The kitchen item locator

So, there you are in your presumably tiny little Taiwanese kitchen trying to cook up that something special from back home when you realise that you don’t have that kitchen gadget that you really need and you don’t have a clue where to get it. Do not fret, as hopefully this list will help you find a store that has just what you need.

Your first port of call should be IKEA, as they have most of the stuff you’d expect such as potato mashers, rolling pins, baking tins, pots and pans etc. These things can otherwise be hard to find or quite expensive. They also sell a digital kitchen thermometer, although it’s limited to 130 degrees C or 266 degrees F. Ikea also has kitchen scales, the digital model is quite expensive, but I found a cheap analog model in the Hsinchuang store that’s a mere NT$299 with a bowl. Of course they have other useful things like potato peelers, spatulas scissors, orange juicers and a whole lot of other stuff you might or might not need. This is also a good place for pots and pans, as they have some insanely cheap stuff if you’re on a tight budget, although the quality might not always be as great as the price. Just be aware that the different stores might stock slightly different items and from experience the Hsinchuang store has a lot more stuff than the other stores.

I recently found a real bargain shop here, it’s Japanese and called Daiso. They sell all sorts of weird and wacky stuff, but also a lot of useful things. The best thing? Everything costs NT$39. There’s a list of where their stores are located on the website. They have stuff like cake decorating sets, paper baking cups, metal baking cups (for ice chocolate etc), small baking tins (suitable for Taiwanese size ovens), and all sorts of other gadgets. Most if not all things are Japanese, so some of them might not be all that useful if you’re not familiar with what they’re for. They also sell things like plates, glasses, etc. although I wouldn’t go for their pots as they’re all very cheaply made.

Working House is another place that is useful when it comes to various bits for both the kitchen and around the house. They carry a large selection of glasses at affordable prices as well as some other hard to find kitchen items like baking tins and trays, rolling pins and various other stuff. They also have a selection of odd bits and pieces of snacks, a range of furniture, some plants and various other things that could be useful arround the house.

Carrefour has started to carry a decent range of kitchen accessories as well and have things like paper muffin cups, graters, spatulas etc. They also sell pots and pans and all sorts of other stuff and what they have will depend on how good your local Carrefour is.

C!ty’super is the only place I’ve found that sell cheese slicers in Taiwan, although I’m sure you can find them elsewhere. I bought a very good Dutch one for NT$550 which might sound expensive, but it cuts any kind of cheese, even the really soft ones. They also have the wire kind of cutters, but I don’t like those. They also stock a wide range of otherwise rather expensive imported kitchen gadgets, knifes and pot and pans.

Homebox is some kind of a DIY store, but I found a really big solid spatula here as well as something else I found really useful, gas burner rings. The rings can be attached to any gas cooker and allows you to use smaller, flat-bottomed pots on the local gas cookers, something that’s not always possible, at least not if you want them to stand straight on the cooker. They also have a range of other kitchen accessories, but I’m not sure how good the quality is of all the stuff they have.

You can of course find a lot of stuff in most supermarkets here, but it can be really hard to find certain things in a pinch. There are some specialised baking stores here too, but I’ve never been to one, but if you’re looking at trying your luck at baking in your toaster oven, then they might have some of the items you need.

Costco sells greaseproof paper, which can otherwise be expensive and hard to find. They also sell a fairly large oven, the biggest “portable” one I’ve seen for sale here that just plugs into your wall socket. It comes with a rotisserie attachment for chicken and it looks quite nice, although I haven’t gotten around to getting one, as it’s about NT$8,500. It’s meant to be 45L if I remember right. They also sell things like Kenwood kitchen mixers, but again, quite expensive at NT$13,500, but they also sell some smaller mixers and hand-held ones, but these can’t really be used for baking. Costo also stocks a bread maker for around NT$2,200 and that’s the best price you’ll find here for one of those. It’s not great, but it does the job.

For a cheap hand mixer, check out your local supermarket, as most of them stock cheap ones for between NT$500-1000 and some shops have bigger ones with a bowl attachment for a little bit more. The cheapest oven you can get here that can be considered to be used for more than one person, is a Synco, which is supposed to be 27L. Not big, but you can fit a normal size cake tin inside it. Most other ovens are a lot smaller and combination microwaves aren’t common to find here. Panasonic has a couple of models, but they’re anything but cheap.

All “Western” style ovens here use 220V which can be an issue as you’d have to have someone come around and wire it up for you and that is only if your land lord allows you to have one installed, as I haven’t seen any stand alone cookers here as is common in the US and Europe. I’m not sure why this is the case, but I guess cooking isn’t all that popular here with most people eating cheaply from local restaurants. A basic model will set you back around NT$20,000 and the sky’s the limit after that.

