Aside from being an ultimate tourist destination in Asia for families who love nature, mountains, and national parks, Taiwan is a country best regarded for its friendly people and passion for food and night markets. You may have been to one in Thailand, South Korea, or Malaysia, but Taiwan’s night markets are remarkable for their cheap but undeniably delicious dishes. Taiwan is a true food-lover’s haven, with a seemingly endless array of stalls that offer food in an entire stretch of the street.
On your next family trip, treat your kids by taking them to Taiwan and enjoying the country’s famous dishes. While you couldn’t get there yet, here is the list of top-rated food you can add onto your itinerary:
Thanks to Din Tai Fung, Taiwan’s most famous food chain that is branching out in other countries like wildfire, for introducing Xialongbao to the world. Likely the most famous Taiwanese food in the world, these steamed soup dumplings are a must-try whenever you’re in town.
2. Taiwanese Hotpot
Hotpots are typically a go-to place for hungry travelers in Asia, but if you are coming from a country that does not have these regularly and you happen to be in Taiwan, then you must try the authentic Taiwanese hotpot. Taiwanese are crazy about hotpots, so ready your stomach for a feast of fresh vegetables and meat that you cook in a bubbling pot of broth filled with all sorts of Chinese herbs right before you eat it. The whole process is something the kids will definitely enjoy!
3. Red Bean Cake or Wheel Cakes
Red Bean Cakes, similar to Japan’s Obanyaki, are a popular dessert in Taiwan. These circular-shaped cakes, which are also locally known as wheel cakes, are crispy on the outside and filled with a traditional sweetened red bean paste filling. It is made from a waffle-pancake-like batter and cooked in special cast iron pans. The cakes are famous among kids, especially those kids who love waffles and pancakes. Quite literally, night markets are selling these cakes like hotcakes.
4. Flour Rice Noodles or Shilin MeeSua
Another dish you shouldn’t miss in Taipei is MeeSua or flour rice noodles. Trust me when I say that this is definitely the stickiest, tastiest, and yummiest meesua ever. That sounded like an exaggeration, but no, this meal is undoubtedly the most well-known meal in all of the night markets. You can get a bowl of rice noodles in Ay-chung located in Ximending.
5. Bubble Milk Tea
Taiwan is home to the best milk tea shops on the planet. Several stores offer the best tasting milk tea in Taipei, but 50 Lan’s is by far the best. Their milk teas come with chewy, yet firm tapioca balls, which create the “bubbles” in bubble tea. The best part is that you can also decide on the sugar level you want added to your tea. Normal sugar with less ice is recommended when traveling to the country during winter.
6. Stinky Tofu
Love it or hate it. There’s no other dish or food in Taiwan that’s more noticeable by name than Stinky Tofu or locally known in Mandarin as Chou doufu. This delicacy is true to its name, “stinky.” Kids may think twice before they eat it because of the unique name, but it’s a national dish that they can try. Its taste is unique and enjoyable once you get used to it.
7. Pig’s Blood Cake
Nothing goes to the waste in Taiwan, so even pig’s blood is transformed into a uniquely delicious dish. Unlike your typical cake, this one is stuck on a stick like a lollipop. Stall vendors who sell this truly-Taiwanese snack mix pig’s blood and sticky rice to create that yummy taste. The blood cake is sprinkled with sweet peanut powder to top it all off.
8. Pig Blood Soup
Again, nothing goes to waste in Taiwan. Almost everything imaginable can be transformed into a delicious dish that locals go crazy about. This one is a soup with pig’s blood as its main ingredient. The soup has a light flavor, so kids will also enjoy it. If your kids love tofu, then they will also love the texture of the pig’s blood cut in cubes. The cubes are chewy and soft, which go with other herbs and chives to add flavor to it.
9. Weng Yao Roasted Chicken
If you plan to drive through the northeastern part of Taiwan and happen to be in Jiaoxi, Yilan City, then you have to try and take a bite of Weng Yao’s famed roasted chicken. This delicacy marinated in spices is famous among Taiwanese, but is a superstar among visitors as well. Chickens are typically roasted in an open fire over charcoal or ovens, but Weng Yao’s is roasted in an earthen jar instead. This delicacy is labor-intensive and requires good skills and knowledge of the cooking method.
10. Caramelized Fruits
Normally, you’ll see fruits being sold in baskets or food trays, but these caramelized fruits that are normally apples, cherry tomatoes, and strawberries are served on a stick. A literal eye candy for traveling kids. Try this one when you visit Banqiao night market.
11. Fried Chicken Breast
This tasty friend chicken breast cut in large portions is so delicious and a perfect food on the go. You can never go wrong with this famed “bigger than your face” meal. Kids and kids-at-heart will have the option to try it extra spicy or just the normal barbeque-ish flavor. People line up at the stalls in most night markets where this is offered, but the ultimate one is the one in Shilin Night market.
12. Braised Pork Rice
If we speak about staple food, it has to be Braised Pork Rice or Lurou Fan in Taiwan. It is almost synonymous with Taiwanese food. The dish is so simple, ordinary, and down-to-earth, which features finely chopped pork belly, slow-cooked in aromatic soy sauce with spices. Then the meat is spooned over hot rice. A comfort food that Taiwanese can’t live without.
13. Beef Noodles
Beef Noodles are not like your usual ready-to-cook noodles from the groceries. Taiwanese spend time preparing this revered dish. It’s basically a staple national food that you can find in most restaurants and stalls in the country. The basic combination of a beef noodle serving is a bowl of noodles, tender beef, and a tasty, beefy broth. It’s best enjoyed in winter days while you wait for the rain to stop in Jiufen.
14. Spicy Duck Blood Soup
You read it right. Aside from pig’s blood, Taiwanese cooks and chefs also make use of duck blood to create this uniquely Taiwanese dish. Just like the pig’s blood soup, the clotted duck blood is cut into tofu-shape. The food is served with Mala sauce with other ingredients that make the soup look bloody. To love this food requires a little bit of getting used to it, and it’s an acquired taste, so grownups can certainly get a taste of this local dish.
15. Tofu and Egg boiled in Tea
Well, without no doubt, tofu and eggs are abundant in all of Taiwan,and so these two are staple side dishes for a typical Taiwanese meal. What’s cool is the fact that they use black tea to boil the eggs instead of just regular water. The tea gives the eggs its distinct color and taste. A must-try.
16. Oyster Omelet
Oyster Omelet is famous among cities and Asian countries with an Asian heritage. Singapore, for instance,serves oyster omelets in hawkers and this dish is commonly dry and fried. Meanwhile, in Taiwan, oyster omelets are a famous snack. A snack that uses eggs to foil the yummy oysters inside. This one is a soup in Taiwan.