It’s incomplete to talk about food from Taiwan without mentioning the street food. Taiwanese street food is world famous which makes this island a paradise for foodies. Across the country, there are hundreds of street food markets that are popular with locals and tourists alike. Street food is also an important part of Taiwanese culture.
Xiao Chi, which means “snacks” aka street food, is available all day, anytime, both in restaurants, shophouses with tables on the roadside, food carts, and night markets. There are thousands of different stalls to explore and they all have their unique inventions and variations. Come on, get acquainted with the following delicious and tempting street food from Taiwan!
- Yu wan
Yu wan or Tamsui fish ball is a typical Taiwanese street food made from fish dough stuffed with pork and salted garlic. There is also a version that uses shark meat dough, which gives the meatball a special taste. Stuffed fish balls are usually made in a distinctive oval shape with a chewy texture.
Usually, the meatballs served in this bowl will be given a hot fish paste broth that is seasoned with a little oil, pepper, and some freshly chopped celery. In addition, these meatballs are also usually given vermicelli or dumplings. This fish ball is a typical Taiwanese street food that is usually eaten for breakfast, lunch, or as a savory snack.
To find out the making and history behind these meatballs, tourists and locals alike can learn all about it by visiting the Teng Feng Fish Ball Museum. This museum opened in 2004 and it is the first fish ball museum in Taiwan.
If you want to experience the authentic Tamsui fish ball, visiting the Tamsui Ke Ko Fish Ball restaurant is a must. This restaurant has been serving this famous fish ball for more than 50 years.
- Tianjing Chong Zhua Pancakes
Tianjing Chong Zhua Pancakes or scallion pancakes are typical Taiwanese street food that is a favorite for street food lovers. It looks like a Taiwanese version of a sandwich. For this pancake topping, you can choose what toppings you want, such as ham, bacon, or eggs. In addition to savory toppings, there are also sweet toppings.
This scallion pancake has a crunchy texture with a delicious taste. This snack can be found at almost every night market in the city and you shouldn’t miss it when you’re in Taipei. The price of these pancakes is around 60-120 NTD per serving. This snack can be found in the corner of Ximending District in Taipei.
Ba-wan is Taiwanese street food in the form of meatballs. But this meatball is not like most meatballs in general. This Taiwanese meatball is made from a clear sticky rice dough that is wrapped around a filling of seasoned pork, shiitake mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and shallots.
Usually, the meatballs are cooked by steaming or frying and served in a sauce thickened with flour and sprinkled with sweet chili sauce. This unique dish originated in the Beitou region, but now it can be found all over Taiwan.
Tonghua Bawan is one of the places that specialize in selling ba-wan in Taipei. The contrast between the chewy and slightly gooey skin with the filling, which is the tenderly seasoned pork and crunchy bamboo shoots, makes this dish worth trying.
- Stinky Tofu
Whether you hate it or like it, you can easily find this food in Taiwan. It is very easy to recognize this food because of its smell which is hard to miss. This iconic snack is made from solid cubes of tofu soaked in water that usually contains dried fish, meat, and fermented milk. Furthermore, tofu is left for months.
To serve this tofu can be fried or steamed. It tastes a little sour and the smell is getting stronger, but the taste is getting better. There are 13 different levels of stinky tofu. This tofu is best served fried so that it produces a texture that is crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.
The way of serving is served with sweet and spicy sauce or kimchi. If you don’t mind the smell, you can try stinky tofu at almost every night market and any restaurant in all of Taiwan. Several restaurants dedicate themselves to selling this dish.
- Tie Dan
Tie Dan is the most famous Taiwanese street food in the city of Danshui in the Northeast region. This dish is made by drying and boiling eggs repeatedly in broth until they get the desired color. The process that must be passed each batch of eggs is about 10 times. Tie and can be purchased unwrapped or in a vacuum pack. This food is available in various flavors, including garlic, soy sauce, chili, and others. Maybe you are wondering who had the idea to make this kind of egg? It turns out that this food idea came up accidentally by a street vendor on a long rainy day.
