Face it — when we think about Taiwan, the first thing that comes to mind is definitely street food. There are so many night markets spread across the country, making it a symbol of Taiwan. With that said, Taiwan is basically a food haven for foodies. Even if you are not a foodie, it’s basically blasphemy to think about skimping on the local delicacies. For those who are travelling to Taipei soon, you’re in luck. Without further ado, here’s a list of must try dishes when you are in Taipei.
Stinky Tofu (臭豆腐)
You would either love it or hate it. Just like Japan’s Natto or Fermented Soybeans or Australia’s Vegemite, the stinky tofu is a pretty controversial food item. This fermented beancurd has such a strong smell that some described it as rotten garbage. The taste of the stinky tofu is even compared to the pungent taste of blue cheese. But as the saying goes, the worse it smells, the better it tastes.
To have the best stinky tofu, head to Shenkeng Old Street (深坑老街) that is located at the outskirts of Taipei. The old street is known to be the Tofu Capital of Taiwan and it’s lined with many rival stores selling tofu products. With that said, other than stinky tofu, there are interesting food items such as tofu ice cream, Teppanyaki tofu and the Fragrant Toasted Tofu in Skewers. There are also many souvenir stores for casual shopping! As Shenkeng Old Street is located a way away from the city, it is recommended to include it in the itinerary if you are heading to Taipei Zoo or Maokong.
Address: Shenkeng Street, Shenkeng District, New Taipei City, Taiwan 222
Imagine drinking a savoury broth that’s infused with the juices of decadent beef and served with handmade noodles. It’s almost safe to say that every bite of the beef noodles from Taiwan is full of delight.
One of the best beef noodle stores in Taipei would be the Yong Kang Beef Noodles (永康牛肉麺館) which has been awarded the Michelin Bib Gourmand. Their broth has a unique taste of chinese herbs while still retaining the heartiness from the beef. To make the bite of the meat more tender, Australian beef is also used. Be sure to arrive at the shop early as there will be long queues.
Address: No. 17號, Lane 31, Section 2, Jinshan South Road, Da’an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106
Tel: +886 2 2351 1051
Opening Hours: 11:00am–3:30pm, 4:30pm–9:00pm (Mon–Sun)
For my muslim friends, there’s no room for disappointment in beef noodles as there’s the Halal Chinese Beef Noodles (清真中國牛肉麵食館) outlets! Similarly to the Yong Kang Beef Noodles, the restaurant was recommended in the Michelin Guide. The restaurant has over 60 years of history where only local Taiwanese beef was used to simmer in the stock. That’s 60 years of pure beef flavour within the broth! Other than their beef noodles, another famous product to try would be their fried-to-order flatbread that is stuffed with stir-fried shredded beef.
Address: Two outlets, including one at 1 Lane 137, Alley 7 Yanji Street, Da’an District, Taipei, Taiwan
Tel: +886 2 2721 4771
Opening Hours: 11:30am–2pm, 5pm–8:30pm (Mon–Sun)
Lu Rou Fan (滷肉饭)
Lu Rou Fan, also known as the Taiwanese Braised Pork Rice Bowl, is topped with chunks of pork belly and drenched with meat sauce. The most popular Lu Rou Fan would be the Jin Feng Braised Pork Rice (金峰魯肉飯). Lu Rou Fan are generally priced at low rates making it a perfect budget meal. As there is a high demand, tables are placed close together and there is a chance that guests may have to share a table. In that case, make sure to prepare yourself mentally to avoid any unpleasant cultural shock! Unlike many Lu Rou Fan stores, Jin Feng serves more lean meat than fats making it agreeable for those who don't like fatty food. Once you’ve tried Lu Rou Fan, you won't forget it. But remember not to eat too much as it will cause rapid weight gain!
Address: No. 10, Section 1, Roosevelt Rd, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan 100
Tel: +886 2 2396 0808
Opening Hours: 8:00am–1:00am (Mon–Sun)
Taiwan has one of the world’s best reputation for seafood. Especially since the country has a strong fishing heritage which shows in their street food and fine dining.
