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15 Best Taiwanese Foods & Dishes

What to Eat in Taiwan

Taiwanese cuisine features some really stand-out dishes which have gained global popularity, carrying simple back-alley vendors to international acclaim. To say that noodle dishes are popular in Taiwan is an understatement – there are countless types of noodle dishes in Taiwan waiting to be savoured. There are even regional varieties within Taiwan, ranging from Nantou slender noodles to hot Hsinchu noodles.

For those with a sweet tooth, there’s a dizzying array of pastries and desserts in Taiwan. Aboriginal millet cakes are lightly sweetened and make great snacks and Hakka glutinous rice cakes are among the tastiest. There are also icy cool desserts like shaved ice topped with fruits as well as jelly drinks and pearl milk tea. The list of great Taiwanese foods you should really try on your trip goes on and on.

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Ai-yu Jelly

Ai-yu jelly is a much-loved dessert found predominantly in Taiwan. The jelly is always served cold, with shaved ice, squeezed lime and sometimes fruits. This gives it sweet and sour flavour that will refresh your taste buds and quench your thirst at the same time.

Beef Noodles

Beef noodles are a popular staple food in Taiwan. They could be cooked either in a hot and spicy or mild and soupy style, meaning that there’s a good alternative for those who dislike spiciness in their food. The beef is usually tender, having been marinated and braised beforehand.

Drunken Chicken

Drunken chicken dishes in Taiwan are usually infused with Shaoxing wine. Some restaurants even serve these dishes with lots of herbs and spices – the perfect combination for those who are health conscious and don’t like lots of fried and oily street food.

Braised Pork in Sliced Buns

Also called gua bao, this braised pork dish is a popular snack food in Taiwan. It’s often compared to a type of Taiwanese “burger”. The buns themselves are soft and fluffy bread not unlike a thicker version of the pita bread. Filled with pork and vegetables, the braised pork in sliced buns are a delight to eat when you’re in a hurry.

Candied Fruit Sticks

A delight for both kids and adults, candied fruit sticks are always sold at night markets. The dizzying array of fruits on sticks are easy to spot. It’s a delightfully simple snack – just fruits like strawberries, grapes and kiwis that are caramelised and then stuck on sticks.

Deep-fried Chicken with Seasoning

This may look like common fried chicken, but Taiwanese deep-fried chicken with seasoning is a great-tasting local street snack. The vendor will cook the chicken, cut it up into bite-sized pieces then cover it with various seasoning powders. Some like it hot and will request for more chilli powder seasoning.

Hotpot

The hotpot is regarded as a family dish – one that’s always eaten in the company of lots of people. Many Taiwanese view this as a community thing, where relationships can be fostered while eating from a common claypot. The dish itself contains a myriad of ingredients, such as meat, vegetables, seafood – all cooked in a simmering clear soup and eaten with rice.

Ice Mango and Sago

The ice mango and sago dessert is a delicious and refreshing dessert found at most night markets and roadside stalls. Flavoured shaved ice is placed in a bowl and topped with succulent pieces of golden yellow mango, sweet sago and other types of fruit. Some even ask for fruit syrup or sauces drizzled on the ice for added flavour.

Light Taiwanese Congee

Light Taiwanese congee is most often eaten with ingredients like century eggs, preserved salted duck eggs and pork floss. The congee itself is light and delicious, and is often eaten for breakfast or supper.

Mangrove Crab Porridge

Mangrove crab porridge is the ideal thing to eat during a rainy evening. This dish is most often offered around the outskirts of the big cities or in smaller villages at an affordable price, but bigger restaurants offer them on their menus, too. The restaurant versions often come with more ingredients, but also a higher price tag.

Meatball Dumplings

Also known as bawan, these meatball dumplings can sure pack a whole lot of punch once you put a single one into your mouth. The dumplings can be either fried or steamed, and are usually sold on the streets and at night markets. You can request to have them cut up into small pieces and dipped in sweet or spicy sauce.

Oyster Omelette

Oyster omelette is one of the yummiest must-try street foods in Taiwan. Most travellers will have at least half a dozen plates of this delicious, decadent goodness during their trip to Taiwan. The dish is typically made from lots of eggs, oysters, flour, starch and other ingredients to create a perfect omelette, which is then covered with a light gravy. Some even eat it with spicy chilli sauce on the side.

Pearl Milk Tea

The popularity of pearl milk tea has spread from Taiwan to all parts of Asia and much of the world. All sorts of flavoured milk tea are offered at drink stands and are topped with starchy balls made from flour, jelly and sometimes cut fruits. This is the perfect drink to wash down your food when visiting one of the many night markets in Taiwan.

Slender Noodles with Oysters

Also known as o-a-mi-suann, these noodles are usually cooked in a starchy soup and topped with fresh oysters. The noodles are almost translucent and, while most would expect to eat them with chopsticks, just a spoon would suffice because it is easier to eat them using a single hand. You can find a wide variety of slender noodles with oysters at night markets – most are sold in small Styrofoam bowls with plastic spoons.

Stinky Tofu

Stinky tofu is typically fermented soy bean curd sold at most, if not all, night markets. The vendors will often fry the fermented tofu and drizzle it with hot, sweet and spicy sauce before serving it to customers waiting in line.

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