What to Eat in Taiwan
Author: Darah and Garret from "Where Food Takes Us"
No matter your preference in food, Taipei has something for you! We implore you to get out and explore this wonderful city and go on a food adventure. Your taste buds will thank you and you’ll have some great travel memories!
Gua Bao is the best Taiwanese snack you can get your hands on. If you don’t believe us, take CNN’s word for it in their list of 40 best foods in Taiwan. Lin Jia is your go-to restaurant for this tasty snack that’s also known as the Taiwanese hamburger. Wash it down with some bubble milk tea!
Bubble Milk Tea
What better place to drink some bubble milk tea than in its home country? Whether you want your tea loaded with sugar and packed with ice or hot and unsweetened, bubble milk tea is available on practically every corner. Bring some with you to dinner or as you stroll through one of Taipei’s parks. It’s the perfect addition to anything in Taiwan!
Xiao Long Bao
You can’t visit Taiwan without making a stop at one of Din Tai Fung’s many locations and trying their mouthwatering xiao long bao. What is xiao long bao, you might ask? Well, it’s a mouthful of heaven. But really it’s (traditionally) pork mixed with gelatinous broth and wrapped in unleavened dough, steamed in a bamboo basket. You don’t have to go to Din Tai Fung for xiao long bao, many soy milk restaurants offer great dumplings at a fraction of the price.
Beef Noodle Soup
Beef noodle soup is a classic Chinese dish and you’ll find many small vendors offering this hot delight throughout Taipei. Not to be confused with beef tendon soup, which is much chewier, beef noodle soup is simply as the name implies, beef, noodles, and soup! The broth is what makes this dish a winner. If you really want a local experience and some delicious beef noodle soup, venture to “號, No. 8, Lane 263, Zhuangjing Road, Banqiao District, New Taipei City, Taiwan 220”. That address seems crazy, we know, but Google Maps will help you find your way!
An unleavened sesame flat bun cooked in a very hot oven, shao bing is a soy milk restaurant staple. We usually enjoyed our shao bing stuffed with an omelets and pork or if you’re feeling something a little more greasy then you can try it with you tiao. You tiao is a fried bread stick, similar to a churro, but instead of being sweet it’s rather salty.
Soy Milk Soup
Mostly known as Taiwanese breakfast, you’ll find plenty of people queuing up outside of soy milk restaurants in the morning. We always liked to go around lunch time since the crowds were a little lighter. Soy milk soup was always on our table. Be prepared for a salty rush of soy milk, the crunch of crumbled up you tiao and the slight hint of chives! It’s hot as well. There’s nothing like trying it for the first time as it’s not what you’d expect!
We lived near a dumpling chain (八方雲集) and they had the most amazing soup we have ever had. It was a delicious and thick hot and sour soup with veggies, tofu and little bits of pork and a generous amount of large pork dumplings swimming in it. We ate this soup in all kinds of weather: sweltering hot, pleasantly cool, pouring down rain. We honestly couldn’t get enough of it.
Walking around Taipei you’ll see many restaurants where people are sitting around a table with a big pot in the middle and steam is blowing in their faces. What they’re enjoying is a meal called hot pot. In most restaurants you get your choice of broths and your choice of meats then you approach the buffet and fill your plates with different types of vegetables, seafood, dumplings and other treats. Once you have your food and your meat you stick it all in the broth to cook and enjoy. Try and find a hot pot restaurant that offers all you can drink wine and beer and all you can eat ice cream. Yes, all you can eat ice cream!
Night Market Grub
Don’t let the “burnt” description turn you away. They use a blowtorch, a famous Taipei night market tool, which gives the octopus that little bit of burnt. It’s perfect! The right amount of crunchy and chewy, burnt octopus is a great night market munchie. Have it doused in cheese or different flavors of sauce as well!
Fried Sweet Potato Balls
Walking by a stand that sold sweet potato balls was reminiscent of state fairs back in the States. So we had to try these and they did not disappoint! Surprise, there’s cream on the inside so even more reason to get excited. They can really make your mouth dry so grab some fresh juice (sold everywhere in a night market) or, of course, bubble milk tea!
Cheesy Blowtorch Chicken
It was our second night market experience and the first thing we saw was a guy with a blowtorch. When we got closer we realized he was a culinary artist. Cheesy blowtorch chicken, as we like to call it, is fried chicken tossed in a wok with, what we assume was, soy sauce and pan fried some more. Once he was done tossing it around he placed it in a box, threw some cheese on top of it and used a blowtorch to melt the cheese. This. Is. Amazing.
Candied Strawberries on a Stick
Melt in your mouth, warmy goodness, perfect crunch, these are all ways to describe these sweet eats from a Taipei night market. You can find them at other night markets as well, like the famous night market in nearby Keelung where we tried ours.
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