Feeling Hungry? 5 Reasons You’ll Love Taiwan’s food scene.

By Posted in - Asia & Travel Blog on November 14th, 2013

Today we are featuring a really fun post about Taiwan’s food scene by fellow travel bloggers, Dan and Casey from A Cruising Couple. Be sure to check out their bio below and sign up for their free ebook all about traveling and living in Taiwan!

Please let us know in the comments what you think of these dishes. Have you tried any of them? Would you be brave enough to try them?!? Just how stinky is the stinky tofu?

Upon first glance, Taiwanese cuisine doesn’t have much to offer gastronomic adventurers. In large part, it’s true: variety is lacking a bit. I’ve lost track of the number of times locals have asked me the simple question, “rice or noodles?” as those are the two main components to most every meal. However, despite the carb monotony, Taiwanese cuisine boasts many dishes that are guaranteed to delight the taste buds—provided you know what to look for. To help you out a bit, we’ve compiled the following introductory list:

Five delectable dishes you must try in Taiwan


1. Stinky Tofu

A Cruising Couple Stinky Tofu

Perhaps Taiwan’s most famous dish, you need only follow your nose to find it. In the dish, tofu is fermented, fried, and served street-side with chili sauce and pickled vegetables. The tofu is crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and smelly all throughout. Taiwanese will tell you the more odiferous the better, but for first-time samplers it’s better to try a lighter, less-smelly version. Try not to be intimidated by its sewer-like smells and you might find you actually enjoy it!


2. Oyster Omelettes

Oyster Omlete Taiwan

Oyster omelets are ubiquitous in Taiwan. The popular dish consists of eggs, oysters, a leafy green, and sweet potato starch. The starch, a staple of many Taiwanese dishes (that you may or may not find yourself loving), ensures a bit of chewiness. After being fried and flipped to perfection, the oyster omelet is dowsed in a sweet, red mystery sauce. Ask for the sauce on the side so it doesn’t mask the unique flavors of the omelet itself.


3. Beef Noodles

Beef Noodle Soup Taiwan

If there’s one thing you can’t leave Taiwan without trying, it’s beef noodles. Taiwan’s national dish, there is even an annual beef noodle competition where chefs compete to create the most scrumptious variation. A pile of noodles, chunks of fatty beef, and a simple beef broth combine in this sensational dish. Each restaurant has its own unique flavor; experiment until you find your favorite. With a beef noodle shop on nearly every corner, this shouldn’t be hard to do! You’ll also find an assortment of noodles depending upon the venue. Our favorite ones come from a solid noodle block from which the chef chops off slivers straight into your steaming bowl of broth. Beef noodles are particularly comforting during Taiwan’s surprisingly cold winters and frequent rainy days.


4. Bubble Tea

Pearl Milk Tea

Also commonly called Pearl Milk Tea, this dessert-beverage has taken the world by storm. However, it was first invented and made famous in Taiwan. There are many variations to the original recipe, but the most common version contains black tea, milk powder, and small, chewy tapioca balls. Bubble Tea is yet another example of the Taiwanese’s love affair with all things chewy, and it can take a bit to get accustomed to the numerous gummy spheres that shoot into your mouth with each sip. Be forewarned: these drinks are highly addictive and can pack on the calories. Bubble Tea is found at all of Taiwan’s teashops, which are almost as common as Taiwan’s 7-11s. If you prefer a lighter alternative, try fresh squeezed Grapefruit Green Tea or Taiwan’s traditional Oolong Tea.


5. Shaved Ice

Shaved Ice Taiwan

If ice cream and snow cones had a child together, shaved ice would be the result. Light and fluffy ice is piled high with any variety of toppings, ranging from sweet red beans to gelatinous pudding to fresh pineapple and mango. A generous drizzle of sweetened condensed milk provides the finishing touch. Be as daring with your toppings as you like, and enjoy the indulgence before it dissolves on your tongue. It’s also possible to find shaved ice in flavors such as chocolate, green tea, peanut, and taro. And because it’s mostly ice, it has to be relatively healthy…right?

Keep in mind that most restaurants are small, family-run operations, bare-boned and gritty on the outside, but with signature dishes prepared flawlessly on the inside. Alternatively, and if you don’t mind braving the chaotic crowds, Taiwan’s night markets are an iconic element of the local culture and a great place to pick up all the grub listed above. Expect to pay $US 1-3 per serving, but be careful—these snacks are seriously addictive!

These are just five of our tips for eating like a pro in Taiwan. To catch more ideas for eating, living and traveling in Taiwan, be sure to download our free eBook, 101 Tips to Living in Taiwan.


A Cruising Couple

Author Bio: Dan and Casey are two lovebirds slowly, indefinitely traveling the world. They share practical travel tips, top-notch travel photography and inspiring travel tales on their blog A Cruising Couple. When they aren’t on the computer, you can find them training for marathons, cross-country cycling, and drinking wine, though not normally at the same time. Connect with A Cruising Couple on Facebook and Twitter for more travel tips and special travel deals!

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(7) awesome folk have had something to say...

  • Charles Rahm -

    November 15, 2013 at 7:34 am

    Tried all of these in 2011 in Taiwan. It truly is a food paradise!

    • Casey @ A Cruising Couple -

      November 18, 2013 at 7:01 am

      That’s awesome! So glad you were able to get a good sample of Taiwan’s food scene! 🙂

  • SnarkyNomad -

    November 15, 2013 at 10:29 pm

    The only thing I asked the TAs how to say in Chinese was “anything,” and that’s exactly what I ordered whenever I went in to a restaurant. Worked out amazingly every time.

  • Rashad Pharaon -

    November 16, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    Great recommendations. I spent 6 weeks in Taiwan last year could not live without street stall pancakes (sprinkled with delicious spices/MSG), milk tea, and breakfast from my favorite little restaurant: not sure what it was called, but it was texas toast with scrambled egg and some kind of magic sauce. Delicious!
    I never tried stinky tofu, but I smelled it everywhere and I will never, ever forget that smell.

  • Casey @ A Cruising Couple -

    November 18, 2013 at 7:04 am

    Thanks! Those street pancakes are delish. I’m not sure I got the chance to sample the bread you are talking about, but it sounds similar to coffin bread, which is also really good! Haha you are right about all the MSG though- definitely one of the downsides.

  • Andrew Darwitan -

    January 18, 2014 at 5:21 am

    Great guide. Bubble tea is of course a must. My favorite places to grab food in Taiwan are Jiufen and Tamsui. Liuhe too, for their seafood.