The ultimate guide to the stomach of Southern Taiwan: Tainan
#Before You Read 前言
This is actually a project from a course I'm taking at National Taiwan University, Journalistic Writing, and you could find our official Tumblr here - our class's first edition should come out next week before spring break - you may find something that strikes a chord. The reason I post this article before handing it over to our professor, Michael Keevak, to look it over, is to preserve my own writing style and selection of vocabulary. Also it would take a load of pressure of my chest when I make readers think that they're just reading a rough draft. JK. Anyways, please take a read - I hope this article would at least partially assist you in traveling around Tainan, and constructive criticism as well as more recommendations about Tainan are both very welcomed!
#End of Before You Read 前言（廢話）結束
Hello there, dearest readers. I hail from Taipei. However, during a two-week working holiday in Tainan this winter, I was enraptured with Tainan’s ability to stuff one’s stomach with local delicacies, its rich cultural roots as well as the pleasant weather, and have been regretting not being born in Tainan ever since.
It would not be ethical to hoard such a wonderful place to myself, so here is my introduction to a series of walking tours (and the occational biking or public transport) that may allow you to stroll around some of Tainan’s best attractions in a day:
Starting an early morning with a bowl of fresh beef soup, this course takes you through a blur of savory street cuisine that Tainan boasts, as well as showing off the cultural side of the city which strikes a perfect balance between modern and ancient, spiked with a touch of history, and you get to top off the day with beers from all around the world at your selection!
Six Thousand Beef Soup 六千牛肉湯 → Blueprint Cultural & Creative Park 藍晒圖文創園區 → Tainan Judical Museum 臺南司法博物館 → GuoHua Street 國華街（Lin’s Taiwanese Churros 林家白糖粿、Ya-Mi Doughnuts 亞米甜甜圈、Tai-Cheng Fruit Shop 泰成水果店、Quan-Wei-Jia Ice Cream 蜷尾家）→ Qian-Cao New World Marketplace 淺草新天地 → Ming-Dong Cake 名東蛋糕 → Shen-Nong Old Street 神農街 → Coffin-board Sandwich 棺材板 → ChihKan Tower 赤崁樓 → Black Worker Herbal Jelly 黑工號嫩仙草 → CM Second-Round Theater 今日全美戲院 → Belgium Beer Market 啤酒超市
Highlights of the Trip
Six Thousand Beef Soup 六千牛肉湯
One of the most famously known beef soup all around Tainan. It is said that the first pot of the soup tastes the best, so be sure to get up very early in the morning, i.e. 4-ish, and grab the number card! But this author assures you that it would be certainly worth the wait.
Tainan Judical Museum 臺南司法博物館
GuoHua Street 國華街
This street is practically the epitome of food paradise. Opening early in the morning, you would be able to find all sorts of food that Tainan boasts tucked into this bustling market. However, note that most stores close after 19. or 20.
Ming-Dong Cake 名東蛋糕
This is one of the souvenirs that is perfect for breakfast, luch, afternoon tea or dinner. With classic and innovative flavours, it caters to all kinds of customer.
Shen-Nong Old Street 神農街
Moving on, Shennong Street is somewhere quaint and quiet — due to the fact that it is a residence area — and you would be able to find original designs and novel creations throughout the alleys.
Coffin-board Sandwich 棺材板
Once food for poor man, this dish which combines chicken, seafood or pork, mixed with vegetables to create chowder that could then be poured into the remnants of stale (roasted) bread, is now the hottest tourist food in Tainan.
ChihKan Tower 赤崁樓
Black Worker Herbal Jelly 黑工號嫩仙草
CM Second-Round Theater 今日全美戲院
This is actually a two-generation-old theater, and currently it plays second-round movies at a fairly reasonable price, which greatly appeals to students and elders alike. It has cultivated a lot of famous people in the entertainment industry, including the Taiwanese Oscar-winner director Ang-Lee, who has said that he used to love coming here to watch classics while he was still at school.
