Welcome to Taiwan, a country renowned for its vibrant culture, stunning landscapes, and, of course, its incredible street food. The island nation is a food lover’s paradise, with a plethora of flavors and culinary delights waiting to be discovered. From mouthwatering savory dishes to refreshing sweet treats, Taiwan’s street food scene is a must-visit for any food traveler.
One of the best ways to experience Taiwanese cuisine is by exploring its bustling night markets. These lively markets are a sensory overload, filled with the enticing aromas of sizzling street food stalls and colorful displays of mouthwatering delicacies.
With its rich gastronomic heritage and fusion of culinary influences from China, Japan, and Southeast Asia, Taiwan offers a unique and diverse range of street food options that will satiate any craving. From iconic dishes like Braised Pork Rice and Bubble Tea to lesser-known gems like Oyster Vermicelli and Stinky Tofu, there is something to tantalize every taste bud.
In this article, we will take you on a culinary journey through the streets of Taiwan, introducing you to the top 12 street foods that you simply cannot miss. Whether you’re a seasoned food enthusiast or a curious traveler looking to immerse yourself in local flavors, these dishes will showcase the essence of Taiwanese street food culture.
So put on your walking shoes, bring your appetite, and get ready to embark on a delectable adventure as we explore the top 12 street foods to try in Taiwan.
Braised Pork Rice
One of Taiwan’s most iconic and beloved street food dishes is Braised Pork Rice, also known as Lu Rou Fan. This hearty and flavorful dish consists of tender, succulent chunks of pork belly braised in a savory sauce and served over a bed of steamed rice.
The secret to the irresistible taste of Braised Pork Rice lies in the slow-cooked pork belly and the aromatic sauce it is simmered in. The pork is simmered for hours in a mixture of soy sauce, rice wine, garlic, and spices, resulting in melt-in-your-mouth meat that is bursting with flavor.
The dish is typically garnished with steamed bok choy or pickled mustard greens for a refreshing contrast to the rich and savory pork. Some vendors even add a perfectly cooked soft-boiled egg, adding an extra layer of richness and creaminess.
Found in nearly every night market and food stall, Braised Pork Rice is a staple comfort food in Taiwan. Its popularity is due not only to its delicious flavor but also its affordability and filling nature, making it a satisfying meal that won’t break the bank.
For a truly authentic experience, enjoy a bowl of Braised Pork Rice with a side of pickled vegetables and a cup of refreshing iced tea. The combination of flavors and textures will leave you craving for more.
So, when you find yourself in Taiwan, don’t miss the chance to indulge in the mouthwatering delight that is Braised Pork Rice. It’s a dish that encapsulates the essence of Taiwanese street food – simple, yet packed with incredible flavor.
When it comes to refreshing beverages, Bubble Tea, also known as Boba Tea, is undoubtedly one of Taiwan’s most famous exports. This delightful drink has taken the world by storm with its unique combination of tea, milk, and chewy tapioca pearls.
Originating from Taiwan in the 1980s, Bubble Tea has quickly become a global phenomenon, satisfying the thirst of millions of people worldwide. The drink starts with a base of freshly brewed tea, which can range from traditional black or green tea to more exotic flavors like taro or matcha.
What sets Bubble Tea apart from other tea drinks are the “bubbles” or tapioca pearls. These soft, chewy pearls are made from cassava starch and are often black in color. When combined with the tea and milk, they add a fun textural element to the drink, giving it its signature appeal.
One of the best things about Bubble Tea is its customizability. You can choose the sweetness level, ice level, and even add various toppings like fruit jelly or aloe vera to create your perfect blend. Whether you prefer it creamy and sweet or light and refreshing, there’s a Bubble Tea flavor combination for every palate.
While you can find Bubble Tea shops throughout the world, there’s no better place to indulge in this beloved drink than in Taiwan. The birthplace of Bubble Tea offers an unparalleled array of flavors, toppings, and combinations to satisfy even the most discerning Bubble Tea connoisseur.
So, when you’re strolling through the streets of Taiwan, be sure to make a stop at a local Bubble Tea shop. The refreshing taste, chewy pearls, and endless possibilities will leave you hooked on this Taiwanese delicacy.
