Anyone who has been to Taipei knows how much the capital city of Taiwan loves FOOD. The city and its people seem to be very proud of their penchant for anything delicious.
So, if you're planning to visit Taipei, you're in for a treat as we tell you right here what's really good and worth the extra pounds!
1. Lu Rou Fan (NT$ 45)
This list is in no particular order, but Lu Rou Fan from Jin Feng deserves to be first. The Braised Pork Rice Bowl (NT$ 45) is THE quintessential Taiwanese comfort food. Slivers of pork belly in soy sauce, ginger, star anise, Sichuan peppers, and various Chinese spices simmer for days inside the 24-hour restaurant; you can literally smell the aroma from a few blocks away! It is best eaten with Braised Egg (NT$ 15), Oily Bean Curd (NT$ 20), and Spare Rib Soup (NT$ 55).
The restaurant has no air-conditioning, prepare to wait for a 15-20 minute for a shared table. Budget NT$ 120/person.
No. 10-1, Section 1, Roosevelt Rd.
Take Chiang Kai-Shek Station exit 2
+886 2 2396 0808
Open 24 Hours
2. Pork Pepper Buns “Hu Jiao Bing” (NT$ 50)
This is, no doubt, the most loved and photographed street food in Taipei…a true favorite of locals and travelers alike! Prepare to queue for more than 20-30 minutes, but you can at least watch how the buns are freshly made. Cooked in a traditional clay oven, the high heat makes the outside crispy yet chewy and the steaming pork filling is seasoned lightly with peppers and spring onions.
They are well worth the wait!
Raohe Street Market
North end of Kee Lung Road, Taipei, Taiwan
Take Songshan Station exit 5
Open from 4pm-12am
3. Big Bubble Milk Tea (TW$50 for Large)
We've tried a lot of Milk Teas in Taipei, but 50 Lan (50嵐) is our handsdown favorite! They have the best tapioca balls–firm and chewy with the right bite–and the milk and tea ratio is well-balanced. We recommend ordering it with normal sugar and ice, especially on hot days. When you feel like trying something else, try Small Bubble Milk Tea (NT$50), Matcha Milk Tea (NT$ 50), and Ovaltine Latte (NT$ 70) for the caffeine-conscious.
50 Lan is found in almost every corner of Taipei…just look for the bright yellow signboard. Take our word for it, their consistency remains across all branches.
50 Lan Milk Tea
4. Halal Chinese Beef Noodle (NT$ 155)
The Beef Noodle is Taiwan's national dish. It is so revered that contests are held annually to find out which restaurant has the best. You can order Halal Chinese Beef Noodle spicy or regular. Their hand-pulled noodles are very firm and chewy and complements their flaky tender beef chunks. You must also try their other house favorites like the Scallion Pancake (Jin Bing) (NT$ 30) and the Stir-fried Beef with Green Scallion (NT$ 220).
Budget around TW$ 550 for 2.
Halal Chinese Beef Noodle
No. 1, Alley 7, Lane 137, Yanji St
Da’an District, Taipei City
Take Sun Yet Sen Memorial Hall Station Exit 1
Open from 11:30AM–2:30PM and 5–9PM
5. Summer Tree Sweet
If you're looking for a dessert that captures the essence of Taiwan, it will have to be the Almond Tofu. If you ask any local where to find the best, they will most likely point you to Summer Tree Sweet, tucked in between the dried goods stores on Dihua Street. Our favorite is Milk Snow Ice (TW$ 80 with 2 toppings), but for a more classic take, you can opt for the Sweet Almond Tofu with Red Bean (TW$ 55).
Budget around NT$ 100/person.
Summer Tree Sweet
No. 240 Section 1
Dihua Street, Datong District
Open from 10:30am-6:30pm
6. Mala Yuanyang Hot Pot
If you need a filling meal enough to satisfy a day's worth of sightseeing, Mala Yuanyang Hot Pot is definitely the restaurant for you. The buffet will set you NT$ 545 for lunch and NT$ 635 for dinner or on weekends. The menu is in Taiwanese but the ordering process is very simple. First, choose a soup (we like the stark contrast of the Sichuan broth for the meats and clear vegetable broth for the vegetables and seafood). Next, choose your meat and vegetables. Lastly, go to the condiment section and concoct your own sauce. (If you're unsure, just ask the servers…they'll be happy to assist you.)
Mala Hot Pot has really good Wagyu, Angus strips, and house-made Shrimp Balls (which we couldn't stop ordering!). For vegetables go for the staples, leafy vegetables, mushroom, and snowflakes (must-try!). Skip the shellfish as they are very tedious to peel and eat. Your meal also comes with bottomless drinks (wine and beer included).
