I may be biased because I am Taiwanese, but I think Taiwan has the best food in the world (although Seoul comes in at a pretty close second). We would travel to Taipei every few years in the summertime and I would always return to Los Angeles with deep nostalgic longings for the food of my parents' homeland. Taiwanese food is both street food and nourishing comfort food. The Taiwanese live to eat and it shows in the deliciousness of their food.
Btw if you are planning a visit to Taiwan, make sure to reach out to the Taiwan Tourism Board for more information about hotels, activities and recommendations.
Here are my top 34 picks for the dishes and food that you must try when you visit Taipei.
1. Oyster Pancakes
The oyster omelette aka “oh-ah-tzen,” is one of the most popular night market dishes and consists of a egg batter, mixed with potato starch to give it its thick and gooey consistency. The filling consists of small,fresh oysters and crispy bok choy. The Taiwanese truly appreciate texture and this dish features a variety including the glutinous and the crunchy . The omelette is finished with a generous topping of a sweet and tangy tomato based sauce.
Yuan Huan Bian Oyster Omelet | Address: No. 46, Ningxia Rd., Datong Dist, Taipei, Taiwan | Phone: +886 2 2558 0198
2. Sizzling Black Pepper Steak
One of my favorite things in the world is a sizzling platter of Taiwanese Black Pepper Steak. I've enjoyed it at night markets and malls alike and there are black pepper steak shops all over Taipei. The formula is usually the same, a tender steak served over a bed of pasta noodles with a tiny bit of vegetables and all topped up with a runny egg on top. It's served with a piece of hot bread, salad and creamy corn soup. This is always a fun dinner, the cast irons plates come out sizzling hot and you have to hold a napkin in front of your plate to avoid having the hot grease splatter onto you.
Super Steak | Address: 100, Chulin Road, Taipei, Taiwan
3. Soup Dumplings
Soup Dumplings didn't originate in Taiwan but Din Tai Fung did. Soup dumplings are also known as xiao long bao - a soup dumpling that is bursting with umami juice, its almost like magic. You can get soup dumplings at almost any dim sum place but they won't be as transcendent as the ones from Din Tai Fung. I live in Los Angeles and can visit several branches of this restaurant in my vicinity (make sure to try out the truffle dumpling at the Glendale location) but of course the branch in Taipei is the absolute best. Make sure to order the juicy pork and crab dumpling, steamed chicken soup, and the shrimp fried rice.
Din Tai Fung (101 Branch) | Address: B1F, No 45, Shifu Rd, Xinyi Dist., Taipei, Taiwan | Phone: +886 2 8101 7799
4. Small Sausage in Large Sausage
I first saw this dish, known in Chinese as Dachang Bao Xiaochang, at a night market in 2016, I hadn't ever encountered it before in my past travels. A savory Taiwanese pork sausage is wrapped in a chargrilled sticky rice sausage similar to the fashion of a hot dog. A plethora of condiments are available to top off the dog with but think it's delicious fresh off the grill with absolutely no toppings at all.
Recommended RestaurantShilin Night Market | Restaurant: No. 101, Jihe Road, Shilin District, Taipei City, Taiwan 111 | Phone: +886 2 2881 5557
5. Pai Gu Fan 排骨飯
Pai Gu Fan translates to pork chop rice and is served with rice, pickled veggies, a tea egg and a ground pork mixture. This dish was originally popularized by the Taiwanese railway company, which used to serve this dish to their passengers in a metal, bento like container. They called this dish a Bien Dan or lunch box and its such a celebrated dish that there was an festival dedicated to celebrate their deliciousness.
Jin Yuan Pork Chop | Address: No. 70, Xining S. Rd., Wanhua Dist | Ximending, Taipei, Taiwan | Phone: +886 2 2331 5194
6. Tube Pudding
Tube pudding is a sticky rice dish that is first stirfried and then steamed inside a bamboo tube before it is served. If you're why there are so many stalls at the night market with bamboo grilled, this is why. Similar in consistency to the Zongzi or sticky rice wrapped in bamboo leaves. Much deliciousness is encompassed inside the rice including mushrooms, pork, and more. Top it all off with a fiery, tangy sauce and some chili oil and you're all set!
