It was an Italian friend living in Taipei who told me about Little Burma located in the southern part of the city. Not the locals. Many locals hadn’t a clue about the place when I asked them.
It’s not easy to find, tucked away in a side street in a nondescript area. At first glance, it looks like any other side street in the capital.
But Hua Xin Street and its surrounds are a little piece of Myanmar that's lodged itself in Taiwan.
Yet the people still speak Mandarin Chinese -- most of the almost 100,000 inhabitants in the Hua Xin Street area are ethnic Chinese who moved to Taiwan from Myanmar (also known as Burma).
He fought the Japanese with the Nationalist army until 1945 and today he becomes my ad hoc tour guide in Little Burma, regaling me with tales of the Chinese Diaspora in Myanmar.
After the war, he moved first to Hong Kong and eventually settled in Rangoon (now called Yangon) in 1948. He became a factory owner and then a rice trader, but kept close ties with the Nationalist government that had relocated to Taiwan in 1949.
Now he runs his grocery shop from which he regales customers with old war stories.
The must-try is monhinga, a fish noodle soup that is widely considered the national dish. His wife is cutting up what looks like a green tree trunk.
“Business is not good these days, the younger generations have moved away and inflation eats into our profits as we cannot raise the prices of our dishes accordingly.”
There are various types of curries as well as freshly baked flat bread to soak them up.
There are no tourists at all.
“I’ve found my final stop after wandering around Asia for the last 60 years,” Mr. Lin says. He couldn’t have chosen a more homely place.
Little Burma is within walking distance of Nan Shi Jiao MRT station, which is the southern terminus of the Gu Ting station orange line.
At Nan Shi Jiao MRT, take exit 4, turn right on Xing Nan Road and walk for about 10 minutes. Turn left on Hua Xin Street. Once you start seeing Burmese together with Chinese on the shop signs you will know you've arrived.