10 Taiwanese Street Foods You Can’t Miss Eating in Taipei

10 Taiwanese Street Foods You Can’t Miss Eating in Taipei

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When I was younger, I loved watching Taiwanese dramas and movies, so one of the first trips that I took after becoming an “adult” was to Taiwan. Before Taiwan, I studied abroad in Japan and Switzerland, and took a spontaneous and poorly-planned trip to Paris, but Taiwan was one of the first trips I planned properly. When planning the trip, I was most excited about eating Taiwanese food, of course! There’s no better way to experience a culture than through its food, and Taiwan has a rich street food culture.

Because of it’s history in eastern Asia, Taiwanese food gets a lot of its influence from the southern provinces of China and Japan. Rice, pork, seafood and tofu are ingredients found in many Taiwanese dishes and are featured in most of the dishes you can buy cheaply on the street. Even just traveling around northern Taiwan and in Taipei can introduce you to a lot of Taiwan’s delicious food culture.

10 Taiwanese Street Foods You Can’t Miss Eating in Taipei: Getting Around Taipei

How to Get Around Taipei

Getting around Taipei is super easy for even the newest traveler. Public transportation is affordable, frequent and there’s a lot of information out there on how to navigate it. After you arrive at Taoyuan Airport, you’ll want to take a train from the airport to get into the city. While you’re at the airport, buy a Taipei Pass, a MRT card, or an Easy Pass so that you can touch and go easily while traveling. I bought an Easy Pass and could use that on the MRT trains in Taipei City and on the buses to the further areas and districts near the coast like Jiufen.

10 Taiwanese Street Foods You Can’t Miss Eating in Taipei: Night Markets

Where to Find Taiwanese Street Food in Taipei

If you’re on the hunt for Taiwanese street food culture, the best place to start is the night markets. You may want to play it safe and just go to a restaurant, but you must try Taiwanese street food at night markets. There’s food and things to buy, and you’re sandwiched right in between the action as you walk through the market. 

Not only is going to the night markets in Taiwan an experience for all five of your senses, but it’s cheaper, too. When traveling on a budget, skip the fancy restaurants and head to the street stalls and markets first.

Ningxia Night Market (寧夏夜市)
The first market I went to in Taiwan after checking into my hostel in the Ximending was the Ningxia Night Market. It spans one tightly-packed street in the Datong District, and has a long history in the area. I found that I kept going back to this market because the street was just packed on both sides with Taiwanese street-food staples. 

To get to this night market, take the red line on the MRT to Shuanglian MRT Station. Once you leave from exit 1, you’ll have to walk 10 minutes before reaching the market.

Ximending Night Market (西門町台北)
The Ximending Night Market, located in the Wanhua District, is where all the young people go for shopping and nighttime fun. Although it’s not exactly like your traditional street market, when the sun starts to go down the food stalls come out and people start performing on the streets. I stumbled on an awesome hip hop performance and jumped in on the dancing (when in Rome?). It turned out that the teacher of the dancers was actually a famous hip hop dancer from New York! If you want to have fun and eat good food, definitely check out the Ximending Night Market.

Tip

I stayed at the Next Taipei Hostel in Ximending when I visited Taipei. It’s a budget hostel in a great location, and it’s only 15 minutes away from Taipei Main Station (MRT). If you’re not into hostels and want your own private space, the Green World Hotel Zhonghua is a great affordable hotel with breakfast included, and it’s only 5 minutes away from the Taipei Railway Station.

Raohe Night Market (饒河夜市)
Located in the Songshan District of Taipei, Raohe Night Market is easily accessible by the MRT train system. In fact, the Raohe Night Market is one of the oldest night markets in Taipei and was built in the Qing Dynasty! 

To get to Raohe Street Market by public transportation, take the green line of the MRT to Songshan Station and leave through exit 5. The entrance to the market is right next to the temple.

Shilin Night Market (士林夜市)
The Shilin Night Market is one of the largest and most famous night markets in Taipei. Not only does the night market have multiple streets lined with food stalls, there’s also stalls for games like shooting and archery. I won a pretty awesome gigantic Pikachu from playing games at these stalls, actually. It’s directly outside of Jiantan Station (MRT) and convenient to get to, so it gets super packed every night. Once you’ve explored topside, there’s also an underground part of the Shilin Night Market that you can check out if you don’t get lost in the maze of alleyways first. 