Da Qiao Tou | Address: 41 Yanping North Road, Section 3, Datong District, Taipei City | Phone: +886 2 2594 4685
7. Stinky Tofu
Stinky tofu is one of the most beloved Taiwanese delicacies, they say the worse it smells, the better its flavor - similar to cheese! Its most commonly served as an appetizer, side dish or a snack. Stinky tofu is a fermented food made in a milk and vegetable brine and traditionally takes several months to complete. These days factories have concocted ways to make this dish in just one or two days. It's most popular incarnation is fried although you can also enjoy it cold, steamed, stewed, or as one of the ingredients in your hot pot.
Deep fried stinky tofu is served with a red, sweet, spicy sauce and paired with sweet pickled vegetables. A new version of stinky tofu is barbecued - with chunks of skewered stinky tofu roasted over an open flame. This version is great for stinky tofu first timers, as the odorous smell is offset by the barbecue and seasonings.
Xia Gang Stinky Tofu | Address: No. 189, Raohe St., Songshan Dist, Taipei, Taiwan | Phone: +886 937 086 395
8. Candied Fruits
Yes another popular night market treat, these glazed fruits are very similar to the candied apples that we enjoy here in the United States. I have no idea why we don't candy strawberries here, they are much tastier than candied apples. The strawberries are skewered, and once your teeth break through the hard, sugary shell, you're treated to a burst of sweet strawberry juice, there's nothing quite like it. I grabbed three skewers leaving the Shilin Night Market and binged on them all night.
Shilin Night Market | Restaurant: No. 101, Jihe Road, Shilin District, Taipei City, Taiwan 111 | Phone: +886 2 2881 5557
9. Boba Tea
I don't think that most people know that boba tea originated in Taiwan! Boba is served EVERYWHERE in Los Angeles, even at for Christsakes but I haven't found a single place that has gotten the boba right. In Taipei, the boba is meltingly soft whereas in Los Angeles the boba is still soft but way too chewy for my tastes. It's traditionally made with Assam black tea, sugar syrup and black tapioca. These days you can order the tea to your exact taste preference: half sugar, no sugar with a wide assortment of additional toppings and tea flavors.
50 Lan | Multiple Locations
10. Gua Bao
Gua Bao is a steamed, opened bun stuffed with most often with pork belly. Many varieties of stuffings have been used for fillings such as fish, fried chicken beef and more. Locals have coined the nickname Taiwanese hamburgers. The Taiwanese love giving this dish nicknames, it also known as "Tiger Bites Pig" for the buns mouth like shape. It's often finished off with pickled cabbage, cilantro and crushed peanuts.
Lan Jia Steamed Sandwich Shop | Address: No. 3, Aly. 8, Ln. 316, Sec. 3, Roosevelt Rd., Daan Dist, Taipei, Taiwan | Phone: +886 2 2368 2060
11. Hujiao bing
Hujiao bing is a black pepper bun which is usually stuffed with pork and beef. It's incredibly juicy and has a peppery kick. This bun has been popularized by Anthony Bourdain's The Layover so much that the most famed stands regularly have a 30 minute wait. You gotta enjoy this bun fresh out of the oven so you'll likely scarf it up while standing in the street.
Hujiao Bing | Address: No.269 Lane, Section 3, Nanjing East Road, Taipei, Taiwan
12. High Tea
High tea is super popular in Taipei which is random as it originated in the UK. Make sure to check it out in Taiwan as there are some really elaborate creations featuring finger sandwiches, pastries, desserts and of course tea.
