Saturday, 15 August 2009

Hsinchu Vegan Restaurants

Hsinchu Train Station

Hsinchu is a small city almost unheard of outside of Taiwan, however, there is at least a 50% chance that the computer chips you are using to view this web page were manufactured here (though your computer was probably assembled in China). The Hsinchu Science park (a massive but surprisingly pleasant industrial complex) is  the powerhouse of Taiwan's economy, and as a result the average income in Hsinchu is higher than any other city in Taiwan (though due to its size Taipei still appears more affluent).

If you are a tourist or traveller in Taiwan, you probably have little reason to come to Hsinchu, except perhaps as a stop on your way south, though with such a fast and efficient train system on such a small island, even that is unlikely. If you're here, chances are it's either for a business visit to the Science Park, or you're living here, either teaching English at a local school or buxiban (cram school) or teaching another subject at an International School.

While it's no Venice or Kyoto, much work has gone into 'cleaning up' Hsinchu in recent years, including the development of a pleasant canal through the centre of the city. Hsinchu is arguably Taiwan's third most liveable city after Taipei and Taichung, though with its new MRT system, Kaohsiung could be challenging all of these.

 Miracle Green House ($$$, Hsinchu City)

11:30 - 14:30, 17:30 - 21:30
Website, Facebook, Happycow
30 Wuling Road, Hsinchu City
Directions from your location
新竹市武陵路30號
(03) 532 - 2727





For many years Miracle Greenhouse was Hsinchu's only vegan restaurant, and one of so few in Taiwan that it attracted visitors from all over Taiwan.  It's a little out of the way, but if you find yourself in Hsinchu and want a nice meal out - or a business lunch - then this is the place to come. Dishes start at around NT300, with filling set meals around NT500. They also sell a few of their organic vegetables and Loving Hut products, which are difficult to find in Hsinchu.

Tzung Ye Vegan ($$, 綜也蔬食, Japanese)


11:30 - 13:30, 17:30 - 20:00, closed Wednesday, Sunday
新竹市北區世界街114號
114 Shijie Street
Ten minutes' walk from Hsinchu Station (conventional train, not High Speed Rail)
Directions from your location
Website, Facebook, Happycow

(03) 522 - 4492


Ramen is the specialty of Tzung Ye

Tzung Ye are one of a few Japanese ramen shops in Taiwan (along with Hoshina in Taipei and another in Taichung) but in my opinion they are by far both the most authentic, and their food is the best.

Tzung Ye's desserts are the best in Hsinchu.


As well as traditional and Taiwanese takes on ramen, they also serve some delicious raw desserts, similar to (but in my opinion better than) those found at macrobiotic restaurants in Japan.

As of late 2017 they serve tempura (deep fried vegetables, usually made with egg in Japan but of course vegan here) on Thursdays.

Price range: NT200 - 500
If it's closed: Fan Thai is next door, and they rarely close at the same time.


Fan Thai ($$, 梵泰蔬食, Authentic Thai)

11:30 – 13:30, 17:30 – 19:30, closes irregularly
138 Shijie Street
A few doors down from Tzung Ye (see above).
竹市北區世界街138號
Directions from your location
Facebook


I recommend the Som Tam (right) to anyone who likes spicy food.

I waited for years for an authentic Thai or Indian restaurant to open in Taipei, and while there are a few "Thaiwanese" restaurants, and many which claim to be vegan but probably aren't, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Hsinchu was the first restaurant to see an authentic, truly vegan Thai restaurant. While there are issues with enslaved monkeys being forced to pick coconuts in Thailand, Tzung Ye import their coconut products from Vietnam, where they say fewer preservatives are used, offering a healthier and more authentic taste. Fan Thai is one of my favourite restaurants in Taiwan.


The chef has spent many weeks in Thailand perfecting her Thai cooking skills, and it really shows in the food. In order to appeal to the large Buddhist and I Kuan Tao population, it doesn't use onion or garlic, but the food is otherwise as authentic as can be. They even use real Thai fruits and vegetables, and while curries are their specialty, they do a delicious Som Tam (spicy melon). They are also experimenting with Thai desserts, and if they have any on the menu during your visit I recommend trying them.


If you are with a large group I recommend sharing a curry or two and ordering other side dishes.

Price range: NT200 (curry and rice is satisfying for one person) - NT500 (Thai feast).
If it's closed: Tzung Ye is next door, or else Vegeter (vegan fast food, as bad as it always was) is a short walk away.

Hsinchu Loving Hut (愛家新竹心悅店, $, Taiwanese)

11:00 - 13:00, 17:00 - 20:00
新竹市建功一路216號
Number 216, Jiangong 1st Rd, East District Hsinchu City, 300
新竹市建功一路216號
3.5km from Hsinchu Station
Directions from your location
(03) 572 - 7755

 


Hsinchu's loving hut is one of a few original Loving Huts, and meets their purpose of providing inexpensive, familiar, healthy food to non-vegan Taiwanese. It's the best option for an inexpensive meal in Hsinchu, however it requires private transport (or else is a ten-minute taxi ride from Hsinchu Station). It serves a delicious range of Taiwanese meals, and I recommend the curry and dumplings.

