As mentioned in my previous post, the primary reason why we traveled to Taiwan this Holy Week was to eat Taiwanese street food. 🙂 Taipei has a lot to offer when it comes to cuisines, but it’s their local street food that really attracts tourists. We went to Shilin Night Market, Raohe Night Market, Jiufen, and Ximending and tried everything that looked delicious to suit our palate.
If you’re overwhelmed or just wondering which food are worthy to eat in Taipei, here’s a post to serve as your guide. But ultimately, this piece of sweet advice from our Airbnb landlord is practical and best: “See a long line? Join them!” In Taipei’s night markets, the longer the line, the better the food. Check out my Taiwan Instagram Story Highlights for more shots.
What to Eat in Taipei: 20 Taiwanese Street Food We Tried and We Recommend
1. Grilled King Mushroom (100 NTD)
Taipei’s bustling night markets are known for relatively cheap and varied street food. One of the largest is Shilin Night Market, which was very close to the Airbnb we stayed in. First we saw with super long line was this stall selling grilled huge and juicy mushrooms. All mushrooms are first coated with a sticky sweet and salty sauce which tasted a lot like barbecue sauce. Then, they’re dusted with spices with different flavors. We chose seaweed and curry and they were both yummy. The mushroom’s texture was similar to abalone. Loved it!
2. Big Sausage Wrapped Small Sausage (大餅包小餅) (50 NTD)
Taiwanese sausages are ubiquitous in all the night markets we visited. Lots of tourists also line up for this small pork sausage wrapped in a sticky rice sausage. It’s really good! Split open like a hotdog bun, the pork sausage was wonderfully sticky, chewy, messy, and filling. Like the mushrooms, the sausages were “barbecued” on the spot then topped with lettuce, salted vegetables, and garlic which make up the whole zesty taste. We chose black pepper flavor; it was spicy but not too overpowering to hide the taste. What made this dish extra special was the glutinous rice with the bun covering the sausage. If you’re in for an oily and tasty carbohydrates-filled meal, get this.
3. Black Pepper Bun (胡椒饼) (55 NTD)
Another worth queuing up for is the black pepper bun. Packed with ground beef and scallions, these hot buns have a crusty bottom and a juicy and meat filling. Seeing the experts prepare the buns from start to finish is quite interesting. Since they’re super hot, it’s best to wait a while before taking your first bite.
4. Ay-Chung Flour-Rice Noodle (阿宗麵線) (55 NTD)
Ay-Chung Flour-Rice Noodle is always full of people standing in line waiting to get their all-famous silky noodles. Be patient, since the line moves fast and you’ll get your bowl soon enough. Founded in 1975, this food business is operated with a three-men team. Their mee sua is made with pork large intestine and Chai Yee flavor. For added taste, you can put condiments like the black vinegar and garlic or chili to garnish.
5. Pork Ribs Noodle Soup (排骨酥面) (90 NTD)
We stopped by in a casual restaurant in Raohe Night Market specializing in noodle soups. Their most recommended dish on the short menu is the pork ribs noodle soup, so we got it without hesitation. The pork ribs were tender, and the coated batter wasn’t too soggy despite that it was already soaked in the soup. Flavor was nice and the broth was aromatic and soothing. Two thumbs up!
6. Sweet Potato Balls (地瓜球) (50 NTD)
It wasn’t love at first bite but these fried sweet potato balls were good even without fillings in them. These are traditional desserts you can find in any night market in Taipei, but they’re mostly popular in Jiufen. Hence, the sweet potato balls are commonly referred to as 九份芋圆.
7. Earl Grey Milk Tea Soufflé Pancake (珍珠奶茶梳乎厘) (120 NTD)
The pearl milk tea craze has hit hard especially in Asian countries, and it doesn’t end with the milk tea drink alone. There’s a lot of desserts nowadays with the milk tea and chewy pearls. One of which is the Bubble Tea Souffle Pancake. It’s a must-order for fans and lovers of fluffy pancake and boba tea. I don’t have a video but I can tell you this: it jiggles, wobbles, and bounces to bring you joy! 🥞😍
8. Fried Taro Ice Cream (35 NTD)
Ice cream that’s fried? Yes, it’s possible. Fried ice cream is another unique food to try when in Taiwan. We tried this fried taro ice cream in Shifen Old Street. It has a light, nutty flavor close to the taste of taro cake and fried taro in dimsum restaurants.
9. Taiwanese Milk Tea with Pearls (珍珠奶茶) (Prices vary but average range is 50-70 NTD)
For sure, you wouldn’t want to miss out on pearl milk tea when in Taiwan. You can easily spot a boba tea store in almost every corner, not an exaggeration, as these dominate the streets in Taipei. I like those milky drinks infused with just the right amount of tea fragrance or fruity zest. So far, the most popular is the brown sugar milk tea.
