When was the last time you ate a traditional Taiwanese meal? A new award recognizes the top 500 Taiwanese dishes. Food critics came together to pick “500 Plates”: the best dishes to represent Taiwan’s authentic and unique cuisine. The winners range from small family kitchens to the fanciest joints in town.
Golden deep-fried pork ribs, orange snow crab porridge, and silken tofu with preserved eggs, sliced into a work of art. These are some of the highlights of “500 Plates.” Unlike global names such as the Michelin Guide or Bib Gourmand, these local food critics have come together to choose the 500 most Taiwanese dishes.
We weren’t voting on the restaurants, but on the dishes. So personally I think that means it produces a broader and more diverse perspective.
Today, from our understanding of local ingredients, we’re more and more familiar with Taiwanese flavors, and we understand Taiwanese flavors can be very contemporary. It doesn’t have to be nostalgic or retro.
Fifty professional food critics were invited to choose 10 of the most unforgettable dishes of the last year, from 293 restaurants across Taiwan. The restaurant with the most nominated dishes – a solid 11 – was Taipei’s Xi Xiang Feng Noodles. The Pingtung indigenous restaurant Akame gleaned nine nominations. The youngest award-winning chef was Yang Po-wei, whose creative mahi mahi preparation wowed the critics.
In Hualien and Taitung, we have rich fishing resources. Mahi mahi eat flying fish, so they’re also called flying fish stew. So we put the mahi mahi and flying fish together in one dish, a little bit like showing the ecological chain of the food.
The winning plates range from private chefs’ delicacies to small family eateries. These 500 dishes present the heart of Taiwan’s culinary heritage for the diners of 2021.
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