Discover Rich Heritage and Unique Flavors in Three Taipei Restaurants


Taiwan’s Hakka people constitute a significant ethnic group, with roots that can be traced back to waves of immigration from across the Taiwan Strait during the 17th century. More than 4.5 million descendants of those early settlers today form one of Taiwan’s most vibrant and visible minorities, known for time-honored culinary traditions and cooking techniques that make their food deliciously unmissable.

Many Hakka culinary creations reflect the self-sufficiency and resilience of the Hakka people, who often had to eke out a living in isolated mountain communities. With a focus on simplicity, the cuisine highlights the natural flavors of meats and vegetables. Hakka restaurants across the island beckon with rich authentic flavors, and from mouthwatering stir-fries to the culturally iconic lei tea (ground tea), there is something for everyone in Hakka fare.

Jin Shan Hakka Restaurant

A popular choice for Hakka food in Taipei, Jin Shan Hakka Restaurant was established in 1990. The owner moved to Taipei at the age of just 15, and first worked under the tutelage of different chefs, carefully honing his cooking skills and eventually becoming a chef in his own right. He then took over a humble porridge eatery bearing the name Jin Shan, and developed it into today’s thriving restaurant operation. The jin shan in the name translates as “golden mountain,” and is meant to symbolize the pursuit of high quality – represented by the mountain part (shan) – reinforced by the auspicious golden color (jin).

Jin Shan Hakka Restaurant
Dining space

Jin Shan Hakka Restaurant is perfect for groups, such as families or friends, with ample seating in the main dining area. In the rear of the restaurant are a couple of spacious private rooms with turntable-style tables catering to larger parties. A loyal customer base has been cultivated throughout the 30-plus years the restaurant has been in operation at the same location, and since it tends to be busy, reserving a table is recommended.

Ordering is made simple with a bilingual English and Chinese menu containing pictures of most of the dishes. For larger groups, ordering a set menu that includes the following house specialties is recommended: Simmered Leg of Pork, Hakka Baked Chicken in Salt, Braised Pork with Preserved Vegetables, and Chinese Ginger Chitterlings.

As the Simmered Leg of Pork is delivered to your table, you’ll likely be struck by the size of the serving. A wonderful hunk of pork leg sits in a beautifully decorated bowl, surrounded by shredded bamboo shoots soaking in a moat of cooking juices. Portioned by the chef and liberally topped with cilantro and scallions, this is a true showstopper. Braised for hours, the pork leg has skin that is thick and full of flavor, protecting the meat from drying out. Juicy, decadent, yet remarkably light, this is one of the house specials for a clear reason.

Simmered Leg of Pork

As is the Simmered Leg of Pork, the award-winning Hakka Baked Chicken in Salt is a dish of elegance representing a culturally important cooking style of the Hakka people. Wrapped carefully and placed atop a mound of salt in a deep pan, then encased with more salt before being cooked, the chicken inside retains a stunning amount of succulence and flavor. A hint of salt remains but is balanced superbly with the delicious, responsibly sourced, crossbred chicken used in the dish.

Hakka Baked Chicken in Salt

The Braised Pork with Preserved Vegetables is presented nicely, with thinly cut layers of fatty pork belly laid carefully on top of traditional-style preserved vegetables. This dish is rich with pork flavors, but the preserved vegetables help to cut through some of that richness, balancing the dish well.

Braised Pork with Preserved Vegetables

One of the most popular dishes, which you’ll often find on Hakka restaurant menus in Taiwan, is the Chinese Ginger Chitterlings. Pork intestine is first cleaned and cut, then marinated with ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and various spices before being stir-fried to chewy perfection. Don’t overlook this dish! It cuts through the richness of the other dishes with its vibrant sour and spicy flavors, enhancing and diversifying the entire meal.

Chinese Ginger Chitterlings

Jin Shan Hakka Restaurant is a short walk from MRT Nanjing Sanmin Station in Taipei City’s Songshan District.

White Water Snowflake with Picked Cordia Dichotoma

Liouduai Kitchen

This restaurant has been bringing Hakka food and flavors with a modern twist to the fore since 2011. You can feel comfortable walking in as an individual diner as well as part of a group of six or more, as it caters to groups and individual diners alike. As you head down the stairs from street level, you enter a modern dining space with such nods to Hakka culture as hand-woven hanging lampshades.

The restaurant is in the basement
Modern dining space with Hakka decorative elements

Under general manager Liu Guang-kai, Liouduai has evolved from a humble noodle shop on Leye Street in Taipei City’s Da’an District to an operation with several branches serving quality Hakka cuisine in Taipei and Taichung. The ongoing commitment to brand innovation and market expansion underscores the dedication to popularizing Hakka food and shining a spotlight on this distinctive cuisine.

With Hakka food, presentation often takes a back seat to ingredient quality, showcasing the practical approach to cooking preferred, while simplicity reins in flavor profiles, emphasizing the preservation of natural tastes. However, at Liouduai, while it is obvious that the retention of the cultural heritage of Hakka gastronomy is important, it is also clear that the chefs work hard at modernizing not only cooking techniques but also the ways of presenting each dish.