Quube Cafe in Le Meridien Hotel | Address: 38 SongRen Road, Xinyi District, Taipei 110, Taiwan | Phone: +886 2 6622 8018
13. Hot Star Chicken
Hot Star Fried Chicken is a new night market treat, they didn't have this when I was growing up. As you can see, the chicken is the size of your head and it is super juicy inside. It's easy to find their stand at the night market, just look out for the long line of hungry youth. Hot Star is so popular that it has opened branches all around the world. I love all fried chickens of the world, but I especially love Taiwanese fried chicken which features a mixture of salt, Chinese five-spice powder, garlic and more.
Hot-Star Large Fried Chicken | Address: No.12-2 Underground Street, Zhanqian, Taipei, Taiwan
14. Lu Rou Fan
Lu rou fan or braised pork rice is another traditional Taiwanese comfort food and you'll find it all over Taipei. It's a super simple dish and can be enjoyed as a main course or a side dish. The pork is steamed until meltingly soft and is super fatty so it just melts in your mouth. I could eat lu rou fan every single day of my life.
Jin Feng Braised Pork Rice | Address: No. 10, Section 1, Roosevelt Rd, Taiwan 100 | Phone: 886 2 2396 0808
15. Taiwanese Shaved Ice
Shaved ice is known as BaoBing in Chinese and is a popular dessert. The mango shaved ice creations featuring fresh cut mango chunks, milky shaved ice and ice cream is the most popular shaved ice of the moment. I'm a simple girl, I just like the old school plain shaved ice with condensed milk, almond jello and some fruit. BTW, cactus snow ice is a thing at the moment, but I've yet to try it.
Ice Monster | Restaurant: No.297, Section 4, Zhongxiao East Road, Taipei, Taiwan | Phone: +886 2 8771 3263
16. Rilakkuma Cafe
There are many character cafes in Taipei but my favorite is Rilakkuma (maybe I'm biased because I produced an event for them in the past). It's not the most delicious food in the world but it is a serious contender for the cutest food ever. Make sure to check out the omurice fashioned with Rilakumma sleeping under an egg blanket. Also make sure to order the super kawaii Rilakkuma cheesecake. When are they going to open up a branch in Los Angeles!!
Rilakkuma Cafe Taiwan | Address: No. 3, Lane 248, Section 4, Zhongxiao East Rd, Da’an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106
17. Ah Chung Mian Xian
Located in the hipster area of Taipei, Ximending, is the famous restaurant Ah Chung Mian Xian. You'll see crowds of hungry guests in line and happy customers slurping from the cardboard printed bowls. They are all standing around because there's nowhere to sit! This is a thick and savory soupy noodle dish paired with pig intestines. You can top it off with your own personal selection of condiments: my favorite being vinegar, chili oil, parsley and garlic. A large bowl only costs about 3 bucks which is pretty incredible.
Ay-Chung Flour-Rice Noodle | Address: No.8-1 Emei Street, Taipei, Taiwan | Phone: +886 2 2388 8808
Goose is a popular delicacy in Taipei and you can enjoy it steamed, roasted or with rice or on top of noodles. Similar to duck, the goose is usually chopped to order. Goose cooked properly is succulent and tender and tastes great dipped in chili sauce. You can't really get goose anywhere else so make sure you get a plate while you are visiting Taipei.
A Cheng Goose | Address: No. 105, Jilin Rd., Zhongshan Dist, Taipei, Taiwan | Phone: +886 2 2541 5238
19. Hakka Style Mochi
Hakka Style Mochi is a delicious but dangerous treat! Dozens of people die yearly from choking on this sticky dessert - so be careful! I personally don't like red bean although these mochis are often filled with that sweet bean. I love the peanut and black sesame dusted mochis - delish!
Mochi | Address: B2F., No.19, Songgao Rd., Xinyi Dist 110,, Taipei, Taiwan | Phone: +886 966 060 987
20. Niu Rou Mian / Beef Noodle Soup
Taiwanese deep noodle soup is deeply savory and its a hallmark of Taiwanese cuisine. It's also super easy to make at home. It's a simple dish that takes hours to make as the beef shanks are cooked for hours until they are meltingly soft. The noodles are just the right amount of chewy and the dish is paired with sour, pickled mustard greens.
