Vegetarian Dumplings 素餃子

I am a huge fan of dumplings, but most vegetarian places in Taiwan don’t seem to have them. It is a problem in some mainland Chinese cities as well, like Xiamen. Even if they are listed on the menu, it doesn’t actually mean the restaurant still makes them anymore. Sometimes they are store-bought, which defeats the purpose of buying them in a restaurant.

This week I decided to try and find some dumplings. I’ve had vegetarian dumplings at Din Tai Feng, but they are expensive. Compared to dumpling restaurants in China, particularly those run by people from the northeast (dumplings are from northeastern China), Din Tai Feng has a very narrow selection of dumplings in general.

The first place I went to simply because I ran into it walking down an alley. The place, 山西刀削麵之家, is in an alley near Zhongxiao Dunhua station in Taipei. It was nice to have Daoxiao Noodles, though they dried out quickly. Could it be the air conditioning? While the Daoxiao noodles I ate nearly everyday in the Hainan University cafeteria had a lot more vegetables and volume, cost a sixth as much, and were spicier, this is the closest approximation I’ve had in Taiwan. The dumplings weren’t any better than ones from the supermarket.

The second day I went to the place I intended to go on the first – 謝師傅素食園. It happens to be closed on Mondays. It is an actual bona-fide vegetarian restaurant. I had two types of dumplings there – steamed and regular dumplings. The regular dumplings cost less and tasted good, but had little filling. The steamed dumplings had more filling, but the filling wasn’t tasty at all. You will probably end up buying more food at another place after if you go here. Still, I will probably end up going there in the future as its location right by Zhongxiao Dunhua station is very convenient for me. If you want to get there, I should note that even though the address says it is at 210, Section 4 Zhongxiao Rd, it is not actually on Zhongxiao Rd. You have to walk behind the strip of buildings along that main road to find the place.

The third day, I went to 京園素食餐廳. By far the best vegetarian dumplings I have had in Taiwan, and they have other dishes that taste like the equivalents in mainland China. The  was great. The only downfall of this restaurant is that it is near Xingtian Temple Station on the Orange line – a station that won’t actually be opened for at least another two years. Fastest way to walk would be from Zhongshan Junior High School Station – but even that is a brisk 20 minute walk. It also isn’t near my apartment or future employment – but that won’t stop me from going back.

Here, Mapo Doufu and a plate of potstickers:

By volume, the potstickers are about 3x as large as dumplings from other restaurants in Taiwan. I was very satisfied. But they have even larger dumplings available – for 30NT per.  It is roughly the size of a smashed up McDonald’s hamburger:

Tonight I went to a place at 249 Nanchang Street, Section 2 (near Guting station). They had soup dumplings with noodles and vegetarian Tom Yum soup with noodles. Very tasty, though I wished I could have tried their plain dumplings. They said they had run out of all the ingredients to make that (I came about 30 minutes before closing). http://www.ipeen.com.tw/shop/shop.php?id=30515 has some info about it in Chinese. There are several vegetarian restaurants on the same street, in the same area, so I still have to investigate those as well!

Anyhow, if you are vegetarian/vegan and want to find places in Taipei, two good lists to start with:

http://www.happycow.net/asia/taiwan/taipei/

http://www.ipeen.com.tw/search/store_search.php?kw=%E7%B4%A0%E9%A3%9F (Chinese only)

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