Ever been so hungry you’ve just entered a bakery and hoped you can assume its bread or cake products are vegetarian or even vegan? Well at Kopok you can: No eggs or meat products are used at all, and for vegans, dairy-free (無奶) items are clearly marked.
Located in a park-adjacent lane off the tail end of Fuxing South Road between Heping Road and a back entrance to Taiwan National University, Kopok (卡帛) Vegetarian Bakery and Café has a wide range of bread products to take away and a Italian-themed noodles, risotto and “baked” (rice and noodles) for consumption in its restaurant.
Open since 1998, Kopok is largely a secret to Taipei citizens who want “egg-free egg-cake” (“egg-cake” 蛋糕 is the Chinese for “cake”). Naturally, in keeping with Taiwan’s religious vows, its vegetarian menu is also devoid of onions and garlic.
Incidentally, the menu is excellently translated into English (“by an English teacher who eats here”), the only confusion come from the Chinese that lists some items as “dairy-free”, while the waitress says to pay no attention, that very few have milk or cheese products.
As a friend of NOMM who reviews restaurants for a national newspaper says: “Any restaurant can raise the price of its noodles from NT$40 per bowl to NT$160 by calling them Italian.” This is essentially the case here, especially since we ordered “fried wide rice noodles with Italian seasoning”, a.k.a. hefen (河粉) or bantiao (粄條), one of the “chef’s specials”, which would be expensive at NT$80 without the “Italian” tag. They were tasty enough, however, even the cooked celery (not an NOMM favorite) was good, and with an extra NT$40 came with two bits of bread, a bowl of soup and a cup of tea.
Diners following their meal with a drink get discounts of 20 percent and this includes a slice of cake, or so says the menu. Cook-at-home vegetarian dumplings (水餃) are available for NT$50 fo4 12.
Tel: 02-2733 6819
Hours: Mon~Sat 08:00~22:00; Sun: 9:30~21:30
NOMM fake-meat/processed food index: 4 (moderate; but avoidable)
The neighbourhood is very pleasant, those selecting bakery products can sit and eat them in the park outside. There is a Buddhist vegetarian buffet where the lane branches off Fuxing S. Rd., and next to Kopok is "Garlic Restaurant", which has half-a-dozen items that can be cooked to vegetarian standards (素可), for those Western vegetarians encountering garlic withdrawal symptoms in Taiwan.