Pictured above: Shilin Night Market
One of my dream destinations is Taiwan. Although I’m not Taiwanese, I seriously love Taiwanese culture. One of the best things Taiwan has to offer is its food. They’re world renown for their extraordinary street foods. Coming from China, I’m very well aware of how great street food can be. Sure, there are people who worry about cleanliness, but I think street foods are one of the only ways to get a full ‘not a tourist’ experience. Street food is one of the hidden gems of Taiwan– especially their night markets.
These are a few of the quintessential street foods to try if you visit Taiwan:
1. Ice Cream Run Bing
A runbing is a type of spring roll made with a wheat-flour based wrapper. You might find this stuffed with shredded pork and bean sprouts, but the most epic variation is when it’s in its dessert form. A sweet runbing is sprinkled with crushed peanuts and then a scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream.
2. Gua Bao
Gua bao, also known as steamed bao, pork belly buns, or ambiguously, bao, is a Taiwanese snack food consisting of a slice of stewed meat and other condiments sandwiched between flat steamed bread. They double as a Taiwanese hamburger.
3. Stinky Tofu Fries
When you talk night markets in Taiwan, stinky tofu is an unavoidable subject. (Mostly because you can smell that stuff from a mile away.) Lately there’s been a series of vendors hawking stinky tofu French fries. The tofu is fried, cut up in the shape of French fries and doused with cheddar cheese. It’s just as good and much more convenient this way.
4. Fish Balls
Unlike the meatballs you find at IKEA, these fish balls are made of fish. Hence, fish balls. Fish balls are everywhere in Taiwan and can be found in soup or on skewers.
5. Fried Chicken
Of course, you can get fried chicken anywhere. Taiwan, though, has their rendition of fried chicken down pat. Not only has it made the giant fried chicken cutlet a cult classic, but its popcorn chicken is dangerously addictive.The chicken is chopped into bite-sized pieces, marinated, dipped in batter and deep-fried.
6. Grilled Squid
An entire squid sliced open and grilled fresh is a common sight in Taiwanese night markets. It’s usually marinated with a bit of soy and garlic and skewered on a long stick.
The Taiwanese take on mochi is usually doused with fine pieces of peanuts or sesame. Unlike Japanese variations, the focus is more on the dough than on the filling.
That’s it! Taiwan is known for its night-markets. Make sure you definitely stop by to one if you visit Taiwan!