Last weekend I made a trip down to Taichung. I rarely get out of Taipei to be honest, but I wanted to see the city with a friend who’s frequently down there to visit family. Guess what, there’s a lot going on in Taichung…who knew? I’m totally kidding. Taichung’s been cool for a long time, and it’s both quick and easy to get there. Here’s what I got up to…
Taichung is home to Gubami, which serves the 900NT bowl of beef noodle soup featured in the Buzzfeed “Worth It” video introducing soups in Taiwan. Gubami only has 4 or 5 tables though, so you might want to call ahead and plan your entire day around the reservation. I didn’t do that this time, but I might actually do that next time.
If you’re more of the spontaneous type, I really enjoyed these two budget-friendly establishments: Fu Din Wang, which is famed for braised pork knuckle noodles. And the 35-year-old 湖南味, where my friend has been going since she was a kid. You can get a delicious bowl of noodles in fragrant clear broth for 40NT. The cold braised beef, tripe and tendon are sold by weight. They have three locations in Taichung.
Try Famous Taichung Desserts
Taichung has so many great desserts to pick from. You can go crazy over the pineapple cakes and ice cream at Miyahara. Have bubble tea at the original Chun Shui Tang store. Get suncakes from basically anywhere, then visit the Sun Cake Museum. Yes, that’s a real place. Or you can do what I did, and pick up a box of honey castella cake from Banshin Castella Cake.
Banshin is run like an exclusive, old-school bank. The fresh-out-of-the-oven cakes are sliced by hand, cooled with handheld paper fans, and boxed up to order. The staff address you as Miss or Mr. So-and-so, and the customers wait patiently and quietly for their orders. Is all this fuss worth it? I would say sure, why not. The texture of the cake can only be described as addictively “Q”.
Soak Up the Taichung Architecture
In Taipei, we’re used to a skyline dominated by Taipei 101. We rarely see new skyscrapers pop up. But in Taichung, the area around Civic Park and the Taichung City Government building is home to so many modern, interesting high rises it’s a nice change of scenery from what we’re used to in Taipei.
There were a few sights outside the city I was a little bummed to miss this trip. I really wanted to visit the 921 Earthquake Museum. And also the Wufeng Lin Family Garden. And maybe check out the Asia Museum of Modern Art designed by Tadao Ando. But I’ve got them bookmarked for next time.
Of course, the most interesting building in all of Taichung (if not Taiwan) is National Taichung Theater, and it can’t be missed.
Explore the National Taichung Theater
The National Taichung Theater is a magnet for Instagrammers for good reason. The building is simply stunning. It was designed by Japanese architect Toyo Ito and was officially opened in 2016 after a difficult construction period. You can see Chinese opera and other performances inside (buying tickets to a show is the only way to see the Grand Theater). Sadly there wasn’t much happening the weekend I was there, so we went up to the rooftop during sunset and were totally charmed by the gardens and the lovely views. Next time, I’ll be taking the official tour to learn more about the design.
Stop For A Drink or Two
My friend took me to Goût Bar for a cocktail the night I arrived (it’s located behind a secret door inside the Gubami beef noodle soup place), and then we had a beer at the Taihu TapRoom, which has a bustling rooftop area. I have to say sometimes it’s just as fun to observe locals in their natural habitat as it is to go sightseeing.
Wrap Up with Late-Night Hotpot
People in Taichung love hotpot, especially the kind where you have a little pot all to yourself. In my opinion, it’s the perfect way to end a fun day in Taichung.
I found a place called 月暮藏涮涮鍋 which was probably one of my all-time favorite hotpot meals. The dining room has a super-luxe interior and a U-shaped formation. They have meat and seafood options for their set menus, with prices ranging from 499NT to 1,500+NT depending on the kind of meat or seafood you choose. There’s a 90-minute dining window, so try to fit it in before you head back to the High Speed Rail station.
The Vegas-style hotpot restaurant I ate at was 月暮藏涮涮鍋 and it’s open until midnight all week long. A couple of backup options I bookmarked were 昭日堂鍋煮 which has an absolutely incredible dining space. They’re open until 11pm on weekends. While 湯棧 nearby stays open even later until 2am. Since late-night dining is so common I’d suggest making a reservation so you don’t show up only to get turned away. That would be pretty devastating.
Where are your favorite spots in Taichung? I’d love to hear for my next trip down there…