For a more authentic Taiwanese food experience in Dubai (not that I don’t love Din Tai Fung – I’m there practically every week), head over to Taipei Dao in the Downtown Dubai area. Many of you will know this restaurant in its former life as Sino Chai (previously located in Healthcare City). The restaurant bills itself as “Dubai’s most Authentic Taiwanese cuisine experience.”
When the restaurant closed down, there were rumors that they would reopen in the Dubai Mall – which would have been awesome because malls for me are very convenient for getting lots of errands done. But when Taipei Dao finally opened its doors – it was in Southridge towers. A location where it wouldn’t get a whole lot of foot traffic but loyal customers and those looking for authentic Taiwanese food would still be patrons of it. I guess that’s partly what makes the restaurant a hidden gem.
When I found out Taipei Dao was finally open, I couldn’t wait to find out if the food at the newly reincarnated restaurant was still as great and authentic. I organized lunch with a few other food bloggers – Michelle from Very Hungry Explorer, Sanne from Mitzee Mee, Stacy from Food Lust People Love, and Drina from Eaternal Zest.
There are a couple things that I remember from my first visit to Sino Chai with my mom in 2009 when Wee Scotch was in my belly. First was that I wasn’t allowed to drink a special tea that was served to our table because I was pregnant.
Second I recall the food being amazing and like comfort food for me. It got my mom’s seal of approval.
And third, I remember my mom ordering bubble tea – a HOT one. I had never had hot bubble tea before and when I tasted hers, I was hooked.
The calming aroma of the jasmine and the silky texture of the milk tea plus the chewiness of the tapioca pearls – I loved it! So I had to order it again this time around.
It was still calming – much needed as I had my grumpy nearly 2-year old with me. Li’L Ginger was in one of her whiney moods which made conversation and taking photos difficult. In fact, I hadn’t planned on publishing a post on this but the experience just had to be shared. Crappy iPhone photos and all.
All the dumplings we ordered were wonderful in flavors but the standout was, surprisingly, the vegetarian dumpling. I think it’s the purple colored one. We had a vegetarian in our lunch group so there were a few veggie dishes that were ordered.
We ordered one of the goose specials – it was lovely like smoked duck breast. And I loved their handmade noodles. I wish I could watch them make them as I’ve recently taken a noodle making class (more on that one day).
I was happy to see that the restaurant still offered healthy rice alternatives like germinated brown rice and wild rice.
The only dish that we did not enjoy was a vegetarian clay pot one which was ruined by too much ginger. We totally over-ordered and I wish I had so much more room in my stomach to stuff myself silly.
Another thing that hasn’t changed since its Sino Chai days – the bathroom is still a trek to get to. This time through a parking lot – not ideal especially with a toddler who decided she wanted to spend 20 minutes away from the table to do her business on the potty.
Business she did not end up doing. All I could keep thinking of the entire time was goose. And more veggie dumplings. And sipping some calming hot jasmine bubble tea.
So non-food tip: Go beforehand. Or bring toilet paper and hand wash.
Oh, and do you know the difference between Taiwanese food and Chinese food? Does that sound like a loaded question? Maybe we can explore that question in a future blog post. Thanks for reading!
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Taipei Dao Teahouse and Restaurant: Downtown Dubai, Southridge Tower 4. Opening hours: Mon: 6:30 pm – 10:30 pm; Tue-Sun: 12:00 pm – 10:30 pm. Telephone: +971 04 451 0694. Street parking in front of the restaurant. Website | Facebook | Instagram