Now, I don’t know a lot about the history of Taiwanese food and the language barrier meant that I didn’t know what I was eating most of the time, but I know that I liked it. Loved it, in fact. The street food in Taiwan was out of this world incredible and one of the most surprising foodie scenes I’ve stumbled across. If you’re travelling to Taiwan, particularly the capital Taipei, you simply have to schedule several hours a day to taste the culinary offerings.
The island of Taiwan is a melting pot of cuisines with local traditional dishes as well as influences from Japan and China forming a delicious mix of street foods and local eats. I adore Japanese food and Chinese food, so to be in a country where both combined? Pretty heavenly. Each region of Taiwan has its own speciality dishes therefore there are plenty of things to try as you make your way around the country.
Famous for its night markets and street food, one of the best ways to experience Taiwan’s destinations and culture is through eating. The food is undeniably delicious, but my favourite part was soaking up the atmosphere and meeting the local people when digging into my food. Whether it was stumbling through menus entirely in Chinese with helpful restaurant owners, or laughing with people about my multiple chopstick fails, eating street food is as much about the experience as the food.
So what was my favourite Taiwan street food? Here is a list of some of the best local eats I had during my time in Taipei and where you can find them for your trip too!
READ MORE: Top 10 Things To Do In Taipei, Taiwan
Beef Noodles are synonymous with Taiwan, often referred to as the national dish, and are my all-time favourite dish here. Eating the slow-cooked braised beef in a rich broth complete with delicious hand-pulled noodles is a wonderous experience. There are so many places serving delicious beef noodles, and I’m sure it’s hard to go wrong, but these were my two favourites!
Laopai Beef Noodle Restaurant (老牌牛肉麵)
A steaming hot bowl of beef noodles were the first thing that I ate in Taipei, wandering out from my first hostel, I found the quaintest vendor down an alleyway near Taipei Main Station. Draped under orange tarpaulins with signs entirely in Chinese, I had a feeling this place would be pretty authentic. The helpful lady at the stall figured out that I was after some beef noodles and swiftly served up a delicious bowl. The doughy noodles were moreish and the beef was exquisitely tender. Despite my inadequate chopstick skills, I managed to eat this incredibly quickly and came back the next day for seconds.
Location: No. 123號, Huayin Street, Datong District, Taipei City, 103
Hours: 10:30am – 9:00pm
Cost For Bowl of Beef Noodles: $110NTD (~$5AUD)
Lao Shan Dong Homemade Noodles
I also tried this beef noodle restaurant in Ximending which was recommended in the Michelin guide. In the basement of a very unassuming mall (you would walk straight past it if you didn’t know), Lao Shan Dong serves up the most delicious Shan Dong style beef noodles. This unpretentious restaurant makes thicker noodles and is very popular locally. The incredibly flavoursome broth and tender beef was paired perfectly with right amount of spice. Definitely worth a try if you are in the Ximending area.
Location: 108, Taipei City, Wanhua District, Xining Rd, 70號B1之15室
Hours: 10:30am – 9:30pm
Cost for Bowl of Beef Noodles: $180NTD (~$9AUD)
I was lying in bed in my capsule hostel on my final night in Taipei and just did not feel ready to go to sleep. As usual, I ended up down a rabbit warren of travel blogs and stumbled upon a post from Migrationology describing the best Gua Bao in Taipei. It’s only 10:30pm, I thought, plenty of time to cross the city and try one of these bad boys.
Luckily, the trains in Taiwan are perfectly seamless, so pulling this off was not hard at all. Soon enough I was at Lan Jia Gua Bao, an unassuming stall in Taiwan’s university district which is across from the famous Chen San Ding boba milk stall.
There is usually a queue for this stall because it is known as the best Gua Bao in Taipei. Luckily for me at 11:00pm, there weren’t that many people. Select whether you want fatty pork, lean pork, or a mix, and the smiley vendor will prepare your Gua Bao to go.
The fluffy bun was loaded up with a healthy serving of braised pork, followed by braised vegetables, and then crushed peanuts and coriander. Not only was this my favourite Taipei street food, this was the best food I can remember having in Asia. It was absolutely delicious. The flavours of the pork were rich and the coriander added an amazing freshness. For the equivalent of $2AUD, this is the best value to deliciousness I have had in a long time.
