Calling all foodies! If there's one destination that's calling the name of every food lover out there, it's Taiwan. This country is home to some of the world's most unique street food, with plenty of markets, mom-and-pop shops, and vendors to keep a traveler busy (and fed) for quite some time.
While Taipei is home to some of the best street food in Taiwan, its delicious dishes can be found throughout the entire country. Rather than focusing on where in Taiwan to visit, we're focusing on what to eat while you're there!
Here's a guide for devouring the best of Taiwan's offerings, including where to find the best street food in the country and how much to spend.
FAQs About Eating Taiwan's Street Food
For starters, the sheer amount of street food one can find in Taiwan is truly overwhelming. From boba tea to anything and everything that can be served on a skewer or eaten with one hand, it's truly tremendous. However, with this all-encompassing world of street food come plenty of questions from first-timers who have never actually eaten in Taiwan before.
Is It Safe To Eat Street Food In Taiwan?
Yes! While the term 'street food' gets somewhat of a bad reputation, the biggest risk travelers face is either not liking something, or gaining a few pounds along the way. While there's never a guarantee with visiting another country, those who are truly nervous can look for two things: face masks or gloves when food handling. Since food vendors cook 99% of their food in the open, and in front of customers, there's nothing truly secretive about the cooking process or its ingredients.
Where Can You Find Street Food In Taiwan?
This is easier the closer one is to Taipei and other cities in Taiwan. Night markets are the most popular places to find the best street food, but vendors can also be found down busy and historic streets throughout the city. When in doubt, simply follow your nose or ask the locals!
Is Street Food Better Than Restaurant Food In Taiwan?
This is solely a matter of opinion. However, it is definitely worth taking a day off from restaurant dining to explore the country's street food scene. Since there's so much to eat, this is easy to do - some people go their entire weekend or week in Taiwan just eating street food! This is also an option, but prepare to feel very full by the end of it all.
Which Street Food To Try In Taiwan
If we tried to encompass all of Taiwan's street foods in one article, we'd be here for days. The next best thing? Discuss the best types of street food that can be found, instead, as well as where to find it.
Fried Taro Balls
These delicious, fried dough balls can be found throughout Taiwan's markets pretty easily. The dough itself has a slight sweetness to it, which contrasts nicely with the pork floss-wrapped salted lava egg that's found in the center. The best place to find this intriguing snack is at the Ningxia Night Market, where visitors can find the vendor Liu Yu Zai Fried Taro Ball.
Xiao Long Bao
These little dumplings are basically joy in dough form. The dumpling starts with a fluffy, pillow-like dough that holds a savory soup inside. The trick is to either drink the soup from the dumpling or eat it as a whole, so the experience is just as thrilling as the flavors of the dish. Visitors can find these treats at Ningxia Night Market or any night market in Kenting.
Otherwise known as a Taiwanese pork belly, this delicious steam bun is filled with perfectly cooked pork belly, veggies, and crushed peanuts. The combination is simple yet balanced, and it's fresh, rich, and perfect for a mid-afternoon or late-night snack. Visitors can find these literally anywhere through Taiwan, and will always be sold at night markets.
Tianjing Chong Zhua Pancake
This pancake is much more than a savory piece of fried dough. It's also called the Spring Onion Pancake but can be filled with practically anything found on a vendor's table. These are found at most, if not all, street markets, but some of the best are found at Tianjing Ching Zhua Pancake in Taipei City.
Honorable Mentions To Add To The List:
- Taiwanese Pearl Milk Tea (Boba tea)
- Sweet dessert Taro balls
- Mochi on a stick
- Grilled beef skewers
- Taiwanese sticky rice sausage
- Peanut ice cream roll
- Aiyu Jelly
- Fried pork or chicken cutlet
Budgeting For Street Food In Taiwan
Thankfully, the budget needed for food in Taiwan is super affordable compared to many other countries. For those traveling from the US, they'll find that the US dollar goes pretty far and will stretch even further by opting for street food over sit-down dining. Some of the basic costs for street food items are:
- Bowl of beef noodles ~ $3-$8 USD (100-250 TWD)
- Hot pot for the table ~ $8 USD/person (250 TWD)
- Street snack ~ $0.50 - $3 USD (15-100 TWD)
- Boba/Milk tea ~ $1 USD (35 NTW)
For comparison, the cost of dining at an indoor restaurant in Taipei can be as much as 600 TWD. In US dollars, this equates to roughly $18 and change per person.
No matter which street foods one chooses to try in Taiwan, they can be sure that they'll find something to love. This island is full of bold flavors and innovative dishes built on culinary traditions and local ingredients, which is what makes it so unique.