Taiwan is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Southeast Asia because what is there not to love about that country?
Besides their friendly locals and scenic landscapes, we have always been fascinated with Taiwanese food. Bring on the pungent beancurd and pig’s blood!
But hold your horses and please do not get the wrong idea. Taiwanese classic dishes ain’t a fear-factor show but instead, an exciting exploration of food. From Beef Noodle Soup, Oyster Omelette to Pineapple Cake, here is our guide to 11 Taiwanese Classic Dishes To Eat.
The disk-shaped Ba-Wan is essentially a translucent doughy dumpling with a diameter of approximately seven centimetres. It is filled with minced meat stuffing and then served with a sweet-and-savoury sauce.
Ba-Wan’s texture bears an uncanny resemblance to gummy and the fillings vary across different parts of Taiwan.
#2 BEEF NOODLE SOUP
As its name implies, Beef Noodle Soup, or also known as Niu Rou Mian is exactly what it is. Think noodles and braised succulent beef dunked in an aromatic semi-dark broth. The dish is then topped with chives, leafy vegetables and/or Chinese pickled cabbage. It is a comfort food that can be found everywhere in Taiwan.
#3 BRAISED PORK RICE
Braised Pork Rice—called Lu Rou Fan in Chinese—is basically a piping hot bowl of steamed rice topped with delicious minced pork. The meat’s sauce is key in this delicacy and adds an extra depth of flavour to its overall taste profile. Complement your Braised Pork Rice with a Chinese tea leaf egg and pickled vegetables.
#4 BUBBLE TEA
Bubble Tea was first invented in Taichung in the 1980s and the rest is history. The iconic tea-based beverage is served with chewy tapioca pearls and you can savour them hot or chilled. Other cities, especially those in the United States of America, call these delightful drinks Boba.
#5 FRIED CHICKEN STEAK
The Taiwanese Fried Chicken Steak is beyond sinful but definitely worth all the calories. A tenderised marinated chicken breast is deep-fried till golden brown and seasoned with pepper, salt and (optional) spices. No one leaves Taiwan without trying this iconic Taiwanese snack!
#6 SMELLY TOFU
Caution: the smelly tofu is not for the faint-hearted. The fermented beancurd has such an overwhelming odour that your nose could certainly detect its presence even from hundreds of metres away! This dish is a popular snack amongst Taiwanese and you will definitely find them at the night markets.
#7 MANGO SHAVED ICE
Mango Shaved Ice boasts fine snowflake ice with chunky fresh mango pieces—an ideal treat to combat the intolerable summer heat! The icy treat is a crowd pleaser and Smoothie House located along Yong Kang Street in Taipei has one of the best renditions.
#8 OYSTER OMELETTE
The glorious Taiwanese Oyster Omelette—also known affectionately amongst natives as orh-ah-jian—is a heavenly union of the gelatinous sweet potato starch and the pan-fried omelette with freshly poached oysters that will melt in your mouth.
A sauce made from tomato ketchup, soy paste and sweet chilli is then drenched over the fragrant oyster omelette.
#9 OYSTER VERMICELLI
Oyster Vermicelli features a generous amount of wheat-based noodles mixed with thickened soup. The flour-rice noodle dish is served with fresh oysters but it is also common to see other interpretations replacing oysters with braised pig intestines instead.
#10 PINEAPPLE CAKE
Traditional Taiwanese pineapple cakes or Feng Li Shu are sweet bite-sized squarish cakes with a buttery exterior and filled with thick jam-like pineapple filling. They are best eaten fresh but also make great souvenirs to bring home.
#11 ZHU XUE GAO
Zhu Xue Gao—made from pig’s blood and glutinous rice—might come across as a terrifying dish but is actually a well-loved street snack amongst Taiwanese locals. In Taiwan, the pig’s blood could be boiled, braised, fried or steamed.
The most popular way to eat it would be a steamed version on a stick coated with cilantro, peanut and soy sauce.
#12 CONG ZHUA BING
Cong Zhua Bing is a type of Taiwanese pancake that is highly raved about by the locals. You can find hawkers at night markets flipping these scallion pancakes with oil before topping them off with a topping of your choice.
#13 DA CHANG BAO XIAO CHANG
The English name literally translates to ‘big sausage wraps small sausage’ but this iconic Taiwanese street food is essentially Chinese sausage wrapped with glutinous rice. It usually comes with lettuce, salted vegetables and lots of garlic.
#14 TAIWANESE PORRIDGE
After all that feasting, it would be good to have some Taiwanese porridge to cleanse your palate. Everyone gets a bowl of plain porridge which they can complement with a wide variety of side dishes—really similar to our economic rice stalls in Singapore when you think about it!