Taiwan Reunion September 2022

Could there be a better way to celebrate Taiwan reopening its border than to meet new friends, share great Taiwanese food and reminisce about fun times spent at one of the world’s best-kept tourism secrets?


Old friends and others who became new friends, met at the Hilton’s sparkling-new

guests of Kendra Chen, the Director General of the Auckland Taipei Cultural and Economic Office.  Director Chen introduced Mark Southon, the renowned executive chef, who was specially invited to create a menu for the day based on delicacies full of Taiwanese elements.

The guests’ experiences of Taiwan were wide and varied and foodies Sheena and Thomas described how they had spent around six weeks in Taiwan, travelling independently throughout the country, sampling the island’s regional food.   Although neither speaks Chinese, they found that was no problem as they came across plenty of friendly people who spoke English and in any case, a love of good food proved to be an international language.

Life of the party, well-known broadcaster Mike Puru, had travelled to Taiwan on a 48 hour wind whirl food research trip with chef Mark.  They recounted how they managed to eat their way through menus at restaurants and street markets, learning about local dishes and ingredients.  It sounded like a tough mission but one they did justice to, astoundingly without too much damage to their waistlines!


And the outcome of their travels appeared on the lunch table with the guests treated to entrees of truffled pork xiao long bao; oyster omelette with sweet chilli sauce, bean sprouts, garlic greens; crispy chicken and mango Bao; sashimi of king fish, spring onion pancakes, pork floss and black pepper buns.  Mark followed it up with a main course of classic beef noodle soup with braised beef marrow, spices, roasted grain fed sirloin, Taiwanese noodles and bok choy.

It was near-impossible to choose a highlight of the meal, but it has to be said, the dessert was a stunner – Mark’s version of bubble tea  – consisting of tea panacotta, vanilla ice cream, bubbles, chocolate and marinated mandarin.


Director Chen took the opportunity to talk about Taiwan’s political and democratic pluralism, its strong economic growth with its world-leading semi-conductor technology; its active contribution to the international community and its epidemic prevention and control measures, leading to the gradual reopening of the border with visa-free entry for travellers from New Zealand and other countries.  With China Airlines and Air New Zealand flying direct to Taipei more frequently, Director Chen said it is now easier for New Zealanders to include Taiwan in their travel plans to enjoy the island’s beautiful scenery, friendly people and wide variety of delicious food, from street markets to Michelin star restaurants and the Bib Gourmand food rating system offering moderately priced, high quality food.


Three hours had flown by and as the afternoon drew to a close, the guests farewelled each other and hoped that the next time they met and with Taiwan’s border reopened, they would have a whole new set of fond memories to share.




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