Taipei, Taiwan places to eat: Seven dishes you must try according to Michelin-star chef, Richard Chen

PAN-SEARED FRESH OYSTER WITH SWEET POTATO BATTER

Taiwan is an island, so you'll find an array of seafood almost all year round. The oysters from the region are so clean and fresh, their sweet taste goes so well with Taiwanese cabbage, basil leaf, egg, and sweet potato batter. Complement with a sweet and spicy tomato miso sauce, topped with cilantro. When cooked correctly, the batter will have a gummy texture. 

PAN-FRIED MEAT BUN

This was my childhood favourite breakfast, which I used to eat on my walk to elementary school. Each morning one hand would carry a meat bun and the other hand would carry a peanut rice soup. The dough texture is almost like a soft roll, and instead of baking the dough, we pan-fried it with a little water.  The filling is garlic chives, ground meat and seasoning. When you bite into it, the bottom should be a little crunchy as it is caramelised, and the middle should squish out with meat and garlic chive juice. Complement with peanut rice soup.

WOK-TOSSED RICE VERMICELLI NOODLE

This dish is not just reserved for festivals, celebrations or a holiday. This is also an every day dish – a comfort food for every family. It includes shredded cabbage, mushroom, pork, carrot, yellow onion and baby dried shrimp. Saute all ingredients in the wok, than add pre-blanched rice vermicelli with a little soy sauce, plus soy paste, ground white pepper, sugar and sesame oil, garnish with chopped celery. It's similar to Singapore noodles, without the curry powder.

SQUID HOT & SOUR SOUP

This dish has so many elements and the combinations sound a little strange, but  when you taste it, the flavour explodes in the mouth. I was in Taipei recently for an event, and after work I went out with a co-worker to two restaurants to try this classic soup. 

The strange ingredients include dehydrated squid tube, soaked in water for several days until soft, Chinese anchovy, barbecue sauce, Bonito broth, and  fresh bamboo shoot, and you must use Taiwanese's black vinegar. 

BRAISED PORK BELLY WITH BLACK MUSHROOM

This dish is another comfort food. Almost every restaurant will have it on  the menu. It is made from ground pork belly, dried black mushroom, shallot, crispy garlic, crystal rock sugar, five-spice powder and rice wine. It is cooked for 30 minutes. Ladle the meat and sauce over plain steamed rice and that's it! I guarantee you  will not be able to stop eating it.

SALTY CRISPY CHICKEN

Westerners almost always call this pop-corn chicken, it's so good you just keep putting it in your mouth. Basically it is marinated chicken thigh, marinated with garlic, soy, and sesame oil for 30 minutes. You then coat the chicken in chunky sweet potato starch and deep fry. The end result is super crispy, flavourful, juicy chicken. The secret is not to coat with batter, but coat very lightly in sweet potato starch.

PAPAYA MILKSHAKE

Basically you take ripped papaya, regular milk and condensed milk,  sugar syrup and ice, and put it all in the blender. Perfect for a hot summer day in Taipei. My mum would buy this drink for me as a special treat, when I was a child. I enjoyed it so much. I used to have to sip it very slowly so it would not run out too quickly. Now, every time I buy a papaya, I will make sure I make plenty of this shake so I can drink as much as I want. 

Dubbed the "duck master" in honour of his delectable duck dishes, chef Richard Chen has earned critical acclaim for his signature "reverse fusion" cooking, which uses Western ingredients and techniques to prepare traditional Chinese cuisine. Chen was awarded a Michelin star for his restaurant Wing Lei, the only Chinese restaurant in North America to receive this honour. Sample his cuisine at Harmony restaurant onboard Princess Cruises' newest and largest ship, Majestic Princess this cruise season. See princess.com

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