I’m almost certain many people share the same thoughts as I do. When we go to someplace foreign, we have the urge to try all types of food. But when we go back home, we yearn for the same food we have grown up eating.

Red braised beef noodle soup

I have revisited Taiwan multiple times since moving back to Seoul. Our family still had a house in Taipei up until two years ago. Since then, with heavy hearts, we decided to permanently move back to Seoul. But I can definitely say Taipei is still my home.

You know how in video games, characters often have to go back to home base or some kind of fort to get recharged? With all the stress and uncertainties I faced in Korea, Taiwan has always been the home base for me. Not going back for two years made me incredibly homesick, and I knew that it was time for me to go back to get recharged.

With food.

I’m sure many people know this already, but Taiwan boasts itself for the incredible food it has to offer. Rightly so, because living there for fifteen years, I was always amazed at how delicious the food was.

Stir-fried clam
Kung Pao chicken
Gan ban mien
Tofu side dish
Another type of tofu side dish

Going back this time, like many other previous trips back, I had one goal in mind. Eat all the food I miss from back home. My friends who see me post Taiwan food photos on Instagram might have noticed how I always eat the same food from the same place. I am guilty of that. Every time I go back to Taiwan I eat at places around my home/school and hardly go downtown.

Tomato beef noodle (my favorite type of beef noodle)
Beef wrapped in scallion pancake
Douhua, tofu pudding dessert with red beans, tapioca pearls, and aiyu jelly (my favorite combo)

But that’s the thing. Those food bring back so much fond memories (plus they’re incredibly delicious). They’re my soul food. Why go to popular places that could be bombarded with tourists, when you can settle for something equally delicious yet more local.

Xiao long bao, Chinese soup dumpling
Red oil wontons
Pork chop over rice
Vegetable dumplings
Kong xin cai (water spinach)
Green beans side dish

As much as I enjoy traveling to new places, I still prefer to go back to Taiwan whenever I have the leisure to travel. I love visiting my old school, going to my neighborhood, and having throwback moments.

I am so at-home whenever I go back. But at the same time, I see so many changes to my neighborhood. Liu Mama, a noodle place my friends and I go to, is no longer in a dingy place under the mall but moved somewhere nicer. Mary’s Hamburger also moved, and my favorite fried chicken stall is nowhere to be seen.

For me, I am definitely afraid of the changes. More so because I don’t get to go back to Taiwan like a lot of my high school friends do. So the rare chance that I do go back, I search for the familiarity. And the changes frighten me because I fear to lose a part of my childhood I treasure so dearly.

Yet familiarity always comes in the form of food. And I guess that’s why I eat the same type of food whenever I’m in Taiwan. Because no matter how much a place changes, the food and the nostalgia it brings will never change.

Mango shaved ice
Fried stinky tofu
Oyster omelet
Braised Pork rice
Dan bing, Breakfast egg crêpe
Chestnut purée cake from my favorite Japanese cake shop
Did you know that Taiwan KFC has one of the best Portuguese egg tarts?

Just like how the food in Taiwan will stay delicious no matter when I go back, my love for Taiwan will never change one bit.

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