What to eat besides Din Tai Fung when in Taiwan

I could (and probably will) go back to Taiwan only for its food! As explained 10 days there weren’t enough especially when 10 days give you only 30 chances to try the local delicacies. I admit we had to start eating more than 3 times a day to try everything we wanted. I would like to list in this article my favourite foodie places; from breakfast to lunch including bars, snacks and desserts. Even after years of travelling in Asia I still struggle with anything savoury for breakfast, probably my sweet tooth but to me, breakfast has to start on a sweet note so apologies in advance for not mentioning any noodle bars or bun places for breakfast.

First thing first a list of Taiwanese delicacies (and their descriptions – starting with the sweet options) that cannot be missed. You’ll find them in every corner of any cities or in any night markets. I don’t necessarily have specific recommendations for all of them. Just follow your instinct (or people queuing in front of food stalls!). Also one more thing, you won’t find any coffee recommendations even though apparently Taiwan is the new place for coffee connaisseurs – sorry we are tea drinkers !

  • The pineapple cakes: sweet snack in a shortbread type of dough (I actually found out later on that it does include some shrimp flavouring – but my husband is allergic to shrimps and didn’t get any reactions so you are safe!)
  • The Boba cha (or bubble tea): born in Taiwan (so many things are actually from Taiwan!!) and now in every large cities in the world, this shaken-up milk blended cold or hot tea with tapioca balls at the bottom is a must-try, I personnally had a different one everyday. You can customise your Boba cha in ordering the exact amount of sugar you need.
  • Anping bean jelly: this one has to be eaten in Tainan, the birthplace, soy milk jelly with tapioca balls or red bean. The smoothness and sugary mix cannot be described it has to be tasted.
  • Dim sum dumplings: dim sums are small bite-sized portions of food served in small bamboo steamer baskets or on a small plate. I would definitely recommend to have dumplings, these handmade raviolis are delicious and there are never enough.
  • Steamed Bun & xiao long bao: those are actually two different things, buns will usually come in pairs or individually, the dough is thicker and the filling is usually made with pork or chicken. Xiao long bao is a type of dumpling.
  • Sushis: thanks to its japanese influence, sushis and sashimis in Taiwan are definitely worth the try.
  • Noodle soup with fish balls: as mentionned you’ll find noodle soup food stalls and restaurants at pretty much every corners and there is no preferred time to have that – from early breakfast to after-work drinks snack !
  • Rice Eel: make sure that it is not undercooked as this fish brings a lot of nasty diseases ! We went for the boiled and grilled version with fried rice, that was delicious.
  • Stinky Tofu: well … I am adding this one to the list even though we haven’t had the chance to try it. We actually wanted to order some in a fancy restaurant in Taipei (thinking that it might be the safiest option) but our order got rejected as the waitress said that we were going to waste it with our occidental palate (yes I said that Taiwanese people were the nicest that might have been an exception 😉 ).
  • Bearded tooth mushrooms: a specific type of mushrooms that looks like a beard but when cooked in a nice sauce tastes like meat! Highly recommended.
  • Oyster Omelet: not my favourite as I am a big fan of fresh raw (ie normal) oysters but give it a go.
  • Fruits: yes I know nothing really new here but actually they do have the best exotic fruits (some I don’t even know the names) so stop for fresh juices whenever you can and even try the local specialty in Tainan – tomatoes in peanut/ginger/soy sauce !

My foodie places in Taipei

  • Funky fresh: probably the best bar in Taipei 🙂 delicious local craft beers and the best vibe ever, the owner will make you feel like at home in offering “biscuits” and free board games. It is located in one the streets leading to the Shilin night market, on the left hand side when facing the indoor market hall.
  • 士林豪大大雞排 (haha I know right ;)), you don’t need to know the name just carry on 200m from Funky fresh and stop whenever you see a 10/20 people queue. I guarantee the best fried chicken you’v ever had. The best thing is you can bring it back to Funky fresh to enjoy it with a cold beer.
  • Yang shin: moving on from street food, this is a proper fancy restaurant and it’s vegetarian! Definitley the best vegetarian food I’ve ever had. Make sure to book at least 2/3 days in advance it’s worth it.
  • Fujiyama’s Pig: they claimed to have the freshest pork in Taipei, what I really enjoyed there was their “healthy” bowls. I would recommend this place at the end of your trip when you would like to have something different, they do delicious sandwiches and savoury pancakes too.

My foodie places in Tainan

  • TCRC bar: in the world’s 50 best bar list! Really cool prohibition style bar at the end of a tiny alley. Go early or book in advance! The cocktails there are just ouf of this world.
  • Anping Bean Jelly: there are several branches of this restaurant but the original one is in Anping.
  • 度小月擔仔麵 中正旗艦店 Du Hsiao Yueh Restaurant: a tiny bit too touristy but you’ll be able to try the oyster omelet there as well as their noodle speciality ! And bonus point it’s really close to the famous Hayashi Department store.

Obviously I didn’t mention Din Tai Fung in here as it’s the absolute must do (hence the title of this post 😉 ).We probably don’t have to introduce this world-renowned one michelin starred taiwanese restaurant that specialises in dumplings and noodle soups – just go to any branches in Taipei preferrably after 8pm, it’s delicious, it’s cheap (3 times cheaper than the one in London) and you won’t even have to queue !

If you need some ideas in between two meals of things to do in Taiwan check 10 days in Taiwan, enjoy your stay and tell me your favourite places below !

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