See some of Taipei’s must-try street foods, as well as the shops and stalls that locals turn to for a fix of their favorites.
Taipei’s street food usually falls under the xiao chi (“little eats”) category. These are quick, convenient foods that can be eaten as an on-the-spot snack or grouped together to make a full meal. There’s a lot of variety in xiao chi, and though convenience is key, they’re still expected to deliver a whole lot of flavor and quick punch of umami. Visitors to Taipei are often pointed towards night markets as the best way to sample the local street food, and while they do make great places to try many dishes in one go, those with more time in the city may find more rewarding experiences in going where the locals go. Here are some highlights from Taipei’s street food offerings, plus some top spots favored by the city’s residents.
With the right planning, even those short on time can pack in plenty of food, history, arts, and local sights—check out our guide to a long weekend in Taipei for tips. To see what we think makes the city great, read our overview of Taipei in the 2018 Fodor’s Go List.
Often described as a Taiwanese take on a burger, gua bao is a steamed bun stuffed with thick slices of melt-in-your-mouth braised pork belly, topped with ground peanuts, cilantro, and slivers of pickled mustard greens. The traditional way to eat it: one hand wrapped around the bao, and the other manning spoonfuls of si shen tang, a fragrant herbal soup with bite-sized pieces of pork intestine swimming alongside silky Chinese pearl barley. Lan Jia Gua Bao is the uncontested king of gua bao in central Taipei, though on the other side of the city, Songshan Gua Bao also makes a great version.
INSIDER TIPVendors give the option of using fatty versus lean cuts of meat—for the best combination of flavor and texture, ask for a 50/50 balance of both.
Da Chang Bao Xiao Chang
Though the literal translation of “big intestines wrapping small intestines” usually provides newbies a pretty good laugh, the first bite of this hotdog-like xiao chi is enough to clear away any residual smirking. Grilled Taiwanese sausage—sweet, salty, and just a little bit smoky—is wrapped in a roasted “bun” of savory sticky rice. Toppings vary from one maker to another, but will most likely include some combination of chopped pickled mustard greens, shredded cabbage, cilantro, cucumbers, fresh chilies, and if you’re lucky, a drizzle of garlic puree. Zhen Qiao Wei Da Chang Bao Xiao Chang in the Yongkang neighborhood, the city’s street food hub, is a local favorite.
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It may look like a burrito for lightweights, but run bing pack a whole lot of flavor. Vendors take fresh spring roll wrappers, filling them with shredded cabbage, shiitake mushrooms, bean sprouts, and carrots (which are blanched together in a flavorful broth), then layer on thin bean curd slices, crispy crumbled you tiao (Chinese crullers), fried shallots, and fresh cilantro. A small side of meat is usually wrapped along with this mixture, which could vary from slices of barbecue pork or pork floss to pieces of grilled sausage. The wraps are great as a light breakfast or snack, and while delicious versions of run bing can be found at any of the city’s night markets, A-Hong Run Bing and Zheng Zong Run Bing are some of the city’s standouts.
Oamisua (Oyster Vermicelli)
Misua is a very thin wheat flour vermicelli which, when put through a longer steaming process, undergoes caramelization that imparts a light tan color and subtly fragrant flavor to the noodles. These are stewed in a thick, savory broth with oysters (the “oa” in oamisua) and sliced bamboo shoots, then served with fresh cilantro on top.
Ay-Chung Flour-Rice Noodle is a well-known chain with international locations (the first-ever shop is in Ximending), but for those who prefer a more low-key neighborhood spot, Yan Jia Oamisua in the historic Dadaocheng neighborhood serves a delicious version with a nice heaping of braised pork intestines, as does Chen Ji Misua near Longshan Temple.
INSIDER TIPAdditional toppings such as Thai basil leaves, dried bonito flakes, a dash of fresh garlic puree, and black vinegar may vary from vendor to vendor—these are automatically added for each customer, so there is no need for special requests (unless if the customer would like an omission due to allergy or personal preference).
Yan Su Ji (Popcorn Chicken)
Often translated as Taiwanese popcorn chicken, yan su ji are bite-sized pieces of chicken that are breaded, fried, then given a light dusting of salt and white pepper powder right before serving. Usually, the chicken is fried along with fresh Thai basil (and sometimes chunks of garlic), accompaniments which should absolutely be eaten along with the main attraction. When done right, the chicken should come out nicely juicy on the inside and very crunchy on the outside. Late-night hotspot Taiwan Popcorn Chicken, which has a location within the Tonghua Night Market, is a great place to start, as is Shi Yuan Yan Su Ji in Shida Night Market.