Belgium Beer Market 啤酒超市
This should be the most diversified beer market on this island, its collections ranging from common brands in various countries to rare items, and is a must-visit no matter if you are a beer-lover!
Retracing the footprints of the early Dutch settlers, after a feast at GuoHua Street, this course guides you to Anping District, where you delve into historical spots, get off of the vendor-lined Anping Old Street and onto the quiet side roads that beckon to be explored, follows with the glorious sunset. Dinner takes you to Bao An Road, where more alluring food awaits.
Anonymous Breakfast 無名早餐 → GuoHua Street 國華街（ A-Song Meat Steamed Bun 阿松刮包、Yi-Wei-Pin Bowled Rice Cake 一味品碗粿、Yong-Le Roasted Pork Rice 永樂燒肉飯、Huang’s Fried Eel Noodles 黃記鱔魚意麵、Si-Guan Handmade Tea 泗管茶飲）→ Wang’s Milkfish Skin Soup 王氏魚皮 → Anping Fort 安平古堡 → Anping Matsu Temple 開臺天后宮 → Anping Old Street 安平老街（Shrimp Cookies 蝦餅、Jasmine Lane 茉莉巷、Lin-Yung-Tai-Sing Preserved Fruits 林永泰興蜜餞、Anping Tofu Pudding 安平豆花、Chicken House 炸雞洋行）→ Anping Tree House 安平樹屋 → Sio House Salt Museum 夕遊出張所 → Sunset Platform 觀夕平台 → Bao An Road 保安路（A-Ming Pig Heart Green Bean Noodles 阿明豬心冬粉、 A-Qing Almond Tea 阿卿杏仁茶）
Anonymous Breakfast 無名早餐
This is a breakfast beloved by locals just near to Shennong Street. It is renowned for its “meat-egg toast 肉蛋吐司”, and sells awesome fresh milk tea at a good price. Don’t eat to the full here yet, because our next stop is GuoHua Street again!
GuoHua Street 國華街
Wang’s Milkfish Skin Soup 王氏魚皮
Next, we move on to Anping District, and naturally, we stop first at the best fish soup in Tainan to get a taste before its early closing time, also to get ready for all the walking later on!
Anping Fort 安平古堡
A remnant from the Dutch, this fortress provided the Dutch East India Company with an ideal port and sea-defense location in Taiwan. Unfortunately for the Dutch, their small army didn’t last long against the Chinese forces rallied behind Koxinga, and they surrendered in 1662. All is left now is the buildings that have woven stories from the early colonial Taiwan, welcoming tourists to take a stroll down the memory lane.
Anping Matsu Temple 開臺天后宮
Anping Tree House 安平樹屋
After waiving through the touristic stores as well as decades-old shops that lined both sides of the Anping Old Street, you get to take a look at the original warehouse for British trading company Tait & Co. The aerial roots and branches of trees wrapped around the building, combind with soil, red brick and partial concrete wall creates an unusual sight.
Sio House Salt Museum 夕遊出張所
Once used for storage, selling, and inspection of salt during the Japanese colony, the site now provides a spot to get some souvenirs for yourself or your loved ones. It displays salt in 365 different colors, one for each day of the year, with a short blessing tagged on it.
Sunset Platform 觀夕平台
It would take a good twenty minutes or so to walk to the sea, and the wind picks up along the way. Make sure you arrive before sunset — the view is totally worth it!
Bao An Road 保安路
If GuoHua Street is a food paradise in the morning, then Bao An Road is the food paradise of the night. My only suggestion is: keep an open heart and try everything.
Starting with the Taiwanese Omelet beloved by local students, you then stroll leisurely through the epicenters of culture and education in Taiwan then and now, where evidence of Koxinga’s and Japanese’s rule highlights the way. You get to be introduced to this author’s favourite private spots as well as cliche but must-go tourist attractions, and as the sun sets, your stomach is just about to get its treat.
