Food in Taipei

I ate a ton of good stuff in Taipei that I felt needed a separate post of its own! When people talk about Taiwan, food is often one of the first things that is mentioned. Taiwan is famous for its abundance of local foods at the local night markets, and some of these foods described below can be found at these markets.

Beef noodles

Beef noodles: a soup noodle with big chunks of half fatty and half lean beef in a beef broth. One of the quintessential parts of Taiwanese food culture.

Hot pot

Hot pot: it’s the idea of taking a pot of boiling water or soup and cooking meat and vegetables in it. Pretty much anything goes here: any kind of meat, vegetable, mushroom, etc.

Clockwise from top left: stir fried morning glory, Szechuan style spicy wontons, xiaolongbao (soup dumplings), and shaoxing drunken chicken

Stir fried morning glory: not a vegetable that’s common in Canada/USA, but can be found in Asian supermarkets. It looks and feels like green onion with a slightly thicker skin, but tastes like spinach and has a nice crunch.

Szechuan style spicy wontons: the wonton is very similar to other kinds of wontons (ground pork and shrimp in a dough wrapper). In this case, it’s got a spicy, yet savoury sauce that slightly numbs the tongue.

Xiaolongbao (soup dumplings): similar to a wonton as far as its filling goes (it can be pure pork, pure shrimp, or mixed) with a key difference in that it contains hot soup. They originated from Shanghai, but it’s made its way into mainstream Taiwanese cuisine.

Shaoxing drunken chicken: it’s essentially chicken that has been steamed and marinated in a brine of shaoxing wine and chicken broth.

Bubble tea

Bubble tea: yet another famous part of Taiwanese cuisine. The original variant was a milk tea with tapioca pearls, but now it’s evolved and comes in many flavours, from any kind of tea to a fruit slushie, with either tapioca pearls or fruit jellies (or even ice cream!)

Grilled giant prawns

Grilled giant prawns: Prawns a pretty regular thing in a lot of places, but at the local Shilin nightmarket, they are fished out and cooked only when ordered – so they are guaranteed fresh. These prawns are also HUGE. The three in the photo were around half a pound in total.

From left to right: oyster pancake, popcorn chicken, kaoliang wine

Oyster pancake: a popular food at the night markets, it’s essentially an omelette (with added starch for thickness) with oysters inside, with a savoury sauce poured on top.

Popcorn chicken: can be summarized as Taiwan’s take on fried chicken. It’s got Chinese style seasonings such as five-spice, and Thai basil. It can be found at many street vendors and night markets.

Kaoliang wine: this wine is made from fermented sorghum. It’s got a nice strong kick, and not so much a wide flavour profile. This alcohol is a big export of the Taiwanese island of Kinmen

Three cup chicken

Three cup chicken: named after the three key ingredients for the sauce: rice wine, soy sauce, and sesame oil. The chicken is cooked in the skillet.

Mango shaved ice

Mango shaved ice: mango chunks with mango ice cream on top of mango flavoured shaved ice. It tastes exactly like what one would imagine. The little purple and orange balls are made of taro and potato/sweet potato flour and are nice and chewy.

Of all the food I miss, I’d say it’s the beef noodles. That’s the one thing I have the strongest craving for and unfortunately for me, there aren’t any that I like where I live. To see other parts of my trip to Taipei, click here.

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