If I could, I would eat my way through every city that I go to (and arguable do so). Taiwan is certainly a place to do just that! No matter how much research I did on where to eat and what do eat, my options were limitless, as every local joint claims to be “the best” at whatever they provide. From cheap, street-food at the various night markets to high-end Western restaurants, Taiwan has it all. Here were some of my highlights from the tasting I did in Taipei and Kaohsiung!
Street food can be found anytime of day starting at the crack of dawn and heading late into the evening at he various night markets across the city. One of the things I love about Taipei is that I can walk down the same street multiple times a day and I could always see something new. Stalls on the street are rarely open all day, but only for short intervals or until they sell out!
A traditional Taiwanese breakfast! Warm Dou jiang (fresh soy milk) and you tiao shao bing (sesame bread with fried donut)
Another version of shao bing
Stuffed with green onion
fan tuan: sticky rice roll
Another breakfast item, this roll was stuffed with egg, minced cooked vegetables, spices, and you tiao (donut). So crunchy and spicy and chewy all in one!
Shen bing: this is like a large baozi only it is steamed and fried at the same time.
Stuffed with meat, you literally have to slurp the juice out of this thing to avoid a fountain of juice down your shirt!
The only way I can describe this is to say it the the Taiwanese version of ableskiver but stuffed with squid and topped with seaweed!
(If you don’t know what ableskiver is, ask your closest Danish friend).
Gui hua tang yuan: these glutenous rice balls are chewy, filled with sesame or peanut paste, and sitting atop shaved ice flavored with herbal flowers. The hot balls in the cold ice is amazing! One of the best desserts I’ve eaten in Taiwan!
Yaodun Paigu: these ribs can only be described as “medicinal” but in the best way! The broth is the best part- sweet and savory in an addicting way. Served with garlicky rice noodles!
Waffles! Choose your shape…bird, motorcycle, squirrel, or shotgun! #random
Stuffed with red bean or egg custard
Fried deliciousness…taro, radish cakes, shredded pumpkin, shrimp, oh my!
The making of egg rolls! Danish comparison- krumkaka!
Fried stinky tofu. Still not my favorite item ever, but it is significantly tastier with kimchi.
glutenous rice dumplings filled with pork and served with chili sauce
Fish balls and ah gei: tofu skin stuffed with glass noodles and covered in chili sauce
Xiao long bao: little dumplings
Dou Hua: Traditional dessert in Tainan! This soy pudding is topped with a sweet syrup, red beads, and tapioca pearls
niu rou mian: beef noodles. A Taiwan must eat!
I like the shaved noodles the best (dao xiao mian). This guy is literally shaving this chunk of dough into boiling water. The result is a nice chewy noodle!
Southern Taiwan has a vast array of aboriginal cultural influence coming from 15 native tribes. The Hakka are one of these tribes! I was able to visit a Hakka cultural center outside of Kaohsiung and try some of the traditional cuisine.
ban tiao – simple Hakka noodles
lei cha- tea made with pounded tea leaves, seeds, and nuts. Think green tea with texture!
I tasted my way through Bubble Tea! I normally opt for the classic milk tea with tapioca pearl, zhenzhu nai cha, but the varieties are endless! Drink stands are on every corner, sometimes multiple shops in a row. For me a perfect bubble tea start with fresh brewed tea with strong flavor, only slightly sweet, no ice, and large chewy pearls with each sip.
Best one! Homemade tapioca, flavorful herbal jelly, and fresh tea!
Right: Oolong with coconut jellies Left: classic milk tea with pearls
Zhen zhu (or tapioca pearls) have a bad reputation, but these are handmade from sweet potato! Perfect zhenzhu is al dante, soft but with a slight chew.
Old-fashioned soda, with the glass marble!
And seafood for days! I have ingested a bigger variety of seafood than I ever have, including squid in various forms, octopus, shrimp of all sizes, mollusk, oyster, kelp, seaweed….
Roasted squid! Yumminess!
Ever seen young boys fight over squid? :)
tiniest shrimp ever!!
and seafood pizza…it tastes better than it looks but I still prefer an American classic :)
In addition to huge traditional Taiwanese meals, I did satisfy some Western cravings and other cuisines. I had the chance eat Sushi, a burrito, pasta, and Korean food! A few rainy days led to some classy coffeeshop memories that are worth displaying.
So with a very full stomach, I feel satisfied with my food adventure through Taiwan, yet there is so much more to explore :)
P.S. I apologize for the hunger this post may have caused you. I recommend you buy a plane ticket to Taiwan immediately.