Among Asian cuisines, Taiwanese food is one of the most underrated cuisines out there. But even though it doesn’t get enough attention like its Japanese, Thai or even Vietnamese counterparts, I have never heard of someone who didn’t like Taiwanese food. And Taiwanese food scene has lots of varieties and influences from different regions. You can see this from different styles of cooking and presentation of noodles, soup, dimsuns, pastries and sweets in Taiwan. So here is the list of must-try food in Taiwan when you decide to have that trip to this amazing country:
18. Chinese Pancake with fillings.
These pancakes are normally filled with different tasty flavors such as red beans, taro, chocolates etc. You can easily find these little tasty pancakes in the street for around NT$20 (US$ .60). Word of caution: they are so damned good!
17. Mochi Barbeque.
Mochi barbeque??? Yes, people. They grill mochis in Taiwan. After grilling the rice cake, they sprinkle some flavor on it. A bit different from the sweet Japanese mochis that we are used to, as this one has a bit of smokey flavor and is less sweet. It normally doesn’t cost more than NT$40.
16. Stinky Tofu
Stinky Tofu has a quite reputation of…well..being stinky. And it’s not for everyone. According to my guide, it is better if the tofu is less brine fermented as the smell isn’t too much and not too soft. Which tend to be really overwhelming in taste as well. And I agree. I also prefer the stinky tofu fried and crispy. In this way, it doesn’t taste different than what we’re used to here in the Philippines.
15. Scallion Pancake
I think there are million kinds of pancakes in the streets of Taiwan. But I am not complaining as they are all normally tasty, filling and cheap! You can also easily find this piece of heaven anywhere in Taiwan but one of the best places I found is close to Dongmen Station along Yong Kang St. If you find a stall with long queue, you know you find the right place!
14. Hot Pot
Yes, that’s a hot pot in a toilet bowl looking pot. Hot Pots are very common in Asia but this is the first novelty hot pot place I’ve been to. And all I can say is I couldn’t stop slurping on the soup while I was looking at the ceiling. Trying to forget that I was eating in a toilet themed restaurant. Heh.
13. Carbon Barbecue
I was initially confused with this barbecue upon seeing a sign. You can’t barbecue carbon right? But upon watching how the Taiwanese cook the beef, it dawned on me that they grill the meat using fire directly from a hose that’s connected to gas tank. I don’t know how safe this BBQ is but all I know is how tasty they are! Yum!
You probably have noticed how much Japan influenced Taiwanese cuisine by now. Miso soup is another dish that Japanese people passed on to Taiwan after the occupation of Japanese regime in the country. This soup is so tasty and filling for starter. Hah.
11. Fried Chicken
Who doesn’t love fried chicken??! If someone can evolve from being human to chicken from eating too much fried chicken, that would be me. I’ve been to a lot of countries and it has been my duty to compare how each country cook their fried chicken. And so far, this fried chicken that I found in a middle range restaurant somewhere in Ximen, which is the best place to stay in Taipei, beats all of them. Sorry, South Korea it was good while it lasts.
10. Pork Stir-Fry
This garlicky, crunchy and delicious find in Sun Moon Lake is still giving me some good dreams until now. It has been months but I can still taste this gem that I want to sing ala Riri “Where have you been all my la-la-life?”
9. Braised Pork Rice
Rice with braised pork is a staple in Taiwanese cuisine. The delicious braised pork belly is placed on top of the rice to make the usual boring rice exciting! At first I found it too oily but eventually loved how the braised pork mixed too well with the rice!
8. Egg Crepe
You know the story of behind every great man, there’s a woman? Well, behind every great woman, there’s the nice breakfast they normally start their morning with! When I discovered this simple yet amazing breakfast meal, I was just too cold to walk. The small restaurant owner below the building where I stayed doesn’t speak English and so her crew. I didn’t know what to order as the menu is in Chinese. Someone came and ordered food. Upon seeing how they cooked this meal, I decided to give them a sign language that I also wanted one. And that’s how this love story started. Every morning, I only ate this crepe along with a hot tea and felt that I was ready to conquer the world.
7. Pineapple Cake
There’s the carrot cake, banana cake, apple cake, blueberry cake and a whole long list of fruit cakes. But never heard of pineapple cake until my Canadian friend based in Taiwan introduced me to it. Like, why only now? 🙁
6. Beef Noodle Soup
I’m a big fan of soup and this beef noodle soup for sure stole my heart.
5. Baobing (shave ice dessert)
You know that if someone eats a shave ice dessert in the middle of winter, that means it’s really good right??? This dessert is a nice break from all the hot, saucy food I have been eating during my 2-week stay in Taiwan. It is made of ice, condensed milk and a fruit of your choice. Simple yet delicious!
4. Vegetable Soup
With all the soup dishes I included in this list, you are probably aware now that you should try every soup-based dish there is in Taiwan. No more questions asked!
3. Xiao Long Bao (steamed pork)
Din Tai Fung – the restaurant made from heaven. I thought everyone was exaggerating but when I arrived in the restaurant to have dinner with friends, I was surprised with the long queue. It took us more than an hour before we could get a table in this three-storey restaurant. That’s how famous they are. And with Michelin star to boot in their Hong Kong branch, this is probably not a surprising part. But man as they say, if it’s hard, it’s worth it right? That’s how good these steamed porks are!
2. Bubble Tea
I can only blamed Taiwan for Filipinos current addiction to bubble tea. In recent years hundreds of outlets of bubble tea houses popped up across the country. Feeding our thirst for a good drink. Among Asians, we’re the least interested with tea drinks but bubble tea changed that. And where is the best place to have the original bubble tea? I had mine in Milk Tea House as recommended my guide from the food tour I joined. And man, the quest to taste every bubble tea house in Taipei that says “best bubble tea house in Taiwan” has started.
This pork belly bun was the biggest surprise I had in Taiwan. No exaggeration. This is the local version of burger in Taiwan. The filling consists of pulled pork belly in this sweet, tangy and salty sauce. It has some chopped veggies as well and peanuts for texture. It was sooo good I couldn’t stop gushing about it for days. The steamed bun is also fresh and a better replacement from the usual burger buns we’re used to. The first time I had it, all I could think of is why this Taiwanese burger is not kicking Burger King and McDonalds’ burgers out yet?
Interested to try out these foods? Book your cheap hotels in Taipei here.