Taiwan has built a reputation as the ultimate go-to place for those who love street food. The state considers its culinary offerings as an important part of its culture, so it comes as no surprise that many tourists flock to it to have a taste of its local cuisines. But while there is no doubt about the richness of its night food markets, there are also a number of legendary culinary spots that deserve a visit for when you travel here. Below, a list of some of the best dishes and treats you should never miss in Taiwan.
1. Miyahara Ice Cream Shop
Address: No. 20號, Zhongshan Road, Central District, Taichung City, Taiwan 400
The best way to describe the place is that it has so much going on BUT in a good way. Miyahara Ice Cream Shop is among the top tourist spots in Taiwan because of its amazing Harry Potter-esque interiors and the good food it serves. A haven for those with a sweet tooth, the dessert shop offers wonderful scoops of ice cream for takeout (be prepared for the long lines!) and other treats like chocolates, pralines, and pineapple cakes. The shop sells the perfect gifts for friends and family back home; each box is wrapped daintily in beautiful paper and laid out neatly like books in the library-like setting of the former eye clinic. If you want to stay a little longer, you can also have a sit-down afternoon snack at its second-floor cafe where they offer coffee and – you guessed right – more desserts.
2. Ay-Chung Flour-Rice Noodles
Address: No. 8-1號, Emei Street, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan 108
A walk down Taipei’s central shopping district wouldn’t be complete without a stop at this legendary noodle shop. Taiwan is known for a lot of things, with noodles as one of its identifiers, and Ay-Chung’s offering of thin mee sua in a semi-thick soup sets the standard for this particular dish. The shop’s noodles have become popular the world over for its gravy-like soup made of bonito flakes and succulent pig intestines that add some bite to its overall texture. Ay-Chung does not offer any seating areas, but you can make do like the locals – and the flocks of other tourists there – by eating yours while standing in the alley, a part of the experience that has made a stop here iconic. Just try your hardest not to feel conscious while eating in front of the long lines waiting for their orders (the line snakes back a couple of times in front of the shop!).
3. Chun Shui Tang Original Milk Tea
Address: No. 30號, Siwei Street, West District, Taichung City, Taiwan 403
You can't really call yourself a milk tea connoisseur if you haven't tried the OG of all milk teas which you find in Chun Shui Tang in Taichung, Taiwan. According to the shop that claims to have invented our favorite iced drink, its founder got inspired to add ice to milk tea after experiencing iced coffee during a trip to Japan. The shop offers the ultimate classic version of the drink—pearl milk tea that is not too sweet with bouncy boba pearls that won’t leave you picking at your teeth for hours. The place also offers other dishes like dim sum, noodles, and tofu dishes.
4. Niu Dian Beef Noodles
Address: No. 91號, Kunming Street, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan 108
Despite having been in the business for only a decade, the beef noodles from Niu Dian has already amassed a cult following from locals and tourists alike. The shop, which has been given the Bib Gourmand recognition in Taipei’s Michelin Guide, has become famous for its quality Australian beef and its flavorful broth boiled from stock bones and a medley of vegetables. If the beef doesn’t make you a fan, the springy noodles in each steaming bowl will, as well as the special bone marrow oil added to the soup. Locals like theirs spicy, but you can request for a normal one from the servers, too. Do note that a visit to this shop requires some extra scheduling. Other than the long lines, the shop is only open from 11:30AM to 2:30PM every day, with business resuming 5:00PM to 8:00PM.
5. Fu Ding Wang
Address: No. 560, Sec. 1, Taiwan Blvd., Central District, Taichung City 400, Taiwan
Here’s another reason to take the long trip to Taichung. Fu Ding Wang’s pork knuckles and lu rou fan—rice bowl topped with braised pork—may seem unassuming at first, but both pack a punch. Though the two dishes are offered all around Taiwan, the servings from this shop stand out from the rest with their perfect combination of sweet and savory flavors. You’ll see cauldrons of pork being slow cooked to perfection when you walk into the small but constantly busy shop where it's not uncommon for diners to squeeze in together. Busy hours often have people waiting patiently for their turn to be seated, but you can also order for takeaway if you want to taste it hot and fast. Don’t forget to order a side of boiled egg when you do!
6. A Mei Tea House
Address: 224, Taiwan, New Taipei City, Ruifang District, 市下巷20號
The teahouse in the small mountain town of Jiufen has become a favorite tourist stopover for being the inspiration behind Hayao Miyazaki’s film Spirited Away, but the place also leaves a lasting impression among those who actually go inside to experience its tea and treats. Its rock-carved, graffiti-filled entrance and a beautiful view will instantly transport you to another world, but it is not until you’re served with its signature teas and snacks that you will really feel the magic. Try its best-selling oolong tea and pair it with sides like sesame crackers and mochi balls for the perfect experience. Make sure to pay attention to the servers too when they teach you how to make your own brew.
7. Kao Chi
Address: No. 1號, Yongkang Street, Da’an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106
Din Tai Fung is often the first name that comes to mind when we think of Xiao Long Bao, but Kao Chi – which actually has an eight-year lead from it – is one that can give its soup dumplings a run for its money. Though its menu is a little bit on the pricier spectrum, you’ll get value for your dollar the moment you sink your teeth into its succulent xiao long bao. Just imagine: wrapper with just the right thickness to hold against your chopsticks and soup so flavorful it can stand on its own even without some dip. This Chinese restaurant is the perfect place to escape to if you don’t want the hassle of waiting because of its smaller crowd. If you’re really hungry, you can also order a basket of its pan-fried pork buns. We promise it’s worth it.
8. Saint Peter
Address: No. 194, Nong'an Street, Zhongshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 10491
Nestled on the base of JiuFen Old Street is Saint Peter’s, a dessert shop that offers a variety of sweets and pastries that are perfect for snacking and as souvenirs. The small shop, which also serves as a resting place for tourists wanting to cool down from their hike on the mountain town, has become popular for its nougat biscuits. The treats are just a little over the size of a big coin and are made of salty sweet nougat sandwiched between coffee-flavored biscuits. You can buy boxes of this specialty together with nougat – another best-seller of the shop.