Although not on my list of must-try street foods in Taipei, the Shilin Night Market is known for its oyster pancakes. They’re highly recommended if you go to this market.

Jiufen Old Street (九份)
Jiufen, located in New Taipei City, is one of the most popular locations in northern Taiwan. If you’re a fan of Japanese animation, Hayao Miyazaki and “Spirited Away (my favorite animated movie), then you’ll realize the architecture of the buildings in this village are very similar to the bathhouse in the movie. The Old Street Market is bustling in the daylight and at night, and instead of stalls lining streets, the narrow alleyways are lined with stores, restaurants and food shacks. 

To get to Jiufen, take bus 1062 from Zhongxiao Fuxing Station to Jiufen Old Street Station. The bus leaves in the morning and will take about two hours. Jiufen is super popular and there are quite a few buses going back and forth, but be sure to catch the last bus in the evening or you’ll need to spend the night in the mountain village.

Now you know where to find the food, let’s eat!

Street Food in Taipei

10 Taiwanese Street Foods You Can’t Miss Eating in Taipei: Street Food Stall

There’s so much to do and see in Taiwan, but it’s a given that you’ll need to eat eventually. Restaurants are great, especially mom and pop places, but the authenticity and charm of street food is a completely different experience. The hustle and bustel of the street, the stalls tightly packed together with lines spilling into the walking space, and the smells mixing together to create a new perfume that sticks to your closes makes for magic. Here are my recommendations for the Taiwanese street foods you can’t miss eating in Taipei.

1. Stinky Tofu (Chòu Dòufu, 臭豆腐)
The thing about stinky tofu is, you either love it or you hate it, but it’s the quintessential night market food in Taiwan. Walking through the crowded street of a night market, the smell of stinky tofu will hit your nose from a mile away, so when you smell it, you will definitely know it. The tofu gets its smell from it’s fermentation process, and while the smell is super strong, the flavor is slightly less pungent. You can buy stinky tofu fried with pickled cabbage or boiled in a spicy broth—usually mala—with pickled cabbage, intestines or pork.

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2. Sausage Wrapped in Sticky Rice (Da Chang Bao Xiao Chang, 大腸包小腸)
At every night market there will be food stalls serving meat fresh off the portable grill, but you have to stop at the stall selling slightly sweet pork sausages wrapped in sticky rice shaped like a bun. It’s a full meal that you can conveniently hold in your hand while you walk through the market or down the streets of Taipei. Once it’s grilled fresh on the spot, the Taiwanese hotdog is topped with pickled vegetables and garlic. It’s super cheap at only NT$40 ($1.40 USD), convenient and surprisingly filling.

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3. Scallion Pancakes (Cong You Bing, 葱油饼)
Stinky tofu is first on my list because it’s a cultural staple, but the scallion or spring onion pancake is my most favorite Taiwanese street food. I found a street stall to pick up a pancake almost every day while I was in Taiwan—that’s how much I love these fried clouds. Because the pancake is pretty simple (just flour, scallions and oil), many stands offer fillings like meats and vegetables, and you can top your pancake with an amazing spicy sauce. In fact, it’s a great quick meal for vegetarians, too! These pancakes are about NT$30 ($1.00 USD), so try out a few different fillings and sauces by getting more than one.

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4. Pork Belly Buns (Gua Bao, 割包)
You can’t leave Taiwan without eating at least one meat bun, and specifically the pork belly bun. Taiwanese pork belly buns are flat, steamed buns stuffed with pork belly, cilantro, pickled greens, and crushed peanuts. They’re warm, soft and full of delicious marinated tender pork, and they’re one of the many kind of dumplings styles you can eat for cheap in Taipei.

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5. Bubble Tea (Zhēn Zhū Nǎi Chá / Bō Bà Nǎi Chá, 珍珠奶茶)
Who can think of Taiwan without thinking about bubble tea?! Tapioca tea, boba, bubble tea—they are all the same thing: delicious drinks, usually some kind of tea, filled with chewy tapioca pearls. Because Taiwan is bubble tea capital, you can get it pretty cheaply almost anywhere you go. I often got my bubble tea fix from chain shops in train stations and shopping malls while in Taiwan, but you can also get this delicious drink from street stalls at night markets. If you do decide to try out a chain shop (my go-to was Chatime), then you can pick everything from the sweetness level to the amount of ice, but you might not get so much choice at a street stall. Still, don’t hesitate to pick up a (large) cup of bubble tea wherever you are in Taipei because it really does taste the best in Taiwan.

