So I lied. This is very biased. Hong Kong may be home and where I grew up, but I am a proud Taiwanese. Every time I visit Taiwan, I unabashedly put on a few pounds and it is more than worth it. I definitely always feel like I’ve earned the extra pan-fried pork bun.
Taiwanese food is incredibly unique in the sense that you can’t really find it outside of Taiwan, and even if you did, it would be fairly sub-par. I would argue that Taiwan has some of the best street food in the world. If you taste half of the things on this list, I’m fairly certain you’ll agree.
There are a lot of dishes that people visiting Taiwan tend to hear about (beef noodles, oyster omelette, minced pork with rice) so I’ve stuck to some of the lesser-known Taiwanese dishes below. Keep reading for some of the best things to eat in Taiwan!
Heading to Taipei for the first time ever? Click here for 10 things you must do if you only have 48 hours in Taipei!
The top eats to try out in Taipei and beyond
Ready to taste some amazing Taiwanese food? Here are the best things to eat in Taiwan that you won’t want to miss.
1. Batter Fried Shrimp With Pineapple (Fènglí xiā qiú)
This is one of the weirdest and most unique Taiwanese street food dishes you’ll see but I promise it’s delicious. Crunchy batter fried shrimp, served with pineapple and doused in a sweet mayonnaise dressing. Most places will also add ice cream sprinkles. So weird. So good!
2. Radish Omelette (Cài pú dàn)
So simple. But so tasty. The radish is pickled and folded into an egg omelette. A few sprinkles of spring onion to top it all off and voila – fluffy yet delightfully crunchy when you get to the radish pieces.
3. Spring Onion Roti (Zhuā bǐng)
Probably my all-time favorite Taiwan street snack. The hawkers that sell this smack the roti around to loosen it up and get it nice and flaky, before cracking an egg on the hot grill and laying the roti on top. Top it off with a soy sauce paste, chili sauce (can’t go wrong with this, trust me) and you’re good to go. Trust me, it’s one of the best Taiwanese street food dishes out there.
Pro tip: ask for a healthy serving of 九層塔 (Jiǔcéngtǎ) folded in – a basil that delivers an extra dose of flavour.
4. Shaved Milk Ice with Mango (Mángguǒ xuěhuā bīng)
Regular shaved ice is so passé. Shaved milk ice, on the other hand, is delightfully fluffy and feels like snowflakes are melting in your mouth. Eat this with cubes of mango when it’s in season, and ask for extra condensed milk and a mini pudding on top. Always ask for extra condensed milk.
5. Pan Fried Pork Buns (Shēng jiān bāo)
These little magical buns have a crispy base but are extremely succulent – be careful of the hot soup inside when you take your first bite. You can get different fillings but pork and cabbage is the best, in my not-so-humble opinion.
6. Pork belly buns (Gē bāo)
This dish is a must eat in Taipei. These delicious pockets of goodness, “gua bao”, are a Taiwanese street food that melt in your mouth. A slice of juicy pork belly is sandwiched in steamed white bread with a healthy sprinkling of pickled vegetables, cilantro and peanut powder. Heavenly. My favourite place to get these are in the hip neighbourhood of Ximending.
7. Tian Bu La (Tián bù là)
The name for this dish literally means “sweet not spicy”, and it’s a pretty accurate description of the flavor of the sauce. This dish consists of pieces of fish cake that have been boiled in soup and then doused in a delicious, tangy sweet saucy with just the faintest kick of chili. It’s typically also served with 1-2 pieces of boiled turnip as well as a piece of pig’s blood cake (which I normally ask the shopkeeper to skip).
8. Peanut brittle and ice cream roll (Huāshēng juǎn bīngqílín)
This is one of the tastiest little dessert items that you can find in Taipei. It starts off with a big block of homemade peanut brittle which is filed down, and the shavings are then sprinkled on top of a thin crepe, topped off with two scoops of fresh peanut ice cream and rolled up into a burrito.