Location: Lan Jia Gua Bao (藍家割包), No. 3號, Alley 8, Lane 316, Section 3, Luosifu Road, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, 100
Opening Hours: 11am – 12am
Cost: for a mix of fatty/lean pork the Gua Bao was $60 NTD (~$2AUD)
Although not crazily flavoursome like beef noodles or gua bao, this popular Taipei street food is a must-try. This flaky spring onion pancake is a delicious savoury snack and can either be served plain or with toppings like cheese, egg and meat. My favourite scallion pancake was at Tian Jin on the famous foodie haven, Yongkang Street. There is usually a line for the scallion pancakes here but they are freshly pressed and made to order, the stall owners here know exactly how to make the perfect pancake!
Location: No. 1號, Lane 6, Yongkang Street, Da’an District, Taipei City, 106
Opening Hours: 9:00am – 10:30pm
Cost: plain scallion pancake $25NTD (~$1AUD)
Fried dumplings are absolutely everywhere in Taipei and they are one of my favourite night market snacks. I tried the fried dumplings both at Raohe Night Market and Linjiang (Tonghua) Night Market and they were quite different. The ones at Raohe were bite-sized pork and cabbage dumplings with some broth inside, and the ones at Linjiang were larger with thicker, doughy skins. Heck, I’m not even sure if these are both dumplings (come to think of it… what is the definition of a dumpling?), but they were both amazing.
Raohe Night Market Dumplings
Linjiang Night Market Dumplings
XIAO LONG BAO
Shanghai style Xiao Long Bao are absolutely phenomenal steamed soup dumplings. These are very popular in Taipei and there are several great places to try these delicious offerings. The most famous place in the city is Din Tai Fung, with the original restaurant located on Xinyi Road, and the lines to get in here are consistently long every night. With thin skins and flavoursome broth, trying a good Xiao Long Bao is a must. Just make sure you look up how to eat them properly before you try them so you don’t look foolish like I did!
Location: No. 194號, Section 2, Xinyi Road, Da’an District, Taipei City, 106
Hours: 9:00am – 9:00pm
Cost For Xiao Long Bao: $100 NTD (~$4.50) for 5 original pork
I don’t know what the official name is for these chopped mushrooms, but you won’t miss the stall at Shilin Night Market. Here, the mushrooms are slowly grilled over coals until they reach the perfect consistency before being glazed and cooked a little more. The cook will then skilfully chop them up in front of you, load up your bowl, and let you select your desired toppings.
Location: Shilin Night Market
Hours: 4:00pm – 12:00am
Cost: $100NTD (~$4.50AUD) for 240g
PORK PEPPER BUN
I walked straight past this place when I first went to Raohe Night Market (oh, the sacrilege). It wasn’t until after I had moved on from Taipei to Hualien that I realised just exactly what I missed. When I was back in Taipei to catch my flight back to Melbourne, I had to make the journey to try one of these famous, succulent buns.
Fuzhou is the best vendor of these delicious snacks at Raohe Night Market, situated right after the iconic market entrance near the Ciyou Temple. The crispy outer shell of the bun encases the tender pork inside, flavoured by a black pepper sauce and spring onions. The flavours encapsulated by the Fuzhou Pork Pepper Bun are out of this world! You can watch the buns being hand made at the stall, and they are then cooked by being stuck to the inside of a cylindrical brick oven (ovens pictured above). So delicious!
Location: Fuzhou Pork Pepper Buns, 號, No. 253, Raohe Street, Songshan District, Taipei City, 105
Hours: 5:00pm – 12:00am
Cost: $55NTD for one
TOP TIPS FOR EATING TAIWAN STREET FOOD
A lot of people fear eating street food and this often stems from a bad street food experience. These dodgy experiences do have the capacity to ruin a holiday so I understand the concern. In fact I used to be scared to eat street food, but now I follow some tips and tricks to make it as safe as possible and now I prefer to eat it over restaurant food in Asia. It gives me more confidence in the food to see it being made in front of me than hidden in a restaurant kitchen! Plus the best tasting, local flavours can be found in these eateries.
Luckily Taiwan street food is handled at a good standard already. The vendors I saw were hygienic, food was kept hot, and made fresh, so this is already a great start! However here are some general Taiwan street food eating tips anyway:
- Go where the locals go! Because places where you can see locals eating are more trustworthy and you’ll know you are eating the best, most authentic flavours
- Choose places with a high food turn-over because it’s unlikely you will be eating food that has been sitting there for ages if the stall has a high turnover
- In a similar theme, eat the food you can see being ordered the most as his also ensures a high turnover and suggests that it’s the best food from that stall to try
- Only eat food that you can see being prepared in front of you so you can make sure you know what you’re getting into
- And most importantly: wash your hands! A lot of time sickness will come from germs on your own hands than from the food itself.
PIN FOR LATER AND FOR OTHERS!
Which Taiwan Street Food do you like the look of? Comment below!