Taipei is a city that’s serious about food. From cheap and cheerful to sophisticated and spicy, the cuisine of the Taiwanese capital is distinctive, bold, and diverse–just like its people. Here are some of Taipei’s best bites for a delicious getaway.
Nothing warms you up on a cold day quite like a bowl of Taiwanese beef noodle soup. Locals love this simple and satisfying dish so much that there’s an annual festival dedicated to it. The best bowls come with a clear and spicy broth, slices of tender beef, chewy noodles, and baby bok choy.
A street food staple in just about every night market in Taipei (and throughout Asia), stinky tofu tastes much better than its name (and smell) implies. Fried, steamed, or braised chunks of fermented bean curd are smothered in chili and soy sauce. Wash it down with a cold glass of bubble tea.
Fried Chicken Cutlet
Another street food favorite, fried chicken cutlet, is most famously found at the Shilin Night Market at a stand called Hot-Star Large Fried Chicken. The name is accurate–these breaded and deep-fried cutlets can be as big as your face.
Braised Pork Belly Rice
Locals love this basic dish so much that the Taipei government championed a “braised pork rice is ours” campaign in 2013 to stake claim to this incredibly popular meal. Salty, sweet, and a little bit spicy, the dish consists of a thick, tangy sauce and finely chopped but still fatty pork are all piled on a bed of piping hot rice.
Xiao Long Bao
These traditional steamed buns from the Jiangnan region of China, sometimes called Shanghai dumplings, are popular among locals in Taiwan. No place does them better than Din Tai Fung. Travelers and residents line up at the chain’s many locations for bamboo baskets of piping hot morsels filled with steaming pork, crab, and salty roe.
This traditional dessert is among the favorites here in Taipei, and no one should leave the city without at least one serving of this Taiwanese version of ice cream. Locals love the frosty mountains of traditional shaved ice topped with real fresh fruit, like mangoes, strawberries, and coconut. It’s a refreshing way to end a spicy local meal or to cool off from the city heat.