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6. Taro Balls (Yuyuan, 九份芋圓)
Taro is a flavor you can traditionally find in eastern Asia and this sweet dessert is served all over Taiwan. Taro is actually a root vegetable that looks like a gigantic brown potato when picked, but it’s usually shaved, prepared as a side or as a flavoring once harvested. The Taro ball dessert is served cold with shaved ice or as a warm soup with sweet syrup. 

Although taro balls didn’t originate in Jiufen, you can get the best taro balls there at Grandma Lai’s Taro Balls on Jishan Old Street. The taro balls are served with potato cubes and mung beans at Grandma Lai’s.

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10 Taiwanese Street Foods You Can’t Miss Eating in Taipei: Peanut Ice Cream Roll

7. Peanut Ice Cream Rolls (Huā Shēng Juǎn Bīngqílín, 花生捲冰淇淋)
Peanut ice cream rolls? You might not be able to imagine this sweet-salty treat, but it’s a snack you’ll enjoy on a hot and humid day in Taiwan. Served cold, peanut ice cream rolls are shaved peanut brittle, a scoop or two of ice cream, usually vanilla or taro, topped with cilantro and are wrapped into a spring roll. The sweet-salty snack orginited in Yilan, but you can find it at A-Zhu’s Peanut Ice Cream Roll on Jiufen’s Jishan Street. At NT$40 ($1.40 USD) a roll, this super cheap street food treat is perfect for budget travelers.

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8. Pig’s Blood Cake (Zhū xiě gāo, 豬血糕)
I’m going to be honest, I’m not a huge fan of blood pudding, but it’s super popular in many places all over the world—Taiwan being one of them. If you can get past the idea of eating congealed blood, pick up a stick of this delicacy and see what you think.  Taiwan’s pig’s blood cake is blood mixed with rice and served at food stalls on a stick in blocks as-is or coated in peanut powder.

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10 Taiwanese Street Foods You Can’t Miss Eating in Taipei: Quail Egg Skewers

9. Quail Egg Skewers (Jiān Niǎo Dàn, 煎鳥蛋)
Quail egg skewers are exactly how they sound. When you stumble on this Taiwanese street food, you’ll just see a cart with a large basket of small speckled eggs and what looks like a grooved pan used for making Japanese takoyaki, but actually it’s for frying up small balls of eggs. Once cooked, the cute little eggs are stuck on a skewer and served pipping hot. You can chose to eat them plain or spiced up with a little bit of sauce.

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10. Pineapple Cake (Fènɡ Lí Sū, 鳳梨酥)
Although pineapple cakes are not exactly “street food,” it’s super famous in Taiwan as a souvenir. Pineapple cakes are square buttery pastries with pineapple jam filling in the center. They are usually eaten by locals at ceremonies and celebration occasions because the word for “pineapple” in Taiwanese Hokkien sounds like the phrase for “luck,” and they are the top-selling souvenir with foreign visitors. You can buy this popular pastry at any shop selling souvenir foods, but the OG pineapple cake seller is ChiaTe Bakery. The lines can get pretty long for the iconic cake, but the quality of the pineapple cakes at this bakery is worth the wait.

I enjoyed eating my way through Taiwan when I visited, and I hope you get the chance to enjoy the amazing foods on this list like I did. Know a Taiwanese street food that I didn’t mention and that you recommend? Leave the details in a comment down below!

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10 thoughts on “10 Taiwanese Street Foods You Can’t Miss Eating in Taipei”

    1. Jade, same, it’s so good! It was about $2.68 USD (NT$75) for a regular-sized cup at chain bubble tea shops, but I always found myself getting a large (for just 30 cents more). 😀

  1. Taipei and Taiwan in general is the next Asian country in my bucket list. The Netflix Steet Food made me want to go even more. The Peanut Ice Cream Rolls looks yummy.

  2. OMG Peanut Ice Cream Rolls!! Those look amazing, but really, so many things look amazing here. I was in Taiwan once — but only in the airport for layover — so I see I’ve made a huge mistake by not actually spending time in Taiwan.

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