If you’re a seafood lover, then Oyster Vermicelli, also known as O-Ah Mee Sua, is a street food dish in Taiwan that you must try. This savory and flavorful noodle soup is a classic Taiwanese specialty that showcases the country’s love for fresh seafood.
The star ingredient of Oyster Vermicelli is, of course, the plump and juicy oysters. These briny and tender bivalves are simmered in a flavorful broth along with vermicelli noodles, giving the dish its distinct taste and texture. The broth is typically made with a mixture of oyster sauce, soy sauce, garlic, and various spices, creating a rich and umami-packed soup.
The vermicelli noodles used in this dish are thin and delicate, absorbing the flavors of the broth while offering a smooth and silky texture. The dish is often garnished with fresh cilantro, minced garlic, and a dash of black vinegar for an extra layer of complexity.
When you take your first bite of Oyster Vermicelli, you’ll experience a burst of flavors – the brininess of the oysters, the earthiness of the broth, and the delicate chewiness of the noodles. It’s a comforting and satisfying dish that will warm your soul, especially on a chilly day.
Oyster Vermicelli can be found at night markets and seafood stalls throughout Taiwan, with each vendor often adding their unique twist to the recipe. Some places even offer variations with additional seafood like clams or shrimp, further enhancing the seafood medley.
So, if you’re a fan of seafood and noodle soups, make sure to seek out Oyster Vermicelli during your culinary adventures in Taiwan. It’s a dish that captures the flavors of the sea and the essence of Taiwanese street food.
Taiwanese Beef Noodles
Taiwanese Beef Noodles is a beloved street food dish that showcases the culinary prowess and passion for hearty flavors in Taiwan. This comforting and satisfying bowl of noodles is a must-try for any food lover.
At the heart of Taiwanese Beef Noodles is the flavorful broth. The broth is made by simmering beef bones, along with a mix of aromatic spices and herbs, for hours to extract maximum flavor. The result is a rich and savory soup base that forms the foundation of this dish.
The noodles used in this dish can vary, ranging from thick, chewy wheat noodles to delicate egg noodles. Whichever type of noodle is used, it serves as the perfect vehicle for soaking up the delicious broth.
The star of the show, of course, is the tender and succulent beef. The beef is simmered in the broth until it becomes melt-in-your-mouth tender, creating a perfect marriage of flavors between the meat and the broth.
Whether you prefer brisket, shank, or tenderloin, Taiwanese Beef Noodles can be customized to suit your preferences. Some vendors even offer additional toppings such as bok choy, fried garlic, or green onions to add extra texture and flavor to the dish.
When you take your first spoonful of Taiwanese Beef Noodles, you’ll be greeted with a burst of rich, savory flavors. The combination of the aromatic broth, tender beef, and perfectly cooked noodles will transport you to culinary heaven.
Found in night markets, local eateries, and even upscale restaurants, Taiwanese Beef Noodles are a quintessential Taiwanese street food experience. It’s a dish that reflects the Taiwanese passion for bold flavors and comforting meals.
So, when you find yourself in Taiwan, be sure to sit down at a noodle stall, grab a pair of chopsticks, and savor a steaming bowl of Taiwanese Beef Noodles. It’s a taste of Taiwan that you won’t want to miss.
Stinky Tofu is an acquired taste and a polarizing street food delicacy in Taiwan. Loved by some and considered an acquired taste by others, this pungent and aromatic fermented tofu is a must-try for adventurous food travelers.
The unique smell of Stinky Tofu is often compared to that of a strong cheese or rotten eggs. However, don’t let the odor deter you, as the taste is surprisingly delicious. The tofu is soaked in a brine made from fermented vegetables and other seasonings, which gives it its distinctive flavor.
Despite its name, the texture of Stinky Tofu is actually quite firm and chewy. It can be deep-fried or grilled, further enhancing the flavors and aromas. The tofu is often served with a side of pickled cabbage or spicy sauce to counterbalance the richness.
One bite of Stinky Tofu will reveal a complex and savory taste. The exterior is crispy and golden, while the inside is soft and creamy. The flavors range from salty and tangy to slightly sweet, creating a combination that is surprisingly addictive.
