復興站), 5 mins walk

North Western Chinese Cuisines

10. 回館 回回私家菜 (Hui Guan Chinese Muslim Cuisines)

Address in Chinese: 台北市松山區八德路三段12巷51弄9號
Address: No. 9, Alley 51, Lane 12, Section 3, Bade Rd, Songshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 105
Phone: 02-25779851
Business Hours: 11:30~14:00, 17:30~22:00(Close on Monday)
GPS Coordinates: 25.04624, 121.55113
Nearest MRT Station:  MRT ZhongXiao DunHua Exit 1 (捷運忠孝敦化), 10 mins walk

Turkish Restaurant

11. 番紅花城土耳其餐廳 (Safranbolu Turkish Restaurant)

Address in Chinese: 台北市中山區南京東路二段60號
Address: No. 60, Section 2, Nanjing E Rd, Zhongshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 104
Business Hours: 10:00am-10:00pm
Phone: 02-25222939
GPS Coordinates: 25.05172, 121.52995
Nearest MRT Station: MRT SongJian NanJing (捷運松江南京站) exit 1, 5 mins walk

Indian Restaurants

12. 阿里巴巴的廚房 (Ali Ba Ba Kitchen)

Address in Chinese: 台北市中山區南京東路二段56號2樓 
Address: No. 56, Section 2, Nanjing E Rd, Zhongshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 104 
Phone: 02-2567 7163
Business Hours: 11:30am–3:00pm, 5:30pm–10:30pm
GPS Coordinates: 25.05188, 121.52984
Nearest MRT Station: MRT SongJian NanJing (捷運松江南京站) exit 1, 5 mins walk

13. 阿拉丁的廚房 (Aladdin Indian Kitchen) 
Address in Chinese: 台北市松山區饒河街101號1樓 
Address: No. 101, Raohe St, Songshan District (Inside RaoHe Night Market)
Phone: (02)2765-9991
Business Hours: 5:30pm to midnight
GPS Coordinates: 25.05034, 121.57335
Nearest MRT Station: MRT SongShan Station (捷運松山站),walk towards RaoHe Night Market

14. 饗印印度料理(Khana Khazana Indian Restaurant )

Address in Chinese: 台北市信義區基隆路一段366號
Address: No. 366, Section: 1, Keelung Road, XinYi District, Taipei
Website: www.khanakhazana.com.tw
Phone: 02-8786 9366
Business Hours: 11:00AM - 2:30PM, 5:00PM - 10:30PM
GPS Coordinates: 25.03536, 121.56074
Nearest MRT Station: MRT Taipei 101/Word Trade Centre (台北101/世貿), 10 mins walk [Across the road from Grand Hyatt Taipei]

15. Taj Indian Restaurant
Address in Chinese: 台北市大安區市民大道四段48巷1號 (市民大道與大安路口)
Address: No. 1, Lane 48, Sec.4, Civic Blvd., Daan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 
Business Hour:  12:00noon-14:30,  17:30-22:00
Phone: 02-8773 0175
GPS Coordinates: 25.04474, 121.54589
Nearest MRT Station: MRT ZhongXiao FuXing Station (捷運忠孝復興),7 mins walk

Moroccan Cuisine

16. 塔吉摩洛哥料理 (Tajin Moroccan Cuisine)

Address in Chinese: 台北市大安區基隆路二段144巷3號
Address: No. 3, Lane 144, Section 2, Keelung Rd, Da’an District, Taipei City
Phone: 02-2732-7296
GPS Coordinates: 25.02827, 121.55626
Business Hours: 11:30-14:30, 18:00-21:00 (Close on Monday)
Nearest MRT Station: MRT LiuZhangLi Station (捷運六張犁),about 10 mins walk

