Taiwan has some of the best food in the world, and it’s a big reason why foreigners like us love coming back. A lot of these foods cannot easily be found elsewhere, which makes leaving Taiwan that much harder. Our top 10 most delicious Taiwan foods are as follows:
10. 葱抓餅 Onion Pancake
This is a salty, oily, tortilla like bread, a Taiwan breakfast staple to die for. Like a breakfast burrito, these things can be filled with bacon, cheese, and egg, along with whatever ingredient you want. Also, very similar to this is Egg Pancake 蛋餅，which is basically the same thing but has a thinner wrap.
9. 水果冰 Fruit Shaved Ice
This is Taiwan’s version of ice cream, but with huge chunks of fruit. The traditional ice 挫冰 is shaved ice with syrup and fruit chunks on top. Nowadays you can have the shaved ice actually be made of ice cream. My favorites are mango ice and chocolate banana ice. There is nothing more refreshing on a blazing hot summer afternoon than a huge bowl of fruit shaved ice.
8. Steamed Buns 包子
Taiwan steamed buns come in many varieties. There is Guabao/Pork Bun which is basically a Taiwanese hamburger made out of steamed bread. They can have filling in the middle, such as pork, taro, vegetables, cheese, and chocolate. I love Taiwanese bread so much, and I especially miss it every time I leave the country.
7. Dumplings and Fried Dumplings 水餃/鍋貼
There is no Chinese staple like dumplings; it’s a food that Taiwanese people never get sick of, as can be seen by Bafang 八方 restaurants that are everywhere and always busy. My favorite are curry flavored fried dumplings. This is a food that simply always satisfies.
6. Red Bean Soup 紅豆湯
This soup is a sweet, delicious desert. It can be eaten hot or cold. Red beans in Taiwan are meant to have sugar added to them. To be honest, my first time eating this I gagged, but now it is one of my favorite foods. Typical ingredients in the soup include sweet potato balls, taro balls, colored rice balls, jelly, and an assortment of random delicious Taiwan condiments.
5. Bubble Tea珍珠奶茶
This is tea with milk and delicious gluttonous starch balls to chew on. It might be an acquired texture for some, but once you’ve had a few of these, you can’t go back. As far as I know, Taiwan is the bubble tea capital of the world.
4. Taiwan Lunchbox (Bento) 自助餐/便當
This is the most typical Taiwan meal, and can be found everywhere. This was coined from the Japanese Bento 便當 (If you didn’t know, Japan ruled Taiwan for more than half a century), and is a staple in Taiwan cuisine. This usually comes in a pre-packaged box, which differs from the help yourself syle lunchbox (自助餐) which includes a buffet style counter full of plates of meat and vegetables that you pick, but you have to pay for everything you put on your plate. My mouth waters just thinking about them; this is one of the main reasons I could not stay in the US.
3. Fried Chicken炸鷄
When I lived in China one of the things I missed the most was Taiwan fried chicken. Taiwan has multiple kinds of fried chicken. First, the traditional fried chicken steak 炸鷄排, which is a delicious slab of fried chicken. Second, salty chicken咸酥雞, which can include an assortment of delicious fried things, including cheese and mushrooms; this can be found everywhere on the street in Taiwan. The healthy alternative is saltwater chicken 鹽水雞, which doesn’t use fry oil, only saltwater to cook. My favorite variety though is cheese fried chicken steak 起司鷄排. Considering so many people in Taiwan eat these things so often, I am surprised most people in Taiwan aren’t really fat.
2. Roast Duck烤鴨
Roast duck has some of the most delicious meat in Taiwan. We recommend 仁武烤鴨 (Renwu Roast duck in Kaohsiung), they have the most delicious sauce that goes perfectly with the duck slices. Also delicious is ordering small tortillas and green onion to wrap the meat and sauce in. Eating this is truly a trip to heaven.
1. Hot Pot Buffet 火鍋吃到飽
Buffets in Taiwan all are incredible, but this is the best kind of buffet in Taiwan: a fat man’s paradise. Depending on the buffet, there could be unlimited Haagen-Dazs ice cream, a chocolate fountain, soft service, unlimited drinks, random snacks, fried vegetables, sushi, pizza, and best of all kinds of meat cuts, seafood, and veggies to put in your hot pot.
If you have a favorite food that should have made the list, please let us know in the comments below.
In Taiwan, to do business legally, you need a business. However, many people run the risk of being fined by running businesses under the table. You see it at almost every night market in Taiwan; when the cops come, lots of people scatter.
