In comparison to it’s neighbours like Hong Kong and Korea who are also famous for street food, Taiwan offers a wide variety of food choice at a much more pocket friendly prices. With a night market in almost every neighbourhood, you will not go hungry at any time of the day. If you are in Taiwan, here are top 15 items you need to eat before leaving.
1.Soy milk and fried dough fritters
These are almost like a staple in many Taiwanese breakfast although in recent times more young Taiwanese prefer a more American breakfast menu like toast with bacon and eggs. The older generations of Taiwanese still prefer to have this for breakfast. By this, i mean a bowl of soy milk either sweet or savoury plus a stick of fried dough fritters which provides the carbohydrates energy for breakfast. The soy milk is made by grinding soy beans into liquid before boiling it with either sugar or adding savory items like green onions and pickled vegetables. The fried dough is dipped into the milk as a accompaniment.
There are 2 very famous stores selling this which is Yong He Dou Jiang and Fu Hang Dou Jiang. My personal favourite is Fu Hang but it has fewer outlets and the queue starts as early as 6am whereas Yong He has more outlets all over Taipei.
Fu Hang Address: 100, Taiwan, Taipei City, Zhongzheng District, Section 1, Zhongxiao East Road, 108號. Shandao Temple station
Operating hours: 5.30 am to 12.30 pm
Yong He Xi Men Ding Address: No. 30號, Section 2, Hankou St, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan 108. Ximen Station Exit 6
Operating hours: 6 am to 11 pm
2. Oyster and Pig Intestine Mee Sua
Many eat this for lunch, dinner, supper or just as a snack but if you think this is like any other noodles, stop and think again. This small bowl might look simple enough with basic mee sua and just some oysters but this powerful little bowl is so addictive that you might find it hard to stop. Mee sua is a kind of Chinese wheat salted vermicelli which cooks to become soft and starchy and is extremely suitable for young and old as well as the sick as it is easy on the digestive system. This Taiwan version is cooked till soft and creamy but yet the delicate structures of the noodle is still intact and not mushed up. The broth where the mee sua is cooked in is a dark braised sauce which is also used to cook the pig intestines. The oysters provide the sweetness of seafood while the pig intestine the crunchy meaty taste to the entire bowl of mee sua. Top the bowl with black vinegar, garlic, chili and coriander and you will never forget this bowl of noodle.
The most famous stall selling this is Ah Zhong but I discovered a much better one from Chen Ji with strongly savoury flavours. My full review of Chen Ji Mee Sua can be found here.
Ah Zhong Address: No. 8-1 Emei Street, Taipei Wanhua District, Taipei City (East XMD Pedestrian Area. Ximen Station Exit 6
Operating hours: 10 am to 10.30 pm
Chen Ji Address: No. 166, Section 3 Heping West Road at Wanhua District in Taipei City. Long Shan Temple Station Exit 2
Operating hours: 6.30 am to 7.30 pm
3. Tiger Brown Sugar Bubble Tea
This needs no introduction and for those wondering what is the craze for these tea can read on my earlier entries. Battle of the brown sugar bubble tea 1 . My conclusion to that post which I will be writing soon is that Tiger wins them all. The king of all bubble tea and if you are in the home town you definitely have to drink it. Be prepared to queue and wait at least 30 mins. There are many outlets so you can try to google them while you are there and if all else fails, there is one outlet in Ximending/ Shilin Night market and near Taipei main station, so ask around for it.
4. Chicken Oil Rice
As simple as it sounds, this dish is basically shredded chicken meat laid on top of rice and splashed with a dash of chicken oil and sauce. While the sauce tasted like soy sauce, there should be some other special ingredients as this tiny bowl of rice is fabulous. The key here is really not the chicken but the sauce on the rice. The chicken oil combined with the sauce is fragrant and sumptuous with great umami flavours. Every grain of rice is nicely coated with the sauce and every grain delicious till the bowl is cleaned out. The store that does this extremely well is within the Ningxia night market and each bowl is very affordable at only TWD 30.