Don't forget to save room for their Häagen-Dazs and Mövenpick ice-cream bars!
7. Small Sausage in Large Sausage (大腸包小腸) (NT$ 45)
It's Sausage inception! The Big Sausage is garlicky glutinous rice stuffed in a sausage casing and grilled to a crisp before putting on the Small Sausage, which is a sweet pork sausage, served with a relish of Chinese pickles, slivers of garlic, cucumber, and soy-based sauce. We love walking the streets of Taipei with this paired with 50 Lan Bubble Milk Tea. Try it!
You can find Big Sausage in Large Sausage in any Night Street Market.
(We particularly like the stall in Ximending, it is exactly next to 50 Lan Milk Tea. A perfect break from window shopping!)
8. Din Tai Fung
This is one restaurant in Taipei that does not need any introduction. Din Tai Fung has become extremely popular with tourists and locals alike. You should consider the waiting time, as DTF tends to get very busy during peak hours. Best times to go are 10 in the morning, upon opening, and in-between lunch and dinner. If you have plenty of time, the Taipei 101 flagship branch is perfect. If you are pressed for time, we suggest the Sogo Fuxing branch. Aside from the staple Xiao Long Bao varieties (NT$ 105- 450), we recommend the House Special (NT$ 70) and Spicy Shrimp and Pork Wontons (NT$ 180). Cap your meal with their Chocolate Xiao Long Bao (NT$ 175). While you're at it, you can also grab a few boxes of their other bestseller, the Pineapple Cake. It's the perfect souvenir to bring back home!
Budget around NT$ 600 for 2.
Din Tai Fung Taipei 101
Taipei 101 Mall
110 City Hall Rd, Xinyi District
Take Taipei 101 Station exit 4
Open from 10am-10pm
Din Tai Fung Sogo Fuxing
106 Zhongxiao East Road
Section 3, Da’an District
Take Zhongxiao Fuxin exit 2
Open from 10am-10pm
9. Ayishi Big Teapot Restaurant
Ayishi Big Teapot is an al fresco Restaurant in Maokong village that sits on the edge of the Taipei Basin, a good spot to see the city, especially during good weather. The restaurant offers distinctively tea-infused Taiwanese dishes. You have to take a 40-minute Gondola ride (NT$ 260) from The Taipei Zoo Station to Maokong Station. We especially love the Fried Oolong Tea Spareribs with Peanuts (NT$ 350), Fried Shrimp with Tea Rose (NT$ 420), Tea Leaf Fried Rice (NT$ 100), and the House-made Steamed Stinky Tofu (NT$250). A lot of people also go here for afternoon tea tasting.
Budget around NT$ 650 for 2.
Ayishi Big Teapot Restaurant
No. 37-1, Lane 38, Section 3, Zhinan Road
+886 2 2939 5615
Take Taipei Zoo Station then walk towards the Gondola Taipei Zoo Station about 350 meters
Open from 10am-9pm
10. Da Ka Sheng Meng Hai Chan Dian Restaurant
Da Ka Sheng Meng Hai Chan Dian is a very popular stir-fry restaurant in Taipei. At night, the place is packed with locals having after-work dinner rounded with a few bottles of Taiwan Beer. We recommend their Salt & Pepper Squid (NT$ 220), Fish Egg Roe Salad (NT$ 180), Stir-fry Spareribs (NT$250), and Pan-fried Tofu (NT$ 120). Best of all is the delicately Steamed Cod Fish Fillet (NT$ 350) topped with soy bean crumbs, mountain greens, garlic, and soy sauce. Perfect dishes that all pair well with the Taiwanese Fried Rice (NT$ 100).
Budget around NT$ 650 for 2.
Da Ka Sheng Meng Hai Chan Dian Restaurant
No.43 Sec.1, Roosevelt Rd
+886 2 3322 5589
Take Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall Exit 3
Open from 10am-12mn
11. Starfruit Juice (TW$ 30)
Cheng Dou Carambola Ice has been around for a while and has always been a local favorite. Pickled Star Fruit Juice is sweet, salty, and sour–perfect for cooling down during the summer days. They also serve Pineapple Juice (NT$ 30) and Salty Pickle Plum Juice (NT$ 30). A purist's drink of choice as it does not contain any additives, artificial flavorings, or food colorings.
Cheng Dou Carambola Ice
No. 3 Chengdu Rd. Wanhua District
+886 2 2381 0309
Take Ximending Station Pedestrian Exit
open from 10 am to 11 pm
12. Grilled King Oyster Mushrooms (TW$ 100)
This guilt-free snack from the Night Street Markets is an absolute must! King Oyster Mushrooms are grilled upon order and basted with soy-based sweet sauce until tender. It is very juicy and retains a firm texture akin to a grilled squid. You can choose 2 flavors (we chose Seaweed and Spicy) and top it off with a squirt of lemon.
