Taipei Food Guide: things to eat and where to find them!
Updated: Apr 5, 2019
With so many good food available plus the fact that you'll be able to get it all almost round the clock, Taipei is definitely the place to be for foodies. Food stalls come alive in the day; where local Taiwanese grab their favourite dough fritters for a long day at work, and at night; where the night market is the perfect place for a family night's out to feast!
On our several trips to Taipei, we have tasted just so much food in a day that we head home guilty, planning our workout for the next few months just to burn off those extra calories! Will I do it again? Definitely! All the food in Taipei are to-die-for and what's amazing is that there's always something different each time I head back!
Before reading this post, you may also be interested in our 18 things to do and eat in Taipei, Taiwan that covers more of the "DO" part of Taipei. Together with this foodie post, head on to conquer Taipei! :)
What to eat in Taipei, Taiwan?
1. Beef Noodle Soup (牛肉麵 Niu Rou Mian)
I'm actually not a big fan of beef noodle soup but this was a strong recommendation by my parents. Being beef lovers, plus heading to Taipei more times than we did, we decided to try out their recommendations!
We went to Niu Kung Kuan (牛公館牛肉麵), a beef noodle specialist located in the Ximen Area. When we were there, it was slightly after lunch time so there were hardly any crowds and we quickly got our seats. Besides the recommended braised beef noodles (the first one in their menu) at 180 NT, we also decided to try some of their side dishes, like the wonton in spicy sauce, 100 NT and the steamed pork ribs glutinous rice 100 NT.
The beef soup was extremely flavourful, with a tinge of spiciness that grants an additional layer of flavour. The beef brisket was tender and extremely soft while its noodles had an interesting springy and bouncy texture. Overall, an extremely delicious and hearty meal, especially if you are in Taipei on a cold day!
The sides were amazing as well! The wonton had a thin skin and it was boiled before lightly tosses in a chilli oil vinaigrette; exactly my kind of sauce! I must say that the star was the glutinous rice. It was flavourful and soft, kind of felt healthy too since it was steamed. There was an abundance of spices to flavour the dish and the pork ribs was fall-off-the-bone tender!
Niu Kung Kuan was indeed a great recommendation and I can see why they frequent this stall, every single time they are back in Taipei and almost twice every trip!
When I was paying, I noticed that they had a tie-up with Klook which grants you additional discount if you purchase your voucher online!
Niu Kung Kuan (牛公館牛肉麵)
No. 78, Xining Rd, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan 108
Opening hours: Daily, 11.00am to 9.30pm
Nearest metro: Ximen
Where else to eat Beef Noodles in Taipei?
- Niou Dien Beef Noodles
- Yong Kang Beef Noodles
2. Braised Pork Rice (滷肉飯 Lu Rou Fan)
You can't leave Taipei without having Lu Rou Fan! Considered a staple in the Taiwanese diet, this is a rice dish that is topped with braised pork that has been stewed for hours! The pork becomes really soft and soaks in all the sauces after the long time of stewing. Another comfort food, this dish is extremely affordable and can be found in almost all Taiwanese restaurants!
When you talk about Lu Rou Fan, most people would first point you to Jin Feng because that's arguably where you can find the best one! We did try that during our trip to Taipei but very much prefer Formosa Chang's. Nonetheless, here's a quick review of both restaurants!
Jin Feng Lu Rou Fan 金峰魯肉飯
Jin Feng is a humble establishment located close to the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall so you can stroll over either before or after your visit there. It is a no-fuss restaurant and really lets you experience the local way of having their meal. After queuing in line, you'll get ushered to a small table (seats 4), but if you have anything below 4, you'll most likely will need to share your table.
We ordered a Lu Rou Fan each, alongside one braised egg and a bowl of soup. The braised pork rice is a little more towards the savoury side and only had this flavour. I also thought that they weren't quite generous with the pork and the gravy as I didn't have enough of them to finish my rice. The winter melon soup that we ordered was light-tasting and goes well with the hearty and fatty rice.
