To celebrate the launch of our first Taiwan location, we decided to knock up a little insider’s guide to the shops, eateries and hangout spots worth checking out in the area known as Ximending, Wanhua District.
Nicknamed the Harajuku of Taipei, Ximending is the beating heart of Taipei’s cultural scene complete with a vibrant mix of independent restaurants, bars and shops laced with international and Japanese influence. The location for our latest Hive coworking space, by day, it oozes Taiwanese authenticity with its infamous local noodle scene, large markets of fresh fruit and vegetables and copious amounts of bubble tea. By night, the neighbourhood that never sleeps turns into a cityscape of neon brilliance to be enjoyed from a selection of bars and speakeasies or Taiwan’s most thriving LGBTQ hub behind the century-old historic landmark Red House. Interested in a district where you can enjoy unique, creative events, delicious noodles and plenty of cocktails regardless of whether it’s 4 pm and 4 am? Then you’re in the right neighbourhood. Read on to discover its hottest spots.
Unmarked by any signs, this hole-in-the-wall noodle joint can be identified by the long line of hungry lunch-goers spilling outside its doors. Inside, you are greeted by two floors of local simplicity with white neon lights, small wooden tables and a selection of either braised beef or clear broth noodle soups. A loud favourite amongst locals for over half a century, it is the hidden gem of the treasure chest that is Ximending.
Insider Tip: They might be famous for their beef noodles, but their side dishes are equally amazing. Our favourite has got to be their free-flow Chinese sauerkraut, which pairs wonderfully with the beef noodles.
Address: No.15, Taoyuan Street, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City
Open From: 11 am – 2:30 pm, 5 –7 pm (Mon – Fri) ; 11 am–3 pm (Sat)
Branching out from its popular mother restaurant in Tokyo, this authentic Japanese ramen franchise is just a stone’s throw away from Ximen station. Packed with customers sitting in wooden booths and adorned with colossal red lanterns and hanging banners of blues, yellows and reds, it’s a feast for the eyes and your stomach.
Insider Tip: Don’t say you’ve tried Ramen Nagi if you haven’t tried ‘Limited King’, a special recipe that changes regularly. It’s a bit of a courage test, though, because you won’t know what they’re going to serve you until the dish arrives, but we guarantee your taste buds will be duly rewarded.
Address: 6 /F, No. 52, Hanzhong Street, Wanhua District, Taipei City
Open From: 11:30 am – 9:30 pm (Mon – Fri) ; 11:30 am – 10 pm (Sat – Sun)
Sitting on the edge of 2/28 Peace Park, this eco-friendly, vegetarian restaurant adds a green dash to the city. Enter through glass panelled doors to grab an organic coffee or journey further into the restaurant to enjoy anything from bibimbap to silk tofu desserts.
Insider Tip: Their Chinese toon sauce noodles and papaya soya milk are must-tries!
Address: No. 9, Hengyang Road, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City
Open From: 11:30 am – 2 pm , 5:30 pm – 9 pm (Mon – Sat)
Decorated with a huge mango poking out onto the corner of the street, this is the perfect place to cool down on a hot day. Whilst its speciality is fresh mango shaved ice cream, you can satisfy your sweet tooth with flavours ranging from lychee to kiwi.
Insider Tip: Don’t attempt to eat the shaved ice alone! The portion here is huge, so you might want to share this dessert with a few more friends.
Address: No. 17, Hanzhong Street, Wanhua District, Taipei City
Open From: 10:00 am – 11:00 pm
Despite seeming to be just another small bubble tea bar on yet another busy Taipei street, Ten Ren Tea is actually the largest and best known Chinese tea manufacturer in Asia. Easily located by its vast green sign and telltale pink tea logo, this shop is the ideal place if you’re looking for a bubble tea fix to go. Choose from its wide variety ranging from taro green milk tea to the classics, it’s a wallet-friendly and hugely popular option.
