If you’re a foodie like Amber and me, get yourself to Taiwan. Why? Because Taiwan just might be the best food destination people overlook. In our Taipei food guide, we share our top picks on what and where to eat in Taipei. I can’t believe how long it took us to finally visit, but believe me, we’ll be heading back often.
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The Best Food To Eat in Taipei
Taipei is one of the most heavily populated cities in the world. Often overlooked for other destinations like Bangkok or Tokyo, Taipei is admired for its tourist spots and welcoming locals. but most of all, Taipei is very well-known for its fantastic food, unique dishes, and exciting night markets.
You will not have a difficult time finding great food in Taipei. We’ve been to many of the best food destinations in the World but Taipei takes the prize for the sheer volume of places to eat. Perhaps only the food in Hong Kong is better than in Taipei.
In the post, we’ll share the best food to eat in Taipei and where you can go to get some of the best Taiwanese foods in Taipei.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the best Taipei food.
Xiao Long Bao – Soup Dumplings
The world stops for Amber when she hears Xiaolongbao, aka soup dumplings. Xaiolong refers to a steaming basket used to cook these steamed Chinese buns. However, Xiaolongbao is the name of the dumplings that are prepared in these same baskets. Often referred to as dumplings or soup-filled buns.
In Taipei, you will come across many styles of Xiaolongbao. The most popular styles of Xiaolongbao include pork, crab, and vegetables. Xiaolongbao are made by wrapping the filling in a dough-type pastry skin. Next, the Xiaolongbao are steamed to allow a gelatinous pork cube to melt into a sticky soup-like consistency.
In Taiwanese cuisine, these are enjoyed all throughout the day. Xiaolongbao are dipped in Zhenjiang vinegar and fresh ginger.
Our absolute favorite place to eat soup dumplings in Taipei is Din Tai Fung. There are seven Din Tai Fung locations around Taipei so you can easily find one.
Pro Tip: If you want to learn about Taipei food as well as the night markets, book a food tour in Taipei. You’ll get local insider knowledge about which dishes to try and the best places to try them.
Pan Fried Dumplings
Dumplings of every size, shape, and flavor are all over Taipei. Pan-fried dumplings are probably one of the most well-known and popular Asian dishes. And they are another dish Amber can’t get enough of.
Pan-fried dumplings are prepared in the same way as steamed dumplings. Almost. They are of course fried. Pan-fried dumplings are filled with a variety of ingredients ranging from pork to vegetables.
Pan-fried dumplings they are fried in oil until the skins turn golden and crispy. They are then served with sweet, savory, and acidic dips such as soy, sesame oil, and black vinegar. For us, they are the perfect Taiwanese snack.
Taiwanese Scallion Pancake
Scallion pancakes are a popular dish you can find throughout Taiwan. They are also popular in many other countries across Asia. However, in Taiwan, scallion pancakes are a particularly popular dish. You’ll see many Taiwanese eating scallion pancakes as a light snack or a side dish.
Scallion pancakes are made using a thin, flattened dough. The dough is layered with strips of scallions and folded. This forms a pancake that is then fried until crispy.
These light, delicate snacks are a staple in Taiwanese cuisine. You’ll find scallion pancakes at most Taipei street food markets, including all of the Taipei night markets.
Pork Pepper Bun
I love Taiwanese pork pepper buns!!! We discovered pork pepper buns at the Raohe Night Market. The Raohe Night Market has some of the best street foods in Taipei. Made by hand, Taiwanese pork pepper buns were all over the market, so I knew we had to eat them.
Taiwanese pork pepper buns center around a handful of pork mince. The minced pork is dipped into a bowl of finely sliced spring onions, and then rolling them tightly in dough. The filled pork buns are cooked in a large tandoor oven for only a couple of minutes. The piping hot pork pepper buns are eaten by themselves or with a sweet dipping sauce.
Pork pepper buns are relatively dense and not the healthiest of options for things to eat in Taipei. That said, I love them and you must add them to your list of Taipei foods to try.
Taiwanese Beef Roll
Taiwanese beef rolls are very similar in appearance and ingredients to scallion pancakes. As the name indicates, the main difference is the addition of braised beef.
If you love dim sum or dumplings, Taiwanese beef rolls will be right up your alley. Taiwanese beef rolls are made using the same beef you find in Taiwanese beef noodle soup. The beef is super tender and packed with flavor. Wrapped in a pancake-like dough, with freshly sliced scallions, the Taiwanese beef roll is fried briefly to give it a distinct crispiness.
Beef rolls are a classic in Taiwanese cuisine. You can be found them in restaurants all around Taipei. One of the best restaurants in Taipei to get your hands on these beef rolls is Li Yuan.
Taiwanese Fried Chicken
You might be thinking, surely fried chicken is the same wherever you get it from, and to be honest, I used to think the same thing.
Taiwanese fried chicken isn’t all that different from Korean fried chicken. It’s very similar in crunchiness, flavor, and most importantly addictiveness. Amber and I couldn’t get enough during our last visit to Taipei.
Taiwanese fried chicken is a very popular Taiwanese dish you will find at almost every street food market. It’s served in bite-size pieces making it a great finger food. Paired with a cold Taiwanese beer and we are in food heaven.
The chicken is usually coated in a combination of flour and special seasonings. These seasonings include salt, pepper, chili, garlic, and in some cases, fried Thai basil leaves. Before seasoning, the chicken is marinated in soy sauce, salt, sugar, rice wine, and garlic.
We found some of the best Taiwanese fried chicken at the Ningxia Nightmarket in Taipei.
