Best food in Taiwan
Have you ever heard about how Taiwanese people greet each other? The younger people sometimes adapt new greetings from other cultures by saying hi and hello, but the traditional way to greet people is to ask them “Have you eaten?” Reading a guide book about Taiwan, you might find 70 percent of them are about food!
The best food in Taiwan is the vendor food. I think the vendor food is why many Taiwanese feel nostalgic while traveling to other countries. Taiwan is a place where you can find a lot of places to eat all day at reasonable prices. When I say all day, I mean 24 hours! In addition, because of Taiwan’s locations and its long history, there are diverse authentic exotic foods as well. Yet, many places sell the same foods. When it comes to the taste, it really depends on personal preference so I want to encourage you to try the foods that are appealing to you instead of just following other people’s opinions what is on the list. This is another reason I think eating is so much fun in Taiwan is because many places will have the food cooked and presented in front of the customers so they have ideas about what they are going to eat. In average, the food tastes pretty good in Taiwan, and sometimes the ingredients are very interesting!
Taiwan is just as kiasu! We head out for our ‘night mission’ after we put out stuff in the hotel, while on the way to the fruit market, we pass by this street where there is at least 3-4 tution centre side by side? Maths, language, science, you name it they have it. The time was about 9-10pm, still got lots of students there having their tution. Tsk tsk
Taiwanese cuisine itself is often associated with influences from mid to southern provinces of Mainland China, most notably from the province of Fujian (Hokkien), but influences from all of Mainland China can easily be found. A notable Japanese influence exists due to the period when Taiwan was under Japanese rule. Traditional Chinese food to be found in Taiwan, alongside Fujian and Hakka-style as well as native Taiwanese dishes, includes dishes from Guangdong, Jiangxi, Chaoshan, Shanghai, Hunan, Sichuan and Beijing
Turkey rice bowls (火雞肉飯 hǔo jī ròu fàn) are bowls of rice with shredded turkey layered on top, often companied by pickled daikon radish. The rice is drizzled with a kind of gravy made from the turkey drippings and soy sauce.
（Xinzhu, literally "New Bamboo"） is famous for its pork balls, 貢丸 （gongwan）, which are often eaten in soup， 湯 (tang). Rice vermicelli, 米粉 (mifen), are another Hsinchu specialty. They are often eaten 'dry', 干 (gan, not in a soup) with mushroom and ground pork.
Dasi dried tofu (大溪豆干 dà xī dòu gān),
Which there are two basic kinds, plain dried tofu and flavored dried tofu. People eat dried tofu as a dish or snack in Taiwan.
Suncake is the most noted pastries of Taichung(台中) is baked layered puff pastry with a sweet center often made with honey or molasses. Nagasaki-style Castella and nougats (牛軋糖) are other highlights of this city.
Tainan dan zai noodles (台南擔仔麵 Tâi-lâm tàⁿ-á-mī), shrimp and meat dumplings (蝦仁肉丸 hê-jîn bah-ôan), and shrimp crackers/biscuits are among the most notable local dishes. Another popular dish originating in Tainan is "oily rice" (台南油飯 Tâi-lâm iû-pn̄g), a rice dish containing savoury oils and shredded pork meat, mushrooms, and dried shrimp.
Coffin Bread (棺材板 guān cái bǎn) is similar to French Toast or bread bowl soups, but filled with savory fillings, such as black pepper beef or curried chicken. Thick cut bread is dipped in egg, deep fried, cut along three sides, opened and filled, and eaten.
Nantou is famous for Yimian, which is tasty, soft noodles in soup, and Rou-yuan (肉圓), which is similar to Ba-wan. Rou-yuan's exterior is made of tapioca starch and is filled with mushrooms, thin shredded bamboo, and a meatball. It is eaten with a reddish sweet and sour sauce
Ah gei (阿給), which are deep fried tofu that have been stuffed with crystal noodles and sealed with fish paste and drizzled with spicy sauce on the outside.
Danshui fish ball (魚丸), because Danshui is near the ocean, therefore, it is a good place to try their fish balls, which are balls of fish paste stuffed with meat and garlic cooked in light broth.
Iron eggs (鐵蛋), are eggs that have been repeatedly stewed in a mix of spices and air-dried. The resulting eggs are dark brown, chewy and full of flavor compared to normal boiled eggs.
And Taiwan is a street food haven where you can find great food everywhere.
• bubble tea, aka boba milk tea; also known as pearl milk tea (珍珠奶茶) - chewy tapioca balls added to milk tea.
• sian-chháu (仙草, xiāncǎo) - grass jelly (Mesona procumbens) Served hot or cold.