I guess what's great about this joint is the ability to have it whenever you want since they have really long opening hours plus it is extremely affordable. Braised pork rice starts from 30 NT for small, all the way till 50 NT for large. Soups are around 55 NT and the extra egg we bought goes at 15 NT. For those looking for a budget travel meal, you won't have to break the bank for tasting this!
Jin Feng Lu Rou Fan 金峰魯肉飯
No. 10, Section 1, Roosevelt Rd, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan 100
Opening hours: Daily, 8.00am to 1.00pm
Nearest metro: Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall Station (right outside exit 2)
Formosa Chang 鬍鬚張魯肉飯
After having the not-so-satisfying braised pork rice, we decided to visit Formosa Chang as we fondly remembered having it the previous time we were in Taipei. It is located just a few blocks away from Jin Feng and they are a chain restaurant with several stores all over Taipei. You can even find them in foodcourts in Taipei.
Formosa Chang's Lu Rou Fan is a lot more fatty and "sticky" due to the fats of the pork. The taste of it is also less one-dimensional than the savoury Jin Feng. We liked it as it had a tinge of sweetness to the gravy. Prices for Formosa Chang is on the higher side 39 NT, but it is definitely worth it as you get tons of space (no sharing of tables needed) plus in an air-conditioned, cafe-setting environment. They also have variants of the braised pork, such as braised chicken, drumstick, et cetera.
When we were there, we also decided to try this side 紅麴燒肉, which is a fried cutlet. It is crispy and flavourful, a great side to complement the braised pork rice.
They also served a range of soups and other side dishes. When we were there, we saw some of the students coming to have their meals for their break!
Formosa Chang 鬍鬚張魯肉飯 (several outlets available)
No. 70, Section 1, Nanchang Road, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan 100
Opening hours: Daily, 10.00am to 10.30pm
Nearest metro: Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall Station (take exit 2)
Should you simply love Taiwanese Beef Noodles and Braised Pork so much so that you would want to learn how to prepare these dishes, you can learn to cook them in a 2-hour cooking class when you are in Taiwan!
3. Flour-Rice Vermicelli (麵線 Mian Xian)
I personally think that this is another must-eat when you are in Taipei. The flavourful thick broth of the paired with a dash of chilli, vinegar, and garlic, is to-die-for. I always make sure I have my full of Ay-Chung Flour-Rice Noodle 阿宗麵線 before I head back. A pity that they have closed their outlet in Shilin Night Market when I was there, so the only way to get it is when you are at Ximending.
I've tried other flour-rice noodles in Taipei but Ay-Chung still wins hands-down! The small bowl goes for 55 NT and the large bowl at 65 NT. The picture above is the small-bowl and after having it, I regretted not having the large bowl!
Ay-Chung doesn't have any seats so you'll just have to purchase a bowl, stand around the area and slowly slurp the piping hot noodles! Inside the bowl, you'll find bite-sized chunks of pork intestines that has been well-flavoured by the broth. The coriander adds a slight contrast to the dish and complements the rich flavour really well.
Ay-Chung Flour-Rice Noodle 阿宗麵線
No. 24, Lane 101, Wenlin Road, Shilin District, Taipei City, Taiwan 111
Opening hours: Daily, 9.00am to 11.00pm
Nearest metro: Ximen Station
4. Fried Pork Chop (排骨 Zhu Pa)
Many are familiar with Taiwanese fried chicken cutlet but I didn't know that fried pork chop was a "thing" until a Taiwanese friend recommended this unassuming place that not many tourists know about! Dong Yi Pork Chop 東一排骨總店 is located opposite the main Ximending area. It is quite a bit of a walk but definitely worth it to taste this gem!
The shop front is actually on a mezzanine level of a building, 百樂大廈. We had a bit of trouble finding it when we were there. What you can do is to look out for this green signage! You'll see a parking garage where this signage is but don't worry, you're at the right place! Take the stairs up and you'll see this traditional-looking, 70s'-style retro cafe.
The exterior of this restaurant doesn't look like an eatery at all. You may be hesitant to walk in like we did but once you are close to the door, the friendly staff would welcome you in!
