Whether fair or not, every discussion of renowned Taiwanese cuisine must begin with a disclaimer. Taiwanese food, as good as it is, has not garnered anything like renown outside of Asia.
Now that we’ve cleared things up, let’s return to our regularly scheduled programming: digging into the menu for your forthcoming trip to Taiwan, whether you like street snacks and sweets or meals in real Taiwanese restaurants.
I’ve done my best to present a balanced cross-section of the greatest genuine Taiwanese cuisine while also giving various parts of the nation their due.
Another disclaimer? If you haven’t eaten in a while, you may want to do so before continuing.
- 1 7 Traditional Taiwanese Foods You Must Try
- 1.1 What Exactly Is Taiwanese Cuisine?
- 1.2 Favorite Taiwanese Dishes
- 1.2.1 Steamed Pork Dumplings (Xiao long bao or 小籠包)
- 1.2.2 Bubble Milk Tea (Bo ba nai cha or 波霸奶茶)
- 1.2.3 Scallion Pancake (Cong you bing or 蔥油餅)
- 1.2.4 Beef Noodle Soup (Hong shan niu rou mian or 红烧牛肉麺)
- 1.2.5 Snowflake Ice (Bao bing or 刨冰)
- 1.2.6 Chiayi Turkey Rice (Huo ji rou fan or 火雞肉飯)
- 1.2.7 Bamboo Rube Rice (Zhu tong fan or 竹筒飯)
- 1.3 Mentions of Merit
- 2 In conclusion
- 3 Which of these traditional Taiwanese meals piques your interest the most? Please share your thoughts in the comments box below!
7 Traditional Taiwanese Foods You Must Try
What Exactly Is Taiwanese Cuisine?
Before we get into what is and isn’t renowned Taiwanese food, let me define the island’s cuisine. Or attempting to.
Taiwan’s cuisine culture, like that of the United States and Canada, is more of a melting pot than anything pure or indigenous, even though certain delicacies of the island’s aborigines have survived decades of political turmoil.
If you’ve ever been to Taiwan or know anything about the island, you’ll know that the cuisine here has a strong Chinese influencerice, dumplings, and noodles, oh my!
Having said that, even Taiwan’s most ostensibly derivate cuisines have spices and other idiosyncrasies that distinguish them as undeniably Taiwanese. Taiwanese food, like Taiwanese culture, incorporates all of Asia’s greatest and none of its worst aspects.
Favorite Taiwanese Dishes
Steamed Pork Dumplings (Xiao long bao or 小籠包)
While these dumplings may be found across the Chinese-speaking globe, they are especially tasty in Taiwan.
Go to Taipei Yong Kang Street, which can be reached through Exit 5 of the Dongmen MRT station. If you don’t want to dine at the traditional Din Tai Fung restaurant, you can get these delicious buns at hundreds of restaurants in the alleyways and lanes off the main dragjust look for piles of woodenlongin windows!
Bubble Milk Tea (Bo ba nai cha or 波霸奶茶)
Bubble tea, by far the most renowned Taiwanese culinary product, is perhaps among the most popular drinks in the world, period.
It’s typically served as a strong black tea with loads of milk and sugar (maybe too much). Bubble tea, Taiwan’s unofficial national drink, originated in central Taiwan’s Taichung city, however it is now available at kiosks on practically every street corner around the country.
Scallion Pancake (Cong you bing or 蔥油餅)
Cong you bing, like xiao long bao, has its origins in China. One method for obtaining a genuinely authentic Taiwanese flavor? Make your way east to Hualien, a beach city.
Visit Lao Pai the night before (or after) your trip to neighboring Taroko Gorge, where skilled chefs can cook a sunny-side-up egg within their pancakes. In the absence of this, you may get several varieties of cong you bingat at any night market in Taiwan. It’s an excellent example of Taiwanese cuisine.
Beef Noodle Soup (Hong shan niu rou mian or 红烧牛肉麺)
I’m all too familiar with the renowned original Taiwanese delicacy beef noodles (which locals generally shorten the name of this dish). That’s because many of the country’s most well-known stores aren’t far from my house.
Enjoy delicate bits of beef in a thick, luscious broth whether you dine at Yi Pin (renowned for tomato beef noodles) or any other eatery in Taipei or around Taiwan. This Taiwanese meal is particularly delicious in the winter!
Snowflake Ice (Bao bing or 刨冰)
The Taiwanese are no exception to Asian nations’ penchant for sweets. Snowflake ice is one of my favorite Taiwanese sweets.
If you speak Mandarin, you can get this at small (read: inexpensive!) businesses all around the nation. Instead, you may go to a chain like Smoothie House and order your snowflake ice with mango (mang guoor) and condensed milk (lian ruor) in English.
Chiayi Turkey Rice (Huo ji rou fan or 火雞肉飯)
Chiayi is one of Taiwan’s most underestimated cities, and it is well worth a visit, even if just for a day trip to the surrounding Alishan Scenic Area.
Are you unable to attend? Don’t be concerned. The fluids from soft turkey flesh stream down into scalding hot rice in almost any Chiayi restaurant, or at numerous night markets (and food courtstry the one under Taipei 101!) around Taiwan, creating a genuine Taiwanese meal thats simple but sublimely delightful.
Bamboo Rube Rice (Zhu tong fan or 竹筒飯)
If you want to try renowned Taiwanese cuisine that isn’t clearly Chinese, go to Wulai, which is accessible by bus from Xindian MRT station.
The colorful eateries that line the main street here provide a diverse range of meals created by Taiwanese indigenous people, with the menu varying from store to shop.
Sticky rice combined with pork and served in a bamboo tube is a common sight. Definitely a Taiwanese flavor!
Mentions of Merit
While this list covers a wide range of Taiwanese meals, it is neither comprehensive nor thorough. These are a few more of my favorite Taiwanese dishes:
- Tea egg (cha ye ji dan or 茶葉雞蛋): These are deceptively simple—eggs hard-boiled and steeped in strong tea—but the result is smooth, creamy and distinctive, especially if you enjoy the famous ones at Sun Moon Lake.
- Taiwanese rice balls (fan tuan or 飯糰): A classic breakfast food, these balls of sticky rice (which is wrapped around pork floss, tea eggs, and you tiao bread sticks, among other ingredients) are available both from street vendors, as well as in sit-down soy milk shops and other Taiwanese restaurants.
- Braised pork rice (lu rou fan or 滷肉飯): This rice with juicy braised pork is most famous in the city of Taichung, but you can find it in restaurants all over Taiwan.
- Stinky tofu (gang chou dou fu or 港臭豆腐): OK, this one is definitely not my favorite! On the other hand, many people do believe it tastes better than it smells, so you might want to give it a try.
- Taiwanese-style fried chicken (yan su ji or 鹽酥雞): Available at almost any night market in the country, this crispy and juicy chicken is usually mixed with fried basil and seasoned with five-spice powder.
When it comes to night markets, these are the Taiwanese meals that are a foodie’s dream. In addition to unique and regional delicacies, you can get pizza, meat-on-a-stick, and anything else you want.
Whether they have global renown or not, the iconic Taiwanese meals I’ve highlighted in the preceding paragraphs have more than earned the accolades people around Taiwan and Asia give them.
Taiwan is the low-key gourmet paradise youve been dreaming of, with street foods like cong bingscallion pancakes, bubble milk tea (Taiwans national drink and most renowned export), and sumptuousxiao long baopork dumplings.
Is it deserving of more recognition? Absolutely! If it was, you may not feel like you’ve struck gold every time you went out for a genuine Taiwanese dinner on the island.