Hopefully this list has been to some use and if you have anyhting you’d like to add to it, please let me know.

Home made Marzipan or almond paste

One of the things I’ve found that I sometimes need for baking and that is really expensive to buy in Taiwan is Marzipan. However, it’s quite easy to make by yourself. One great thing here is that it’s dead easy to get hold of powdered almond, as it’s used as an ingredient for some kind of drink here. You should be able to find it in most supermarkets, although I know for sure you can get the pure powder in Carrefour. Sometimes the almond powder is mixed with sugar and thickener etc. at least if you’re going for the pre-mix that some shops sells. This can still be used, but isn’t as good, although there’s no need to add any sugar if you get this stuff. Costco also sells whole almonds that you you can blanch, peel and grate (work ok in a blender if you do small amounts at a time), but this is a bit of a hassle, although in my opinion these almonds are a bit nicer than the local kind. Costco also has almond flour that can be used for this recipe.

So what you need is almond powder, powder sugar and an egg white. You need equal amounts of almond powder and powder sugar which is placed in a mixing bowl along with an egg white. One egg white is good for about 100-150g of each of almond and powder sugar, but you might have to add more of the dry stuff if it’s too soft. You’ve now made a batch of almond paste, which can be used for baking and making various sweets, as it’s not overly sweet in itself, but it’s not really suitable for covering cakes with, as it’s very soft and doesn’t stick together well enough to be molded in the same way as Marzipan.

To make this into Marzipan you need to add a little bit more powder sugar, in total it should be about 1/3 to 1/4 of almond powder and the rest sugar. This makes the almond paste much more moldable. This isn’t “real” Marzipan, but it’s as close as you’ll get making it at home. The real deal is made with almond oil instead of the egg white and usually apricot seeds, but I doubt that is easily available in shops here. Sorry I’m not being to specific with regards to the measurements, but it’s a little bit of a trial and error process. To get more almond flavour you can buy almond extract which is available in some supermarkets here. You’ll want to add it little by little so that the flavour doesn’t get too powerful. You can also colour this with food colouring if you intend to use it for other things.

Supermarkets in Taiwan

If you’re moving to or have just moved to Taiwan and more specifically in this case, Taipei (as it’s the part of the country I’m familiar with), it can be hard to find certain things, as you’ll most likely not recognize any of the supermarkets here from back home, unless you’ve got Carrefour or Geant (now A-Mart) in your country. Even so, don’t expect to find the same stock of things as you would back home.

People here eat quite different things from Westerners and even other Asians and as such, the supermarkets stock mostly what the locals eat. I’ve compiled a list of all the local supermarkets below and I have written a short description about the ones I’ve been to. If anyone has additional information, please feel free to email me.

Carrefour is the biggest supermarket in Taiwan and as a French company, they stock some imported items, although depending on where you live these things might sell our more quickly than in some other areas and the selection also vary. They have specials at times when they import a selected amount of items from specific countries and they’ve had big drives for US food and Thai food in the past. They stock things like yogurt (although quite expensive and usually not that good), French cheese (again quite expensive), cereal (also quite expensive), a wide range of tinned and canned food and of course French wine. Some Carrefours are open 24h, seven days a week.
As of 2021, Carrefour has bought out Wellcome in Taiwan and all Wellcome’s will be converted into Carrefour Market, smaller sized supermarkets of which there already are some 66 of in Taiwan. At the end of the takeover there will be some 262 Carrefour Markets island wide. Carrefour is also taking over Jasons Market Place, but it’ll continue to operate independently until at least 2023. It’s also possible to shop on Carrefour online now, although the online shop is quite clunky and has a fairly limited selection compared to what you can get in-store.

A-mart (Previously known as Geant) is another French supermarket chain, but generally it’s a lot more localized than Carrefour and you won’t find the same amount of imported items here. That said, A-Mart is generally a bit cheaper than Carrefour, but there aren’t as many around. A-Mart tend to stock slightly different brands and items than Carrefour and it’s a good place to have a look in if you can’t find what you’re looking for in Carrefour. Again, the various shops seems to carry different items, so just because one A-mart has it doesn’t mean you’ll find it on another one. The larger the store, the bigger chance that they’ll have something a bit more special it seems.

