Not for the faint-hearted, this dish of fermented tofu really does stink. If you want to try some, then all you have to do is follow your nose at the local night market. Served with duck blood and a variety of other delightful ingredients, this is a dish that while incredibly popular with locals, doesn’t prove quite so desirable with tourists.
Pork belly, pickled greens, cilantro, and powdered peanuts in a flat steamed bread bun. It sounds like a strange concoction, but it’s actually very tasty and a great option for a light (ish) lunch. Some stalls sell them with different condiments but generally speaking, the base ingredients remain the same.
Beef Noodle Soup
Beef noodle soup is arguably the most beloved comfort dish in Taiwan. It consists of red-braised beef slow-cooked in soy sauce, beef broth, vegetables, and Chinese wheat noodles. So important is beef noodle soup that it’s often regarded as Taiwan’s national dish. In fact, a beef noodle festival is held in Taipei every year where chefs and restaurants compete for the title of “best beef noodles” in Taiwan.
You can find beef noodle soup anywhere in the country but two highly regarded places are Tao-Yuan Street Beef Noodle Shop in Taipei and Gang Yuan Beef Noodles in Kaohsiung. Both were excellent, though the latter may have been slightly better as their noodles seemed springier in texture. Regardless, both restaurants are must-visits and hugely popular so be prepared for a wait. The bowls pictured below are from Gang Yuan Beef Noodles where you can choose between a wet and dry version.
Braised Pork Rice
This is one of Taiwan’s most beloved comfort dishes, perhaps second only to beef noodle soup. It’s a dish of minced pork belly that’s been stir-fried and slow cooked in soy sauce until fall-apart tender. It’s then served atop a bowl of steamed rice, often with a side of hardboiled egg that’s been simmered in the same soy sauce mixture.
If there is one thing you cannot miss out on in Taiwan, it’s bubble tea. Hundreds – or even thousands – of bubble tea stalls line the metro with unique flavors and sometimes questionable concoctions. Whether or not you’re a fan of this milky delight, it’s definitely worth trying when you’re in Taiwan.
Another quintessential Taiwanese dish, the oyster omelet can be found in any one of the island’s thousands of seafood restaurants. It’s another one of those dishes that doesn’t sound like it should taste good but it’s surprisingly delicious. Often served with a sweet and sour ketchup-based sauce, this is a dish that you simply have to try for yourself.
Taiwan has a fried chicken obsession, and every neighborhood has at least one late-night food stall where you can pick up a deep fried chicken steak or chicken pieces. Take a walk through the night market, and you’re likely to see quite a lot of people snacking on some as they wander the stalls. But bear in mind that no two fried chicken vendors are the same, so you may have to search a little to find the one that suits your tastes.