If all you know about Taiwan’s food culture are its bubble milk tea and stinky tofu, you’ll be in for a treat once you’ve actually set foot in the country. This is especially true if you’re visiting its capital city of Taipei, where hardly anyone cooks a meal at home. With their fast-paced city lifestyles, people living here have indeed found it more practical to eat out. And what makes this an even easier choice for them is the plethora of affordable and delicious street food to choose from.
If you find yourself hungry in Taipei, the city’s night markets are always a good place to find good food. Whether it’s something uniquely Taiwanese or a traditional dish with a twist, there will be a lot to try while you’re staying in this vibrant city. So once you’ve booked a Taipei tour package, you should start planning out how to visit these must-try street food delights during your stay.
Pork Pepper Bun (Hu Jiao Bing)
Hu Jiao Bing is Taiwan’s version of the more-familiar Chinese steamed buns. Brought to the country by immigrants from Fuzhou, the main difference is that these Pork Pepper Buns are baked instead of steamed. As a result, you get a crunchy bun with the spicy, minced pork and scallion filling inside. It’s a definite favourite among the locals, so be prepared to line up if you’re looking to grab a bite.
Pork Intestine & Oyster Noodle (Orh Ah Mee Sua)
Orh Ah Mee Sua is one of those traditional Chinese dishes that were given a twist. In this case, it’s been spiced up with the addition of oysters. It’s also so popular that you can easily find this popular soup anywhere in the city. Indeed, a simple way to search for the nearest place to try it might be to just follow the sound of people slurping away at their bowls!
In general, Mee Sua is a rice flour noodle that’s incredibly delicate and light. But with the smoky pork intestine and tasty oyster combo added into the mix, it makes for a hearty meal that’s perfect for any time of the day. Here’s a pro tip: add a bit of garlic and chili sauce to amp up the soup’s flavour profile.
Taiwanese Fried Chicken
Taiwan’s take on the traditional fried chicken comes in 2 forms: steak and popcorn. The Fried Chicken Steak is pounded breast meat that can be as wide as your face. Unlike other types of fried chicken, they are marinated in Asian spices, coated in potato flour, and double fried for guaranteed crispiness. Next, the popcorn version is basically the same, but the chicken is cut-up into nuggets before frying to make for an easy meal on the go. As a final touch, you also get to choose a flavoured powder coating for added taste. Some flavours you might encounter include seaweed, basil, and chili powder.
Pork Ribs Medical Herbs Soup
Head over to the Raohe Night Market for some pork bone soup that’s not only good for you but delicious too. While there are plenty of vendors selling the same dish, go ahead and visit Chen Tung Pork Ribs Medicinal Herbs Soup for something that’s good enough to get included on the Michelin Guide.
The meat is falls-off-the-bone tender, while the savoury broth smells and tastes of mouth-watering Chinese medicinal herbs and spices. For a complete meal, it’s best to pair the soup with a serving of braised pork rice.
Beef Noodle Soup (Niu Rou Mian)
One of Taipei’s signature dishes is the Beef Noodle Soup (or Niu Rou Mian). The name may not sound much but the taste and texture will speak for itself.
As with all great noodle soups, everything starts with the broth. The Niu Rou Mian is no exception with a rich broth from beef shanks, chicken, and pork bones. More flavour is then added thanks to a selection of aromatic herbs and spices such as fennel, cumin, and star anise. Combined with chewy noodles and tender beef tendons, you have a complete and satisfying meal in one bowl. One last thing: add a dollop of chili butter to add some kick to your soup or try out the various condiments that come with almost every Taiwanese dish.
Taiwan’s food culture is constantly evolving with creative cooks and chefs freely drawing inspiration from different countries. With this penchant for culinary innovation, it’s only a matter a time before they give the world a new food craze. Who knows? They might even make a stinky tofu dish that everyone would want to try.