Besides shopping and sightseeing, another great way to enjoy your stay in Taoyuan is to dine in different local restaurants and experience the nightlife. Indeed, eating and drinking in Taoyuan has been the favorite pastime of both locals and tourists. While not as industrialized as its neighboring region Taipei, plenty of restaurants and bars are available in Taoyuan and Zhongli City, mostly concentrated in Zhongzheng Road District. In addition, several specialty restaurants also serve authentic hakka cuisines and other Taiwanese exotic dishes.
If you want to try the best fish dish, you may visit Shimen Reservoir in Fuxing Township as it is home to elusive fish that have become meatier after the reservoir turned from river to lake. Shimen fresh fish is only limited to Taoyuan and it is popular since it is difficult to catch. Swimming through the deep waters for years, these fish seem to have firmer, stronger, boneless and odorless meat. Most species found are snakeheads and grass carp. Popular restaurants serving Shimen fish include Ming Yuan Live Fish Restaurant, Family Fish Restaurant, Wangchau Live Fish Restaurant etc.
Because Taoyuan has a significant population with Hakka ancestry, the food there is also heavily influenced by Hakka gourmet food. It is strongly suggested that visitors sample various delectables from Hakka cuisine when coming to Taoyuan. Some of the most common Hakka gourmet food includes marinated meat, ginger-fried pork intestine, Hakka-style stir-fry noodles, and steamed native chicken. Since Hakka food appears to be a little salty and greasy, many restaurants in Taoyuan improvise their cooking styles to make it tastier, trendier and most importantly, healthier. Common Hakka restaurants in Taoyuan include Great Chef Hakka Restaurant in Bade City, Daoxiangcun Hakka Villa in Gueishan Township, Dad’s Lover in Zhongzheng Road.
Almost every mid-sized city in Taiwan has a busy night market and Taoyuan County is no exception. Taoyuan Tourist Night Market and Zhongzheng Road District are the best places for eating and drinking in Taoyuan. Many locals and tourists come here to spend the night looking around, shopping, sampling street foods and enjoying inside bright KTV bars. Night markets remain the ideal choice for experiencing true Taoyuan nightlife. Try some common Taiwanese street foods such as deep-fried chicken, pork sausages, braised organs or meat on sticks, pig’s blood cake, oyster omelets, squid, beef noodle soup, oyster vermicelli, dumplings and steamed buns, stinky tofu and candied fruits.
For tourists, perhaps the best thing to do during evening is to stroll aimlessly around the commercial districts like Zhongzheng Road. There are plenty of restaurants and eateries in Taoyuan where alcohol is sold. If you wanted a little drink, you can buy a beer at any convenience store near you and drink it outside. Many restaurants set up tables and chairs along the sidewalk for a relaxing open-air drinking.
The tourism promotion and development of Taoyuan County may be considered quite recent, yet one cannot deny the advance on the food styles and establishments which are the fruit of the governments 10 years of effort. Eating and drinking in Taoyuan is probably the best way to learn the culture and meet the locals.