3 June, Monday

TAIWAN, Taipei – Packed full of novelty souvenir shops, push cart stalls, branded shopping centres and glitzy hotels, it’s easy to dismiss Ximending as just another overcrowded tourist trap. Yet peek underneath its gilded surface and you’ll find family-run businesses, centuries-old temples and heirloom recipes passed down through the generations.

Ay Chung Flour Noodles may hog all the limelight, but there is a whole gourmet’s wishlist of great eateries to be found in the tiny area, including two of the city’s best fried pork cutlet restaurants; a pair of beef noodle stalls run by feuding relatives; and some of the best midnight wanton noodles you’ll ever taste.

Then there’s the historic Red House – arts space and curio fair by day, neon-lit drinking spot by night – where it is not uncommon to see tourists and locals raising a glass or glass or two together on especially raucous weekends.

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