You may have tried the usual night market street food and iconic Taiwanese bubble tea. But let’s take things one step further shall we? Here’s our list of adventurous eats for those who love the thrill.
With the recent news of Taiwan ending mandatory quarantines for visitors, it’s no surprise that many are now flocking to travel sites and guides to book their next vacation in the city that touches our hearts (and our tummies!). From piping hot oyster mee sua to cooling bubble tea, Taiwan has been known to be one of the best countries in Southeast Asia for street snacks. However, the country also boasts a large number of delicacies that might give Fear Factor a run for its money.
Want to know what’s on the menu? Here is an insider’s guide to the top 10 unique (and MUST-TRY) Taiwanese food!
1. Stinky Tofu
Image Credits: Wikipedia
Starting off with the classic dish that put the country on the world map in many travel tv shows, we have Deep-Fried Stinky Tofu!
Unlike the many urban rumours that this dish was soaked with faeces before cooking, the source behind its putrid smell is a fermentation mix of milk, vegetables, and meat. In Taiwan, there are two kinds of Fried Stinky Tofu — yellow and black.
While some consumers might believe that the darker the tofu, the more ‘authentic’ the dish is, this belief is nothing but an old wives’ tale. For a taste of the ever-popular dish, head to Dai’s House of Stinky Tofu for the stinkiest experience ever!
For a modern twist on this dish, head to Shenkeng Old Street (beside Nangang and Muza districts of southeastern Taipei City) for a taste of Grilled Stinky Tofu stuffed with vegetables and meat. Another must-try includes their Stinky Mala Tofu stewed with Duck’s Blood and Pig’s Blood Cake.
Unique Food In Taiwan To Try Your Hand (Or Mouth) At: Find out more on Stinky Tofu here
2. Duck Tongue
Image Credits: GlobalGlobalFood
Before you wretch in a bucket over the name of this dish, remember that like the French and Italians, Chinese people are known to practice nose-to-tail consumption and this absolutely includes its poultry.
Packed with flavour, Duck Tongue is often served braised in soy sauce (or deep fried in night markets!). And if you are a fan of chicken feet, you would absolutely love the texture. Similar to the skin around the bone of the feet, the tongue has an odd boney middle portion that becomes cartilage near the end.
With most foodies describing the delicacy as an ‘experience that they would not go out of their way to eat again’, you can decide if your relationship with Duck Tongue is one of love or hate at Lau Tien Lu Lu-Wei in the popular Ximending district!
Unique Food In Taiwan To Try Your Hand (Or Mouth) At: Watch more on Duck Tongue here
3. Turkey Testicles Pizza
Image Credits: 9GAG
When you thought that Taiwanese food couldn’t get any more peculiar, the country proves otherwise. Created by ballsy Chef Yung from Sunny Queen, he claims that Turkey Testicles are the perfect toppings due to their size and the fact that they won’t shrink after taking a pizza out of the oven.
Marinated in sesame oil and stir-fried with rice wine, the pizza combines the flavour of juicy turkey testicles with green peppers, cheese, and sour chilli sauce. The store sells three flavours of this pizza — Japanese-style Bonito Testicles with Cheese, Thai-style Testicles with Cheese, and Sea Salt Testicles (yes, you’ve guessed it) with Cheese.
According to food reviewers, the balls felt “bursting but soft” with a “tender texture that pushes the limit of Italian food”. Pizza with pineapple doesn’t sound all that bad now, does it?
Unique Food In Taiwan To Try Your Hand (Or Mouth) At: Watch more on Turkey Testicles Pizza here
4. Pig’s Blood Cake
Image Credits: Medium
Mixed with steamed sticky rice, it’s not an uncommon sight to see night market vendors prop up skewers of blood blocks.
While unsuspecting tourists might mistake these skewers for popsicles, the peanut flour-coated blocks speckled with stems of cilantro bring out a rather unique mix of herbal, meaty, and nutty flavours. Texture-wise, these skewers have been compared to Korean Rice Cakes or Japanese Mochi. Bathed in a pork-soy broth, the Pig’s Blood Blocks bring out a sweet umami flavour that is unparalleled by anything you’ve ever tasted.
Ready for an adventure? Try the best Pig’s Blood Cake at Chen’s Pig Blood Cake store just located in the Zhongzheng district.
Unique Food In Taiwan To Try Your Hand (Or Mouth) At: Watch more on Pig’s Blood Cake here.
5. Hornet Larvae
Image Credits: Gothamist
If you thought insects were off the table, think again. Served mostly in the countryside and at certain indigenous-cuisine restaurants, most Taiwanese would pair this dish with a bottle of beer or two.