The Addiction Aquatic Development (上引水產) is one of the more popular tourist destinations for affordable seafood and good eating. The building’s interior is modern and well lit, making it distinctly different from the traditional fish markets. There are tanks with live fish, crabs, prawns, clams and many more aquatic species. The Addiction Aquatic Development has four different zones - the sushi bar, the seafood bar, hot pot and the outdoor charcoal grill! As there is an open kitchen concept, visitors are able to watch as their food is being prepared. All zones are free seating except for the hot pot zone where guests will have to make a reservation.
Tip: If you are in a rush but would still like to enjoy the products, there is also a section for to go foods where it has already been fully prepared and cooked.
Address: No. 18號, Alley 2, Lane 410, Minzu East Road, Zhongshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 10491
Tel: +886 2 2508 1268
Opening Hours: 6:00am–12:00am (Mon–Sun)
Din Tai Fung (鼎泰豐)
For those who don't know, Din Tai Fung originated from Taiwan and its initial outlet is in Taipei. Din Tai Fung’s cuisine revolves around harmony - using fresh ingredients and simple cooking styles. Located in Xinyi Road, the once humble business is now thriving with customers.
Din Tai Fung’s original store is two stories tall and is adorned with simple decor. Traditional paintings can be seen on the walls of the restaurant. Since it’s the original store, visitors can expect long queues at every hour. However, to get a seat in a shorter timespan, there’s the option of sitting with other people.
Some of the more popular dishes to get would definitely be their xiao long baos (steamed pork dumplings), seaweed and bean curd in Vinegar Dressing and heart-warming steamed chicken soup.
Tip: This is a strictly cash only outlet with a last call for orders at 9pm.
Address: No. 194號, Section 2, Xinyi Road, Da’an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106
Tel: +886 2 2321 8928
Opening Hours: 10:00am–9:00pm (Mon–Fri), 9:00am–9:00pm (Sat, Sun, PH)
Ah Zong Mee Sua (阿宗麵線)
Located in Ximending, Ah Zong Mee Sua can be considered to be one of the best vermicelli noodles in Taipei. Tourists can expect long lines snaking down the pathways. However, don’t be intimidated by the queue as it moves quickly.
Instead of the mainstream oysters, Ah Zong Mee Sua uses large intestines as their toppings. There are also mini condiments at the side to pair your vermicelli noodles with! The combination of the 3 sauces, vinegar, chili oil and garlic will elevate the taste of the noodles, making it taste even more heavenly. A small bowl of mee sua costs only NT$50 while the big bowl costs NT$65.
As there are no chairs or tables, people usually stand around the shop to slurp the vermicelli. But if you are uncomfortable standing while eating, feel free to go to the outlet in Shilin Night Market.
Address: No. 8-1號, Emei St, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan 108
Tel: +886 2 2388 8808
Opening Hours: 10am–10:30pm (Mon–Thu), 10am–11pm (Fri–Sun)
Xing Fu Tang (幸福堂)
The ever so famous bubble tea or boba tea can be said to be the most loved beverage of the world- it will be truly a crime to miss this beverage when you are in Taipei! One particular popular bubble tea brand in Taipei would be the Xing Fu Tang. Having only opened its operations in January 2018, the business has already expanded overseas. Now, they claim to serve the number one brown sugar boba milk tea in Taiwan.
The top beverage in Xing Fu Tang would be their Brown Sugar Boba Milk. Customers are presented with a cup of brown sugar infused boba pearls topped with milk and cream. More brown sugar will then be sprinkled on top and torched for a caramelised finish. This creamy delight will leave customers wanting for more.
If you are not keen on trying their Brown Sugar Boba Milk, other popular drinks includes the strawberry boba milk, matcha boba milk and handmade jelly. There are many Xing Fu Tang outlets in Taiwan but the most notable one is in Ximending with it’s long lines!
Soybean You Tiao — Fuhang Soy Milk (阜杭豆漿)
To start off the day with authentic Taiwanese breakfast, it is recommended to try the soybean you tiao in Taipei. This common Taiwanese breakfast contains deep fried dough sticks paired with salty soybean milk.
