Taiwan is an eater’s paradise. Walk around a corner and you’ll see baskets of xiao long bao (soup dumplings) piled high ready for steaming, the night markets are a feast for the senses, bright lights and the air thick with mingling delicious smells. This is a strong food culture that you will never tire of discovering, from the ever present pungent but inviting stench of stinky tofu to the litres of bubble tea you’ll no doubt end up consuming- you’ll need months to do Taiwanese food any justice… best get eating! Here are the things you MUST EAT in Taiwan to start you off…
Note- we have mentioned particular restaurants which we think are worth a visit for some Must Eats. However, all Must Eats listed can be found very easily at night markets and restaurants around Taiwan. This post contains affiliate links, thank you for supporting our blog by using these links.
Chasing a Plate’s Pricing Guide
$ 100TWD (approximately $3.10USD) or under per plate/bowl/item
$$ 150TWD to 300TWD (approximately $4.50-$10.00USD) or under per plate/bowl/item
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What to eat in Taiwan: Number 1
Lu rou fan (braised pork on rice) $
Jin Feng (金峰魯肉飯), No. 10-1, Section 1, Roosevelt Rd, Zhongzheng District, Taipei
Considered a staple of the Taiwanese diet, you’ll find this dish at almost every restaurant you visit in Taiwan. Braised fatty pork in a sweet soy sauce is ladled onto white rice, if you’re lucky you’ll get a slice of crunchy pickled cucumber on the side and sometimes you’ll get a sprinkling of pork floss. Most days will see you wolf down a bowl of lu rou fan, trust us.
What to eat in Taiwan: Number 2
Stinky tofu $
The stink is unmistakable. Some might call it putrid, but we call it a promise of tasty things to come. Usually served in a soup or deep fried and topped with pickled cabbage and chilli, once you get past the smell, the tofu is addictive. Give it a go, you won’t regret it. Found in all night markets in Taiwan.
What to eat in Taiwan: Number 3
Beef noodle soup $$
Lin Dong Fang (林東芳牛肉麵), No. 274, Section 2, Bade Rd, Zhongshan District, Taipei
Taiwan’s national dish, niu rou mian or beef noodle soup is a must- bouncy wheat noodles, aromatic broth and gelatinous beef shank makes for one satisfying meal.
What to eat in Taiwan: Number 4
Xiao Long Bao $-$$
Xiao long bao, steamed soup dumplings are a perennial favourite in Taiwan, eaten at breakfast, lunch or dinner. Dumplings filled with juicy pork are steamed and then dipped in vinegar and topped with delicate slivers of ginger. Make sure you tear a hole in the side of the dumpling and let the steam out before you slurp away in order to avoid a scalding!
What to eat in Taiwan: Number 5
Deep fried chicken cutlet $
A huge chicken fillet the size of your face is crumbed, deep fried and then slathered in a sticky sauce. Enough said. Get one at any of the night markets in Taiwan or Hot Star is a popular chain that does a good version.
What to eat in Taiwan: Number 6
Black pepper bun $
Raohe or Shilin night market
You’ll see lines for these buns at most night markets and once you taste them you’ll understand why. Peppery minced pork dipped liberally in chopped spring onions is wrapped up in a dough and cooked in a clay oven resembling a tandoor. It’s juicy, spicy and the perfect snack.
What to eat in Taiwan: Number 7
Bubble tea $
Invented in the 1980’s bubble tea is one of Taiwan’s most famous exports. At most stores you can choose your preferred ice and sweetness levels, get it with boba (big taopica bubbles), pearls (small bubbles), pudding or jelly, there are numerous concoctions to drink your way through.
What to eat in Taiwan: Number 8
Taiwanese breakfast $
You must start a least one of your days in Taiwan with a traditional Taiwanese breakfast- a word of warning, or a teaser depending on your predilections, prepare to be carb-ed out! Dip tiao (savoury donut) into bowls of hot, sweet soy bean milk, munch on shao bing a flaky baked flatbread (you can even get a shao bing wrapped tiao, essentially a donut sandwich!) and wolf down dumplings or juicy meat buns. The savoury soy bean milk is worth eating too- ask for all the toppings- sesame and chilli oil, spring onions and crunchy, tiny fried shrimp stirred through the curdled tofu- that should set you up for the day!
What to eat in Taiwan: Number 9
Snow ice $-$$
Shaved snow ice is a refreshing way to finish a meal and it’s impossible not to get excited at all the flavour combinations you can order. From peanut snow ice topped with black sesame to vanilla snow ice drizzled with condensed milk and loaded with fresh fruit and then garnished with a crème caramel pudding (see what we mean?!), you might just find yourself finishing your evening with one of these desserts most nights.
What to eat in Taiwan: Number 10
Nutritious sandwich $
Maokong Night Market, Keelung
This is a cheeky addition as we’ve only seen it available at Maokong Night Market in Keelung, just out of Taipei. But it has to go on the list because it might just be the best sandwich you’ve ever eaten. A bready doughnut is deep fried and then split in half and stuffed with tomatoes, cucumber, bits of sausage, slices of century old egg and slathered with copious amounts of sweet mayonnaise. It might not be nutritious in the healthy sense but it sure is for the soul.
What to eat in Taiwan: Number 11
Any kind of dumpling $-$$
Pan fried or steamed dumplings are a cure all ills kind of food. And when you’re in Taiwan, the aim of the game is to eat as many as possible!
What to eat in Taiwan: Number 12
Train Bento $-$$
One of the highlights of travelling by train in Taiwan is selecting a train bento to eat on your journey. You can buy these lunchboxes at train stations before you depart from the official Taiwan Railways Association stall or from the 7/11 and Family Marts at smaller stations. Pork chop, rice and vegetables is a common bento but you’ll also find fish, vegetarian and chicken versions and you can guarantee they’ll all be delicious!
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We hope this Taiwanese food guide has helped you eat and explore like a traveller, not a tourist!
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