You can find this in any Night Street Market.
13. Crispy Crablets (NT$ 100)
Crispy, umami, and one of the cheapest foods you'll find in any Night Street Market. Freshly caught crablets deep-fried with Taiwanese seasoning. You can have it spicy or mild. The servings are shareable among up to 5 persons.
You can find Crispy Crablets in any Night Street Market.
14. Prince Cheese Potato (NT$ 65)
Actually a giant potato croquette smothered with cheese sauce topped with corn, broccoli, ham, pineapple, Chinese relish, and even more cheese! The cheese sauce is delicately flavored, not too powerful, and with just the right amount of saltiness. We paired it with the Starfruit Juice!
You can find Prince Potato Cheese in any Night Street Market and in Ximending.
15. Hot-Star Large Fried Chicken (NT$ 75)
The famed “bigger than your face” chicken is the perfect street food on the go. They might have opened a lot of branches all over the world but nothing beats the original! Hot-Star Large Fried Chicken is filling, not messy, and already a meal on its own. If you like spicy, make sure to request for extra chili powder. You should also try the Mushroom Balls (NT$ 50) and Yam Balls (NT$ 50).
Hot-Star Large Fried Chicken
No.12-2 Underground Street
Open from 10am-11pm
16. Grilled Squid (NT$ 100-160)
A staple in any Night Street Market. The Grilled Squid is basted with a teriyaki sauce that gives it the right sweet, salty, and tangy flavor. The squid is fresh, flavorful, and tender yet still has a nice bite to it. There's a distinct grilled squid aroma that will make you crave for it. If you prefer a crispier texture, opt for the butterfly cut squid. The chili powder sprinkled on top gives it just the right kick.
You can find Grilled Squid in any Night Street Market.
17. Beef Crepe (NT$60)
Beef rolled in Scallion Pancakes from Lao Dong is the perfect breakfast on-the-go. Lao Dong is known for it's Beef Noodles but we have to say that this little finger food is ready to take over. And they are very affordable too! Freshly cooked scallion pancakes that are flaky on the outside yet chewy on the inside blanket the same flavorful beef brisket they use for their noodles.
Also try their Pan-fried Buns with Minced Meat (NT$ 45).
No. 35 Minsheng West Road
Open from 10am-10pm
18. Yakult Slushie (NT$ 50)
The ultimate Yakult lover's dream! This slushie contains no added water and sugar, just 100% pure Yakult frozen into an icy drink. Perfect during a smoldering Taipei summer day (or when you've had too much street food).
Taipei Expo Park
No.1, Yumen St., Zhongshan District
Available only on weekend markets
19. Cheese Mentaiko Grilled Shellfish (NT$ 40 each)
Pieces of chopped shellfish in creamy garlic mentaiko (Pollock Roe) sauce topped with cheese. The cheese bubbles and forms a crispy yet chewy crust for the umami-overload filling.
(1 piece is enough but we won't judge you if you get another helping!)
You can find this in any Night Street Market.
20. Papaya Milk (TW$ 50)
Fresh fruit juice stores are popping up everywhere in Taipei. It is slowly becoming the new drink of choice for health-conscious locals. Just like it's caffeinated cousin, Fresh House's Papaya Milk has found the perfect milk-to-fruit ratio. The sweetness can be controlled too, but we opted for 50% sugar to taste the actual sweetness of the fruit.
(You can add Bubbles at an extra cost.)
No. 123, Yanji Street
Open 24 Hours
The foodscape of Taipei, being the capital and biggest city in Taiwan, is one of the front-runners in Asia. The locals are just as quick to adapt to food trends as they are firm with their traditions. Taiwan is known for its subtlety in both flavors and ingredient combinations, but it is extremely keen with quality. The overwhelming variety of food you will see in just one Night Street Market is remarkable.
Taipei is a food lover's dream! We had so much fun eating our way around. Gan Bae!
Didn't see your favorite Taipei food? Drop us a comment and we'll try to include it in our next Ultimate Taipei Food Guide installment!
Live an Awesome Life,
BOOM of TEAM OUR AWESOME PLANET
Disclosure: We paid for our own meals. I wrote this article with my biases, opinions, and insights.
P.S. If you visit Jin Feng for the Braised Pork Rice Bowl, check out the mall next to it. They sell an assortment of cold cuts, nuts, dried goods, and Taiwanese Dishes.