In planning a trip back to Taipei (where I was born), my fiance asked, what’s Taiwanese food like? I’ve always boasted about the deliciousness of the cuisine, which is known for its vibrant street food scene, but struggled to find the words to describe it. Every person I’ve spoken to who has visited Taiwan speaks about the food. While lesser known than the cuisine of its neighbouring countries, Japan and China, Taiwanese food is just as distinctive. The thought of having a xiao long bao from Din Tai Fung again makes my mouth water.
Instead of trying to describe the cuisine as a whole, here is a list of my top 10 things to eat in Taipei.
Xiao long bao (soup) dumplings
Top of my list for things to eat in Taipei. The internationally known Din Tai Fung dumpling house makes the best xiao long baos (XLB) in the world. They now have locations outside of Taiwan, but be sure to check out their original location in Da’an district. My favorite is the classic XLB, and if you are a truffle fan, the black truffle XLB is a treat.
Carbs and eggs are my breakfast staples. My favorites are green onion pancake with egg, mantou (bun) with egg, you tiao (donut) with soy milk or rice milk. Check out the breakfast stand called Yong He Soy Milk King, where they make everything fresh in front of your eyes.
Taiwanese burgers consisting of braised pork belly, pickled greens, and shavings of peanuts in a pillowy soft bun.
Beef noodles soup
Probably the most well known Taiwanese dish around the world. Noodles with braised beef in a broth flavored with anise, garlic and chilies. So comforting especially during rainy days in Taipei. I love topping mine with pickled mustard greens. My favorite place is Lao Tzang beef noodles in Yongkang neighborhood.
It’s an acquired taste, that’s for sure! Fried tofu topped with fermented soy sauce, chili and served with pickled cabbage on the side. The smell is often associated with sewage but strangely addictive.
Taiwanese fried chicken
From popcorn size to giant slabs, tender, juicy, crispy fried chicken is finished with 5 spice and sometimes paired with fried basil. Hot-star chicken in Shilin night market is a must try.
Squared shaped cakes that consist of shortbread crust with thick, jam-like pineapple filling. They also make the perfect souvenir to take home.
Tea based drink with chewy tapioca balls. The drinking while chewing on pearls takes a bit of getting used to, but it makes for a great dessert!
Mango shaved ice
The quintessential dessert to eat to cool off on hot summer days. A bowl of milky shaved ice topped with fresh mango, and mango ice cream. Ice Monster and Smoothie house are two favorites.
Shaved peanut brittle and ice cream burrito
There are a lot more delicacies in Taipei but I hope this will get you excited for a food trip to Taipei. Bon appetit!
Joann Pai is a food & travel photographer in Paris, originally from Vancouver, Canada. Joann started taking photographs as a way to document small moments in life, mostly surrounding food, and continues to explore how food brings people together and keeps them connected. She love all types of food but noodle soups have a special place in her heart.