Upon arriving in Taiwan, people were aghast and genuinely sympathetic to hear that we are vegetarians. Popular opinion, at least amongst the other westerners we spoke to, was that life would be difficult if not impossible. At the same time, they admitted that the meat here is of a “different” quality to what you might be used to from back home. Chicken on the bone is notoriously and inevitably more bone than chicken. “Eat-flakes” are one of the more unpalatable meat dishes to western sensibilities: dried pork grated into a meat floss, that then lurks in otherwise appetizing looking pastries, ready to ambush the unsuspecting taste-buds.
Fortunately, there is an abundance of vegetarian and vegan restaurants in LuoDong, so Charlie and I haven’t yet had to go hungry! Below is a map showing a number of vegetarian places near to our apartment. Eating out at one of these restaurants typically costs somewhere between $45 – 85NT (which is about £1 – to £1.80 per meal) so in typical Taiwanese fashion we eat out more often than we cook at home.
B) Our Apartment! Pretty much ideally located between our school and the train station.
RED) Our School. About five minutes walk from our place.
一) An all-you-can-eat vegetarian buffet. The name hasn’t yet been translated into English, but we’ll try and be the first! The food here is excellent, as is the hostess, a purple-clad force of nature who heaps food onto her guests’ plate and admonishes them for using the wrong tongs simultaneously. $85 NT.
二) “Metal Rice Ball.” Another buffet-style restaurant. The food is good here, but the main attraction is certainly the decor – the low lighting and wood paneling creates a very relaxed atmosphere. Both times we ate here we had the top floor completely to ourselves. Would be a fantastic place to bring a bottle of wine! $70-ish NT.
三) We’ve actually yet to eat here. It’s either been closed or ominously empty when we’ve wandered past, it has the eerie look of somebody’s grandma’s front room. Still, shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover…
四) A little vegetarian place just up the road from us. We both ordered by randomly pointing at the Mandarin menu, Charlie got an excellent chilli-vegetable medley and I got a mediocre bowl of orange noodles in milk soup. You win some you lose some. The staff were kind enough to keep the place open later than usual for us so that we could finish our food at a leisurely pace.
五) “Loving Hut.” Our favorite place to eat. Loving Hut is a Taiwanese chain, set up by followers of the Supreme Master Chai. Yes, it sounds a little cult-esque, but when they do a fantastic spicy noodle soup for $60NT, who cares? Appropriately enough, the staff are genuinely lovely too.
六) Another vegetarian place that we’ve yet to sample. Will update you on the weekend when we have time for a meal!