I recently went to Taipei for a physical examination. What struck me was the good deal. It cost NT$4,000 or about HK$1,038 for an extensive check-up, much cheaper than in Hong Kong.
The delicious traditional Taiwanese dishes which I came to enjoy were a bonus.
My friend and I headed straight to one of his favorite restaurants in Taipei on the day I finished the exam.
Hao Ji Dan Zai Mian, which has operated for the past 20 years on Songjiang Road, is famous for a type of Taiwanese noodles that trace back more than a hundred years.
Packed with customers every night, the restaurant, which is run by a family, offers a set meal of 20 dishes, including fotiaoqiang (a stew comprising multiple ingredients like abalone and shark fin), Taiwanese rice cake, chicken and of course dan zai mian, among others, for NT$7,000 — a bargain that makes one feel it cares about the finances of its patrons.
I also could not resist its homemade mullet roe which costs just NT$690 a box, a fraction of the price at the airport.
I was especially grateful to the owner because he gave me two extra free boxes for the five I bought.
The next day, we went to Mei Zi, a restaurant that has been open for more than 40 years in Wu Tiao Tong in downtown Taipei.
Its food is famous among locals and visitors alike, especially the Japanese, for whom it comes highly recommended.
Dishes on the must-eat list include omelet with dried radish, steamed clams and baked mullet roe.
By the way, Gu Long, the late and famous novelist who was born in Hong Kong and died in Taiwan, had been one of its regular patrons.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on May 19
Translation by Taka Liu
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