Where to Eat and Drink in Hengchun (Kenting), Taiwan
If you’re headed to Taiwan’s beautiful Kenting National Park, you might be wondering where the best restaurants are. The answer: in the center of Hengchun, a small town located a few miles northwest of the resorts and sandy beaches. Despite its quiet streets and relaxed vibe, Hengchun has a surprisingly vibrant restaurant and bar scene! The following is a list of all the best places I tried during my five-day visit to the area.
Exploring the beaches and attractions of Kenting is an energy-intensive endeavor. Grab something to eat at one of the many restaurants listed below.
Hengchun Fu Ji Steamed Dumplings
Sometimes in Asia, hole-in-the-wall places end up being the best. Fu Ji is definitely proof of that. Located on one of the few avenues in town that has a lot of restaurants to choose from, Fu Ji looks more like a street stand than anything else. But don’t let their humble appearance deter you. Their dumplings and soup will blow you away!
Their menu consists of the handful of items shown on their red banner in the picture above (which unfortunately has no English translations). Go straight for the steamed dumplings, which in Chinese are called 蒸餃, or “zhēng jiǎo.” At Fu Ji, they’re delicious, juicy, and served fresh!
If you’re really hungry, order the dumplings and a bowl of 肉羹, pronounced “ròu gēng.” This thick soup reminded me of sweet and sour soups I’ve had at Chinese restaurants in the States, but the flavor is even more fragrant. If you get these two items, your bill will be 110 NTD (3.50 USD). Not only will it be delicious and filling, but also really budget friendly!
Chill High High Burritos
Do you think that name might be implying something? This little place is technically the lobby of a hostel (I think), but nonetheless they had good food, a nice vibe, and friendly staff.
Their menu basically consists of burritos along with some other small plates. I can’t say that they were necessarily the most authentic burritos ever, but I’d dare to say that their use of local ingredients almost made them an unintended fusion dish. Definitely worth a try especially if you haven’t had a burrito in a while!
When you think of a retro cafe, do you picture a diner that sells or displays a lot of old-school record discs? Well, this is 2019, and at Cafe Cinema they’ve updated the concept with hundreds of DVDs! The vibe inside is so fun and creative, and I think you can actually rent them (but I never saw anyone try).
In addition to a unique concept, everything I ordered at Cafe Cinema was delicious! The seafood spaghetti I tried was so good that I had to go back and get another plate (the second time with Italian sausage). The noodles were perfect: cooked just enough not to be soggy. Anyone with a spaghetti craving should head over here right away.
Cafe Cinema is also mentioned below as one of the cafes I recommend because they also brew a delicious cup of coffee and have a great vibe for sitting and relaxing! More on that below.
This small restaurant is only open until 2:00 in the afternoon, but it’s the perfect place for brunch. I’m not really sure exactly what I ordered here, but it had bread, a scramble, mashed potatoes, and a generous serving of salad. This was probably the most balanced meal I’ve had in weeks!
I ended up trying two pizza places in Hengchun and liked both. John Dough Pizza had outdoor seating and a chill vibe. The pizza was good and the servers were nice.
The other one I tried was Mangia Pizza. They were clearly going for a more authentic (i.e. Italian) feel, so I took the liberty of ordering a glass of wine with my pizza. Their dining room was pretty small, so they eventually filled up and had to shuffle tables around to seat everyone, but the mushroom pizza I got was good nonetheless.
Before heading to Mangia, I tried to go to Pizza for Peace, but was told that a party of ten was about to come in and that I’d have to wait at least half an hour. The restaurant wasn’t that small, so I was thrown off that they’d be unable to accommodate more than ten diners at once, but I appreciated the honesty about the wait at least.
The last place I’ll mention wasn’t located in town, but Ali Seafood got good reviews from this blog so I tried it one night. Since Hengchun and Kenting are right on the water, I felt a bit obligated to try a meal fully dedicated to seafood, and while the dishes there were good, nothing stood out as great. If you’ve been to a seafood place in Hengchun that you loved, let me know in the comments below!
For a town of this size, I was surprised to find any bars at all! The two I tried were both so interesting and definitely worth a visit.
Let me just put this out there: this could be my favorite bar I’ve ever come across. I know that might sound a bit hyperbolic, but hear me out!
First of all, the bartender, James, is amazing. He’s a great conversationalist and is so welcoming to everyone who comes in. The bar is cozy yet spacious, and the decor is on point.
Then there’s the menu. Be sure to ask for the English version. Each page is dedicated to its own drink, and everything has its own inspiration or story behind it. The menu describes what each drink is about and then lists what ingredients go into it as well as how it tastes (sweet, sour, fruity, strong, etc).
The average price is roughly 200 NTD. It may feel like a lot especially compared to some local meal prices, but that’s still a good deal compared to bar cocktail prices in the US.
As you can see, I stopped in every night for a couple of rounds and made it an unofficial goal to try as much of the menu as I could! The flavors of each beverage were unique, such as a gin made with a locally produced tea, or a rose-infused vodka cocktail.
30M Bar opens at 8:00 p.m. and they’re closed on Tuesday. Be sure to check them out if you are in Hengchun!
New Cut Warehouse
This is the other place you should check out if you’re craving a drink. Located in what used to be an old factory building on the edge of town, this complex of bars feels like it came straight out of a hipster metropolis like Portland or Austin.
As you turn in from the main road, it might look like you’re entering an abandoned parking lot. Keep going and you should see the front entrance and some lights on inside. There’s not a lot of clear signage to guide your way, which makes it feel very much like a best-kept local secret.
The building (which has concrete walls but no roof in the first room) houses a couple of different bartending stations well as an area for skateboarding and a small stage area for musicians. I only tried drinks from the first one, which was a rum bar that had a surprising number of options featuring white and dark rum and fruity flavors that will transport your taste buds to a beach somewhere in Jamaica.
New Cut Warehouse is perfect for groups because it’s so big and there’s ample space to sit and relax. However, solo travelers should also go check it out because it’s a really cool place that isn’t like other bars. New Cut is located here and you enter from Hengxi Road across from the Christian hospital.
If you know me, then you know I’m constantly on the lookout for cafes, especially if they’re a good place to sit and use WiFi for a bit. Here are the two I found.
Mentioned above for their great atmosphere and delicious food, Cafe Cinema gets a second mention here as a great cafe. The black coffee is good and the lattes are clearly made by an experienced barista. They were also never overly crowded and have free WiFi, so I felt comfortable staying a while and getting a bit done online there.
Small Room Coffee
This was the other cafe I liked in Hengchun. I didn’t see an English menu, but they might have one or be able to help translate. They offer quite a few single-origin brews as well as other standards. Despite being pretty small, it was so relaxing and quiet inside and their counter seats next to the window are the perfect place to sit down and catch up on email (or scroll through social media).
Kenting is a beautiful part of Taiwan that’s about as far as you can get from the tourist hotspot of Taipei. If you’re already there, try one of the places on my list and let me know what you think! Still not sure whether you want to visit Kenting National Park? Click on over to my post about it and let me convince you! Thanks for reading!