At that time not many customers came so he had to continue to cook the eggs to keep them warm. This gave rise to the creation of one of the locals’ favorite street food. The best place to enjoy this snack is at Grandma’s Iron Egg on Zhongzheng Road in Taipei.
- Oyster Mee Sua
Mee sua is an authentic Taiwanese noodle dish that combines thin misua noodles with oysters in a thick, savory sauce. Usually, this typical noodle is made from red misua noodles cooked in broth, then seasoned with chopped garlic, ginger, bonito flakes, oyster sauce, rice wine, basil leaves, and cornstarch to thicken.
These noodles are usually eaten hot and topped with braised oysters or braised pork intestines, but this is an option. Rich in flavor and garnished with chopped scallions or fresh cilantro, this noodle dish is usually mixed with soy sauce, black rice vinegar, and chili sauce. Oyster noodles are very common street food sold in Taiwan night markets.
- Aiyu Jelly
Earlier we discussed meatballs, dumplings, noodles, and eggs. Well, when it comes to Taiwanese street food, you can’t miss aiyu jelly. This snack is a wavy crystal jelly made from the seeds of various types of figs that are creeping and hard to come by outside Taiwan, at least for real aiyu jelly.
Usually served with lime or it could be with fresh lemon juice and added a little honey for sweetness. This refreshing snack can be found sold at night markets and shops across the country. If you want the freshest aiyu jelly, you can visit the origin in Chiayi. Their local farmers pick figs from the treetops directly.
- Bao Cave
Gua bao is often referred to as Taiwan’s hamburger. This Taiwanese street food is a popular snack that has become famous all over the world. The dish contains steamed buns that are soft and tender and topped with a warm filling of braised pork belly, peanut powder, pickled mustard greens, and coriander.
There is a famous restaurant that got an award, namely the Lan Jia Gua Bao restaurant. Here, the gua bao is sold in plastic bags, making it easier to eat because it won’t come off when you eat it. You can also try gua bao at a shop called BashiBao in Taichung City which is filled with stir-fried pork noodles.
- Taro Balls
This is another Taiwanese street food that is also popular and not to is missed, namely taro balls. Taro balls Taiwan is a traditional Fujian food made from taro balls mixed with syrup and other ingredients. These balls are made from mashed taro mixed with water and flour.
This taro ball has a chewy and soft texture. There is also a mild sweetness in the syrup and flour. This dish is also one of the most iconic desserts in Taiwan. When you enter Jiufen’s old town, you can immediately find these taro balls for sale at one of the first few restaurants you see. In addition, taro balls can also be found at most night markets in Taipei.
There are also taro balls which are served deep-fried and filled with delicious fillings such as salted egg and caramel. This snack can be found at one of them at the Ningxia Night Market in Taipei. So don’t forget to try it too.
Yan Su Ji is Taiwanese popcorn chicken. This classic Taiwanese street food is in the form of bite-sized pieces of chicken usually marinated in a combination of soy sauce, ginger, garlic, rice wine, and a variety of flavorful spices. The pieces are then coated with potato flour or cornstarch and fried until crispy.
Usually, this dish is made from boneless chicken thighs. The traditional spices include salt, pepper, and five other spices. This modern variation of popcorn chicken uses a variety of spices, such as mustard powder, seaweed powder, or allspice.
Taiwanese popcorn chicken goes by many names and is one of the iconic street foods enjoyed throughout Taiwan. This snack is usually served without sauce and is more often served with fried basil leaves.
Those are the ten types of typical Taiwanese street food. Maybe all this time you’ve often tried a typical Taiwanese drink, namely the boba drink, now it’s time to try the street snack. The food ranges from meatballs to jelly.
Maybe you can get these foods in Indonesia without having to go to Taiwan. One of the Taiwanese franchises that sell snacks from this country is Shihlin, which has a popcorn chicken menu.