Fried Chicken 

These two shops recently acquired Halal status in 2017 May, news source 

17. 炸鷄大獅,公館店 (Fried Chicken Master, Gongguan branch) 
Address in Chinese: 台北市中正區汀州路三段158號 
Address: No. 158, Section 3, Tingzhou Road, Zhongzheng District, Taipei 
Phone: +886 2 2368 2551 
Business Hours: 1:00pm-10:00pm 
GPS Coordinates: 25.0135443,121.53415 
How to get there: MRT Gongguan Station Exit 1, walk few mins 

18. 炸鷄大獅,南港店 (Fried Chicken Master, Nangang branch) 
Address: 台北市南港區經貿二路1號 
Address: No. 1, Jingmao 2nd Road, Nangang District, Taipei 
Phone: +886 2 7746 2978 Business Hours: 7:00am-4:30pm 
GPS Coordinates: 25.0561342,121.6154006 
How to get there: MRT Nangang Station Exit 1 (Just outside of Nangang Exhibition Hall 1)

===== * Insider tip: If you happened to be at Taipei Grand Mosque for Jummah prayer, there are food stalls inside the mosque compound where you can purchase a variety of food and snacks before and after prayer. 
=====

My On-going Google Map Project:



Other Info


Some Chinese Vocab to sound like a pro in food hunting
  • 清真 (Qing Zhen) - Halal
  • 素 (su) - Vegetarian
  • 全素(Quan Su) - Vegan
===
It will be kind of a waste if you didn't get to enjoy street food from Taiwan night markets because there are no Halal Vendors. I will share about Muslim-Friendly street food hunting guide in the next post. ;-)


Taipei: where to go and what to eat?

Hello 2016! One of my new year resolutions is to get back to blogging. I am sort of on a working-holiday mode, have been living in Taipei for about a year. I currently worked from home, and spent most of my free time exploring Taipei. I would like to share about the Taipei I got to know, let me start off with a master list and i will update the article link back here every time I have updated. Please stay tuned =)

Taipei skyline from the Elephant Mountain


Where to go:
1. YangMingShan National Park
2. Beitou: Thermal Valley, Plum Garden, Beitou Public Library, Beitou Hotspring Museum
3. TamShui Waterfront, Fisherman Wharf and Bali District
4. Bitan Lake Scenic Area
5. Chang Kai Shek Memorial Hall
6. Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall
7. XiangShan (Elephant Mountain) Hiking Trail
8. Taipei Zoo and MaoKong Gandola
9. Window on China Theme Park
10. Taipei 101 Observatory Deck
11. SiSi Nan Chun (四四南村)
12. Taipei Treasure Hill Artist village
13. Keelung: Yehliu GeoPark
14. Keelung: Heping Island Park
15. Keelung: Badouzi Fishing Harbour and WangYou Valley
16. JiuFen, Golden Waterfall and Jinguashi Gold Museum, YingYang Sea and abandoned mining plant 
17. ShiFen oldstreet and waterfall

Seasonal
Feb Taipei Lantern Festival
Feb-March TianYuan Temple Cherry Blossom
March-May Taipei Awanda - Red Maple leaves season
Feb-May YangMingShan Calla Lily Farm
June Computex Taipei 2015
November Taipei Chrysanthemum Festival

Shopping:
1. XiMenDing Shopping District
2. WuFenPu Clothes Wholesale Market
3. Night Markets
4. Taipei Eastern shopping District (台北東區)
5. Taipei Underground Mall (MRT: Taipei Main Station)

Where to eat (Halal):
Link to Taipei Halal/Vegetarian restaurants  maps that I have compiled: 

I will try to update the map soon, to be in both English and Chinese. I have a plan to share how to find Muslim-friendly food in Taipei too.

Yet to explore around Nothern Taiwan:
- BoPiLiao old street
- Taipei Miniature Museum
- National Palace Museum
- Lin Family Mansion and Garden
- Houtong cat village 猴硐貓村
- Bitou Cape 鼻頭角
- Nanya Peculiar Stone 南雅奇石
- Teapot mountain 茶壺山
- Thousand island lake 新北石碇 千島湖
*to be updated