Memos from Asia

10 Must-Try Foods in Taiwan

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Taiwan is known internationally not only for its amazing tourist spots but also for its abundance of delicious, affordable cuisine. The country is best known for its street stalls and sprawling night markets filled with a variety of every single dish that can satiate your cravings – from peanut mochi, premium steaks, to steaming hot pork buns, there is certainly something that will be able to leave any traveller with a very happy tummy. Taiwanese food is very diverse and the sheer amount of night market vendors may begin to leave you a little dizzy, so here’s a compilation of some of the best food in Taiwan that will make your visit all the more memorable.

Beef Noodle Soup

Lanzhou-style beef noodle soup (Credit: N509FZ, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Beef noodle soup is one of the most highly recommended dishes to try out when visiting Taiwan, and for very good reason. It is one of the most commonly served dishes, meaning you can find it at just about any night market in their cities – most importantly, the way the Taiwanese vendors make their broth is extraordinary and you just won’t be able to find it anywhere else. The hearty noodles with the perfectly blended broth alongside thick sliced beef strips are sure to leave you full and satisfied in a single bowl. Beef noodle soup is very popular even among the locals and you’ll find customers ordering from stalls and even sitting on the sidewalk to eat it while it’s hot and fresh – when it’s at its most delicious.

Torched Beef

Torched beef is another night market essential. You’ll find vendors cutting up cubes of good grade meat and torching them on hot fire like a live mini-show for all the customers to watch. The smell in the air increases your appetite in an instant and the dish is commonly served in a paper box with toothpicks so you can savour each piece one by one.

Mee Sua

Mee Sua is another Taiwanese soup made out of either seafood or pork intestine. The noodles, unlike most beef noodle soups, are thin and stringy and easy to eat. Mee Sua is a lighter soup alternative, usually sold by night market vendors in small cups you can walk around with but many prefer to eat it on the spot near the stalls! It’s very popular both among tourists and locals so you can definitely expect a long (but quickly serviced!) line.

Pork Pepper Buns

(Credit: Maksym Kozlenko, CC BY-SA 4.0)

The sight of Pork Pepper Buns is impossible to miss in the Taiwanese street markets and stalls! It’s cooked in a large cylindrical oven, where the buns are pressed up against the insulated walls to cook and taken out once ready to serve. They’re steaming hot and once you take a bite you’ll be greeted to the marvellous flavours of heavily peppered pork mixed in with green onions. The intense filling is greatly contrasted by the chewy-crunchy sesame bun and you’ll definitely keep coming back for more and more. Among all of the pork pepper bun stalls in Taiwan, the stall near the entrance of the Raohe Night Market is the most popular, serving long lines no matter what the time of year.

Scallion Pancakes

Scallion pancakes are sold all over Taiwan, and come with various fillings and flavours. There’s basic egg, cheese, ham, or you can even have the pancake plain. Either way, the moist stuffed savoury pancake will leave you very satisfied. It seems like a very simple dish but in actuality, the dough the vendors use is very special! They have to knead and cook it properly in order to ensure that the pancakes have that ‘layered’ texture that customers keep coming back for more and more of.

Stinky Tofu

Stinky tofu is definitely one of the most famous foods in Taiwan because of its name and smell – it truly does leave a very pungent scent in the air that you can smell even if you’re a block away from the stall selling the dish. However, many locals love the delicious savoury-salty taste and come back for more and more on the daily. If you can stand the scent, you’ll be treated to a treasure trove of delicious tofu that’s crunchy on the outside and moist and soft on the inside.

Pineapple cakes

Pineapple cakes are a popular souvenir food that hails from Taiwan and the taste truly is something that’s worth bringing back home. It’s a soft and flakey square crust that is filled with a sweet and tart pineapple preserve filling. The typically boxed cakes can be found pretty much everywhere in the country and even at the airport for easiest access.

Mango Shaved Ice

Mango Shaved ice is a popular summer treat in Taiwan, made with a milky sweet shaved ice base and topped with a hefty serving of fresh ripe mangoes. It’s so popular it was even featured in CNN as one of the world’s best desserts – at a very affordable price point and with many different flavours to choose from if you don’t like mango. Shaved ice is definitely a chilling dessert you won’t want to miss after a long day of travelling.

Giant chicken cutlets

Many stalls in Taiwan serve giant chicken cutlets which are made unique by the fact that they are easy to take along and hold with a single hand to eat while you stroll the streets of Taiwan. In addition, they come in many different unique flavours such as seaweed, chilli paper, wasabi, and five-spice. Despite their size (being bigger than your entire hand!) The chicken inside is fresh, juicy and moist – a perfect savory on the go meal.

Soup Dumplings

Last but definitely not least are soup dumplings, also known locally as xiao long bao. They are small soft dumplings filled with savoury meats and soup. What makes it special is the folding of the dumplings, carefully made so that they have 14 or even higher folds for the ultimate texture that explodes into your mouth with each bite. The most common way to eat these soup dumplings to take one with your chopsticks, place it on a spoon, and open up the dough to reveal the fillings before eating it up in one bite.

Getting hungry? The food in Taiwan is certainly mouthwatering and it can be a huge help to know when to start when traversing the very large selection of food that the country has to offer. Want to know more about Taiwan cuisine or have any questions or additional insights? Feel free to comment down below and let me know what you think!

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