Local Flavors: A Guide to Taipei Street Eats

Food — By Lydia on February 8, 2012 at 5:23 am

One of the best parts about living in or traveling to Asia is the food; not only is it everywhere, but it’s plentiful, diverse, and cheap. When on the hunt for that next tasty morsel in Taipei, remember that more expensive doesn’t always mean better. Taipei’s street food culture has given birth to some of the best things you could ever put in your mouth, and all for pocket change. While the restaurant scene here is world class, it would be a shame to leave Taipei without sampling from the market stalls and street carts.

Stinky tofu with cabbage and hot saucePhoto courtesy of James Yu/Flickr

By far the most notorious (and easy to find) street food in Taipei is stinky tofu. The pungent smell of the stuff wafts through the streets and markets, luring in the hungry masses long before they spot the actual stand selling it. While some find the odor unpleasant, one bite makes a believer out of most. For some of the best, complete with crispy skin and a warm, silky interior, head over to the Lehua Night Market.

Rice sausage vendor in Taipei, Taiwan

Just as New York is famous for its hot dog stands, Taipei is known for another type of sausage with an Asian twist. If you find yourself through Shilin Night Market, keep an eye out for a rice sausage stand. The thick rice sausages are actually stuffed with sticky rice and then split open to serve as a bun for a smaller hot dog-like sausage.

Any fan of the hot pocket or meat pie absolutely must try the baked black pepper pork from Raohe Night Market. The line is typically long, but the wait is well worth the steaming hot bread buns filled with salty, juicy pork. Look for them just outside the Ci You Temple.

Back at the Shilin Night Market in the food pavilion, crowds line up for the most famous food in the area: fried chicken steak. Huge chicken breast pieces are pounded flat, coated in a spicy, salty, crumb batter, and deep-fried until golden.

 

Photo courtesy of Ernesto Andrade/Flickr

As an island nation, Taiwan dishes up some pretty excellent seafood, both in the restaurants and on the streets. One of the most popular street seafood dishes, the oyster omelet, is made from eggs, starch and oysters all grilled together pancake-style and served with hot sauce.

 

After pigging out on all the fried, starchy, meaty, and savory snacks, it’s time for a little refreshment. Shaved ice, the quintessential Taiwanese dessert, can be found all over the city, but the best stuff is served up by the folks at Meet Fresh.

Taiwanese style shaved icePhoto courtesy of hey tiffany!/Flickr

Finally, there’s nothing better to wash it all down than a cold cup of bubble tea made famous in Taiwan. Nearly every street corner in the city has a tea stand, but many Taipei locals agree that 50 Lan is the best for this creamy, sweet, and refreshing beverage.

Tags: bubble tea, budget travel, cheap eats, fried chicken steak, local food, night markets, oyster omelet, pepper pork, rice sausage, shaved ice, stinky tofu, street food, Taipei travel