Neighbourhood Guide to Ximending, Wanhua DistrictWritten by Sarah S
To celebrate the launch of our first Taiwan location, we decided to knock up a little insider’s guide to the shops, eateries and hangout spots worth checking out in the area known as Ximending, Wanhua District.
Nicknamed the Harajuku of Taipei, Ximending is the beating heart of Taipei’s cultural scene complete with a vibrant mix of independent restaurants, bars and shops laced with international and Japanese influence. The location for our latest Hive coworking space, by day, it oozes Taiwanese authenticity with its infamous local noodle scene, large markets of fresh fruit and vegetables and copious amounts of bubble tea. By night, the neighbourhood that never sleeps turns into a cityscape of neon brilliance to be enjoyed from a selection of bars and speakeasies or Taiwan’s most thriving LGBTQ hub behind the century-old historic landmark Red House. Interested in a district where you can enjoy unique, creative events, delicious noodles and plenty of cocktails regardless of whether it’s 4 pm and 4 am? Then you’re in the right neighbourhood.
Lao Wang Ji, 15 Tao Yuan Street
Unmarked by any signs, this hole-in-the-wall noodle joint can be identified by the long line of hungry lunch-goers spilling outside its doors. Inside, you are greeted by two floors of local simplicity with white neon lights, small wooden tables and a selection of either braised beef or clear broth noodle soups. A loud favourite amongst locals for over half a century, it is the hidden gem of the treasure chest that is Ximending.
Branching out from its popular mother restaurant in Tokyo, this authentic Japanese ramen franchise is just a stone’s throw away from Ximen station. Packed with customers sitting in wooden booths and adorned with colossal red lanterns and hanging banners of blues, yellows and reds, it’s a feast for the eyes and your stomach.
Ten Ren Tea
Despite seeming to be just another small bubble tea bar on yet another busy Taipei street, Ten Ren Tea is actually the largest and best known Chinese tea manufacturer in Asia. Easily located by its vast green sign and telltale pink tea logo, this shop is the ideal place if you’re looking for a bubble tea fix to go. Choose from its wide variety ranging from taro green milk tea to the classics, it’s a wallet-friendly and hugely popular option.
If you’re looking for a breath of fresh air from Ximending at night, hunt up and down Hankou Street until you find a door hidden behind old Back to the Future and ET cinema posters. Inside, a dark staircase lit by red neon characters helps you descend into the bar where you can enjoy unique cocktails sipped out of beautiful blue rice pots or miniature bathtubs whilst enjoying live music, exhibitions and like-minded people in one of the city’s most quirky drinking holes.
On the ground floor of a hotel, one might expect a marble cocktail bar filled with piano music and business suits. However, Driftwood bucks the trend, reflecting the quirky neighbourhood it finds itself in. A Tiki-style bar famous for its selection of Taiwanese, UK and US craft beers, head there to perch on a wooden stool under a straw canopy while dining on a delicious plate of spicy chicken wings and sipping on a Taihu Blood Orange Berliner Weisse.
This funky outdoor bar can be found behind the historic Red House on a street perhaps even more famous than its landmark as a vibrant hub for the LGBTQ community. Surrounded by eccentric plants, bubbly white chairs and dangling lights, this moonlit atmosphere livens up after hours for an evening of music, chatter and even a little dancing.
Rice Revolution Restaurant
Sitting on the edge of 2/28 Peace Park, this eco-friendly, vegetarian restaurant adds a green dash to the city. Enter through glass panelled doors to grab an organic coffee or journey further into the restaurant to enjoy anything from bibimbap to silk tofu desserts.
Ximen Mango Shaved Ice
Decorated with a huge mango poking out onto the corner of the street, this is the perfect place to cool down on a hot day. Whilst its speciality is fresh mango shaved ice cream, you can satisfy your sweet tooth with flavours ranging from lychee to kiwi.
A cornerstone of Taipei’s culture and history, this iconic landmark now serves as an art and culture centre for Ximending. Inside, you’ll find countless boutiques of organic beauty products, local fashion designers, independent cafes and other totems of the local commercial culture. In the North and South Square, enjoy events ranging from pop up markets to exhibitions or even live performances.
In just a short five minute walk from the Hive, you will find yourself at World Gym. Whilst the inside resembles the interior of a huge spaceship, the staff and atmosphere is far less intimidating, offering free trials of their state of the art machines and equipment, personal training and a variety of group classes.
Smith & Hsu
A haven for those who love the sweet things in life, this place is known to have the best scones in Taiwan and serves up more than 50 different kinds of tea. Head there to enjoy three-tiered platters of cheesecakes, cookies, scones, sandwich fingers and copious amounts of tea and coffee on your lunch break.
Come visit us!
the Hive: No. 119, Section 1, Chongqing South Road, Wanhua District, Taipei, Taiwan