The entire restaurant seats a whole lot of people and we can already imagine the entire place filled up with working executives during lunch time. As we went there past the popular lunch period, we had a whole lot of space to ourselves!
Order the first one on their menu, their fried pork chop and the 150 NT meal comes along with a plate of pork chop, a substantial bowl of minced meat noodles or rice, plus soup and a side dish. Thankfully we only ordered one portion because it was simply too much!
Although the fried pork chop was slightly greasy, it was wonderfully seasoned and extremely crispy. The noodles that we had was basically a version of the braised pork sauce with noodles instead of rice.
The entire experience having your meal at a retro restaurant is quite amusing. We looked at the nostalgic-looking bar counter, the seats, the decor as we were feasting on the delicious pork chop. This place is definitely recommended for those who wish to have an off-the-beaten-path food experience in Taipei!
Dong Yi Pork Chop 東一排骨總店
100, Taiwan, Taipei City, Zhongzheng District, Yanping South Road, 61號
Opening hours: Tuesdays to Sundays, 10.00am to 8.00pm (closed on Mondays)
Nearest metro: Ximen Station
5. Taiwanese Fried Chicken (雞排 Ji Pa)
Back to the more famous fried chicken, which is more of a street snack and you can find them at most of the night markets. Fried chicken has become synonymous with night markets and they are a delight both for the young and the old. In the past, Taiwanese fried chicken used to be in bite-sized pieces and after frying, they are topped with spices like salt, pepper, basil leaves, garlic, and some chilli if you'd like. While you still find these in most of the night markets, now, the mammoth piece of bone-in-chicken cutlet, usually uncut, is much more popular.
While Hotstar XXL chicken, the creator of this new large-size fried chicken trend is extremely popular amongst the tourists, try an alternative such as Hometown-Barbecue-Chicken (家鄉碳烤香雞排) - a new find! Instead of the usual deep-fried chicken, they "upped" their game by drenching it in a sweet and savoury sauce, and grilled it over charcoal fire, giving the chicken an additional layer of sweet, savoury, crispy, and tender interior!
You can find this at Shilin Night Market area, one of the first few stands with a long queue if you are going over via Jiantan Station. We also found another one of their food stands at Ximending.
No. 1, Jihe Road, Shilin District, Taipei City, Taiwan 111
Opening hours: Daily, 4.00pm to 12.00pm
Nearest metro: Jiantan Station
Where else to eat Fried Chicken in Taipei?
- Hotstar XXL Chicken (豪大大雞排) at Shilin Night Market
- 1973 Krispy Chicken (1973 鷄光香香鷄) at XiMenDing
6. Taiwanese Chinese Food
What's interesting about Taiwanese Chinese Food is they are somehow a mix of Taiwan, China, and Hong Kong.
Din Tai Fung (鼎泰豐)
Places like Din Tai Fung, a michelin-starred restaurant specialising in Xiao Long Bao (Pork Soup Dumplings) and Huaiyang cuisine is highly popular in Taipei. Although we have Din Tai Fung in Singapore, we've heard how it tastes a lot better in Taiwan and had to try it for ourselves!
There are several Din Tai Feng outlets all over Taipei but the most popular one has got to be the one at Taipei 101. We ordered a Xiao Long Bao, beef noodles, and a sweet and sour soup. The Xiao Long Bao was good! The pork was wrapped in a thin layer of skin and once you bite into it, the piping hot and flavourful soup oozes out of the "bun". Paired with a little bit of vinegar and ginger strips, this was a tasty snack. The beef noodles was average and we have had much better beef noodles at Niu Gong Guan.
Thankfully, there weren't a queue at Din Tai Feng when we were there as we, again, went during the off-peak lunch period. We also found some online vouchers that you may just want to purchase when visiting as you get a small discount off your meal!
Din Tai Fung (鼎泰豐) (Several outlets available)
110, Taiwan, Taipei City, Xinyi District, City Hall Rd, 45號台北101購物中心
Sundays to Thursdays, 11.00am to 10.30pm; Fridays and Saturdays, 11.00am to 11.00pm
Nearest metro: Taipei 101/World Trade Centre Station
Kao Chi (高記)
For those who have been to Taipei before, or if your home country already has Din Tai Fung, you have to try Kao Chi (高記)! A less commercialised Taiwanese Chinese restaurant, I would dare say that the food, ambience, and service is a lot better than the former!
