10 Must – Try Dishes in Taiwan

Being back in Taipei for the summer after a school year subsisting on cafeteria food (Tufts, you’ve ranked pretty high on National rankings of dining hall fare, but the stuff gets old after a while) means that I’m in food heaven. Focus Asia Travel shares you 10 dishes in Taiwan you can not miss.

1. Wontons In Chili Oil

dishes in Taiwan
Wontons in chili oil

Delicately wrapped with meat and vegetable filling, the spice of the chili oil is perfect and something that I dream about on a regular occasion (no shame). Available from most dumpling shops, they’re a quick, easy meal.

2. Pastries

dishes in Taiwan
Pineapple cakes

Taiwan has both traditional pastries (i.e. pineapple cakes, Sun cakes and the like) and French style tarts. Whether it’s finding a really good cheesecake or a delectable lemon tart, cafes and bakeries across Taiwan have an endless plethora of sweets to choose from. Each store is different, so the sweetness never truly ends.

3. Beef Noodle Soup

Dishes in Taiwan
Beef noodle soup

Personally, the most comforting meal when back home is a giant bowl of beef noodle soup — warm, fragrant, with noodles cooked just right. There’s also different variations of the broth, so it fits everyone’s taste buds. Every store has their own broth, so give multiple shops a twirl before settling on your favorite one.

4. Sushi

Dishes in Taiwan

Of course, being an island makes seafood a prime part of Taiwan’s food culture. Japanese restaurants are a dime a dozen in Taiwan, and the sushi can always be guaranteed fresh. Personal favorite is salmon sashimi atop a bed of rice — I will sadly admit that I’ve had it four times already since being back three weeks.

5. Soup Dumplings

Dishes in Taiwan
Soup dumplings

The best way to eat these is to rest them on a soup spoon, nibble a small hole, blow some air in to cool down the broth, and slurp away. That way none of the precious soup inside the dumpling gets lost — and let’s be real, that’s the best part.

6. Shaved Ice

Dishes in Taiwan
Shaved ice

Cool and refreshing, shaved ice provides a magnificent vehicle for an assortment of sweet beans, sauces, fruits and jellies. This is one treat that can actually be eaten in the heat.

7. Fried Popcorn Chicken

Dishes in Taiwan
Fried popcorn chicken

Just staring at this picture makes me want to run out to buy a bag. It’s so fragrant that everyone standing within a ten foot radius knows you have it. Little morsels of chicken are deep fried then salted and spiced to perfection. It’s worth the wait in night markets. This is, of course, a major guilty pleasure.

8. Bubble Tea

Dishes in Taiwan
Bubble tea

Where would I be in the summer without this staple? Not only are shops aplenty, there are so many flavors and varieties to choose from, and it’s a fast relief to the beating sun during July. There’s also some great variations off of the traditional bubble tea, with ice cream or more grass jelly being added.

9. Glutinous Oil Rice

Dishes in Taiwan
Glutinous oil rice

Trust me, it’s just plain weird to translate this particular name. But the glutinous rice is so good, mixed with a variety of mushrooms, meat and bean curds. It’s a staple during big meals with the family and works as a wonderful carb addition to all the seafood.

10. Taiwanese Puff Pastry Bread

Dishes in Taiwan
Taiwanese puff pastry bread

Again, bear with me with the translation. It’s traditional Taiwanese style bread (soft and fluffy) covered with a square of flaky, buttery pastry. Inside the bread can be a variety of things, but it is traditionally pork floss or a creamy, milky filling. Honestly, the conclusion is that bread makes everything better. Anything.