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Lu Rou Fan
Taiwan’s most beloved umami bomb in a bowl—lu rou fan is one of the island’s most ubiquitous dishes, and is one of the only foods on this list that the Taiwanese also make at home. Everyone has his or her favorite recipe, but it usually involves pork belly being braised in a mixture of rice wine, star anise, ginger, cloves, rock sugar, shallots, and garlic. The meat is then finely chopped, jiggly fatty bits and all, and served over a bowl of rice that soaks up all the richly flavored broth from that extended braise.
Jin Feng Lu Rou Fan is a hugely popular place that specializes in the dish. For a cozy, sit-down dining spot, My Zhao is great, while fanatics willing to go the distance for the ultimate fix may want to head to Jin Da Lu Rou Fan in New Taipei City.
Niu Rou Mian (Beef Noodle Soup)
Niu rou mian translates to beef noodle soup, that other pinnacle of Taiwanese comfort food. Chunks of tender beef (and sometimes tendon) are stewed for hours in a broth spiked with aromatic herbs and spices, then ladled over fresh wheat noodles. There’s a lot of contention among locals when it comes to naming the best purveyors of this classic dish—there are so many variations, from noodle type and thickness, to spicy and even tomato varieties—that it would be best to try more than one version during a visit to Taipei.
For a braised soy sauce-based soup, Yongkang Beef Noodle makes a great bowl (though expect a queue), while Lin Dong Fang specializes in pure beef broth. The latter offers up beef tallow laced with chili oil as a condiment, which is great for punching up the heat and savoriness of the bowl. Mu Ji Beef Noodle does excellent versions of both braised and pure beef broth noodle bowls.
Shao Bing You Tiao
A Taiwanese breakfast staple and true celebration of carbs, shao bing you tiao is a toasted sesame flatbread (shao bing) stuffed with a savory, deep fried pastry stick (you tiao) that, when done right, has a fragrant and crunchy exterior and airy interior. A scallion and egg crepe can also be folded in to add an extra layer of flavor (and moisture!). The traditional way to enjoy shao bing you tiao is to have it with homemade soy milk, which can be ordered hot or cold, sweet or savory.
Yonghe Dou Jiang is the most widely recognized name in the Taiwanese breakfast game, with locations scattered across the city—but take note, many outposts adopt the famous name but lack the quality and taste. Fu Hang Dou Jiang is another wildly popular spot, a family-owned shop that many locals tout as the best of the best.
Liang Mian (Cold Noodles)
Liang mian, literally “cold noodles”, is a dish that consists of fresh egg noodles, as well as julienned cucumbers and carrots, coated in a satisfyingly rich and earthy sauce made of pure ground sesame, fresh garlic puree, and light soy sauce. The noodles are served chilled or at room temperature and are especially popular as a light lunch, summertime snack, or quick late night bite following a night of drinking.
Cold noodles can be found all over the city (even convenience stores like 7-Eleven and Family Mart make decent ready-to-eat versions), and due to the simplicity and purity of the ingredients involved, it’s pretty rare to encounter badly made liang mian. Even so, Jia Wei Liang Mian and Kong Jun Liang Mian are a couple of places that receive some extra love from the locals.
Zhu Xie Gao
Zhu Xie Gao is a savory handheld snack spiked with a hint of sweetness, and it offers up one of the more distinctive flavor combinations within the “little eats” category. Pork blood rice cakes are cooked and stuck through a skewer, then dipped in sugar mixed with peanut dust and fresh cilantro—the result is dense and chewy, packed with contrasting flavors, a real love-it-or-hate-it kind of food.
For connoisseurs of the stuff, or those keen to try it for the first time, Zhen Ji Zhu Xie Gao and Zong Ji Zhu Xie Gao are centrally located neighborhood favorites that do great versions of the snack.
Chou Dou Fu (Stinky Tofu)
Chou dou fu, or stinky tofu, is typically eaten steamed or fried. With the former, these tofu blocks are steamed in a chili sauce and topped with fresh scallions. When fried, smaller, bite-sized cubes are deep-fried to create a crispy outer layer, then drizzled with thickened soy and fresh garlic sauces. It is often eaten topped with a smidgen of fresh chili sauce and cilantro, accompanied with a side of sweet-and-sour pickled cabbage.
Peng Ji Stinky Tofu specializes in the fried variety, though any night market will have decent versions. Wang Shui Cheng on Shen Keng Old Street—commonly known as “Stinky Tofu Street” thanks to its many specialists of the stuff—is famous for its steamed spicy version. For the extreme fanatics, Dai’s House of Unique Stink is known for providing the most pungent stinky tofu in town, steamed or fried.