10 Foods in Taiwan That Aren’t in Travel Guides
Here you will find 10 foods in Taiwan that you will not find in your everyday travel guide. Taiwan is famed for its food, and they truly are a food culture. You can walk the streets and find everything from the regular to the extreme.
Take a look at these 10 foods in Taiwan that are not your average delicacy.
1. Fried Pork Skin
Finding this treat might be a bit of a challenge, finding a restaurant that does it *just* right might be another kind of challenge altogether. Once you find a restaurant that can fry up a pig skin nice and crunchy without too much grease is quite the treat, however!
Even a little bit of grease can be a great addition to the rice or noodles the skin will rest above, so don’t count it out entirely. This treat should be enjoyed as a sinful late night treat, perhaps after some Taiwan pi jou (beer)!
2. Wheel Cart Cakes and Cow Tongue Pastries
Taiwan knows how to bake up and fry some delectable pastries and these are some of the more traditional pastries Taiwan offers. You’ll see ‘wheel carts’ outside, in markets, or on the side of the roads offering all sorts of food.
You will probably smell the wheel cart cakes from a distance—they are the love-child of a pancake, muffin, and doughnut. They cook a pancake-like outer shell in an almost muffin tin and usually stuff them with either red bean or butter filling. Both are worth a try!
You might be able to find cow tongue pastries in a travel guide but they are among one of my favorite traditional pastry treats. They look exactly how they sound—like cow tongues, only they are colored tan, (like an unleavened loaf of bread).
They fry the dough so the outside is flaky and crispy leaving the inside soft and chewy. They flavor them with either butter or honey usually.
3. Sugar Cane Juice
Do you remember those Slimer Ecto Coolers in the early 90s? That is exactly what sugar cane juice looks like! You will see locals trimming sugar cane and juicing it at these small stands—it’s definitely something to check out if you haven’t tried it! It’s slightly sweet and refreshing on a hot, Taiwanese summer day!
4. Taro balls/Taro cakes/taro ice cream
Welcome to the world of taro treats! Taro is a popular item in many dishes in Taiwan, they also fry it, put it in pastries and cakes, and make ice cream out of it. Taro balls are very popular in Juifen but you can often find them in night markets as well.
These small, breaded and fried balls of taro explode in your mouth—kind of like a sweet Taiwanese tator tot. The taro cakes are similar, but perhaps more like a sweet purple hashbrown.
The ice cream can be found in one of my favorite treats—it is wrapped in rice paper and has crushed peanuts and cilantro with it. You can usually find it in a night market.
5. Lamb Hot Pot
Hot Pots are a very popular choice anywhere in Asia and they will usually serve a variety of thinly sliced meats for you to dunk in the boiling, (or spicy), water. But there are some special restaurants that serve different parts of the lamb in several different versions surrounding a Hot Pot type idea.
These are especially tasty and you can pick up grilled lamb, lamb kidney, stomach, and skin to try out as well. All have a very distinct taste and texture—they are all simply delicious, though! My suggestion is 下港吔羊肉專賣店 near the Minquan MRT station.
6. Sea Cucumber
Taiwan has some incredible seafood dishes but a soup that includes sea cucumber is amongst my favorite! The sea cucumber usually takes on the taste of the soup, so if you have a good soup, you have a good sea cucumber!
You’ll recognize this creature right away, as it’s usually whole in the traditional style soups. They may cut it up if it’s in a side dish, though. It’s slightly chewy and gummy in texture, but again, with the right seasoning it’s an incredible snack!
7. Soy Sauce beans in Taichung
If you’re like me, you love soy sauce. I’ve only had it from the bottles, though. There is a plant in Taichung that is famous for turning those delicious little beans into the sauce we know and love.
Locals there will sell the beans and cook them into side dishes. The beans are smooth and salty, but not sharp like the sauce would have you believe. They add a punch to any side dish they’re in and definitely worth the try. And don’t forget about the black peanuts while you’re there!
8. Fan Tuan
Of course, you must have heard about the infamous Taiwanese breakfast from any travel guide, but maybe you haven’t heard of Fan Tuan. You will be able to find it pretty easily in small food stands during the morning hours, (that means 8am to 11am).
Think burrito—it’s usually some type of protein, (chicken, pork, egg), wrapped in rice with those fried, flaky, breadsticks, and maybe some pork floss. Sometimes you may even find different varieties of foods wrapped up with a variety of different rice.
I found a delectable, slightly nutty and sweet Fan Tuan by the Shilin MRT station made with the special purple rice!
9. Duck Sausage
Finding pork sausage or maybe beef sausage is pretty common night market fair, but finding duck sausage may be a little harder challenge. It tastes like it’s cousins, but it is much less fatty, gritty, and greasy.
It’s very mild, slightly sweet, and lean—you won’t be chewing it long! And if you like the sausage, you should try the duck they cook and hang in the windows of stores or the common duck eggs in rice or noodles rather than the standard chicken egg.
10. Fried Chicken Stuffed with Rice
These are somewhat of a challenge to find as well—what they do is stuff a chicken leg with a special blend of rice and spices, then fry the whole thing. This makes the skin crispy, the chicken tender and moist, and the spiced rice blend the flavor of the entire snack.
You can ask for it a little spicy to give it an extra kick of spice, too, but it can be a total stand-alone prize!
(Bonus: You can smell the Chinese medicine being used in some food carts—be sure to check out these stands. They usually cook a sort of soup with traditional Chinese medicinal herbs and spices along with pork. It smells slightly sweet as you walk by and they will have large pots outside the front!)
Perhaps you’ve seen some of these meals in a travel guide or maybe you never thought to try such a thing, but challenge yourself to not only seek out the special foods in each area but try a little something new each time! You will definitely find some of the best food and restaurants wherever you travel by just following your nose!