Taiwanese food has a reputation for being incredibly vibrant and delicious. There is a rich food culture in the country with locals placing a significant focus on enjoying three solid meals every day. As a result, you are sure to find a myriad of Taiwanese restaurants where you can experience this delicious cuisine for yourself. Whether you indulge in yummy street food or you would like to treat yourself to a fine dining experience, your options are endless.
The Taiwanese food rhythm
The Taiwanese population enjoy starting their days with a breakfast that is eaten early in the morning. Typically, the first meal of the day consists of watery rice porridge with seaweed and steamed buns. Locals wash this down with a glass of warm soy milk. However, you could opt for a lavish breakfast that includes an omelette and deep-fried breadsticks. Lunch is usually eaten at midday. Due to the impressive work culture in the region, Taiwanese food is usually eaten at a restaurant or smaller street vendor. The midday meal needs to be quick so you should be sure to try out some stinky tofu or a tender piece of chicken cutlet. Finally, the day is closed off with a family-style meal of gelatinous rice stuffed with meat and vegetables, known by locals as zonzhi, fried squid and variety of sweet dishes.
Fast facts about Taiwanese food
Each meal is served with a small bowl of plain rice or broth. The custom is to hold this bowl as close to your mouth as possible and use your chopsticks to manoeuvre the food into your mouth as quickly as possible. If you come across any bones in your food, it is perfectly acceptable to place the remnants on the side of your plate. Most Taiwanese restaurants replace their tablecloths after you have left. There are also certain restrictions on food throughout the year. For example, flying fish is only eaten during the spring months.
Beloved Taiwanese dishes
- Xiao long bao: These are steamed soup dumplings that are formed by filling a thin layer of pastry with a flavourful broth. The dumplings are then sealed and steamed in a bamboo steamer.
- Niu rou mian: This beef soup is served in a clear or red broth with delicate noodles and thinly sliced beef. This is a sumptuous dish that is enjoyed throughout Taiwan.
- Hot pot: Rather similar to the Japanese dish of Shibu Shibu, the Taiwanese hot pot is made by cooking sliced meat, meatballs and vegetables in a spicy broth.
- Boba tea: This tasty drink has quickly become a worldwide sensation. When you order this drink, you can choose your favourite tea which is served over giant tapioca pearls that have been soaked in a simple syrup.
The underdogs of Taiwanese food
- Yaozi: This unique delicacy may just require a little bravery: made from chicken testicles sauteed in a spicy sauce, they are bursting with flavour.
- Guāncái bǎn: Known colloquially as coffin toast, this breakfast dish consists of thick slices of bread that are filled with meat and vegetables before being dipped in egg and deep-fried.
- Jiāngsī chǎo da trắng: This dish is made by stir-frying pig intestines with a spicy ginger sauce and thinly sliced vegetables. This interesting dish is typically served with some steamed rice.
Treat yourself at these popular restaurants
If your mouth is not yet salivating, your hunger pangs will start once you smell the delicious spicy soondubu hot pot from Seoul Garden Hot Pot or the spicy crab Xiao Long Bao from Crystal Jade La Mian.