The Top 16 Street Food Dishes to Eat in Taiwan

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The Top 16 Street Food Dishes to Eat in Taiwan

Taiwan has one of the most unique and vibrant street food scenes in the world, almost every town and city has at least one, if not several night markets selling all kinds of street-side snacks.

While many countries in Asia have often shunned street markets, closing them due to difficulty in regulating them, Taiwan has long since embraced its street food culture, even opening new markets around the country.

With every corner full of mouth-watering Taiwanese street foods, tasty snacks or cheap clothing shops and circus-style games, visiting a Taiwanese night market is a must of things to do in Taiwan. Here are some of the best street foods to eat in Taipei and Taiwan.

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The Top 16 Street Food Dishes to Eat in Taiwan

Da Chang Bao Xiao Chang

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Often referred to as a Taiwanese hot dog, this classic street food can be found in night markets all over Taiwan. Taiwan's take on this American food is vastly different however and distinctly Taiwanese, using a flavorful Taiwanese pork sausage wrapped inside a larger rice sausage as the 'bun' along with local condiments and often cilantro. The name Da Chang Bao Xiao Chang literally means big sausage wraps little sausage, an apt name for this Taiwanese street food creation.

Ba Wan

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Despite Ba Wan being not so well known outside of Taiwan, it's a classic street food that originated in the central city of Changhua over 100 years ago. A mixture of pork, bamboo shoots and mushrooms is stuffed into a dough of rice flour and sweet potato starch and then either steamed and deep fried or just steamed.

They're usually called Taiwanese meatballs in English, although they're quite different to the western counterpart. Ba Wan have a distinctive gelatinous texture to the outside, that can often be a little off-putting for some foreigners. They're delicious however, and most quickly come to love the chewy outside texture.

Lu Wei

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The sauce used to cook the dish in is made with a huge variety of spices and herbs, usually 30 or more, that gives Lu Wei its distinctive taste. While the produce is often only stewed for a few minutes in the broth, the intense flavor it has means the dish is still flavorsome and delicious.

The popularity of Lu Wei in Taiwan is most likely due to the customizability, while everything is stewed in the same super flavorful sauce, customers get to pick and choose their favorites that they want to form their Lu Wei dish.

Taiwanese Oyster Omelette (O-A-Chien)

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If you ask most overseas Taiwanese what street food they miss from Taiwan, Oyster Omelets are often high on the list. Oysters are mixed with a starchy dough, local greens and fried with eggs, topped off with a sweet chili sauce. Usually slightly crispy and deliciously chewy, these omelets are utterly addictive.

Sheng Jian Bao

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These pan-fried dumplings are famous all over the Chinese speaking world, a specialty of Shanghai, Sheng Jian Bao or similarly Sheng Jian Mantou are a common street food you'll see at Taiwanese night markets too. While it's not as distinctly Taiwanese as most of these other dishes, the crispy fried bottom and juicy, pork filling is absolutely delicious whether they're from Shanghai or Taiwan, and well worth a try on the island.


Tianbula is a type of local fish cake that's deep-fried until crispy and slightly puffy. Apart from the fish cake, Tianbula vendors will normally have a choice of other foods to fry as well such as potato fries, pigs blood cake and vegetables along with Taiwanese style fried chicken. They're also often found at Lu Wei stalls too, customers can choose to have the produce displayed for Lu Wei deep-fried in Tianbula style instead. You can also get them just boiled at some stalls, for those watching the calories.

The deep-fried fish cake has a delicious umami flavor that makes it the perfect snack with a bottle of Taiwan beer.

Note that Tianbula is often mistranslated as 'Tempura', it's a completely different dish to the deep-fried Japanese snack.

Turnip Cake (Luo Bo Gao)

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A popular food known as lo bak go in Hong Kong, the Taiwanese version of turnip cake or radish cake is a little different. Called luo bo gao in Mandarin, it's commonly eaten as a breakfast food, pan-fried until crispy and covered with a savory sauce. Order it like the locals do with an egg on the side to complete this delicious, cheap breakfast snack.

Sweet Potato Balls (Di Gua Qiu)

Sweet potato balls Taiwan night market snack

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Beloved for their delicious chewy texture that's usually referred to a 'QQ', sweet potato balls are a classic night market snack that's perfect to whet the appetite. You'll usually find them at almost every night market around Taiwan, once you start eating them it's hard to stop.

Taiwanese Fried Chicken Cutlet (Ji-Pai)

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While it might seem a little odd to travel all the way to Taiwan to eat fried chicken, these huge deep-fried chicken cutlets are a classic Taiwanese street food. Chicken breast is pounded flat until it's much larger, marinated, battered and then deep-fried.

Dan Bing

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Dan bing or Taiwanese egg pancakes are found all over Taiwan, one of the most common breakfast foods on the island. Made with a thin crepe-like pancake that's placed on top of the almost cooked egg to finish off, it's wrapped up and usually served with a savory sauce. Apart from egg, there are a number of popular fillings people order with their dan bing such as bacon, cheese and vegetables.

Stinky Tofu (Chou Doufu)

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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.

Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken (Yan Su Ji)

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If you consider yourself a fried chicken enthusiast, Taiwan has you covered, while the huge slabs of deep fried chicken cutlets are often more popular, for some more authentic Taiwanese fried chicken, you've got to try Yan Su Ji. Often just called Taiwanese popcorn chicken, Yan Su Ji are little bite-sized pieces of marinated chicken, coated in tapioca starch and fried with fragrant Taiwanese basil. The tapioca starch gives it an extra crunchy texture, while the basil gives off an incredible aroma while being fried, completing the flavor. It's also marinated in soy sauce and spices beforehand for another level of flavor.

A Gei

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A specialty from the coastal town of Tamsui, near Taipei, A Gei is made from fried tofu that's stuffed with glass noodles and other fillings and coated with savory sauce. While tofu can often be a little bland, deep-frying it and filling it with other foods takes this dish to the next level. Although it's difficult to find outside of its hometown, it's well worth making a trip to Tamsui from Taipei.

Che Lun Bing

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First originating from Japan in the Edo Period and known as Imagawayaki, Che Lun Bing has long since been a popular sweet snack at night markets. Made with a pancake-like batter, the inside is filled with usually either red bean paste or cream, but many vendors offer a range of different fillings including sometimes savory ones.

Scallion Pancakes (Cong You Bing)

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Another classic Taiwanese breakfast food, scallion pancakes or cong you bing are also popular throughout the day as a street food snack. A large amount of green onions are added to the dough which is pan-fried until ultra-crispy, giving the pancake its classic texture and flavor. Like any great breakfast food, it's usually eaten with an egg added, every scallion pancake vendor will usually allow customers to add them for slightly extra.

Black Pepper Buns (Hujiao Bing)

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More similar to buns you'll find in Western Asia and Xinjiang to the usual steamed buns eaten in the east, these Black Pepper Buns are baked on the side of a tandoori oven. The filling is a delicious peppery pork mixture that's marinated with spices and soy sauce.

As many night market vendors compete for customers, new creations are often invented in the hope of becoming the next popular food craze. While the above foods are some of the more traditional and classic offerings you'll often find around Taiwan, there's always plenty more to discover, as Taiwan's dynamic street food scene is ever-changing.