5. Braised pork belly rice
At the same store, they serve equally good braised pork belly rice with equally juicy and braised till soft and tender pork slices on top of rice. Unlike the chicken rice, the key here is the pork which is soft and juicy with the right amount of pork fats mixed into minced pork. Each spoonful of rice with pork was sinful yet delicious. Unlike the chicken rice, this dish is available in almost all eateries in Taiwan but only a handful does it well.
Store Name: No 60. Fang Jia
Address: Ning Xia Night Market, Ningxia Road, Datong District, Taipei City, Taiwan 103
Operating hours: 5.30 pm to 12 am
6. Onion Pancake
Onion pancakes are flat dough filled with chopped green scallions and fried to golden brown and crispy. The newer versions of the scallion pancakes have another layer of fried egg batter combined with the original dough making it doubly crispy and tasty. The fried dough is savoury and crispy with the fragrance of fresh scallion with an added layer of egg taste.
You can buy this in any night market and make sure you the get the one with the egg as well.
7. Shaved Ice
Dessert is always welcomed and while Singapore sells shaved ice, the ones sold in Taiwan is somewhat nicer with a much better and smoother and finer texture. The ice is shaved so finely that it taste just snow in your mouth. There are different varieties of shaved ice desserts from fresh fruits to almond ones. My review of the Yu Almond dessert
8. Glutinous Rice with Taiwan Sausage
Taiwanese sausage is sweet and savoury at the same time which taste quite different from the Western sausage. There is a famous snack in Taiwan which is glutinous rice shaped like a sausage is used like a sausage bun to wrap up the Taiwanese sausage and toppings like parsley, salted vegetables and peanuts are added to the sausage bun. The entire combination is sweet, salty, grainy with crunchy and starchy consistency. This dish is available at all night markets.
9. Mala Hotpot
Mala hotpot in Taiwan is a favourite amongst locals and tourists as the mala soup is fragrant and savoury minus the numbing sensation on the tongue. It is an experience to eat mala hotpot in Taiwan as they provide endless supply of pig’s blood and seasoned bean curd. One of the more popular stores selling this is Wu Lao Huo Guo but there is endless restaurants across Taiwan offering mala hotpot. My full review of Elixir Health Pot – Wu Lao Hot pot can be found here.
10. Honey White Bitter gourd drink
After endless feasting of fried and oily food from all the night markets, having a cup of this will be just the thing to bring back the balance and cleanse the oil from the stomach. Looking at the name, you will think that this is extremely bitter but in fact you can add other fruits to take out the bitter taste but as I enjoy bitter gourd, I do not find the drink bitter at all and the honey makes the drink very enjoyable. You can find this at night markets and Ximending.
11. Fried Chicken
Fried chicken, who doesn’t love great fried chicken and it is the best snack to carry around and munch. Taiwan is famous for their extra large chicken fillet fried with crunchy batter and topped with chilli and pepper powder to give it the spicy and savoury taste amidst the crispy crunchy chicken texture. This can be found in all night markets and Ximending area as well.
12. Pork Chop Rice
This simple yet heavenly pork chop rice is often eaten by many locals for lunch and dinner. There are a few pork chop restaurants selling this but the one I like is the nameless one at Chifeng street. My full review can be found here Nameless Pork Chop Rice
13. Soup Dumpling
Din Tai Fung is the first restaurant bringing the famous soup dumplings all over the world. While soup dumplings are invented in Shanghai, Din Tai Fung; a Taiwanese restaurant is the one to make it famous and popular around the world. So when you are in Taiwan, you definitely need to visit the many branches of Din Tai Fung to eat the soup dumplings.
14. Beef Noodles
Good beef noodles is somewhat associated with Taiwan and there are so many stores outside selling Taiwanese beef noodles. There are many restaurant littered across Taiwan selling their own versions of beef noodles. The versions in Taiwan has clear broth with deep flavours and various parts of the beef for choice.
15. Sweet Desserts
There is always room for desserts and there are many traditional and good desserts all across Taipei. From sweet dumplings to soy bean curd, there is plenty of choices for everyone. While everyone might go for the shaved iced, I would recommend to try some of their warm desserts as well.