Vegetarians: Taiwan is your country! Before coming here I never would have guessed the abundance of vegetarian restaurants on this island. But thanks to Buddhist and Taoist teachings of non-violence and compassion, we have plenty to choose from. Interesting fact: most of these restaurants don’t use the ingredients onion and garlic because they can cause physical excitement and would therefore be detrimental to meditation. The seemingly impossible has proven to be possible though: the food is still very tasty! Here’s the veggie paradises my boyfriend and I visited during our two weeks in the Taipei-bordering city of Keelung, Taiwan. Here are the perfect places for vegetarians to sample Keelung food.
佛光山基隆極樂寺 a.k.a. ‘The One Inside The Temple’
This popular vegetarian restaurant is hard to miss because it’s situated inside the big temple on Xin’er Road. It’s a great place with very friendly prices. We went here three times and it was full of guests every time. Because of this the staff were a bit rushed but friendly nevertheless. This might not be the place for a romantic dinner, but if you’re looking for a quick healthy eat of Keelung food you came to the right place.
Their menu is in Mandarin, but they have one copy with the English translations written on it. Don’t worry if you happen to not get your hands on this precious copy though: each menu item is accompanied by a picture, so you can just smile and point at what looks tasty to you. Picking out food has never been easier.
Food and drinks
They offer normal sized dishes and small (side) dishes. You can either go tapas style and order a number of small dishes (generally 50 TWD per dish), or you could choose to go for a normal dish (generally 100 TWD per dish) and maybe add one or more side dishes of extra veggies.
Water is free of charge and some of the dishes include a cup of tea. You can also order drinks (mostly (ice) teas to choose from) from the menu, prices seemed to range from 70 – 100 TWD.
Expect to pay between 200 and 300 TWD for two persons. If you order drinks from the menu, count on 150 – 200 TWD more. This makes it the most affordable on our list, hurray!
金玉食堂蔬食創意料理 a.k.a. ‘The One Next To The Harbor’
This attractively decorated little restaurant near to Keelung harbour has very tasty Keelung food. The staff doesn’t seem to speak English but they are friendly and accommodating. There were only two other tables occupied when we were there, so it’s a nice and quiet dining experience.
Their menu is in Mandarin, but some of the menu items have pictures and when we were there, the waitress did some Google Translate magic to help us decide on what to order. When you combine Keelung food and vegetarian options it’s hard to go wrong.
Food and drinks
We ordered a hot pot, fried rice and skewers, and all tasted great.
We paid almost 600 TWD for two persons, which makes this one the most costly on our list. You get value for money though!
深耕園素食餐廳 a.k.a. ‘The One With The Sweet Owners’
What a lovely place. The elderly couple that are running this place are very sweet and friendly. The woman seemed to be enjoying the fact that we were liking their Keelung food so much. This was for sure our favorite of the bunch! There was only one free table when we arrived, but it was on a weekend day so it might be more peaceful during weekdays.
This was our most adventurous restaurant trip, since the menu was in Mandarin and NO PICTURES (aaah!). The great thing about a vegetarian restaurant (and Keelung food!) though is that you can just point at something on the menu without having to worry to end up with a plate of black pudding, so that’s exactly what we did.
Food and drinks
They welcomed us with a small dish of really tasty (smoked?) tofu. It was so good that I only remembered to take a picture of it when it was almost finished. Oops.
We chose the first and second option on the menu (see picture) and were very happy with what we got. Our 200 TWD menu pick included water and tea and a little sweet jelly thing as a desert. Good value for money!
We paid 400 for two people, including everything described above. There were also 250 TWD menu items, so expect to pay between 400 and 500 TWD for two people.
Vivaio Pasta a.k.a. ‘The Risotto Place’
This is the only restaurant on our list that is not exclusively vegetarian, but if you want a day off from Asian Keelung food, this is a great choice! Also, it’s the only restaurant on our list that serves beer. Just saying. The restaurant has nice ambiance lighting and therefore feels a bit more homey than the others on our list. They decorated the place with hip wooden furniture and vintage Italian items. We went here twice and both times it was quite lively, so the Taiwanese seem to like it as well.
Their menu has English translations and the vegetarian options are listed separately.
Food and drinks
Pizza was not bad, but we especially loved the risotto. It’s so good! Water is included, other drinks go from 50 to 190 TWD for what’s probably a somewhat exclusive type of beer. You can also choose to have a drink and a desert for a discounted price.
The vegetarian dishes go from 95 to 175 TWD, but there’s a minimum charge of 150 TWD per person, so expect to pay between 300 and 350 TWD and quite a bit more if you’d like a drink with that.
Note: we visited these restaurants in February 2017. They are not the only places in Keelung to offer veg(etari)an food, so don’t hold back from doing a little research yourself! Tip: use Google Maps to find vegetarian restaurants in Keelung by copy pasting ‘素食 Keelung’ (‘vegetarian food Keelung’) into your search bar. If you find a nice gem, be sure to let us know in the comments section.