Lin Dong Fang Niu Rou Mian | Address: No.274, Section 2, Bade Road, Taipei, Taiwan | Phone: +886 2 2752 2556
21. Popcorn Chicken
Taiwanese popcorn chicken is a popular street food, often served in a paper bag with skewers for easy eatings, its the ultimate finger food. The chicken is lightly breaded and marinated in garlic, Chinese 5 spice powder and white pepper. It's a super flavorful snack and isn't served with any dipping sauce - its not needed! It's often served with deep fried basil leaves and its super salty and juicy. It is also popularly served as an snack at boba shops.
Popcorn Chicken King | Address: No. 530, Beian Rd., Zhongshan Dist, Taipei, Taiwan | Phone: +886 2 2532 1591
22. Sheng Jian Bao
Sheng Jian Bao also known as Taiwanese pan fried buns is a mix between a steamed bun and a soup dumpling and fits in the palm of your hand. They can be found all over China but are super popular in Taipei also. The buns are first pan fried and then steamed so that the top is crunchy while the top is still soft and chewy. Similar to a soup dumplings, its bursting with soup juice when you bite into it. I love to flavor it with a hit of vinegar and chili oil.
Kao Chi | Address: No.1 Yongkang Street, Taipei 106, Taiwan | Phone: +886 2 2341 9984
This is a Taiwanese dumpling and a popular street food. It's usually filled with pork, mushrooms and bamboo and topped off with a sweet sauce. The dough is gelatinous, featuring the sweet potato starch that the taiwanese absolutelyl ove. It's typically serve steamed but can also be deep fried or poached in oil.
Zhen Wei Taiwanese Meatball | Address: No. 53, Ln. 737, Sec. 1, Neihu Rd., Neihu Dist, Taipei, Taiwan | Phone: +886 2 2658 4216
24. Taiwanese Burrito/Taiwanese Spring Rolls
Taiwanese burritos aka Run Bing are stuffed with strips of egg, mushrooms, pickled radish, peanut powder, and a veggie mix (cilantro, cabbage, carrots, bamboo, bean sprouts and more.). Instead of a more traditional fried spring rolls, these are huge burrito style creations wrapped in thing dough wrappers. It's all topped off with a garlic, hoisin and chili sauce.
Citong Taiwanese Burrito King | Restaurant: No. 4-1, Lane 52, Zhongxing St, Yonghe District, Xinbei 234, Taiwan | Phone: +886 2 2924 1790
25. Grass Jelly
Grass jelly is a dessert enjoyed cold and as a topping to drinks, shaved ice, or even enjoyed alone. It's a popular hot weather treat and has cooling properties. Grass jelly tastes a bit like licorice and its made from Chinese mesona, a plant that is similar to mint. It's chewy and gelatinous and great with sugar and milk. The popular grass jelly chain Blackball Desserts has opened locations all over Asia and in Los Angeles also. It opened to huge lines here in California but when you're in Taipei, check out the original location!
Blackball Desserts | Multiple Locations
Zongzi is a triangular shaped glutinous rice dish wrapped in bamboo and steamed or boiled before serving. These Taiwanese style is stuffed with pork, salted egg, mushrooms and more. It's kind of like a Chinese tamale and is the ultimate comfort food. This is a recipe that has been based down for generations as this dish was made centuries ago. It's most popularly eaten during the Duan Festival but its now enjoyed year round.
Wang's Fucheng Rouzong | Address: No.374, Section 2, Bade Road, Taipei, Taiwan | Phone: +886-2-2775-4032
27. Hakka Leicha
Lei cha is a pounded tea featuring sesame seeds, tea leaves, peanuts. It is featured in traditional tea ceremonies and guests are often invited to pound their own drinks. This tea is refreshing and healthy, jam packed with vitamins and fiber. Just make sure that your ingredients are pounded into an incredibly fine consistency for the best taste. It's a great breakfast or winter treat or can be enjoyed daily as a great dietary supplement. Although it originated as more of a savory tea, it's now often enjoyed as a sweetened drink.
