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First Impressions

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Busy and crowded streets, cafés and bakeries everywhere … a month ago, when I first arrived in Keelung (also known as Jilong), I never expected to find this. Because of the poor images found on the internet and lackluster comments about the town from some Taiwanese friends, I had a completely different expectation from the reality.

Once I got here, I could finally see for myself that Keelung is way more than a small village; it is a small animated city. It definitely has its heart in a port that is far from small and gloomy (and probably kilometers long). It is full of tall buildings on either side, big and little cafés and bakeries, constantly crowded day and night outdoor markets…shops of all kinds! Nothing is missing, and you will even find a decent number of Western restaurants and chains.

It would be a shame to eat only at the restaurant chains, because Keelung offers dishes for every palate. The Japanese influences from more than 50 years of domination has certainly done its part. You can find many restaurants in the Japanese and Korean style, American sandwiches and toasteries. Of course, there also many restaurants with local cuisine. What first shocked me, as a lover of my country’s cuisine, was the significant presence of Italian restaurants.

To delve into the cuisine of this place, you must take a walk to the Miaokou Night Market. It’s here that the culinary traditions of Asian street food are truly unleashed. This is what we like to try, the authentic versions of: steamed rice with meat, wraps, smoothies, soups … and especially fish, fish, fish. A city with a port like this clearly can’t be devoid of fish and seafood, and wherever you turn, you can find fish (including shark meat). This market is located near Tianji Temple, and this temple is the main reason why you will find these banquets of food outdoors.

Not a bad start, is it?


Discover Keelung’s unique midnight fish market tour to see this port city’s daily catch up close and personal! Learn how the vendors negotiate prices or grab a quick bite to eat.

Join our fish market tour and get to know this hidden after hours market.


Strade trafficate, affollate, caffetterie e panetterie ovunque…fino ad un mese fa, dal mio arrivo a Keelung non mi sarei mai aspettata di trovare tutto questo. A causa delle scarse e tristi immagini trovate su internet e dei commenti ancor piu’ tristi di alcuni taiwanesi su questa cittadina, avevo un’idea totalmente diversa dalla situazione reale.

Una volta arrivata qui ho finalmente potuto constatare di persona che Keelung piu’ che un paesino e’ una piccola cittadina viva, che ha sicuramente il suo cuore in un porto tutt’altro che misero (lungo chilometri probabilmente!), che e’ piena di palazzi alti sui quattro piani, piccole e grandi caffetterie e pasticcerie, affollati mercati diurni e notturni all’aperto…negozi di ogni tipo! Non manca nulla, si trovano perfino diverse catene di “ristoranti” internazionali.

Sarebbe comunque un peccato soffermarsi in questi “ristoranti” internazionali perche’ Keelung offre piatti per ogni tipo di palato. L’influenza Giapponese dovuta a piu’ di 50 anni di invasione ha sicuramente fatto la sua parte. Si trovano moltissimi ristoranti in stile giapponese e coreano, panini e tost all’americana, ovviamente anche molti ristoranti di cucina locale…ma quello che mi ha sconvolta di piu’, da brava amante della cucina del mio paese, e’ la non trascurabile presenza di ristoranti all’italiana.

Per addentrarsi nel vivo della cucina di questo posto e’ comunque doveroso farsi una passeggiata per il mercato notturno di Miaokou: e’ qui che si sfoga tutta la tradizione culinaria del cibo di strada asiatico, quello che ci piace a noi, quello autentico: riso al vapore con carne, spiedini, piadine, frullati, zuppe…e soprattutto pesce, pesce, pesce. Una citta’ con un porto del genere non puo’ essere priva di pesce e di frutti di mare…dove ti giri trovi pesce (compresa carne di squalo). Il suddetto mercato si trova nei presi del tempio di Tianji che e’ la ragione principale per cui si trovano questi banchetti di cibo all’aperto.

Non male come inizio, no?




Follow SilviaBaggiani:
As sinologist and passionate of Chinese culture i like to learn about all the culture, especially the one of my specialization. I like to travel and after three years in China i decided to join the Keelung-residence program who let me know more about this city's places&culture. The ceremonies, the dedication of people for them, the traditional music, the hidden historical places showed me a new attractive world.

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