With its wealth of night markets, Taipei food is well known for its level of drool-worthiness. The best thing about them is that they’re not just good, but they also come cheap! Anyone who has ever been to Taipei would gladly return time and again just for its food.
If you’re a first-time visitor, welcome to your initiation! Taipei food is deeply umami, flavourful, usually with herbal notes and best enjoyed in a bustling night market or a street corner. We know you only have one stomach, but here are all the different Taipei foods you must try when you’re here!
1. Beef noodle soup (牛肉麵)
It’s hard for any one culture to claim beef noodle soup for themselves since it’s such a fundamental dish, but the Taiwanese have truly made it their own. The secret is in its broth – beef bones are put to simmer for days before seasoning with five-spice powder. But every restaurant has its own secret recipe, with variations in broth, noodles, and cuts of meat.
You can find beef noodle soup just about anywhere in Taipei, but some of the most famous places are Lin Dong Fang Beef Noodles (it’s on the Michelin Bib Gourmand list!), Yong Kang Beef Noodles, Liu Shandong Beef Noodles and Lao Shandong Homemade Noodles.
2. Braised pork rice (滷肉飯)
Braised pork rice is a classic Taiwanese comfort food. Like most comfort foods out there, it is simple and uncomplicated: just braised pork belly served over a steaming bowl of white rice. Some say braised pork rice ties with beef noodles as the most popular Taipei food, and I can totally see why.
Braised pork rice is good on its own as a complete meal, or you can order sides to go with it. One of the most popular places to enjoy a bowl of braised pork rice is Jin Feng Braised Pork Rice!
3. Fried chicken (鹹酥雞)
Taiwanese fried chicken is one of Taiwan’s most popular snacks. What makes it different from Western-style fried chicken is that it usually comes in a cutlet form of chicken breast or thigh, and it is fried twice for maximum crispiness. Taiwanese fried chicken is typically tossed with salt, pepper, five-spice powder and basil leaves for a crunchy, umami combination.
You’ll find Taiwanese fried chicken in every night market you go to, and you can usually choose your choice of seasoning such as salt and pepper, chilli pepper, or even seaweed. It’s hard to say who’s the best since there are so many stalls these days, but the one who ignited the trend is the uber popular Hot Star.
4. Scallion pancake (蔥油餅)
Scallion pancake is a pan-fried piece of dough with loads of spring onions. It is flaky and crispy on the outside, fluffy and chewy on the inside.
In the night markets, you’ll find plenty of artisans expertly spinning, fluffing, frying and flipping the pancakes. You can get them with an egg and add on toppings such as cheese and ham. The way the locals have it is pretty simple – usually just with an egg or without. Try Wenzhou Street Raddish Pancake which is incredibly popular with the locals, or the Michelin-recommended Hsiung Chi Scallion Pancake!
5. Oyster mee sua (蚵仔麵線)
Mee sua is a thin wheat noodle similar to vermicelli, and oyster mee sua is a slurp-worthy Taipei food. Oyster sauce and a starch mixtures comes together to create a yummy and goopy mix, along with slices of oyster and pork intestine.
The OG place to enjoy oyster mee sua is Ay Chung Rice Noodles, whose version is served with pork intestine. They’re very popular so expect a crowd. You’ll find lots of them standing around slurping away at their noodles since Ay Chung Rice Noodles is not a sit-down restaurant. Sure makes for an interesting eating experience!
6. Pepper bun (胡椒饼)
Pepper buns originate from the Fuzhou region of China. It consists of a flaky outer dough shell topped with sesame seeds and a filling of peppery marinated pork with scallions. Interestingly, the buns are cooked in a cylindrical clay oven, similar to an Indian tandoori oven.
The most popular stall for pepper buns is Fuzhou Shizu Black Pepper Buns in Raohe Night Market. Bite into their freshly made buns and you’ll understand the secret behind their success. Just be careful not to scald your tongue!
7. Soy milk and dough fritters (豆浆油条)
For a traditional Taiwanese breakfast, get yourself a cup of soy milk and fried dough fritters. What’s interesting about Taiwanese soy milk is that they come in both sweet and savoury versions!
Fu Hang Dou Jiang is one of those Taipei food places that draws in long queues every day. People even come in the wee hours of the morning to start queuing! If you’re wondering, how good can soy milk and dough fritters get? The answer is that they’ve even established themselves on the Michelin Bib Gourmand list!
8. Pineapple cake (鳳梨酥)
Taiwanese pineapple cakes are not just a must-eat, they’re also a must-buy souvenir for your friends and family back home. A buttery pastry with a sweet pineapple paste at its center, you can find them in just about every food souvenir shop in Taipei.
The top brand however, is Chia Te, a store with over 30 years of history. Apart from the OG pineapple cakes, they also make them in flavours such as cranberry and egg yolk. You can find them in Songshan district, or you can opt for a simple airport pick up for convenience’s sake!