Taipei is a city with a lot to offer but the thing I get most excited about in this city is the FOOD. There is SO MUCH to eat it’s insane. Here are my favourite 10 things to eat in Taipei.
1 – BEEF NOODLES
Beef noodles – a big bowl of super thick, hand-cut noodles with slow cooked chunks of beef in a beefy broth – is arguably Taipei’s number one dish and countless restaurants and hawker stalls stake their claim for serving the best bowl. I had some fantastic bowls in Taipei but my favourite – and this might surprise you – was at a little stall in a food court above Nanmen market. The noodles are chunky, the broth rich, the beef incredibly flavourful.
2 – PEPPER BEEF BUN
Another one of Taiwan’s National dishes which you’ll find many a street vendor serving across the city is a peppery-beef filled bun. The most famous vendor – a deserved title – greets you when you arrive at Raohe Night Market. Fuzhou Pepper Buns’ buns are served piping hot, with a crispy soft dough filled with peppery chunks of steak with garlic and spring onions in a strong gravy. Kinda like an incredible mini Cornish pasty, minus the root veg.
3 – BRAISED PORK RICE
Another of Taiwan’s beloved dishes and one that the locals can’t get enough of is pretty simple – slow cooked minced pork, usually quite fatty, on top of rice. Every night market and countless restaurants serve this dish. One of the most famous is Jin Feng (read my review here) but I actually had my favourite bowl from a little vendor at Tonghua Night Market.
4 – VERMICELLI NOODLES
Every night market has at least one stall serving oyster vermicelli noodles – basically a bowl of thin noodles in a seafood sauce – and I’m yet to have a bad bowl, but Ay Chung in Ximending serves up the gloopiest (which is a good thing) flour noodles with pork intestines and oyster sauce (but no actual oysters) that in my opinion beat the competition into submission. Go for the large bowl. You won’t regret it.
5 – STINKY TOFU
Chances are, the smell of stinky tofu will put you off eating it long before it comes anywhere near your gob. It took me a long time to start enjoying this polarising dish, but in Taipei, it finally happened – that glorious moment when years of training finally pay off. The stinky tofu in Taipei is frickin glorious. It’s not just the crispyness of the skin or the juicyness of the interior, it’s the toppings. My favourite in Taipei to eat this is a street seller in Ximending – the flavour of the tofu (relatively subtle, not too stinky) combined with the sweetness of the pickled veg and the spice of the chilli – incredible.
6 – SMALL SAUSAGE IN LARGE SAUSAGE
Why have a hot dog in a bread bun when you can have it in another sausage? This is how hot dogs are done in this city. Bread is so last decade. In Taipei, they take a Taiwanese sausage (sweet, salty, wondrous), cover it with pickled veg, chilli and various other delightful sauces and condiments, and stick it in a sticky rice sausage cut in half. It’s a mouthful of glorious proportions. The one served up by the place in the middle of Raohe Night Market is excellent.
7 – GUA BAO
Bao – essentially a steamed doughy bun usually filled with meat or other goodies – is a popular Chinese snack, and in Taiwan, like many things, they take it one step better. Gua Bao, like many of the best Taiwanese snacks, actually originated in Fuzhou in China but is hugely popular in Taiwan. It’s a bao filled with stewed pork and pickled mustard greens, topped with peanut powder and coriander. Holy God, this thing tastes good. The most famous place in Taipei is Lan Jia, but if you don’t fancy waiting in a massive queue, the equally good (possibly even better) option is Song Shan Gua Bao.
8 – TAIWANESE ICE CREAM
Taiwan isn’t famous for ice cream but Yongfu in Wanhua (near Ximending) serves up locally inspired ice-cream flavours (taro, peanut, red bean, longan) that are very unique and well worth a taste. Taiwanese ice cream is more like sorbet than traditional ice cream, and is made with much less sugar too, so it’s light and refreshing – and pretty healthy too.
9 – DOUHUA
Douhua is steamed tofu pudding usually served with a simple sweet syrup or, more decadently, with a variety of bubbles, balls and globules that, together, taste wonderful. Tofu pudding isn’t usually as sweet as you’d expect and is a light and refreshing way to end a meal. A couple of places stood out for me; a vendor in the 2/F food court at Nanmen Market and the lady in the middle of Raohe Night Market.
10 – XIAO LONG BAO
Xiao Long Bao – a steamed dumpling usually filled with pork and served in traditional Chinese wooden baskets – originated in Jiangnan in China but is hugely popular in Taiwan, partly due to the international success of Din Tai Fung, one of the countries most famous and beloved restaurant chains. If you’re going to try this dish, go straight to the source; Din Tai Fung’s first ever outlet in Xinyi.
These are just ten of the countless tasty dishes on offer in this amazing city. If you think I’ve missed anything, please make a comment below, and please share, like and follow Travelist for more trusted travel info.