Taipei has to be one of the street food capitals of the world. Unless you are looking for Kosher or Halal food, the Taipei street food variety is wide and it is obvious in most of the markets we observed and ‘tested’, that there seem to be limits on the number of stalls offering a particular type of food. We found that while there may be two stalls offering tripe soup, that was the limit and they were near each other. Drinks stalls were generally spaced out along the street as were stalls selling cut fruit. Definitely a ‘must try’ are the fruit smoothies (shakes) using fruits in season. The huge avocados on the stalls were tempting but we had to convince ourselves that they would be good. We shouldn’t have waited, of all the fruits tested, top marks go to the avocado and papaya shakes.
Other foods worth tasting are the sausages made on the spot and wrapped in a rice ‘hamburger’. This is very filling but tasty and if you are wanting to sample the variety available in other stalls, buy one to share. Dim Sum stalls are easy to spot with their cane baskets, as are Korean and Japanese stalls.
If you want to sit and eat, many of the stalls have stools and often tables behind, so the path between the stalls is kept clear. In eight days in Taipei, we enjoyed street food in the city at a number of such markets including Ningxia Rd Night Market a short walk north of the main railway station and Tamsui Night Market in Danshui District in New Taipei City (look out for the stall selling freshly made sesame and nut toffees). You can buy bags to take home as well. These candies can also be found in the Old street in Jiufen, in Ruifang District, New Taipei, a train ride out of the city and well worth the trip. Go there hungry, because as you walk along the street you will keep stopping for tea eggs, yam ice cream or ice cream ‘spring rolls’. Tucked behind the stalls are little shops selling more substantial fare, noodles and rice based.
The Longshan Night Market is a great place for a meal after a wander around the nearby Longshan Temple and if you are partial to pork knuckle, you can find a couple of stalls here that make selection difficult.
Along the streets in the day time, you can find many stalls selling drinks and fruits, as well as food to eat as you go, such as the tasty pork buns sold from a little ‘hole in the wall’ stall called Cheng Zu in Xiangyang Road, not far from the museum.
The Four Seas Soya Bean Milk King was a shop we visited most days for breakfast. They have a high turnover of customers from early morning until just after lunch, looking for their special salty soya bean curd sold with fried bread sticks known as Yiu Tiow. Soya bean drinks siow mei and pau are also available, all freshly made in an open kitchen beside the entrance.
As a legacy of the half century of Japanese presence in in Taiwan, there are many stalls and shops selling Japanese food. The teppanyaki in the shops dedicated to this simple but nutritious dish, is cooked fresh in front of you and comes with a generous serving of vegetables and free green tea.
You do not need to spend a fortune to eat in Taipei and you will certainly not go hungry. Cleanliness appears to be a priority and there are plenty of clean public toilets dotted around the city and in the stations. Enjoy!