Edited by Holly Jenson
When kickstarting your trip to Taipei it is essential that you plan to include a food tour! Food is hugely important in our culture and is something that showcases our rich multicultural history. China, Japan, Holland, Britain, and France all brought over their own recipes. We made them our own and produced the must-try foods you see on every market stall today! Here are the best places to eat like a local in our diverse city.
Rao He Night Market
Taipei night markets really encompass what it is to be Taiwanese. With never-ending stalls and so many different types of food, they show how lots of countries have influenced our culture. Rao He Market is close to where I live and one of my two favorites! One challenge every visitor should try here is Stinky Tofu. It’s basically fermented tofu which (as the name suggests) has a strong smell. The dish is deep-fried and golden, it’s a true local delicacy. I promise it’s delicious!
Ding Tai Fung
Ding Tai Fung is one of the best places to eat in Taipei. This restaurant is well known all over the world for its soup dumplings. A staple for locals, each dumpling is measured to perfection in size and shape, they’re always precise! The menu is full of Taiwanese favorites to try, it’s a great way to experience our cuisine. The staff here know lots of languages (which is rare) and they have a really high level of customer service. I am very proud to have this success originating from Taiwan, I always recommend it to my guests!
Night Market – Ningxia
My other favorite night market in Taipei is Ningxia. Close to Taipei 101, this is a centrally-located treasure trove of food. Taiwan has a lot of pork dishes and highly starchy food, it’s the essence of our everyday meal. You will all of this on display at Ningxia. Another local favorite you should watch out for is what we call 1000 Year Egg. An egg preserved for 60 days, the recipe was one of the many brought over to Taiwan from China. We like to eat this dish sliced with some soy sauce. Visitors are often put off of trying this one as it’s totally black but don’t judge a book by its cover, it’s tasty!
If you want to eat like a local, another Taipei food you must try is a Bento Box. Our signature beef noodles and pork buns can cost around $8. At around $3 a box, this is the food that we survive on daily. Influenced by Japan, you grab a box at a local buffet and fill it with anything your heart desires. From noodles to rice, dumplings to vegetables, they have everything you could ever want! If you have some time, go to a few buffets to compare. A favorite pastime of us locals is to try them all out to find our favorites!
Fu Hang Dou Jiang
When in Taipei, you must try a traditional Taiwanese breakfast! Fu Hang Dou Jiang is the most popular place in town for this meal. While you’re here, be sure to try our oil sticks, soup dumplings (yes, we eat them for breakfast too!), and baked wheat cakes. We also love an elaborate omelet, often adding leeks or onions for extra flavor. Wash all of that down with a cup of hot soy milk and you’re ready to start the day!
Shaved Ice Stall
While on your Taipei food tour, make sure you go to a shaved ice place! Taiwan is really big on fruit and mango is one of those products that is used with confidence. We combine the moist, sweet, and juicy fruit with condensed milk and ice, it’s a match made in heaven! This is a dessert that is loved by locals and tourists alike and you can find it in any market or popular shopping street. Make sure you add it to your list!
One of the most unique places to eat in Taipei is in one of our shrimping restaurants. An experience you won’t find anywhere else, guests are given a rod and some bait to fish for tiger prawns. After catching your dinner, you can grill them yourself next door! Locals love these places as a family day out, you can spend hours enjoying yourselves! The restaurants also do really nice stir-fries made to your specifications. This is something you don’t see every day and should definitely be a part of your Taipei food tour!
This restaurant is very near to Taipei Main Station so is perfect for a meal when you’ve just arrived! Liu Shandong is a great place to try another one of our favorite dishes, beef noodles. After the loss of the Chinese civil war in 1950, millions of members of the Chinese military fled to Taiwan. They brought with them all the different cultures of China including this recipe. Over the years we developed it and today it is one of the most popular dishes eaten across the country! Beef noodles are so well-loved in Taipei that we even hold an annual competition in Autumn to choose the best ones. Visitors come from all over south-east Asia to see how our recipe compares to their own.
Wu Pao Chun Bakery
This is the perfect place to sample some Taiwanese food right near Taipei 101. Wu Pao Chun is a Taiwanese bakery chain specializing in traditional bread. Locals often come here to buy this staple part of their meals. I would recommend trying a range of different bread, it’s great fun if you’re traveling in a group. The lychee is my favorite! The bakery also sells a number of traditional pastries and breakfast items, try as many as you can to have a real taste of our culture.
Taipei International Food Fair
A great way to try lots of Taiwanese favorites is by attending our annual International Food Fair! Hosted every June, the fair celebrates our multicultural cuisine. Hundreds of stalls line up serving all the local delicacies, as well as new things to try! One of the items unveiled this year was Brown Sugar Bubble Tea, it was a real hit with the crowd! Come along with the locals to celebrate the history of our food, you won’t be disappointed!
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