Taipei 101 (台北101)

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Back in 2010, we only visited the entrance of Taipei 101 (台北101), so this time we made the most of our time and went up all the way up to the Observatory on Level 89 (indoor observatory) and Level 91 (outdoor observatory). Tickets cost NTD$600 per person, and entrance to the observatory is at Level 5 where you would take the High-Speed elevator to Level 89 in a whopping 37 seconds! It may no longer be the world's tallest building, but since 2011, Taipei 101 is known as the tallest green building in the world.

Level 88 is where you will find the Super Big Wind Damper (世界最大風阻尼球), the key structural element that gives Taipei 101 it's ability to withstand typhoons and earthquakes. It's also the world's largest and heaviest wind damper and the only one available for public viewing. The Taipei 101 mascot, the Damper Baby, takes after this wind damper.

Level 89 is where you'll find the indoor observatory at 382 metres above ground. But other than viewing the 360 degree view of Taipei's skyline with the naked eye, there are also facilities like binoculars, free audio guides and photography services available too.

Going up two more levels by stairs is the outdoor observatory on Level 90. We went up for some photos, but because it was super windy and raining at the same time, we didn't stay for long. As you can see from my photos that we took in the indoor observatory, it was even more cloudier on Level 90. (The outdoor observatory is only open on days with favourable weather conditions, so even though it was slightly raining, I'm glad that we could still go up there.)

Level 89 was the level we stayed the most time, but save for those rude Chinese tourists that got in our photo and gave us looks as if we were in the wrong, we enjoyed our time there for the most part. The view wasn't ah-mazing due to the weather, but the visit was definitely worth it.

B1F, No.45, Shifu Road, Xinyi District (Taipei 101 Mall)
台北市 信義區 市府路 45號 B1F (台北101購物中心)

After visiting the observatory levels, it was time for lunch/ We went back down to Floor B1 for Din Tai Fung (鼎泰豐). It was filled with people by the time we got there around 1:30pm, but because there was only 2 of us, we didn't have to wait for long for a seat (around 15-20 minutes).

Whenever you think xiaolongbao (小籠包) or soup dumplings, you will inevitably think of Din Tai Fung. As an international brand with branches all over the world, it has no doubt built a reputation that cannot be discredited. But like most global food brands, Din Tai Fung no longer feels "authentic" and is more or less focused on the commercial aspect of running a (food) business. But regardless of that, it's not to say that their food is by any means bad. In fact, we enjoyed our meal at Din Tai Fund a lot. It wasn't the cheapest meal we had in Taiwan, but it was decently priced given what they usually charge us here in Sydney. (Though, by Taiwanese standards, it was definitely expensive.) The whole meal cost us NTD$1,419 (with 10% service charge), which is around AUD$60.

Between the two of us, we ordered: pork soup dumplings (小籠包), truffle soup dumplings (松露小籠包), noodles with minced pork sauce (雪菜肉絲乾拌麵), prawn and egg fried rice (brown rice) (蝦仁蛋炒飯 (糙米)), dumplings in chilli oil (紅油抄手) and chocolate dumplings (巧克力小籠包).

For me, the highlight was the chocolate dumplings. I was a bit skeptical at first, given dumplings are usually salty, but it turned out to be really good—like really good. The chocolate filling wasn't too sweet (it was dark chocolate!) and the outer skin was tasteless but chewy. It's not something you can find everywhere, so I highly recommend this dish.

The service at Din Tai Fung was exceptional. Never once have I ever encountered a waitstaff offer to rearrange the dishes so that everything could fit on our table. Most people just shove the food on your table and let you figure out where you want to put it. That's why we've kind of developed an "instinct" to do what we can to not cause any trouble to others since rearranging dishes on a table wasn't something that we couldn't do. But the fact she made the gesture and effort to help us was something we didn't expect (and felt a little burdened, too). They even organised to have the chocolate dumplings come 30 minutes after our meal giving us time to eat all the savoury dishes before having something sweet. #talkabout體貼

Taipei 101 (台北101)
No. 7, Section 5, Xinyi Rd, Xinyi District, Taipei
台北市 信義區 信義路五段 7號

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