Shao-Ye Taiwanese Omelet 少爺蛋餅 → Cheng Kung University 成功大學 → Old Tainan Magistrate Residence 知事官邸 → Old Tainan Weather Bureau 氣象博物館 → National Museum of Taiwan Literature 國立臺灣文學館 → Tainan Confucius Temple 孔廟 → Narrow Door Cafe 窄門咖啡 → Lily’s Fruit Shop 莉莉水果店 → Shen-Tian Popsicle 順天冰棒 → Sichuan Local Cuisine 巴蜀風道地四川麻辣美食 → Da Dong Night Market 大東夜市 → Hu-San Dairy 虎山鮮奶 → Hayashi Department Store 林百貨
Shao-Ye Taiwanese Omelet 少爺蛋餅
Cheng Kung University 成功大學
Take a stroll in the broad campus of CKU, the best university of southern Taiwan, after eating the omelet that is popular among CKU students.
Old Tainan Magistrate Residence 知事官邸
Constructed in 1911, it was the residence for administrative officials in Tainan at the time and also the temporary residence for the Governor-General of Taiwan during the Japanese Occupation Period. The exquisite brick architecture features rare wooden blinds and door screens.
Tainan Confucius Temple 孔廟
Tainan Confucius Temple is the first temple in Taiwan which memorizes Confucius, also the first and highest academy in Taiwan teaching Confucianism during the Ming and Cing dynasties. One of the most important commemorative rituals to be done during the Confucius Cultural Festival held in the Teacher’s Day is celebrating Confucius’ birthday. The grounds are relaxing, and you could often see those practicing Tai Chi taking shelter under the shade of the trees.
Narrow Door Cafe 窄門咖啡
As the name implies, the lane that leads to the second floor where the cafe is located at is extremely narrow, and the entrance itself is not easy to find, too. There are a lot of quarky and independent shops like this lying around the Confucious temple, and I wouldn’t say no to an afternoon wasted on diving in and out of them.
Lily’s Fruit Shop 莉莉水果店
It sells one of my favourite shaved ice at a fairly reasonable price.
Shen-Tian Popsicle 順天冰棒
Okay, this is my all time favourite popsicle shop in this universe. From old-time delights to modern flavours, Shen-Tian sells cheap popsicles with high quality and never fails to bring a smile to your face.
Sichuan Local Cuisine 巴蜀風道地四川麻辣美食
If you are fond of spicy food, you are definitely in for a treat! This restaurant sells authentic Sichuan food, which makes its spice speacial and mesmerizing. Trying its cold noodles is a must.
Hu-San Dairy 虎山鮮奶
There has been a movement in Taiwan that has people supporting independent farmers much more than ever, and Husan is one of them. After eating your full at the night market, you could pick a bottle of this pure and tasty milk on your way back.
Hayashi Department Store 林百貨
Built in 1932, it was named after its Japanese owner, Mr. Hayashi, and was once the biggest department store in Tainan. The first elevator in Tainan sits in this department store. Nowadays, it displays a wide variety of innovative whatsnots from big companies and independent creators alike.
As the oldest city in Taiwan, Tainan oozes history and culture fusion. From the redbrick walls in Fort Anping (安平古堡) that witnesses Dutch reign, the first Confucian Temple ever built in Taiwan under the watch of Koxinga’s son, Zheng Jing, to the palatable street foods that weaves stories from centuries past and the present. It is a city that is so low-key but alluring, anyone would hate to see it being underrated in sightseeing values. Walking is the most suitable way to go around in Tainan, though it might make you sweat a bit during the hotter months, you have the best chance to stumble upon those xiaochi (小吃) , historic remnants and warm locals that Tainan has to offer.
End Notes: I would like to thank my friends, 唯竣、辰辰、婉婷、子慶、淳峰、楊軒, who befriended me during my stay in Tainan and bonded over work at Fuqi Hostel. They provided at least half of the pictures that are seen in this article, and gave concrete suggestions on the route planning.