While the smell may be off-putting to some, Stinky Tofu is a beloved dish in Taiwan and can be found in night markets and street food stalls throughout the country. Don’t let the initial scent discourage you – give it a chance and you may discover a new favorite.
So, if you’re feeling adventurous and curious to delve into the world of unique flavors, be sure to try Stinky Tofu in Taiwan. It’s an experience that will challenge your senses and introduce you to a whole new dimension of street food.
Scallion Pancake, also known as Cong You Bing, is a popular and delightful street food snack in Taiwan. This savory pancake is made with a simple yet heavenly combination of flour, water, and scallions, resulting in a crispy and aromatic treat.
The process of making Scallion Pancake involves rolling out the dough, sprinkling it with chopped scallions, and folding it into a layered flatbread. The pancake is then pan-fried until it becomes golden brown and crispy on the outside, while remaining tender and flaky on the inside.
What makes Scallion Pancake truly irresistible is the fragrant aroma of the scallions infused into the pancake. The combination of the crispy exterior and the soft scallion-scented layers creates a wonderful contrast of textures and flavors.
Scallion Pancake is often served with a side of dipping sauce, such as soy sauce or a tangy vinegar-based sauce, to enhance its taste. Some vendors even offer variations of Scallion Pancake, adding fillings like shredded pork or cheese for an extra burst of flavor.
Whether enjoyed as a snack on the go or as a side dish with a meal, Scallion Pancake is a versatile and beloved street food in Taiwan. It’s the perfect combination of simplicity and deliciousness that will leave you craving for more.
The best places to find authentic Scallion Pancake in Taiwan are in bustling night markets and street food stalls, where you can witness the skillful pancake makers preparing the dough and cooking it to perfection.
So, don’t miss the opportunity to sink your teeth into a warm and crispy Scallion Pancake when you’re exploring the vibrant street food scene of Taiwan. It’s a humble yet irresistible dish that will undoubtedly satisfy your cravings.
Pineapple Cake is a beloved sweet treat and a must-try dessert when visiting Taiwan. These delectable little pastries are a perfect combination of buttery crust, sweet pineapple filling, and a hint of tartness, making them a delightful indulgence for the taste buds.
The outer crust of Pineapple Cake is made from a mixture of flour, butter, and sugar, creating a buttery and crumbly texture that melts in your mouth. The filling is made from fresh pineapples that are cooked down to a thick, sweet jam-like consistency. The balance between the sweet and tangy flavors is what sets Pineapple Cakes apart from other pastries.
Traditionally, Pineapple Cakes are formed into small rectangular shapes, often with decorative patterns on top. They are typically enjoyed alongside a cup of aromatic tea, making them a popular choice for afternoon tea or as a gift for loved ones.
These delightful cakes can be found in bakeries, specialty shops, and even souvenir stores throughout Taiwan. Some places offer variations, adding other ingredients like melon or winter melon for unique twists on the classic recipe.
When you bite into a Pineapple Cake, you’ll experience a burst of sweet and tangy flavors, complemented by the buttery and crumbly texture of the crust. It’s a dessert that perfectly captures the essence of Taiwanese culinary craftsmanship.
So, don’t miss the chance to savor the delightful taste of Pineapple Cakes when you’re in Taiwan. Whether you enjoy them as a treat for yourself or as a delicious gift for friends and family, these sweet and fruity pastries will surely leave a lasting impression.
Fried Chicken Cutlet
Fried Chicken Cutlet, known as Ji Pai in Taiwan, is a popular street food dish that has gained a loyal following both locally and internationally. This crispy and succulent delight is a must-have for any fried chicken lover.
The highlight of Fried Chicken Cutlet is the juicy and tender chicken meat that is coated in a flavorful batter and deep-fried to perfection. The chicken is typically seasoned with a mix of spices and herbs, ensuring that each bite is packed with flavor.
What sets Taiwanese Fried Chicken Cutlet apart is its sheer size. These massive chicken cutlets are often larger than the palm of your hand, offering a generous portion that is perfect for sharing or indulging on your own.
When you order a Fried Chicken Cutlet, you can customize it with different seasonings and sauces according to your preferences. From classic salt and pepper to spicy chili or garlic, there’s a flavor profile for everyone to enjoy.