Taiwanese oyster omelet is a very popular Taiwanese dish you’ll find everywhere. Amber and I are not the biggest fans of Taiwanese oyster omelets. Which is strange because we love omelets and we love oysters. But together, it’s not our favorite.
That said, the Taiwanese oyster omelet classic street food dish. We’ve seen similar oyster omelets in Thailand as well as Malaysia, especially in Penang.
As the name explains, Taiwanese oyster omelets are made using eggs, small oysters, sweet potato starch, and Chinese cabbage. The ingredients are mixed together and fried, just any style of omelet. Sweet or spicy sauces accompany the omelet.
Nope, not for me. I’m not a fan of tofu to begin with let alone stinky tofu. During our trip to Taipei, I had absolutely no plans of trying stinky tofu. But I did because I’m always encouraging people to try things they’re not familiar with. Having tried it, I’m in no rush to try it again.
So what is stinky tofu? Essentially, stinky tofu is tofu that has been fermented in a brine for a given period of time. Usually several months. There is no standard recipe for the brine. Traditionally, the brine is made from fermented milk, vegetables, and meat. Additional versions include shrimp, bamboo shoots, and greens.
If you want to try stinky tofu, you’ll find it at any of the night markets in Taipei.
Lu Rou Fan
Lu Rou Fan is one of my favorite things to eat in Taipei. For me, it’s a Taiwanese comfort food. Also known as braised pork rice, this is quite a self-explanatory dish. Though not one that should be underestimated when it comes to Taipei cuisine.
This much-loved comfort food is probably one of my favorite things to eat in Taipei. I am uncertain where this dish originated from. I have tried looking into this multiple times, though it seems both Taipei and Shandong claim to be the initiators. So I guess we will have to leave that open for interpretation.
The flavorsome fried rice dish is made using slowly braised pork, often a fattier cut, such as the belly, cooked in a rich sauce for flavor. The spices often include bay leaves, star anise, Sichuan, dried tangerine peel, ginger, and cinnamon.
Roast Suckling Pig
This is a traditional pork dish that is served in countries all over the world. However, each country has its own method of cooking. For instance, in the US, it’s often done BBQ style.
The Asian version of the roast suckling pig, however, is cooked using charcoal ovens after being heavily marinated in ingredients such as five-spice, rice wine, sugar, vinegar, and salt. One chef told me they like to use tofu in their marinade because it apparently adds to the skin’s firm texture.
The Chinese believe that pigs symbolize good fortune, which is why you often see them served at special occasions such as weddings.
Deep Fried Milk
I know this one sounds a little strange, and I remember when I first heard of it, I was thinking, how on earth do you deep fry milk? However, it’s not quite as it sounds.
This snack is often served by street food vendors, such as at the Raohe Street Market in the Songshan District.
It’s made using milk batter, deep-fried, and looks like a golden nugget full of custard. It’s delectable, sweet, Moorish, and not at all suited for anyone looking to lower their calorie intake.
In the last year or so bubble tea stores seem to be popping up all over the place, and there are many places in Taipei where you can sample bubble tea, such as Chun Shui Tang on Zhongxiao West Road, which has been a popular spot in Taipei since 1983.
A refreshing Taiwanese breakfast drink that can be enjoyed throughout the day.
If you’ve never tried bubble tea before, you’re in for a treat, and I can guarantee you’ll introduce it to your daily beverages after your first one.
The tea is made using milk, tea leaves, and fruit, as well as the special ingredient that makes it so unique, tapioca balls. The balls have a texture that is kind of like jelly, or aloe vera, which means it has a really unusual texture that you can chew while consuming the refreshing juice.
This popular Taiwanese baked dessert is the perfect sweet treat to break up any salty, spicy dishes you’ve been eating while sampling Taipei food.
Originating in Malaysia, this pineapple tart is made using slow-cooked pineapple jam, sometimes combined with other fruit such as melon. The layer of fruit is then wrapped in a melt-in-your-mouth butter pastry before cooking. They are probably one of the most popular desserts in Taiwan and pair perfectly with a cup of bubble tea.
Tanghulu is a traditional Taiwanese snack that is popular in North China. It’s made using sugar-coated fruit, which is then threaded onto a bamboo stick, like a candy kebab. The fruits used are usually blueberries, strawberries, pineapple, kiwi, mandarin, grapes, and bananas, but they can be literally anything.
The fruits are often filled with a sweet red bean paste before they are dipped in sugar, so you’re met with another layer of sweet flavor and soft texture when bitten.
Once again, these are the perfect snack to have while exploring a street food Taipei market, so break up the rich, savory flavors.
FAQs – Taipei Food Guide – What To Eat In Taipei Taiwan
Defining a national dish is always a tricky one. Why? Everyone has their own opinion on what is the national dish. The same is true of Taiwan. That said, most people agree that beef noodle soup (牛肉麵)is without a doubt the national dish of Taiwan. A close second would be Xiao Long Bao.
Hands down, the three most famous foods in Taiwan are beef noodle soup (牛肉麵), Xiao Long Bao (小笼包), and Taiwanese pepper bun (胡椒餅). These Taiwanese dishes are found all over Taiwan. They are uniquely Taiwanese and an absolute must-try when visiting Taiwan.
One of the things we love about Taipei is all of the night markets. Depending on who you ask, there are over 50 night markets, of various sizes, across Taipei. Each is different with different Taiwanese food stalls and vendors. For us, the best night market in Taipei is the Raohe Night Market. This is where we discovered the Taiwanese black pepper buns as well as other delicious street food dishes.