Ah-Chih Lei Cha | Address: 82, Sec. 4, Civic Boulevard, Taipei | Phone: (02) 8771-6797
28. Ban Tiao
The Taiwanese go crazy over these flat rice noodles and are willing to go to the ends of the earth to discover and taste the best bowl. These noodles originate from Hakka and the noodle can be prepared any number of ways, stir fried, in soup and more.
29. Pineapple Cake
Pineapple cake is one of Taiwan's most popular souvenirs. In fact, I bought a whole bunch of boxes for the office on my last trip to Taipei. Over 6 billion pineapple cakes are sold per year and it originated from the 1970s when pineapple was one of Taiwan's main exports. It was so plentiful that the Taiwanese had to figure out how to use it in recipes. The lightly sweetened pineapple jam is encased in a buttery crumble.
Sunny Hills | Address: F 1, No.1, Alley 4, Lane 36, Section 5, Minsheng East Road, Taipei, Taiwan | Phone: +886 2 2760 0508
30. Taiwanese Fried Rice Noodle
Also known as Tsao Mi Fun, this is a stir fried noodle dish featuring rice vermicelli and seasoned with five spice powder. Often tossed with pork, dried shrimp, mushrooms and celery, this is a comfort food often enjoyed at home.
31. Aiyu Ice Jelly
Aiju jelly, also know as ogio, is made from the seeds of a fig native to Taiwan and some other Asian countries. The Aiyu seeds have a jelling property and is served as a refreshing sweetened treat often seasoned with lime.
Ai Yu Zhi Meng You Xian Cao Ai Yu Jelly & Grass Jelly | Address: No. 56, Tonghua St., Daan Dist, Taipei, Taiwan | Phone: +886 2 2706 1257
32. Salty Rice Pudding
I actually tried this for the first time in Taipei at the Shi Lin night market. It's usually eaten as a snack and ordered alongside a main entree. It's made with a mixture of rice paste and minced park, generous amounts of meaty sauce. The pudding is steamed in a bowl and these days its often stuffed with all kinds of goodies such as egg, mushroom, shrimp veggies and more.
Da Qiao Tou Old Brand Rice Tube Pudding | Address: No. 41, Sec. 3, Yanping N. Rd., Datong Dist, Taipei, Taiwan | Phone: +886 2 2594 4685
32. Oyster Vermicelli
Also known as oamisoir this noodle dish is super popular in Taipei. A unique vermicelli which is tan-brown and made of wheat flour is used for this dish. The noodles are gooey and steaming hot and an ubiquitous street food. As Taipei is an island nation, there is easy access to fresh and inexpensive seafood. The soup is very flavorful and is topped off with parsley and often paired with silky smooth chopped intestines. It costs only about $2-3 for a full meal!
Wan Hua Chen Ji, zuan ye oh-ah-mi-sua | Address: 41 Nanjing West Road (Near Zhongshan subway station) Zhong Zheng District, Taipei 2556-1188
33. Eel Noodles
Eel Noodles are enjoyed everywhere in Taiwan but they can look intimidating if you are just seeing the dish for the first time. This dish originally came out of Tainan and consists of thick noodles tossed with young, tender eels. Eel noodles are served either stir fried or in noodle soup. The little baby eels are plentiful in these noodles dishes and offers a textural contrast to the noodles and the thick sauce.
Tainan Eel Noodle | Address: No. 45, Shida Rd., Daan Dist, Taipei, Taiwan | Phone: +886 2 2369 9443
Youtiao literally means oil stick and it is somewhat similar in texture to a lighter American donut. It's a Taiwanese cruller and its lightly salted and deep fried. Youtiao's are usually meant to be dipped in sweet soy milk and you can rip it up and put it into a salty tofu soup. Another delicious way to eat it is inside a shaobing, where its sandwiched inside a roasted Taiwanese flatbread.
Fuhang Soy Milk | Address: Huashan Tranditional Market 2F, No.108, Section 1, Zhongxiao East Road, Taipei | Phone: +886 2 2392 2175