Maybe you want to live in Taiwan but you want to make money in a way other than teaching English. Personally, we know a few foreigners who have done this, and to be honest, we even thought about doing it.
We have a close friend who came to Taiwan to sell a certain fried street food. Taiwan already sells tons of this street food, and they aren’t that special. And when people see them at twice the price of a normal crappy piece of fried street food, no one is going to buy it. These same friends tried to sell stupid clothing at night markets, without success.
Once upon a time, we also wanted to sell pancakes. Then we found out that you need a license to sell them. The police can fine you, and prevent you from coming back to Taiwan. Also, people can get a 20,000 NT reward from the police for turning you in, and you can be fined up to 70,000 NT.
The best we have seen so far is our Taiwanese friend who constantly sells women’s clothing at a night market. She has been fined many times by the police, but it hasn’t affected her profit margins too much.
If you want to sell stuff in Taiwan, we recommend going the legal way. Selling pancakes is not going to help you renew your ARC and stay in Taiwan (Unless you want to fly to Hong Kong every 3 months). From what we have seen, foreigners that illegally sell stuff in Taiwan always end in failure, so do yourself a favor and do things legally.
To many reader’s out there, the following list might be the most delicious menu you have ever seen. Good for you. I’m glad you have become one with the culture in Taiwan. However the rest of us (mostly westerners) would cringe at these foods.
10. Pig Ears 豬耳朵
Westerner’s think that any animal extremity is gross. This is because we make these extremities into sausage instead of eating them straight. Taiwanese however like to each extremity separately creating a new culinary delight. I think it’s strange that pig ears taste so similar to fish. There was one time where I was offered pig ears against my will, so I hid in the bathroom and secretly flushed them down the toilet. Desperate times come for desperate measures. Pic:
9. 1000 Year Old Egg 皮蛋
This delicacy was originally (in the olden days) made by fermenting eggs in HORSE PEE. As much as Taiwanese people tell me that this is not how 1000 year old eggs are made now, I still cannot get that image out of my mind. Once a Taiwanese family gave let my friend try one of these, and he immediately puked it into the trash can.
8. Intestine Noodles 大腸棉綫
I unfortunately have had the opportunity to try this dish on a number of occasions, never to my liking. Not only can I not stop thinking about the poop that went through these intestines, but it actually tastes like a bunch of poop went through them.
7. Chicken Feet 鷄脚
Westerners do not like to eat the extremities of animals. With such little meat on chicken feet, it amazes me that Taiwanese people go through the trouble of cooking them at all. I guess Taiwanese just don’t like wasting food like us westerners.
6. Bitter Tea 苦茶
Bitter tea is seen to many Taiwanese as a healthy drink, one to cure a multitude of ailments and ensure overall good health. My wife says only old people drink it because they have already lost their sense of taste. In my opinion, this tastes the exact same as stomach acid.
5. Snake Meat 蛇肉
We have never had the pleasure of trying snake meat, but some of our friends in Tainan have. It’s Snake meat, meat from an animal that is full of deadly venomous fangs. What else is there to say.
4. Coagulated Duck/Pig Blood 豬血/鴨血
I don’t know why this is a thing, I guess this goes along with the not wasting food thing. While blood is gross in general, eating blood is even more gross. However I have found coagulated blood mixed in a rice cake form is pretty tasty.
3. Duck/Chicken Butt 鴨屁股/鷄屁股
The butt of an animal. The place where poop comes out. Sounds gross, but I find that if you avoid eating the anus, these are actually pretty tasty.
2. Fish Eyes 魚眼睛
Taiwanese (and Chinese) people believe that eating fish eyes and fish head will make you smarter. So it comes naturally that many parents force their children to eat fish eyes so they will do well on their tests. I can tolerate these, but they are not my favorite. As westerners, anything from an animal head is gross, but eyes take the prize.
1. Duck Head 鴨頭
Why is eating a duck head popular in Taiwan? I guess it probably tastes good, but I have never tried one. Also, along with fish head, eating duck brain is supposed to make you smarter. Again, the not wasting food thing. And again westerners do not like animal heads, and eating an entire duck head takes the number one spot.
Do you know of any other disgusting Taiwan foods? Please comment below with any feedback.
We are US Expats that have extensive experience living, working, and travelling in Taiwan. In our day, we had to learn many things about Taiwan the hard way. But we have come to learn that Taiwan is one of the best places in the world for Foreigners to live. Our blog does not represent the opinions of every foreigner in Taiwan. We are just trying to help others learn more about this beautiful country.