They offer similar dishes to those at Din Tai Fung but their specialty, unlike Din Tai Fung's Xiao Long Bao, is actually the Shanghai pot-fried meat bun (上海鐵鍋生煎包 Shen Jian Bao) - 200 NT. When it first arrived, we were shocked at how big the buns were. On the menu, it did say 10, but these were a lot larger than the Xiao Long Bao. Thinking that we should just eat as much and perhaps packet or waste the rest, it was so good that we finished all 10 pieces!
Unlike Xiao Long Bao, the skin of these Shen Jian Bao tastes closer to a bread. The bottom is a little charred while the insides were the same delicious, broth-oozing goodness. As it was served in a hot grill pan, the buns remained hot until the end of our meal, which is a great touch!
We also tried their steamed beef balls which was made with a generous portion of beef, alongside some crunchy vegetables. We certainly didn't have stomach to try more but the quality of these dishes are definitely top-notched!
There are a few outlets of Kao Chi and we visited the one at Zhongshan Road. The exterior was equally classy as the interior and you'll definitely be able to spot the restaurant from a mile away with their brick red facade.
Kao Chi (高記)
No. 133號, Section 1, Zhongshan N Rd, Zhongshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 104
Opening hours: Daily, 10.30am to 10.30pm
Nearest metro: Zhongshan Station
7. Taiwanese Beef Hot Plate
The Taiwanese have an interesting way to have their steak - they have it on a hotplate, with some pasta, topped with an egg. This is our favourite thing to eat whenever we head to Taipei. Although we do have our favourites, I'll also share some other restaurants you can try!
At 大統大牛排 steakhouse at Shilin, every meal, be it chicken or beef, or even fish, comes with a bowl of hot soup and a cup of iced tea. Service is really quick here and you'll get your meal within 5 minutes of ordering. If I'm not wrong, Korean celebrities, Kim Jong Kook, Haha, and Yang Se-Chan had their meal here, or at least they were eating Taiwanese beef hotplate!
There are several steps to eat Taiwanese steaks on a hot platter. Since it will be drenched in either pepper or brown sauce, these sauces will splatter once it is served! We observed how the Taiwanese eat and followed suit. Grab the serviette on your table and open it up. When your hot plate is served, place the serviette close vertical to the hotplate to act as a barrier, preventing the hot sauces from splattering on you! Thereafter, it will kind of simmer down and you can start eating.
Do take note that the steak at this restaurant isn't your typically steak. It is slightly softer and more fatty such that it tastes a little bit more like a beef patty, which is what we loved! For those looking for steaks that are a little more fibrous, you would very much prefer Niu Mowang, just a few stalls down.
No. 89之17號, Danan Road, Shilin District, Taipei City, Taiwan 111
Opening hours: Daily, 11.00am to 1.00pm
Nearest metro: Jiantan Station
Where else to eat Taiwanese Hotplate Beef in Taipei?
- Niu Mowang Steakhouse at Shilin
- 大塊牛排專賣店 at Shilin
8. Bubble Tea
Taiwan is the land of bubble tea. You'll find them around every corner, whether it be a popular chain or not. Lately, the brown sugar milk bubble tea has taken Taiwan and the surrounding Asian cities by storm. This bubble tea is great for #travellerswithchildren because it contains no caffeine! The tea is replaced with creamy milk and is oh-so-satisfying!
Where to drink bubble tea in Taipei?
- Tiger Sugar
- 50 lan (50嵐)
- Chunsui Tang (春山茶水舖)
- Night markets
9. Oyster Omelette (蚵仔煎 Orh-ah-jian)
People in Singapore and Malaysia are familiar with this beautiful mess. It usually is not quite a looker, but it tastes so heavenly! The oyster omelette is a dish that contains three basic ingredients - oysters, eggs, and potato starch. What makes Taiwanese's Oyster Omelette so different is that is usually paired with a sweet sauce consisting of tomato sauce, soy paste, and sweet chilli sauce. The result is a savoury omelette with sweet sauce!
