Many cities across Asia have vibrant street food cultures, but Taipei might serve as the continent’s gold standard for cheap eats. Turn any corner and you’ll find vendors selling roasted sweet potatoes, Taiwanese rice balls, onion pancakes, fried rice, and an endless assortment of other tasty snacks.
But busy Taiwanese seldom have time to get to know the talented chefs that work their favorite stands every day, many of whom have stories to tell. Luckily, a team of Taiwan college students is working to change that with a new app Haoshi Ditu
Haoshi Ditu (which roughly translates to “Good Deed Map”) helps users locate the nearest street food stalls. It also provides brief tidbits of information about the vendors. Sometimes the blurb will reveal a little about the vendor’s background, other times it will simply comment on his or her outfit or smile. As I open the app, it’s already pinpointed the lady who sells porridge a few blocks from my apartment every morning.
There’s a prominent “social welfare” element to Haoshi Ditu, as the app encourages users to support food stall vendors, many of whom are caught in unfortunate and difficult circumstances. To that end, the app also succeeds in helping draw much-needed attention to the sidewalk chefs who collectively make Taiwan such an exciting place to live (and eat in).
Haoshi Ditu is only available in Chinese, and its listings are few in number for the moment. Even though the app sits firmly in “school project” territory, it’s a useful tool not just for finding the nearest danbingstand, but also for turning typically mundane transactions into an opportunity for forming new relationships.
You can download Haoshi Ditu for iOS here.