Taiwan Street Food Adventure
If you’re a sucker for hawker chows, then Taiwan street food is a surely a delicious adventure. Just follow your nose & get happily lost in Formosa’s maze of roadside kitchens.
I have to admit that my trip to Taiwan was really a food hunt more than anything else. And it wasn’t even a long suspended excitement because when I got in the hotel, my high school friend Lala was already there with a grande bubble tea!
Taiwan street food has made its small country a global food destination.
I grew up eating street food in the Philippines. From the usual to the exotic, there’s nothing I think that I haven’t tried yet.
When I went to Thailand & Singapore, I thought their street food was a yummy stand off to the Philippines. But the explosive flavors of Malaysia changed it all. Just when I thought that I found the best, Japan toppled everything else & that doesn’t even need an explanation.
China, Cambodia & Myanmar’s street food are scary. Vietnam just lacks the kick in the palate. Indonesia & Laos are quite short of variety.
Features about Taiwan street food is all over—on food blogs & TV shows. In the beginning, I felt it was just media hype. But when my foodie friends Nicole & Jill told me that I’ll never go hungry in Taiwan, I was convinced to finally go on an food adventure in Taipei. After all, they frequent it just to eat!
Slurping my pearl tea, Lala first brought me to Ximending. It is Taipei’s happening district & indeed a great introduction into the famous Taiwanese dining style.
This is the city block to see & be seen. Glitzy bars, shopping arcades, restaurants & street performances are all here. In fact, those quirky shops that world knows have been made famous in this area.
The main thoroughfares are a roll-and-chase game between the peddlers & the police, so you won’t spot too many of them around. But check out the artery streets & plunge into its rows of toothsome delights.
From fried dumplings & steamed buns to shaved ice & mochi balls, this place is just a foodie wonderland. And what better way to get initiated on Taiwanese street food than by sampling Stinky Tofu.
The repulsive smell of fermented & deep-fried tofu is scary but it actually tastes good especially with cheese dip.
Lala was on a night shift at work the next day so I was thrown into exploring Shilin Night Market by myself. But she left me an advice to go in hungry. And good thing I followed it because I was brought into a real gustatory spin.
Shilin is the brightest night market in Taipei. It is popular among locals & trusting the Taiwanese insatiable love for xiaochi or small bites, it is indeed a street food mecca.
Every step of the way, I was literally munching on something. Oyster cakes, sizzling sausage, xiao long bao, frog eggs, skewered honey-glazed fruits & what-have-yous!
But the most outrageous find was the sausage-filled waffle shaped like an 8-inch dick! I didn’t mind looking aweful with that waffle, after all that was the biggest & the most delicious one I’ve ever had in my life. Thanks Taiwan!
And if you think Taiwan street food is only in Taipei, wait ‘til you experience the rest of the country where everything is just a bullet train ride away.
Next stop, Chiayi Wenhua Road Night Market on the southeastern side.
Despite the sleepy town feel, Chiayi surpised me with its street food scene. Here, I chose my food fare to be on the artery-clogging barbeques. The uncle grillers thought I would cower on pig’s blood, entrails & chicken feet. Bet, they didn’t know it’s a street staple in the Philippines.
No food trip to Taiwan is ever complete without visiting Tainan, touted as the country’s kitchen.
I caught up with my German friend Claudia, whom I haven’t seen since we traveled in Vietnam. We scoured all its food havens & we were couldn’t be more delighted by the former imperial capital’s divine eateries.
We drowned ourselves in different kinds of noodle soups & all the sweet goodies we could find like pineapple cake & almond nougats. I almost forgot that I am diabetic!
Moving on & 10-pounds heavier, I found myself binging in Rueifong & Liouhe, Kaohsiung’s equally maddening street food squares. Being a coastal city, anything seafood here are skewered, stewed, fried, sautéed & whatever you fancy.
But I have to mention that as night falls deep into the dark, Kaohsiung also takes on the words “Taiwan street food” to a different wilder meaning.
Closer to the flavors of home, Kenting on the tailsides is another seafood paradise. While it may have all the quintessential Taiwanese snacks, I decided it was time for my tummy to relax. Fresh tropical fruits & clam chowders were on my diet list.
After all, Kenting is a beach town & all the faking to feel beach-body perfect was badly needed.
But it didn’t take me long before I went on a calorific splurge again. This time in Hualien City. Boy, I have never queued for a freaking steamed bun in my life ever, not until I got to ZiQiang Night Market.
When a Taiwanese tells you to go where the long lines are, they mean, it’s good food. Move over Shanghai because Hualien’s xiao long bao is surely tastier!
Taiwan street food is truly a trademark in this side of Asia. On top of the unimaginable local treats that they already have, they’ve also wickedly created their versions of the different snacks that we adore from around the world.
I can’t even tell you anymore about the food stalls in the north like Gongguan (burp), Huaxi (burp), Lehua, & Raohe (burp)! And there’s no use naming all the must-try food because there are just too many to mention (burp)!
Taiwan street food surely runs over all other street food in Asia, including my own Philippines. They just do it so good that it is not just street-side dining but a lifestyle. You just gotta’ try it, to believe it!