Eating in Taiwan: A Year Without a Kitchen

Eating in Taiwan is fantastic, however, it’s pretty common in Asia to have a smaller apartment with no kitchen. I couldn’t fathom not having a kitchen when I moved halfway across the world—I cooked every day!

mary 3I’ve heard it’s easy to eat out in Asia, the food is delicious and cheap, but what happens when you get tired of eating out? I have had to get pretty creative with some common Asian kitchen appliances in my year abroad, and I’ve learned a lot about some appliances that were new to me!

1. Eating Out: Asian food vendors

When you hear that kitchens are rare in Asia, everyone might tell you that food is everywhere. They are right! Food vendors are readily available, 711 is always open, and night markets offer delectable food at late, (or early), hours.

Though there is plenty of food in Asia, sometimes you might get a little tired of eating out all the time. You might get tired of your options—sometimes they all might seem kind of the same. It would happen anywhere! Here’s where the next couple options come in handy—

2. Traditional Markets and Fruit Stands

You might spot the occasional fruit vendor on the sidewalk or a fruit stand selling all kinds of seasonal fruits and vegetables, but when you see an alley decorated with a ton of different vendors, you know you’ve hit a traditional night market.

They sell everything from home goods, clothes, to coffees, thousand-year eggs, and fresh fish. They are fun, lively, and you can get your bartering game on!

3. Grocery Stores

There are a lot of options for grocery stores here as well. Two very distinctly different options would be something along the lines of the more Asian food brands in Chuen-lien or Western foods in Carrefour or City Super.

Both food stores might not offer the exact same groceries you will be used to seeing but they do carry similar items! They don’t offer many ready-to-eat foods, however, so there is still the issue of how to cook these foods you purchase.

4. The Rice Steamer

One option to cook a multitude of foods is the common rice steamer. A little embarrassing to say, I hadn’t used one of these before I came to Asia. It was definitely a learning experience—and a very useful one!

These are very much akin to a crock pot, I would say. You pour some water in the pot, put your metal bowl of veggies and meat on top, turn the switch and wait! There are a lot of different dishes you can create in it as well; it’s certainly not limited to a boring metal bowl.

Put some eggs in a wet towel and cover with cloth—you will have some delicious sunny-side boiled eggs! Experiment with the lid on your bowl, too. If you want your vegetables more steamed, leave the lid off a bit or use a towel. Experimenting is key, (and fun)!

5. The Convection Oven, Microwaves, and Hot Plates

You also might spot a convection oven or a hot plate in apartments in Asia. Very similar to an oven range in western countries, these can be a staple during your time away.

You can saute vegetables and meats on your hot plate or roast them in the convection oven. You can make some pretty amazing scrambled eggs in the microwave, too. It all depends on what you get a craving for, what you find at the supermarket,  and how creative you can be.

There have been a couple times where I’ve caught the common cold and was craving food from home. Namely, grilled cheese sandwiches and dino fries from Village Inn, a potato with butter, sour cream and cheese, and straight-up beef.

While the grilled cheese was a little rough, I did find potatoes, butter, cheese, and Greek yogurt from the grocery store. I spent a couple nights nuking the potato in the microwave and trying to bake the potato in the convection oven, but in the end, I did have a potato that satisfied my craving!

6. Western Restaurants

But, if those cravings don’t go away, there are some Western restaurants here as well. You can find just about any type of food you are looking for if you are willing to travel a little bit! You can find anything from chain restaurants to independent brunch-type cafes to suit your needs.

There are Chili’s, Burger Kings, and KFC’s plenty—those small niche places might be hard to come by, however. Keep in mind, eating at these restaurants can sometimes be a bit costly depending on where you go. Try to use this card sparingly!

Depending on what you like to eat and what your dietary restrictions might be, there are always ways to find something you like, even without a kitchen. Remember to be open, try new things, and always be willing to experiment with some new cooking appliances!

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