The irresistible aroma of the freshly fried chicken, combined with the satisfying crunch of the crust, creates a sensory experience that is hard to resist. The tender and juicy meat inside provides a delightful contrast to the crispy exterior.
Whether you find yourself at a night market, food stall, or even a specialized fried chicken restaurant, you’re sure to come across Fried Chicken Cutlet on the menu. It’s a quintessential Taiwanese street food that epitomizes the comfort and indulgence associated with fried dishes.
So, if you’re a fan of fried chicken and looking for a satisfying and flavor-packed street food experience in Taiwan, be sure to try the iconic Fried Chicken Cutlet. It’s a guilty pleasure that will have you coming back for more.
Xiao Long Bao
Xiao Long Bao, also known as soup dumplings, is a culinary gem that originated from the Jiangnan region of China and has become a beloved street food in Taiwan. These delicate and flavorful dumplings are a must-try for any food lover seeking a taste of traditional Chinese cuisine.
What sets Xiao Long Bao apart from other dumplings is the surprise that awaits inside. Each dumpling is filled with a mixture of seasoned ground pork and a savory soup broth, which transforms into a piping hot and luscious broth when steamed.
The key to enjoying Xiao Long Bao is the technique. To avoid scalding your tongue, gently pick up the dumpling by its thin, delicate wrapper using your chopsticks and place it in a spoon. Take a small bite to release the hot soup, and then savor the combination of tender meat and flavorful broth.
Xiao Long Bao is often enjoyed with a dipping sauce made from a combination of black vinegar and thin strips of ginger, which adds a tangy and refreshing element to the dumplings. The combination of flavors and textures creates a delectable taste experience that is simply irresistible.
Many night markets and restaurants in Taiwan offer Xiao Long Bao as part of their menu, with some establishments specializing in these delightful soup dumplings. The skillful craftsmanship required to create these delicate morsels is truly an art form.
Whether you’re a fan of dumplings or simply looking to explore the diverse world of Chinese cuisine, be sure to indulge in Xiao Long Bao during your visit to Taiwan. It’s a culinary experience that will leave you captivated by the harmonious balance of flavors and a longing for more.
Fried Milk Fish
Fried Milk Fish, also known as Nai Yu Hu in Mandarin, is a delicious and popular street food dish in Taiwan. This specialty dish features a whole milk fish that is carefully marinated, deep-fried to perfection, and served with a variety of dipping sauces.
Milk fish, known for its tender and delicate meat, is a beloved ingredient in Taiwanese cuisine. The fish is first marinated in a blend of spices and seasonings, which can include garlic, ginger, soy sauce, and sesame oil to enhance its flavor.
After marinating, the milk fish is coated in cornstarch or flour and deep-fried until it becomes golden brown and crispy. The result is a fish that has a crispy exterior and moist, flaky meat on the inside.
The flavor of Fried Milk Fish is mild and slightly sweet, allowing the natural taste of the fish to shine through. The contrast in texture between the crispy crust and tender meat makes each bite a delightful experience.
Fried Milk Fish is often served with a variety of dipping sauces to add an extra layer of flavor. Popular options include sweet and sour sauce, soy sauce and vinegar, or even a spicy chili sauce. The dipping sauces complement the fish perfectly, enhancing its taste and providing a burst of flavor.
Whether you try fried milk fish at a night market or a seafood restaurant, this dish is a must-try for seafood enthusiasts. The combination of the crispy exterior, tender meat, and flavorful dipping sauces create a satisfying and memorable culinary experience.
So, when you’re in Taiwan, be sure to seek out Fried Milk Fish and treat yourself to this delightful street food. You won’t be disappointed by the unique flavors and textures of this iconic dish.
Dan Bing (Taiwanese Egg Pancake)
Dan Bing, also known as Taiwanese Egg Pancake, is a popular and delicious street food breakfast in Taiwan. This humble yet flavorful dish consists of a thin and crispy pancake filled with a variety of tasty ingredients, making it a favorite among locals and tourists alike.