Insider Tip: Not a fan of bubble? Give their fruit tea a go. True to its commitment to only using fresh fruits, they use freshly squeezed fruit juice in their drinks, which also makes them a healthy alternative to the sugary bubble tea.
Address: No. 45, Chengdu Road, Wanhua District, Taipei City
Open From: 9 am – 10 pm
If you’re looking for a breath of fresh air from Ximending at night, hunt up and down Hankou Street until you find a door hidden behind old Back to the Future and ET cinema posters. Inside, a dark staircase lit by red neon characters helps you descend into the bar where you can enjoy unique cocktails sipped out of beautiful blue rice pots or miniature bathtubs whilst enjoying live music, exhibitions and like-minded people in one of the city’s most quirky drinking holes.
Insider Tip: Want to switch out your G&T for something a little more adventurous? Go for their Taiwan-inspired signature drinks, which are marked by a red dot on the menu. They taste just as good as they look!
Address: No. 60, Section 2, Hankou Street, Wanhua District, Taipei City
Open From: 8 pm – 2 am (Sun – Thurs) ; 8 pm – 3 am (Fri & Sat)
On the ground floor of a hotel, one might expect a marble cocktail bar filled with piano music and business suits. However, Driftwood bucks the trend, reflecting the quirky neighbourhood it finds itself in. A Tiki-style bar famous for its selection of Taiwanese, UK and US craft beers, head there to perch on a wooden stool under a straw canopy while dining on a delicious plate of spicy chicken wings and sipping on a Taihu Blood Orange Berliner Weisse.
Insider Tip: You won’t want to miss out on their live performances featuring talented local singers and live bands. Follow their facebook page to stay updated with their upcoming gigs.
Address: No. 46, Kunming Street, Wanhua District, Taipei City
Open From: 5 pm – 11:30 pm (Mon – Thurs) ; 5 pm – 1:30 pm (Fri) ; 3 pm – 1:30 am (Sat) ; 3 pm – 11:30 pm (Sun)
This funky outdoor bar can be found behind the historic Red House on a street perhaps even more famous than its landmark as a vibrant hub for the LGBTQ community. Surrounded by eccentric plants, bubbly white chairs and dangling lights, this moonlit atmosphere livens up after hours for an evening of music, chatter and even a little dancing.
Insider Tip: For all you Rupaul’s Drag Queen fans, this is where you can watch all the tea and shade of the queens. Cafe Dalida hosts Rupaul’s screening parties from time to time, so make sure to follow their Facebook page to stay in the know.
Address: No. 51, Lane 10, Chengdu Road, Wanhua District, Taipei City
Open From: 7 pm – 3 am (Sun – Thurs) ; 6 pm – 4 am (Fri – Sat)
A cornerstone of Taipei’s culture and history, this iconic landmark now serves as an art and culture centre for Ximending. Inside, you’ll find countless boutiques of organic beauty products, local fashion designers, independent cafes and other totems of the local commercial culture. In the North and South Square, enjoy events ranging from pop up markets to exhibitions or even live performances.
Insider Tip: If you’re shopping in Ximending, this is a good place to find quality souvenirs for your friends and family, or knick-knacks to decorate your place.
Address: No. 10, Chengdu Road, Wanhua District, Taipei City
Open From: 11:00 am – 9:30 pm (Sun, Tue – Thurs) , 11:00 pm – 10 pm (Fri – Sat)
In just a short five minute walk from the Hive, you will find yourself at World Gym. Whilst the inside resembles the interior of a huge spaceship, the staff and atmosphere is far less intimidating, offering free trials of their state of the art machines and equipment, personal training and a variety of group classes.
Insider Tip: Not ready to commit to a gym? World Gym offers free-trial program which comes with a non-member 7-day pass. But make note, you will need to make an appointment 24 hours in advance if you wish to join the program.
Address: No. 36, Xining Road, Wanhua District, Taipei City
Open From: 6:00 am – 12:am