• ò-giô-peng (ài yù bīng [愛玉冰]) - a gelatinous dessert, aiyu jelly, made from the seeds of a fig-like fruit, Ficus pumila var. awkeotsang. Served on ice.
• ō͘-á-peng (芋仔冰, yù bīng [芋冰]) - a dessert made of frozen taro root paste.
• chhú-khak-ké, chháu-á-ké (鼠麹粿, 草仔粿) - Cakes made with a dough from glutinous rice flour and combine with a ground cooked paste of Gnaphalium affine or Mugwort to give it a unique flavor and green color. The dough is commonly filled with ground meat or sweet bean pastes.
• Small cakes - batter is poured into hot-metallic molds and gets quickly cooked into small cakes of various shapes. Countless variations exist. Sometimes the cakes have fillings ranging from cream, red bean paste, to peanut butter.
• Various drinks are also often sold, ranging from bubble tea stands to various juice and tea stands.
• Stinky tofu or Fermented Tofu (Chinese: 臭豆腐, chhàu tāu-hū, chòu dòufǔ) - The aroma of stinky tofu is intimidating at first but can be an acquired taste. The tofu is served as rectangular cubes. There are a variety of forms. The most popular version is the deep fried and served on a plate and served with pickled vegetables (the usually pickled cabbages, daikon and carrots). It comes with a sauce made with soy paste, spices and garlic (or sweet and sour sauce). The "wet" version consists of non-fried stinky tofu in a spicy Mala sauce soup base along with duck blood. Another popular variety is the grilled version. The stinky tofu gets brushed in a soy glaze and is then grilled.
• Ba-wan (Chinese: 肉圓; pinyin: roù yuán; literally "meatballs") - a sticky gelatinous tapioca dough filled with pork, bamboo shoots, shiitake mushrooms, and served with a savory sweet and spicy sauce.
• Corn - Vendors may specialize in one type of corn or they could offer varieties between savory/salty and sweet corn. Sometimes the corn is steamed, grilled, boiled, and etc.
• Taiwanese sausages - fatty pork sausages with a sweet taste. There are several different kinds. Kaoliang is sometimes used in the sausage recipe. In night markets they are often served on a stick with many different condiments. Sometimes, they are wrapped in glutinous rice. In the very early 1980s, when resources were still relatively scarce, the standard serving is one sausage link on a toothpick garnished with a clove of garlic.
• Scallion pancakes - (蔥油餅) flour pancake with many thin layers, made with scallions (chopped green onions). A snack originating in the Chinese mainland.
• Candied Crabapples - red candy coated bite-sized fruits served on a stick. Sometimes the crabapples are stuffed with preserved plums, and then candied.
• Squid or fish on a stick - often marinated, then grilled.
• Bao bing - (also known as tsua bing; 剉冰/刨冰) finely shaven ice with a variety of toppings (peanuts, fruit, azuki beans, sweetened corn, and so on). Sometimes served drizzled with condensed milk.
• Tianbula - (甜不辣) a dish consisting of fish balls, meatballs, daikon, tofu, shiitake mushrooms and fish cakes served with a sweet sauce. Similar to oden.
• Taiwanese Crepes (潤餅; jūn-piáⁿ), also known as popiah - semi-crispy super-thin flour crepe filled with a variety of filling, such as powdered sugar, peanut powder, egg, vegetables, pork and even seafood. Taiwanese crepes are the made from the same dough as spring rolls (春捲) in Taiwan .
• Crepe - Adapted from the original French version, a very thin cooked pancake, it has a much crispier texture, rather like a cracker. Very popular in the early 2000s.
• Fruit or bean smoothies - milk or ice is blended on the spot with fresh papaya, mango, watermelon, azuki bean, or mung bean.
• Fried glutinous rice balls - slightly sweet in flavor.
• Fried chicken pieces - thumb-size chunks of deep-fried chicken sprinkled with white pepper, chilli and fried basil.
• Shawarma (Mandarin Chinese: 沙威馬 shāwēimǎ) - A sandwich usually made from spiced, grilled chicken and served on a leavened, white flour bun with julienned cabbage, a slice of tomato, sliced onions, ketchup, and mayonnaise. Brought over from Turkey decades ago, the seasoning is quite different from the seasoning used in making shawarma in Turkey.
In Taiwan, you can find many vegetarian restaurants. This Web page has collected several popular vegetarian restaurants in Taipei. Because of the popularity of Buddhism and Taoism, many people choose to be vegetarian, and many of the restaurants listed on the Web page do not use garlic, green onions and ginger in the food because of the religious purposes. Besides, many places can make the food the way you want it so just ask for special vegetarian dishes.