10 Taiwanese Dishes We Can't Live Without
Whether you're planning a trip to Taipei or already in town, you've got to try these 10 dishes that are truly representative of Taiwan. They're all irresistibly delicious and will always have you coming back for more!
1. Beef Noodle Soup 牛肉面
You can't say you've truly eaten your way through Taiwan without trying its national dish - beef noodle soup. Consisting of rich beef broth, noodles of varying thickness, chunks of beef and green onions sprinkled on top, this is a meal that you can see people eating throughout the day.
Each restaurant has its own unique style. For a classic bowl of noodles, we recommend Lin Dong Fang Beef Noodle Restaurant (林东方). But for something with more of a kick, Xiao Wu (小吴) in YongHe has the best spicy beef noodle soup we've ever tasted.
Come armed with a big appetite, as this is a hearty dish!
2. Soup Dumplings 小籠湯包
There's no way you haven't heard of soup dumplings (小籠湯包, xiaolongtangbao). Inside each small dumpling you will find a spoonful of soup, a pork meatball, green onion and seasoning. It's simple but perfect in its execution. Eat it on its own to get a real taste of the broth or have it with some ginger and vinegar for a different flavour.
You can kill two birds with one stone by visiting the Din Tai Fung (鼎泰豐) at Taipei 101 where you can have your soup dumplings with a magnificent view. If you'd rather avoid the crowds, a great alternative is Hangzhou Restaurant (杭州餐厅) in the north of Taipei.
3. Taiwanese Hamburger 割包
There's nothing like hitting up a night market for a snack run and there's plenty of these spots dotted throughout Taiwan for you to visit. In Taipei, Shilin (士林夜市) is by far the most well-known, but we suggest you to try out Shida (師大), Ningxia (寧夏) and Raohe (饒河) as well. These locations are less crowded but you'll still find all the night market staples here.
One of our favourite items at the night markets is the Taiwanese hamburger (割包). Unlike Western burgers, this Taiwanese version uses a steamed white bun to carry a mixture of fatty and less fatty pork topped with pickled cabbage, peanut sugar and coriander. It's super unique and definitely worth trying if you haven't done so before!
4. Braised Pork Rice 魯肉飯
Small snack shops (小吃店) are a popular location for people looking for a quick, cheap but tasty meal. One of the most common dishes you'll find here is braised pork rice, which consists of small pieces of rich, salty and silky smooth pork - called lurou (魯肉) - atop a bowl of white rice. Once you have a spoonful, you'll find yourself craving more!
Where to try it? Practically everywhere! We especially like Huangji (黃記魯肉飯) near Mingguan Market - they also sell really good stewed bamboo and cabbage.
5. Pan-fried Pork Buns 水煎包
Pan-fried pork buns (水煎包, shuijianbao, also called 生煎包, shengjianbao) are a crowd favourite at the night markets throughout Taiwan. Buns filled with pork mixture are placed inside a large, deep frying pan, coated with water and then steamed. They are then liberally doused with oil, allowing the bottom of the bun to get crispy while keeping the top of the bun soft.
6. Bubble Milk Tea
Did you know that bubble tea (also known as pearl milk tea) originated in Taiwan, in Taichung? Made up of milky tea and chewy tapioca pearls, bubble tea is especially refreshing on a hot day.
There are some fantastic places to get bubble tea in Taipei, including at Chunshuitang (春水堂人文茶館) and we're also fans of the famous Chensanding (陳三鼎) which is well-known for its use of high grade milk and hot tapioca balls.
7. Taiwanese Fried Chicken
Taiwan serves up some deliciously flavoursome and non-greasy fried chicken at various night markets. They usually are sold by the cutlet and you could easily share a portion with a friend of two if you're looking to order some other snacks as well.
Nanjichang Night Market (南機場夜市) is a great place to go for some fried chicken. But don't worry if you can't make it to this night spot - fried chicken is readily available throughout town.
8. Roasted Pepper Cakes 胡椒餅
Roasted red pepper cakes (胡椒餅, hujiaobing) is more of a direct translation because they're actually roasted bread buns with pork inside. The pork mixture often features a ton of pepper and various other ingredients depending on where you purchase your meal.
Raohe Night Market (饒河夜市) has a number of street stalls located in the center of the road near the East entrance that serves a yummy pepper cake!
9. Oyster Omelettes 蚵仔煎
Oyster omelettes are also worth trying when you're in Taiwan. The omelettes are cooked on a huge round hot plate where eggs are first beaten to coat the bottom of the pan and a generous scattering of fresh oysters layered on top. A special house sauce is also smothered on top to give the dish some extra flavour.
There are a large clustering of oyster omelet restaurants at the Ningxia Night Market (寧夏夜市), our favourite spot to get them in Taipei.
10. Taiwanese Breakfast
We always opt for a Taiwanese breakfast to kick start our day whenever we're in town.
We have two favourite spots we'd love for you to try. One is near Shandao Temple (善導寺) and the other is near Dingxi MRT Station (頂溪捷運站). The Shandao Temple option is popular for salty soy bean milk (豆浆, doujiang pictured above) and baked bread cakes with deep fried doughnut sticks inside. The Dingxi MRT option also offers every element of a typical Taiwanese breakfast, including soy bean milk, rice rolls (饭团, fantuan, ), soup dumplings and steamed buns.