The base of Dan Bing is a thin pancake made from a mixture of flour, water, and eggs. The batter is traditionally spread thinly on a hot griddle, cooked until golden brown, and then brushed with a savory sauce.
The filling options for Dan Bing are diverse and can include a combination of ingredients such as scallions, pickled vegetables, cheese, ham, or even seafood like shrimp or squid. The pancake is then folded or rolled up, creating a convenient and portable breakfast option.
One of the most famous variations of Dan Bing is the Scallion Pancake version. This particular style features a pancake filled with chopped scallions, resulting in a fragrant and savory experience.
Enjoyed as a quick breakfast on the go or as a satisfying snack throughout the day, Dan Bing is readily available in breakfast stalls, night markets, and local eateries in Taiwan. It’s a street food delight that embodies the flavors and convenience of Taiwanese cuisine.
The combination of the crispy exterior, fluffy interior, and flavorful fillings make Dan Bing a delightful and fulfilling choice. Whether you prefer it savory or with a hint of spice, there’s a Dan Bing variation to suit every palate.
Don’t miss the opportunity to experience the savory delight of Dan Bing during your visit to Taiwan. It’s a beloved street food that will tantalize your taste buds and start your day off on a delicious note.
Mango Shaved Ice
Mango Shaved Ice, also known as Mangguo Bing in Taiwan, is a delightful and refreshing dessert that perfectly captures the tropical flavors of the island. This icy treat is a favorite among locals and visitors during the hot summer months.
The star ingredient of Mango Shaved Ice is, of course, the juicy and luscious mango. The ripe mangoes are carefully sliced and placed atop a mound of shaved ice, creating a vibrant and colorful base for this dessert.
What sets Taiwanese Mango Shaved Ice apart is the attention to detail given to its presentation. The shaved ice is light and fluffy, providing a delicate texture that melts instantly in your mouth. The mango slices are arranged meticulously, creating an attractive and Instagram-worthy dessert.
In addition to the mango, other toppings are often added to enhance the flavor and texture of the dessert. Common toppings include sweetened condensed milk, fresh fruits, jelly, and even a scoop of creamy mango ice cream.
The combination of the sweet and juicy mango, the fluffy shaved ice, and the various toppings creates a harmonious blend of flavors and textures that is both satisfying and refreshing.
Mango Shaved Ice can be found at dessert shops, cafes, and even food stalls throughout Taiwan, especially in popular tourist areas and night markets. It’s a perfect way to cool down and indulge in a taste of tropical paradise.
So, when you’re seeking relief from the heat and craving something sweet, be sure to treat yourself to a bowl of mouthwatering Mango Shaved Ice. It’s a dessert that will transport you to a tropical oasis and leave you craving for more.
Taiwan’s street food scene is a culinary adventure that should not be missed by any food lover or traveler. From the hearty and flavorful Braised Pork Rice to the refreshing and unique Bubble Tea, each street food dish offers a glimpse into the diverse flavors and vibrant culinary culture of Taiwan.
The iconic night markets and bustling food stalls are the perfect places to immerse yourself in the tantalizing aromas and enticing displays of Taiwanese street food. Whether you’re indulging in the crispy and savory Scallion Pancake or experiencing the burst of flavors in Xiao Long Bao, you’ll be treated to a symphony of tastes with each bite.
The variety of street foods in Taiwan ensures that there is something for every palate. From the adventurous flavors of Stinky Tofu to the comforting and satisfying Taiwanese Beef Noodles, these dishes showcase the culinary passion and creativity of the Taiwanese people.
And let’s not forget about the sweet treats that Taiwan has to offer. The Pineapple Cakes and Mango Shaved Ice are perfect examples of the country’s ability to combine unique flavors and textures to create indulgent desserts.
Whether you’re exploring the vibrant night markets, wandering through local eateries, or venturing into hole-in-the-wall stalls, the food in Taiwan will leave a lasting impression. The passion and pride exhibited by the vendors and the rich cultural heritage woven into every dish will make your culinary journey in Taiwan truly unforgettable.
So, pack your sense of adventure and your appetite, and embark on a flavorful expedition through the street food wonders of Taiwan. Your taste buds will thank you as you savor each bite of these delectable treats and create lasting memories of this gastronomic adventure.