Cooked with chilli oil or sauteed with salt and pepper, these larvae are seen as a viable protein alternative. It’s an entire dish featuring bugs at different stages of maturity. While most would agree that hornets are not as popular as it was in the past, they’ll agree that it tastes weirdly like chicken.
For the fearless, try your hand at both flavours at Ah Min Small Eats in Hualian county.
Unique Food In Taiwan To Try Your Hand (Or Mouth) At: Find out more about Hornet Larvae here.
6. Intestine Vermicelli
Image Credits: TripAdvisor
Not a stranger to South East Asians, vermicelli has been a staple in most dishes.
Made from wheat noodles, the thick broth is often topped with bonito flakes, black vinegar, cilantro, and chilli sauce. While most consumers are familiar with Taiwanese Oyster Vermicelli, there is also a version with pork intestines.
Braised chunks of intestine give the dish a major protein boost. And compared to its oyster counterpart, some might even say it tastes better! For the best Intestine Vermicelli, check out Chen Ji Mee Sua in Taipei.
Unique Food In Taiwan To Try Your Hand (Or Mouth) At: Find out more about Intestine Vermicelli here.
7. Eel Noodle Soup
Image Credits: Full Noodle Frontity
Originating from Tainan, a heaping plate of Eel Noodles can appear unsettling at first glance. However, when cooked with thick chewy egg noodles and a brown sauce or viscous soup, it is one of the best dishes you could ever find.
Served in one of two popular flavours, Eel Noodles can be found as a sweet and sour preparation from Tainan, or as a more savoury Shanghai variation in other parts of the nation. With the eel’s fatty flesh and slippery skin, there’s an appealing bite that plays well with the heavy sauce, masking the brackish taste of the mini-sea serpents.
For a truly authentic experience, head to A Jiang Stir-Fried Eel Yi Noodles and give all of its flavours a try. You never know, you might find yourself captivated at first bite!
Unique Food In Taiwan To Try Your Hand (Or Mouth) At: Watch more on Eel Noodle Soup here.
Image Credits: Freepik
Yep, you read that right – you can actually eat Loofah in Taiwan (yes, that thing you scrub your body with in the bathroom). Used in hearty seafood soup, the spongy Loofah (which is a cucumber-like plant) is cut into strips and dipped into its own thick juices. To add more flavour to the meal, shredded crab is added to the gumbo.
While the Loofah might not give off much of a taste, it is interesting to experience the plant in a different context. If you’re curious as to how the bath sponge tastes, give Michelin-approved Shin Yeh Shiao Ju in Nangang a try!
Unique Food In Taiwan To Try Your Hand (Or Mouth) At: Find out more about Loofah here.
9. Fried Chicken Fat (Gao Zha)
Image Credits: Business Insider
While it deceptively looks like a dessert, Fried Gao Zha is a local speciality in Yilan that consists of chicken soup that gets ground up and mixed with potato starch. This ensures that the soup thickens as it cools.
When the consistency reaches the texture of soft tofu, the thickened soup is placed in boxes. It’s then cubed and fried at night markets as a street snack. You can also find this dish in restaurants served with sour plums on the side. Resembling a Peanut Mochi in texture, the salty cubes are a perfect snack for the peckish as it has a fatty gelatinous savoury-salty flavour.
You can find these salty cubes at Luodong Night Market.
Unique Food In Taiwan To Try Your Hand (Or Mouth) At: Find out more about Luodong Night Market here
Image Credits: Yahoo
Rounding off our list, we have a thrilling item — Snake! While it is no longer part of the everyday culture to snack on snake flesh or to drink its blood, Taiwan is no stranger to the animal as a meal. In fact, the country even has a whole alley dedicated to the dish in Taipei.
Snake Alley, also known as Huaxi Street Night Market, sells all kinds of dishes from snake flesh to glasses of snake venom and blood. With the belief that snake meat alleviates fever and can be used to detox the body, the Taiwanese believe that snake soup dispels the heatiness in your blood.
If you’re brave enough, you can go on a snake buffet and have a go at the various ways the serpent is cooked!
Unique Food In Taiwan To Try Your Hand (Or Mouth) At: Watch more on eating Snake in Taiwan here.
Ready For A Taste Of The Extraordinary?
And there you have it! A brand new list of adventurous Taiwan eats. Whether you’re splurging on some Stinky Tofu or loading up on souvenirs, don’t forget to make use of your YouTrip Card to lock in those wholesale exchange rates and skip those pesky bank fees.
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