9 Street Foods You Need to Try When in Taiwan
Covered in bustling night markets all over the country, Taiwan is one of the best countries for filling your belly on the streets. Not only can you find a huge range of delicious foods, it's also extremely cheap, making it so easy to travel around the country on a budget.
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Da Chang Bao Xiao Chang (大腸包小腸)
Like a Taiwanese version of a hot dog, the name translates to 'big sausage wraps little sausage' and it's well, literally that. The larger wiener consists of a rice sausage grilled until the outside is slightly crispy, which is cut open like a bun. It's then stuffed with a local variant of pork sausage and various condiments to amp up the flavor. It might seem like an oddity, but this is one street food we can't get enough of.
Taiwanese Oyster Omelette (蚵仔煎)
A perfect representation of the great seafood street foods you can find around the island, while it might not look particularly appetizing, it makes up for it in taste. A mix of oysters, a starch-based dough and local greens, the 'omelette' is then fried and added with eggs. After cooking it's then layered with a sweet chili sauce to top the dish off. Slightly crispy and chewy, with a burst of flavor and umami from the sauce, once you've eaten one you won't want to stop.
Black Pepper Buns (胡椒餅)
These delicious pockets of joy have become a staple in numerous night markets around the country, with many old stores having opened by vendors coming over from Fujian several decades ago. The bun is baked in a tandoori-like oven with a filling of meat, scallions, soy sauce and of course black pepper, although sometimes white pepper is used.
Mian Xian (麵線)
While beef noodles might be the national noodle dish of the country, in street food mian xian reigns king. These super thin vermicelli noodles are served in a thick, hearty broth that's usually flavored with intestines or oysters.
Lu Wei (滷味)
Often a favorite among local Taiwanese, lu wei stalls will display a variety of meats and vegetables for you to pick and choose to braise in the delicious stewing sauce. Each stall will have their own recipe for the secret sauce but the general flavor is always the same with a range of different spices and herbs, often as much as 30 of them. After you place your goods in the basket and hand it to the vendor, they'll stew it for a few minutes and bag it up with a few spoonfuls of the super flavorful and aromatic sauce.
Da Chang Bao Xiao Chang (大腸包小腸)
Like a Taiwanese version of a hot dog, the name means 'big sausage wraps little sausage' and it's well, literally that. The larger wiener consists of a rice sausage grilled until the outside is slightly crispy, which is cut open like a bun. It's then stuffed with a local variant of pork sausage and various condiments to amp up the flavor. It might seem like an oddity, but this is one street food we can't get enough of.
Stinky Tofu (臭豆腐)
You'll usually smell it before you see it - the bane of most foreigners in Taiwan - many don't attempt to get past the nauseating waft of odor that comes from this fermented tofu dish. The taste is quite different however, with a kind of cheesy, fermented taste to it that goes perfectly with the slightly spicy sauce that's often served on top. The longer it's been fermented for generally the more flavor and tastier it gets, albeit along with a stronger smell. Pinch your nose if you have to and take a bite, cause this delicious snack is one of the best on the island.
Ba Wan (肉圓)
While most Taiwanese foods tend to have their origins on the mainland before giving them an island twist, ba wan or rou yuan is proudly seen as a native dish. First hailing from central Taiwan's Changhua, ba wan is a kind of Taiwanese meatball that's then stuffed inside a translucent dough, usually made from corn starch, rice flour and sweet potato starch. Afterwards it's steamed and the dish is then completed with a sweet and savory soy-based sauce and topped with sweet chili. This unique dish is like nothing found elsewhere around the world and comes highly recommended.
Ji Pai (雞排)
Fried chicken? While it might seem a little boring and universal, touring the Taiwanese night markets and not trying the island's spin on this global treat would be sacrilege. The best ji pai stalls tend to have the longest queues of all the stalls, the locals usually can't get enough.
Although it often gets confused with the Japanese dish of tempura due to its name, it doesn't really share any similarities. Tianbula is a kind of local fish cake, which vendors will batter and deep fry and then mix with chili powder, depending on how spicy you want it. The ultimate fried snack, it's like the Taiwanese equivalent of French fries and goes perfectly with a bottle of Taiwan beer.
Depending on the night market, each area usually has a few famous eats that you should make sure to try while visiting. Often the best way is to look where the locals are queuing and give it a try. While queues can sometimes stretch quite long for the popular bites, it usually goes down quickly. If you're not sure which markets to visit, Shilin, Raohe and Miaokou are some of the major ones located around Taipei and the vicinity.