Notable mentions: Pot stickers (Guōtiē, but in Taiwan they are long and rectangular in shape), deep fried chicken cutlets (Jī pái), pan fried sweet pork sausage (Xiāngcháng).
The best places to eat in Taiwan
Your best bet is to check out one of the many, many night markets in Taiwan. I like to stuff my face at the Raohe Night Market (best night market in Taiwan, IMHO), Shilin Night Market or the food court at the Taipei Train Station.
You’ll also find some street food in Jiu Fen, a popular day trip destination just 45 minutes away from Taipei city. For a proper sit-down dinner, head to the Taiwanese restaurant in the Brother Hotel (yes – that’s a real name) or Din Tai Fung (multiple locations).
The best places to stay in Taipei, Taiwan
Are you visiting the capital city, Taipei? Good news – Taipei has a plethora of public transportation options to choose from, and taxis are incredibly cheap, clean and efficient. If you are visiting Taipei, look into staying at these hotels:
Hotel Cozzi Minsheng: Hotel Cozzi Minsheng is my top pick for where to stay in Taipei for an easy, fuss-free trip – it is located steps away from the Xingtian Temple as well as the Xingtian Temple MRT station. We absolutely loved our most recent stay at this boutique hotel in Taipei in their modern and spacious rooms. The buffet-style breakfast is plentiful and it even has a fairly well-equipped fitness centre. Perfect for first time visitors to Taipei and families. Click here to book your stay at Hotel Cozzi Minsheng!
Hotel Cozzi Zhongxiao: Hotel Cozzi Zhongxiao is another of Cozzi’s branches in Taipei, located conveniently in the Zhongzheng District. True to the brand, Hotel Cozzi Zhongxiao’s rooms are simple yet stylish, the staff are well-trained and friendly, and the breakfast selection is great. We especially liked the proximity to the Huashan 1914 Creative Park and access to the blue Bannan MRT line. While it doesn’t have a fitness centre it does have a lovely lounge area on the 2nd floor. Click here to book your stay at Hotel Cozzi Zhongxiao!
Chill Roof Hotel: Chill Roof Hotel in Zhongshan is located midway between the Zhongshan and Songjiang Nanjing MRT stations, offering you easy access to 3 different subway lines across Taipei. This boutique hotel in Taipei is for the design-lovers: the rooms are spacious and each features a unique modern European/Scandinavian-inspired design. Chill Roof Hotel is best suited to independent travelers as it does not have a 24-hour reception or on-site restaurant, but it does have a guest laundromat for longer stays; it is also located on the 11th floor of a small commercial building which some travelers may not be used to. However, it offers fantastic privacy and peace & quiet. There are even 2 on-site cats in their own room next to the reception area, and if you’re missing your furry companions at home you can ask to enter the room for a little cuddle. A perfect base for city exploration. Click here to book your stay at Chill Roof Hotel!
Fullerton North: Fullerton North is conveniently located in Songshan District and was recently renovated. This hotel is perfect for people who prefer staying at boutique hotels. It is close to Raohe Night Market and Ciyou Temple as well. Click here to book your stay at Fullerton North!
The Sherwood: The Sherwood is an upscale hotel located in the heart of Taipei that has hosted the likes of Ang Lee, Rafael Nadal and even Margaret Thatcher. If you’re looking for a splash of luxury and want a spacious room, gym and spa then book yourself into this hotel. Click here for current rates at The Sherwood!
Hotel HD Palace: Hotel HD Palace is conveniently located in Da’an District. The rooms are very basic (read: old school) but clean and room rates are extremely reasonable. If you’re keen to explore the night markets, Tonghua Night Market is just a hop and skip away. Click here to book your stay at Hotel HD Palace!
More: There are tons of great accommodation options in Taipei – if you want to stay somewhere central look into hotels and AirBnBs in the Xinyi, Zhongshan, Da’an and Zhongzheng districts. Click here for even more accommodation options!
What are some of your favorites? Share them with me in the comments section below!
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