Eating Out and Snacks in Taiwan

Find out about the restaurants and snacks available in Taiwan...

Restaurants, fast-food chains and small snack shops abound in Taiwan; eating out is very popular. There are many fine dining restaurants in Taiwan, but it is often said that the best food is served in the night markets. There are an ever increasing number of Chinese fast-food chains as well as restaurants serving food from around the world. It is possible to get just about any style of food in Taiwan’s cities, from American hamburgers to Japanese sashimi and Swiss cheese fondues.

Beer houses are popular with young people and large groups. They have a casual atmosphere and serve traditional foods.

Snacking

Snacking is deeply woven into the traditions of life in Taiwan and there are many foods to choose from. Exploring the island’s night markets, which have many stalls selling local delicacies, is a great way to immerse oneself in the local culture and flavours. Seafood is widely used in snacks, and stalls will sell local favourites such as stir-fried cuttlefish, oyster omelettes, squid stew and milkfish stew. All are very flavourful and fresh. Shrimp pork soup is particularly popular in the night markets. It is made from a shrimp potage flavoured with stewed pork and black vinegar. Another favourite is oyster vermicelli; the oysters should be fresh and the noodles chewy. The red vermicelli noodles are served in a soup with fresh oysters, pig intestines and sauce.

Danzai noodles are another popular snack. This Taiwan speciality is mainly a mixture of oil noodles and bean sprouts served in a small bowl. The dish can be topped either with meat or an egg boiled in soy sauce. Another speciality is zongzi, which are small dumplings of sticky rice, mushrooms, egg and pork all wrapped in bamboo leaves.

“Stinky tofu” is a snack speciality which can take some getting used to. Locals consider that the stronger it smells the better the flavour. Despite the strong smell it is a very tasty treat. The tofu is fried and served with pickled cabbage.

Changhua and Hsinchu are particularly renowned for their meatballs. In Changhua the meatballs are deep-fried, while in Hsinchu they are steamed, giving the two distinctively different flavours. The meatballs are made from a mixture including pork, bamboo shoots and mushrooms wrapped in a mixture of tapioca powder, rice powder and potato starch.

Other popular snacks include meat and vegetable wraps and steamed sandwiches, or guabao. The sandwiches are filled with pork and garnished with pickled vegetables, peanut powder and coriander.

To satisfy sweet cravings crushed ice desserts are popular. They are made from ice flavoured with mung beans, adzuki beans, starch balls, taro (a root vegetable) and other toppings all covered in sugar syrup. Fruits, such as strawberries and mangoes, are also used to top the ice.