Wellcome was a Chinese supermarket chain, although it wasn’t one I frequented very often. They carry more local things, but have some imported good as well, mainly from the US. As with the larger supermarkets, all branches don’t carry the same items, so it’s worth looking around. They do at times carry some hard to find items and are usually cheaper than Jason’s and C!ty’super on those items. Their shops are usually smaller than Carrefour and A-mart, but the advantage is that all of the shops are open 24h, seven days a week. As of 2021, Carrefour has bought out Wellcome in Taiwan and all Wellcome’s will be converted into Carrefour Market, smaller sized supermarkets of which there already are some 66 of in Taiwan. At the end of the takeover there will be some 262 Carrefour Markets island wide. It’s expected that all Wellcome stores will have been converted by August 2021.

RT Mart is a local supermarket that has a partnership with French Auchan and as such they carry a fair share of imported goods. They got a lot of own brand import items such as pasta, sauces, etc and it’s all imported from Europe and has pretty good quality. They also carry a small range of organic items. From time to time they also have a lot special time limited imports from both Asia, Europe and the US. RT-Mart also have a large selection of imported beer and alcohol. As with most supermarkets here, the available items will vary from shop to shop, but the one in Xindian is the only one I normally frequent and from time to time they have a lot of good imported goods, but it’s usually not things that are in stock for long, so if you see something you want, get it there and then, as it might not be available next week.

PX Mart is a budget supermarket that has expanded a lot, as they took over a government-run chain of supermarkets as well as a Japanese chain that was called Matsusei. They mostly sell local stuff, but tend to have a few imported items as well. Generally quite a cheap place, but most stores don’t sell things like fruit, vegetables and unprocessed meat. Recently they’ve launched a few higher-end shops that have more imported items and better quality groceries.

Taisuco, the Taiwan Sugar company, also has a few large stores in southern Taiwan and  I don’t have any experience with these stores. They’re meant to offer discount coupon books (similar to Costco) a couple of times a year ranging from NT$1,000-3,000 in terms of discount, with with each coupon being worth about NT$100. (Thanks to TainanCowboy from Forumosa for the update). There’s one located near Taipower station in Taiwan, but it looks like nothing more than small Wellcome.

Discount Mart is supposed to be a chain of budget supermarkets. I’ve seen at least one location where they’ve replaced a Wellcome. As it’s a cheaper supermarket, they don’t seem to stock anything unique as such.

Simple Mart is another budget chain which is more of a convenience store than a real supermarket. They do have a lot more food items than 7-11 though, so by Taiwan standards it’s a supermarket. They tend to have the odd imported items and they’re generally price competitive.

For those with a bit more money to spend, there are also some upmarket supermarkets here, although there’s only a few of them, so you’ll have to do some traveling to get there in most cases.

First up we have Jasons Market Place, the most well known one is located in the bottom of the 101. They used to have a wide selection of imported food from all-over the world, but the store in the 101 building has about halved in size due to the fact that Din Tai Fong moved in next door and took over a lot of their space, so it’s not as good of a supermarket as it was some years ago. They’re anything but cheap, although if you’re looking for something special, this might be a good place to find it. They’re big on organic and healthy stuff as well and if you have special dietary needs, then this might be the place for you. Don’t bother with the deli counter for sliced meats, as the staff isn’t very knowledgeable and the stock is also quite limited. Sometimes you can score a bargain or two here, especially when they have a promotion or sale going. Recently Jasons has been expanding with multiple new, smaller stores around the island. The company has also taken over a few Wellcome stores in Taipei and possibly elsewhere. As of 2021, Carrefour has taken over Jasons Market Place, but the stores will continue to operate independently until at least 2023.

Next up we have C!ty’super which again offers a wide range of imported goods, although more so from Japan, than from other parts of the world. They used to have the best deli counter in Taipei, but the last couple of years things have gone downhill and the selection has halved.  They have a range of imported deli-meats and cheeses, but the selection can vary immensely depending on when they get new stock in. This is also a good place for various other odds and ends such as fancy olive oil, tinned/canned goods and some harder to find baking ingredients. If you didn’t find what you were looking for in Jason’s, this might be the next best place to find it.

Breeze super is as far as I know, a one-off supermarket located in the basement of the Breeze Center on FuXing South Road. This is a Japanese supermarket, but they import a lot of stuff from all-over the world, although most of what they offer is available in Jason’s or C!ty’super. I don’t have a link to a website for them and if you know of one, please get in touch.

Shin Kong Mitsukoshi also has its own supermarkets, although not every store has one. They mainly stock Japanese food, but as with most of these upmarket stores, you can also find some imported items. Recently it seems like their selection of imported items from outside of Asia has shrunk somewhat, possibly due to poor sales.

