What does one do in Taipei? You eat your heart out! Believe it or not, the eating scene in Taiwan is overwhelming yet exciting even for the vegans and vegetarians. So, skip the expensive restaurants and brave the streets for local bites that won’t hurt your wallet.
This post is part of the series called Cheap Eats in Taipei. In this post, I focus on the cheap eats around Taipei Main Station.
Shang Ding Royal Shui Jian Bao 上頂皇家素水煎包
It’s called Shui Jian Bao (literally: Water Fried Bun). As funny as it sounds, it is named after the way it is prepared – steamed and then pan fried; this makes the bun crispy on the outside and soft and juicy in the inside. They share the same recipe as regular stuffed steamed buns but with an alternative way of cooking them.
They’re stuffed with any number of fillings, this shop in particular offers three different fillings; cabbage, bamboo and mustard greens. Each stuffed with a mixture of mung beans noodles and seasoned with salt and pepper. Those craving for a little more flavor can drizzle soy sauce and chili sauce offered at the condiments table. Additionally, this shop also offers soy milk and pan-fried dumplings, aka Gyoza.
Shang Ding Roayl Shui Jian Bao 上頂皇家素水煎包 being a franchise can be found in a number of spots Taipei. The best part is that it’s all vegan.
Address: 台北市中正區懷寧街6之2號 No.6 – 2 Huaining St., Zhong Zheng Dist., Taipei City
Hours: Mondays to Sundays 06:30 – 19:30
Xiu Yuan Vegetarian Restaurant 修圓素食
On the right side of the pan-fried bun shop is another vegetarian and vegan-friendly eatery. Xiu Yuan offers a wide range of options for hungry patrons. Menu range from soup noodles, to friend rice and vegetarian and vegan versions of Taiwanese traditional bites!
Dining here at lunch feels like an organised chaos. On one hand, you see patrons flooding in through the small entrance looking left and right for tables and staff hustling and busting processing orders and handling payments. Despite everything that’s happening, our order came through really fast.
For a more comfortable dining experience, do come slightly before or after the lunch rush.
The menu here is in Chinese only, and you mark your order on papers that are on the table. This place is vegetarian with plenty of vegan options to choose from. Some safe options include our favorites 麻醬麵 (ma jiang mian / sesame sauce noodles) and 豆干 (dou gan / braised tofu).
Address: 台北市中正區懷寧街6之3號 No. 6-3 Huaining Street, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan,
Hours: Closed on Mondays ; Tuesday to Sunday 07:00 – 21:00
Miao Yuan Vegetarian Restaurant 妙緣素食館
The third vegan-friendly eatery on the same strip is Maio Yuan Eatery, a pay by weight buffet. In here, what you see is what you get, there is no menu, just a buffet table with all the dishes laid out in plain sight. Compared to other pay by weight places, this restaurant offers a small range of options. The food here won’t blow you away, but it will surely fill your hungry belly. It has good food, friendly and English speaking staff and a clean dining environment.
Address: 台北市中正區懷寧街6之11號 No. 6-11 Huaining Street, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan,
Hours: Mondays to Sundays 10:30 – 20:30
Yo Yo Vegetarian Restaurant 宥佑素食坊
Different to the other places in the area, Yo Yo is located in the underground mall of Main Station close to Z8 exit. While I haven’t had the opportunity to dine there, I’ve read many good things about this place. Their menu features several noodles and rice options along with mock meat options, from mock seafood to mock cutlets. I’ll have to head there the next time around and hope they are open for business.
Address: 台北捷運站前地下街17-3號 Taipei Main Station Underground Mall No. 17-3 Close to Z8 Exit
Hours: Mondays to Sundays 10:30 – 20:30
San Lai Vegetarian Restaurant 三來素食館
San Lai is another one of many pay-by-weight vegetarian buffets in the area. It’s located in between Taipei Main Station and Ximen Station. A local favorite for over 20 years and highly regarded by local residents as a quick and affordable vegetarian meal. San Lai stands out from the rest as it offers one of the most comprehensive selections of dishes, numbering well over 30-40 on any given day. By the entrance, San Lai offers grab and go lunch boxes, salad rolls, Gua Bao (Taiwanese burgers) and packaged treats. The food is basic and slightly greasy.
Address: 台北市中正區武昌街一段23號 No. 23, Wucang St., Zhongzeng Dist., Taipei City
Hours: Mondays to Sundays 09:00 – 20:00