If it's closed: Call first - the manager speaks English. If you don't, and it's closed, there's a branch of the macrobiotic "Japanese" vegetarian restaurant Jing Ting Vegetarian at 新竹市新源街136號 (Directions from your location). The precious few vegan items are labelled on the menu (by the absence of egg and milk icons next to the dishes). It used to be very popular, with long queues outside, but portion sizes have been reduced and it's no longer very popular.


 Vegeter (維珍特, $, Burgers, Fast Food)

Ten minutes' walk from Hsinchu Station.
Mon – Tue: 11:00 – 21:00, Wed – Sun: 11:00 – 22:0, sometimes closes irregularly, often between lunch and dinner. 

388 Da Tong Street
北區西大路388號
Directions from your location
Facebook
(03) 525-0190




Food at this fast food restaurant looks frighteningly like it could be from somewhere that you probably haven't been - or wanted to - for years. Many non-vegans enjoy a healthier take on fast food and what they are used to, and many vegans enjoy it for the novelty value, but unfortunately the food doesn't taste much better than I imagine the food it's intended to copy does.

Messages on the walls suggest that the owners appear to be very passionate about the environmental message, so it was surprising that when it opened a couple of years ago little of the menu was vegan, however they appear to have gone completely vegan, and have also recently opened a branch in Taipei (near Songshan Cultural and Creative Park).

Price range: meal sets (a burger, fries and softdrink) cost around NT150.
If it's closed: walk to Tzung Ye or Fan Thai.


Haiwu Cafe (南寮海屋, $$$, Wood Fired Pizza, Nanliao, Not Vegetarian)

Nanliao Port, 20 minutes' drive / 11 kilometres from Hsinchu Station
Number 189, Nanliao St, North District, Hsinchu City, 300
Directions from your location新竹市南寮街189號
(03) 536 - 9584

vegan pizza from A He's Pizza shop, Nanliao, Hsinchu

I don't often recommend non-vegetarian restaurants on this blog, but if you're at Nanliao (the old port, where the annual dragon boat races are held in June) it's worth dropping in here for a vegan pizza. A popular haunt for local expats, this tiny pizzaria is located right on the waterfront, and its walls are adorned with posters and stickers from every social movement in history, with a particular emphasis perhaps on Taiwanese independence, and a giant Tibetan flag on the roof. There are even Peta stickers, but unfortunately I don't think the message has sunken in, at least not as far as the menu goes.
 
The owner, A He, understands what vegans don't eat, however on my last visit the vegan pizza on the menu was just a copy of the vegetarian (complete with cheese). Even if A He isn't there, staff all speak English, so it shouldn't a problem to communicate that you don't want cheese.

Nanliao would be a fairly long taxi ride from Hsinchu downtown, so if you don't have your own wheels then this is probably not practical to visit. It's located beside the temple (ask someone for pizza and they will tell you).

If it's closed: there's not much else around here. I suggest bringing snack food if you come to Nanliao. If you make a special trip here be sure to call first.



View Haiwu Cafe (Pizza, Nanliao) in a larger map

Hsinchu's Non-Vegan "Vegan Restaurants"

Hsinchu is the capital of fake vegan restaurants.  As far as I am aware, I have listed all vegan restaurants in Hsinchu on this page (please let me know if more arrive in the comments). Most deceptively, many sandwiches contain cheese, and I doubt that anything is vegan at Homely Vegan Burger, despite the name and sign claiming three ways (in Chinese and in Chinese) that they don't use egg or dairy products (sandwiches contain cheese). And Joyful Coffee originally claimed to be vegan; whether they ever were I don't know, but they certainly aren't now. 

3 comments:

  1. Saturday, December 18, 2010

    First probable human case of mad cow disease in Taiwan was listed posthumously 2010/12/18 21:14:28


    http://creutzfeldt-jakob-disease.blogspot.com/2010/12/first-probable-human-case-of-mad-cow.html



    kindest regards,
    terry

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks, this is really helpful and informative. I couldn't remember how to get to Minder here.

    For a more traditional feel, I noticed a vegan place yesterday on Datong Road (大同路) near Zhong Zheng Road(中正路). Just up from the KFC on the same side of the road.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hey Jesse, Just saw your blog. I must say you are doing a very good job for helping vegans in taiwan, the information you wrote are very detailed and helpful! 覺得你非常厲害!! My name is Anna, I am from HsinChu, and living in Sydney Australia now. I have been vegan for 1 year and 4 months!! wish you can add me on facebook, please:)
    search: Du Ting Hsuan
    or www.facebook.com/aadu0910

    ReplyDelete