Salted Egg Thin Noodles with Luffa
Taro rice noodles

The restaurant focuses on healthy cooking methods, featuring low salt and oil, in addition to providing excellent value for money, while retaining traditional Hakka elements throughout. Ordering is easily navigated, with a bilingual menu and pictures available for each dish. Among the standout dishes are the Hakka Style Fried, Sauteed Tofu with Salted Egg, and unique Hakka-style Muscovado Mochi.

Hakka Style Fried is characterized by thinly sliced tofu, scallion, squid, and delicious slivers of pork belly. Balanced beautifully with light seasoning, all ingredients are stir-fried over high heat, allowing each element to retain its juiciness yet also take on a mild smokiness from the pan.

Hakka Style Fried

The Sauteed Tofu with Salted Egg is a delectable explosion of flavor at every bite. Chunks of soft and succulent tofu are first deep-fried to retain their juicy center while the skin takes on a golden color. The tofu chunks are then interspersed with chunks of soft-centered pumpkin and stir-fried together with salted egg and scallion.

Sauteed Tofu with Salted Egg

For dessert, order the Hakka Style Muscovado Mochi. It arrives at your table in two bowls. One contains beautifully shaped mochi soaking in a Muscovado sugar syrup, and the other various seeds, including peanuts. Ridges line the inside of the second bowl, so you can grind the seeds using a wooden pestle. Once ground to a fine powder, using one of the provided small dessert forks you then dip the soaked mochi into the powder, pop the mochi in your mouth, and smile with glee as all the various flavors explode on your palate.

Hakka Style Muscovado Mochi
The mochi is dipped into the powder mix
Chayote Vine in Sesame Paste
Peanut Tofu
Fried Red Yeast Pork
Salted Pork Pancake Roll
Red Bean & Taro Ball Tofu Pudding

Liouduai has five locations, one near MRT Zhongshan Station in central Taipei; a branch specializing in lunchboxes within walking distance of MRT Nanjing Fuxing Station, also in the city; another near MRT Xinpu Station in New Taipei City’s Banqiao District; as well as two in the city of Taichung’s Xitun District.

Kitchen Restaurant

Sitting quietly and unassumingly on a backstreet in the heart of Taipei City, Kitchen Restaurant has served up Hakka culinary specialties for over 20 years. It’s the perfect place for groups of diners to enjoy reasonably priced Hakka cuisine set meals sitting around turntable-style tables. Arriving in the evening, you’ll be beckoned in by an alluring backlit designer-created logo outside, and inside you’ll be warmly greeted by the owner, Liu De-xing. His energy and passion for Hakka food is infectious, and he is quick to offer his recommendations and suggestions as you get ready to order.

Kitchen Restaurant

Upon sitting down at your table, you’ll find a pot of hot tea ready and waiting, setting the tone for a comfortable and welcoming Hakka food experience, with great attention paid to service. While the lights above each table shine brightly, allowing the food to take center stage, lighting throughout the restaurant is less bright, allowing a warm and calm feeling to sink in.

Dining area

The menu features Chinese, Japanese, and English for each item, ensuring that you will feel comfortable knowing exactly what you are ordering. Taking your order patiently, Mr. Liu will confirm that you have selected an appropriate amount based on the number in your party.

Among the delicious Hakka dishes offered, highlights include the Hakka Stir-Fry, Hakka-style Braised Pork with Pickled Vegetables, and Wrinkled Tender Tofu.

The Hakka Stir-Fry combines tofu, squid, celery, and pork in a light soy sauce with tiny dried sakura shrimp. Each bite offers fresh flavors that complement each other nicely, with bursts of sweetness coming through from the shrimp.

Hakka Stir-Fry

The Hakka-style Braised Pork with Pickled Vegetables is served on a long plate that is separated into two sections. On one side are delicately steamed buns, and on the other, you have generously sliced pork belly that has been braised low and slow to allow a silky smooth texture. Take a bun and carefully place the belly pork inside, on top of which you should put a modest portion of the scallion shavings and cilantro. Upon biting down on this succulently savory Hakka sandwich, the pillowy steamed bun gives way to a slice of belly pork that, while looking rich and fatty, tastes light and juicy. The addition of scallion and cilantro helps to draw away any sense of richness or overindulgence, imparting a fragrant freshness.

Hakka-style Braised Pork with Pickled Vegetables
Hakka-style hamburger

Lastly, the Wrinkled Tender Tofu features carefully fried tofu cubes in a light garlic-infused sauce, topped with scallion and Bonito flakes, offering subtle flavors and gentle textures. As you bite into the egg-enriched tofu, there’s a mild resistance to the skin that then gives way to a silky tofu innard, and a fragrance of egg and tofu bursts into the air.

Wrinkled Tender Tofu
Deep-fried Shrimp Balls with Pineapple
Rice Flour with Flag Fish and Taro

Kitchen Restaurant has two operations in Taipei City, one near MRT Nanjing Fuxing Station downtown and the other near MRT Dahu Park Station in Neihu District. Reservations are recommended due to high demand during peak times.