Fuhang Soy Milk (阜杭豆漿) is a popular Taiwanese breakfast store near the ShanDao Temple. Their freshly made fried dough and salty soy milk has a creamy texture that makes the restaurant popular among the locals. Other good dishes would be the egg pancake, hou shao bing and their soya milk bean.
Tip: It’s recommended to start queuing before the shop opens to avoid the crowd.
Address: 100, Taiwan, Taipei City, Zhongzheng District, Section 1, Zhongxiao East Road, 108號2樓
Tel: +886 2 2392 2175
Opening Hours: 5.30am–12.30pm (Tue–Sun), Closed on Mon
Mala Hotpot (马辣顶级鸳鸯火锅)
Often consumed during celebrations or even on a regular basis, hotpots can be considered to be a go-to meal of the Chinese. As many cultures do not view hotpot as their soul food, the Chinese’s hotpot culture can be an interesting experience for many.
The Mala Hot Pot (马辣顶级鸳鸯火锅) in Ximending is a buffet hotpot outlet that charges at an affordable price of NT$545 for lunch and NT$635 for dinner. Guests are able to choose two types of broth out of 5 different selections. There is a huge variety of fresh meat, seafood, vegetables, beer and drinks to choose from. They even offer cakes, fruits, pudding, Haagen-Dazs and Movenpick ice cream! Be sure to arrive before 12am as the store will not be receiving customers after.
Note: There is a time limit of 2 hours.
Address: 108, Taiwan, Taipei City, Wanhua District, Xining South Road, 62號
Tel: +886 2 2311 9881
Opening Hours: 11:30am–4:00pm, Dinner 4:00pm–2:00am (Mon–Sun)
Taiwanese Fried Chicken
Taiwanese fried chicken has become a sensational food item in Taiwan and possibly the rest of the world. Many Taiwanese fried chicken outlets have been venturing worldwide in recent years, gaining popularity everywhere they go. That goes to say fried chicken is a must try when you visit Taiwan.
Hot Star Chicken is perhaps the face of fried chicken in Taiwan. With only NT$70, customers receive a huge slab of fried chicken breast. The outer layer of the chicken is fried into a crispy perfection while still retaining the tender and juicy meat.
Famous for its garlic and herbs flavoured fried chicken, the juicy Shi Yun Taiwanese Fried Chicken is a brand loved by the locals. Other than chicken, Shi Yun offers other side dishes for customers to choose from.
Note: Both stalls can be found in Ximending.
The oyster omelette is an all-time favourite night market snack of both locals and tourists. There’s no real reason except for it tasting absolutely divine. Taiwan’s oyster omelettes are of Teochew origins so you can find them drizzled with a thick sweet and spicy sauce. As it's a cheap and portable food item that could be found anywhere in Taipei, the oyster omelette is popular among customers to eat on the go.
Yuan Huan Oyster Omelette (圓環邊蚵仔煎) uses fresh local ingredients, making it one of the best places to try an Oyster Omelette. It has even appeared in the Michelin Guide in 2018! The oysters in the dish are plump and full of flavour and lack any fishy taste. It’s also served with generous amounts of spicy and salty sauce. Customers are to be prepared with cash on hand for payment as the store does not accept cashless payment.
Known as a universal comfort food, ice cream has crossed cultures and won the love from children and adults alike. With that said, visitors can find many unique ice creams in Taipei that scream uniquely Taiwan.
One of the most popular ice cream stalls in Taipei would be the Yong Fu Ice Cream (永富冰淇淋). The store sells a total of 9 unique ice cream flavours such as taro, red bean and dried longan. The ice cream in Yong Fu tastes mild, harbouring only a little sweetness just like how ice cream was in the olden days.
Another recommendation would be the Peanut Ice Cream Roll. Old school and traditional, the Peanut Ice Cream Rolls do not resemble anything like the modern day ice cream. It consists of a weird combination of shaven peanuts, cilantro and taro or coconut ice cream which surprisingly go well together.
Taipei is truly a perfect foodie destination and it can pretty much rival Japan. Any other foods that we’ve missed out on? Tell us in the comment sections below!