10. Crispy Crablets (150 NTD)
Crispy crablets is a popular Filipino finger food appetizer and beer accompaniment (pulutan). In Taipei, crispy crablets are offered as snacks. These are deep-fried so the result is crispy baby crabs with umami taste. No sauce required to delight.
11. Xiao Long Bao (100 NTD)
Because of lack of time, we didn’t have the chance to try xiao long bao at Din Tai Fung to see if they’re any different from the ones served in the branches of Din Tai Fung in Manila. Anyway, we stumbled upon a small sit-down eatery in Shilin Night Market which serves these tiny soup dumplings, and omg they’re amazing! You can sip the savory light broth and savor the meatiness of the xlb in one mouthful to satisfy your tummy’s desire.
12. Sizzling Beef Tenderloin (鐵板牛排) (160 NTD)
A sizzling beef steak may not be your no. 1 choice when you want to try lots of Taiwanese street food in the alleyways of Shilin Night Market since you can easily be full. But you can always share it with a friend! With a runny egg, the beef tenderloin was brought out on a hot pan, with pasta underneath. The steak was tender and full of beefy flavor. We absolutely enjoyed it. 🙂
13. Oyster Omelet (蚵仔煎) (60 NTD)
Oyster omelet is one of the top food I have in mind when thinking of Taiwanese street food. It’s glorious and special because it combines the softness of the eggs that dances up against the briny and slippery oysters. You’ll be swept away with the taste! Just in case it’s not tasty enough, ketchup or sweet red chili sauce can be added. Side note: I’m thankful my mom knows how to cook this well, so we can have oyster omelet every time we crave for one at home. 😀
14. Taiwanese Cold Noodles with Peanut Sauce (50 NTD)
Peanut sauce with noodles? You might think “ew” at first but once you taste it, you won’t go back. Interestingly, the noodles were served with miso soup separately and it was also good.
15. Hotdog with Mozzarella Cheese (50 NTD)
Mozzarella Hot Dog is not a classic Taiwanese street food since it “originated” in Korea and is known as “Mozzarella Cheese Hotteok,” one of the hottest Korean street food at the moment. They hotdog was wrapped in mozzarella cheese, batter then fried and sprinkled with sugar. You can add ketchup and/or mustard.
16. Takoyaki Balls (50 NTD)
We can’t say no to takoyaki balls! The octopus was really fresh and went well with the takoyaki coating. We chose the seaweed flavor and it’s really a must-try for takoyaki fans.
17. Curry Fish Balls (35 NTD)
Curry fish balls are a popular Hong Kong street food, but they’re also a familiar street food in Taipei. As a snack, these curry fish balls have a pungent smell and a spicy kick. If you love spicy food, these will be perfect to munch on. The robust curry flavor is unforgettable.
18. Shaved Ice and Jelly Dessert (Like Halo Halo in the Philippines) (50 NTD)
Looking for a refreshing treat? Salvation comes in the form of a bowl full of shaved ice with different toppings. In a food stall in Jiufen, we chose ours with an assortment of mochi, grass jelly, sago, and red beans. It’s like their version of the Pinoy halo-halo. Sweet!
19. Glutinous Rice Cake (15 NTD)
A great mildly sweet treat we had in Jiufen that everyone was getting was the “green tea ball.” It’s like a green tea flavored mochi with red bean filling. It can be finished in just two bites, so if you’re into green tea, better get more pieces. 😉 Ah Lan Hakka Glutinous Rice Cake is the most popular store here. Hakka cuisine is the cooking style of the Hakka people from China.
20. Hot Star Large Fried Chicken (豪大大鸡排) (70 NTD)
Hot Star Chicken is available in the Philippines, but we were curious and wanted to know how different or alike the large fried chicken tastes in Taipei vs. in Manila. I thought they’re pretty much the same. Lightly battered and double fried, the Hot Star Chicken was juicy and tasty with a good balance of salty, savory, and spicy. It’s spicy enough for me but you can ask to add chili powder at the counter if you can handle a bit more heat. Size was HUGE, bigger than two palm sizes combined and almost the length of my face. Whoa!
List of Places
Raohe Night Market
North end of Kee Lung Road, Taipei, Taiwan
Nearest MRT: Song Shan station Exit 5
Shilin Night Market
Near Dadong Road, Danan Road, Wenlin Road and Jihua Road, Taipei, Taiwan
Nearest MRT: Jiantan station (but you can also walk from Shilin station Exit 2)
From Taipei: Hop on the train from Taipei Main Station to Rui Fang Station and board the Kee Lung Transit bus headed to Jiufen. It takes approximately an hour to get there. Alternatively, you can also board Bus 1062 from Zhong Xiao Fu Xing Station. It takes slightly longer, but it will be great if you want to enjoy the scenic view of Northern Taiwan along the way.
Ximending Night Market
Nearest MRT: Ximen station Exit 1