Taiwan is renowned throughout the world for its prolific street food culture. And it certainly did not disappoint! From the bustling street food markets of Taipei to dining like a local in Hualien, we've compiled a list of our top 10 must try foods of Taiwan. Some foods quickly became our firm favourites whilst others are perhaps more of an acquired taste *cough cough* stinky tofu… Read on to find out more about the weird and wonderful foodie paradise that is Taiwan!
No.1 on our must try foods of Taiwan: Shilin Night Market Cheese steak
Our first stop was the largest of Taipei’s night markets. A gargantuan maze of street food stalls, clothes stalls, arcades and many more, it seemed only right to start our Taiwanese food experience here. We soon noticed a large queue at what appeared to be a BBQed steak stall, where the seller would blow torch fatty, buttery bits of steak before adding your choice of toppings.
After having been in Asia for over two months we were DYING for some cheese, so went for that option! Charred to perfection then coated in melted salty cheese, this steak was like heaven on a plate. Whilst it was slightly pricier than the rest, at 100 NT$ (about 2 pounds) it was sooo worth it! The seasoning was impeccable, and given the price, the meat was of high quality! The taste/price ratio means it comes first in our must try foods of Taiwan!
No.2 one of the classic must try foods of Taiwan – the Pepper bun
A known favourite amongst tourists and locals alike, the pepper pork bun might look deceptively plain but what it lacks in looks it makes up for in flavour!
The sesame seed coated crispy bread outside gives way to a soft doughy interior, jampacked full of delicious juicy minced pork and scallions.
These were so moreish and addictive, and a steal at 30 NT$! You can find them in most markets, but our favourite was on a street corner in Taipei that was only open for a few hours.
No.3 our favourite dish in Taiwan: Beef Noodle Soup
Kieron and I consider ourselves to be noodle soup aficionados, always on the hunt for the tastiest broth and most tender meat. The beef noodle soup in Taiwan exceeded all our expectations. Thick buttery noodles that tasted like fresh pasta, in a rich hearty broth with a decent serving of tender beef falling off the bone. In other words, we were in HEAVEN.
You can find these all over Taiwan, and they’re normally served in a huge bowl so don’t be afraid to split one serving! A big portion will set you back around NT$ 100.
No.4 Japanese curry bread, a highlight of Hualien.
Whilst in Hualien County, we were lucky enough to stay with a local junior high school teacher. Thanks to Anita’s insider knowledge we were able to experience the locals' choice of must try foods of Taiwan. However, our ultimate favourite had to be the Japanese curry bread. These are probably best compared to a savoury doughnut with a crispy salty shell and a spicy chicken katsu curry interior. Sounds like an odd mixture we know! But my god was it good.
We couldn’t help but think about how popular these would be back home in the UK. They were only 20 NT$, making them the perfect cheap snack to tide you over! We loved these so much, that we walked forty-five minutes to get the best ones in town… now that’s dedication! It was the unique combination of textures that made this our favourite snack out of our must try foods of Taiwan.
No.5 Sweet tooth? Introducing the 10 dollar street food snack the ‘ Imagawayaki'
Anita also introduced us to the ‘ imagawayaki'. A kind of cake filled with what can only be described as a slightly salty crème patissiere?! The batter tasted like waffle mix, and was so crispy yet soft!
These are the cheapest out of the must try foods of Taiwan at only 10 NT$! They can be found on almost every street corner! They also come in many other flavours such as red bean and chocolate, but our favourite was the creamy one.
No.6 Chinese style cafeteria dinner, one of the must try foods of Taiwan!
Whilst this may not be the obvious choice for tourists, Chinese style cafeterias are unmatched in value for money! We love a good buffet, and the huge assortment of different meat and vegetable dishes available were no exception.
We were the only tourists here, as the rest of the clientele were locals looking for a tasty post-work meal. It’s a pile as much as you possibly can on your plate kinda place, and then the lady at the till will guesstimate how much your meal is. We went to town, choosing succulent pork belly, delicious sweet and sour chicken, sautéed spinach, aubergine and many more! It never cost us more than one pound fifty per portion, and this price included a white gourd drink and a bowl of soup!
We would never have visited a place like this had it not been for our host, so we have her to thank for this recommendation!
No.7 The notorious ‘Stinky Tofu’ the most 'marmite' of our must try foods of Taiwan!
Not one for the faint-hearted, stinky tofu is much like Durian in many ways. For one, you can smell it before you can even see it… And secondly, it seems to be only local people that rave about it. Everyone told us to try stinky tofu, and I mean everyone! We didn’t mind the smell too much, it was almost like a really smelly French cheese (which I love!). But when it came to actually trying it, it was a whole different story! The texture was perhaps the most revolting, as when you bit down into the tofu, the stinky juice would explode in your mouth. All in all, not the best culinary experience but certainly one worth trying!
No.8 The classic stewed pork rice.
After the sensual overload that was stinky tofu, we needed something to appease our tastebuds! Introducing the pork belly rice, a cheap and cheerful meal featuring some of the most tender meat we’ve ever had! Most places serve this dish with a side of bok choy, tofu, and an egg. It was very tasty and easy to find as there were so many hole in the wall type places serving it! We never paid more than 70 NT$.
No.9 A Taiwanese wintery comfort food 'Oyster Mee Suah'
Mee Suah is a quintessential chinese origin comfort food. It consists of vermicelli noodles in a thick glutinous broth with salty oysters and rich slices of pig intestine. The consistency takes some getting used to, but the contrast of salty and sweet from the oyster and the intestine is pretty nice! If you need something filling then this is the dish for you! Kieron and I shared one portion and were suitably full afterwards! It costs around NT$60 so cheap and cheerful.
No.10 DUMPLINGS!! Steamed, fried, wontons, dim sum any kind you could ever wish for!
Okay so we had to include these in our must try foods of Taiwan because we experienced the most incredible wontons ever! Anita took us to a family run restaurant in Hualien, where they only serve wontons. They were out of this world! The meat was so tender and juicy, and was handwrapped in delicious dough. We savoured every morsel of these heavenly dumplings.
Elsewhere, dumplings are a cheap and tasty addition to any meal and you can choose from an abundance of fillings!
So there you are! Our top ten must try foods of Taiwan. In all honesty we could've probably extended the list to top 50 must try foods of Taiwan, seeing how much delicious food we ate there! Have you tried any of these dishes? Let us know in the comments section!