Where to eat Taiwanese Oyster Omelette in Taipei?
- Lai Ji Oyster Omelette at Ningxia Night Market
- 忠誠號蚵仔煎 at Shilin Night Market
- 東石順蚵仔煎小吃店 at Ximending
10. Stinky Tofu (臭豆腐 Chou Dou Fu)
Stinky tofu is the quintessential Taiwanese street snack. Most night markets would have at least a store selling this smelly snack. I've tried one piece at least, and didn't really get why they needed to ferment the tofu when it would have been nice if regular tofu was used. But there are others who would vehemently disagree and swear by how delicious stinky tofu tastes.
A first-timer to Taipei should at least try to place one into their mouths. Well, pinch your noses and try it! Aside from the pungent smell, it is honestly quite tasty!
Where to eat Stinky Tofu in Taipei?
- ShenKeng Old Street (also known as Stinky Street)
- 忠誠號蚵仔煎 at Shilin Night Market
11. Soy Milk and Fried Dough Fritters (豆漿油条 Dou Jiang You Tiao)
A popular Taiwanese breakfast, savoury fried dough fritters are usually eaten together with a sweet soy milk beancurd. While it is extremely greasy, it does fill you up quickly and helps you stay full all the way till lunch time.
Since we have yet to do so, he recommended us to try this local Taiwanese breakfast. The dough fritters are actually wrapped in a pastry and really kept us extremely full!
Where to eat Dou Jiang You Tiao in Taipei?
- Yong He Soy Milk King (永和豆漿大王)
- Fu Hang Dou Jiang (阜杭豆漿)
12. Pork Ribs Noodles (楊排骨酥麵)
This is a recent find! The pork ribs are fried before it is soaked in this surprisingly flavourful broth. This is actually another Taiwanese staple aside from their braised pork rice and you can find them at many Taiwanese restaurants, like at Jin Feng. However, we found this specialty store at RaoHe Street that serves up awesome pork ribs stew for just 90 NT. The radish in the soup is also extremely tasty since it has fully soaked up all the goodness!
No. 62, Raohe Street, Songshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 105
Opening hours: Daily, 4.30pm to 11.30pm
Nearest metro: Songshan Station
13. Glutinous Rice Balls (汤圆 or 粉圆)
Glutinous Rice Balls are a common hot Chinese dessert but Taiwan once again made it special by having them iced. At Jiufen Old Street, you'll get Fen Yuan made out of taro balls, sweet potato balls, green tea balls mixed with some shaved ice and some kidney beans. In Taipei City itself, there's the warm Glutinous Rice Balls set on top a large mound of shaved ice.
When served, the waiter would suggest that you quickly eat the rice balls before tasting the ice. Perhaps because it is handmade, the rice balls had a more rough texture and you could taste bigger bits of sesame or peanut within. That doesn't mean it isn't good, in fact, it felt more authentic than the usual factory-made ones.
After you've eaten your rice balls, dig into the finely shaved ice! On the tables, you'll find some osmanthus honey and lemon juice that you can pour over the ice. A slight tart and sweet dessert is what you'll get at the end of it! :)
No. 142, Raohe Street, Songshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 105
Sundays to Thursdays, 5.00pm to 12.00midnight; Fridays and Saturdays, 5.00pm to 12.30am
Nearest metro: Songshan Station
14. Fuzhou Pork Pepper Buns (Hu Jiao Bing)
Another tasty street food that can be found at Raohe Night Market is the pork pepper buns. It has a similar idea to Xiao Long Bao and Shen Jian Bao, but much larger and the interior is filled with peppery goodness.
You know you have to have it when you see a long line of people queuing up for these buns! The 10-minute wait... is so WORTH it!! Fortunately, ever since they have opened a branch at Shi Lin Night market, there is no longer such a snaking queue except when the tourist buses arrive outside the night market.