Then there’s of course Costco which is the place to go to if you have a big fridge and freezer to fill. I’d suggest getting a Costco membership, it’s currently NT$1,350 for a year and you’ll save it on your first couple of trips there. It’s the cheapest place for cereal (bulk size), cheese, meat and loads of other stuff. More recently they’ve also started to carry things like Greek yoghurt and feta cheese and they also have smaller packs of cheese that you might have a chance to finish before it goes moldy. You can also get other useful things here like bread makers, small ovens (ovens aren’t a common household item in Taiwan, but more on that another time) and just about anything else you could need for your kitchen. Costco has recently (in 2014) updated their website and is posting all their special offers on the website now, in both Chinese and English. It’s also possible to shop online, but you need to have a Costco branded credit card to do so and it might be easier to get blood from a stone than to get one these days, as Cathay United Bank took over the credit card partnership some years ago and they normally won’t give credit cards to non Taiwanese.

IKEA also stocks a certain amount of imported Swedish food, although the selection isn’t huge, it is a great place for us Scandinavians to go when we have a craving for something from home. That said, more and more stuff from IKEA is no longer made in Sweden, but rather by whatever partner IKEA wants to work with and branded IKEA. The store near the Taipei arena (inside Asiaworld) usually sells out really quick, so if you’re trying to get hold of something special, you might want to try to get to one of the other stores. They normally stock things like tunnbröd, polarkakor (or at least an IKEA version of it), knäckebröd, kaviar (not seen that in years), jam, frozen meatballs and a selection of Swedish sweets and crisps. Lately (as of 2018) they’ve also had Swedish cheese, various snacks, sweets and various seasonal specials. They also have a selection of Swedish cider, beer and alcohol. This is also the only place to get Julmust when it’s that time of the year and they’ve even sold frozen crayfish.

HOLA is a local version of IKEA to some fashion and they also sell a few food items, mostly imported things and you can find some bargains there at times. They have various size stores and the larger ones usually have a bigger selection of grocery items. It’s also a place where you can pick up a lot of other kitchen items, like pots and pans and various kitchen tools. They merged with the local B&Q equivalent (which used to be B&Q once upon a time) a while ago, hence the odd website.

Another place that I have yet to visit that sells food in bulk is PnP food which seems to stock a lot of specialty items. They normally sell to the hotel and catering business, but they will sell to walk-ins at their warehouse address which can be found on their website. They will also order in special things for you, but be prepared to order large amounts at a time.

There are also a lot of local baking supply shops which can have a lot of specialty items. One of the better ones, at least if you’re looking for things like fresh yeast, rye flour and other things for making bread, would he a place called JiaYuan Food in Xindian.

Another handy place which it seems I’d forgotten to add to my list is Trinity Indian Stores which has a couple of location in Taipei City. Beyond Indian ingredients, they stock a fairly decent range of spices, often much cheaper than what you’d find in the local supermarkets. Their shop locations can be a bit tricky to find if you haven’t been before. The easiest one to locate is the one near City Hall MRT station.

If you live down south, or don’t mind getting your food delivered, there’s also the EU Pantry in Kaohsiung. I’ve placed a few orders with them and in general their products are of good quality. They sell a lot of hard to find items, as well as meat in larger chunks. Unfortunately they have quite limited stock of many things and do sell out. Prices are also on the higher side.

I’ve also found a place that sells venison, if that’s your kind of thing. Rou by T-Ham sells a lot of imported meat, as well as some local items and the aforementioned venison, which is imported from New Zealand. Prices are on the high side, but the venison is very good.

Other places to do your shopping in are convenience stores, there are more 7-11’s in Taiwan than in the whole of the USA and no less than 9,100 of them spread across the country with more opening all the time. Then there’s of course FamilyMart, Hi-Life and OK Mart. You can do a lot of other useful things in convenience stores in Taiwan too, like pay your bills, parking fees and collect C.O.D. packages etc. Most of the convenience stores also have an ATM. To find your local shop, either look out the window or head over to Google Maps where most of them tend to be listed these days.

It’s also worth visiting your local “wet market” which might have many of the items you’d want, especially fruit and vegetables which can be of much better quality and at lower prices than what you’d get in the supermarkets. Local stores can also stock various hard to find items and I found that a very local little vegetable and what not shop near where I lived stock beetroot when it’s in season, although these days it’s quite common in most supermarkets. The flower markets might also be good for fresh herbs and things like chili plants, although you’d have to have space to put the plants somewhere.

This post was last updated on the 6th of February 2021