The Tastes of Taiwan

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Appetizer of potato skins with shrimp and cheese topping. Presentation is everything in Taiwanese restaurants.

 By: Anna Peters

Over the winter break, I went on a trip to Taiwan alone. Since I have family in Taiwan, I go pretty often. It is one of my favorite places to travel to. Seeing friends, family, and scenery always make my trip enjoyable, but my favorite part of Taiwan is

Anna Peters (center) with friends Michelle (left) and Bridgette (right) near the Danshui River in Taiwan

the food. What makes the food in Taiwan different from other places is the vast variety you can find just from being in one place.

One of the foods Taiwan is known for are their street foods and night markets. Last winter, I went to 淡水老街 (Danshui Old Street) with my friends. Danshui Old Street is specifically known for not only having a variety of traditional and exotic foods, but also for  having games and a boat ride to the other side of the

Fermented “stinky” tofu

river. One of the foods Taiwan is known for is 臭豆付 (stinky tofu), which is fermented tofu notorious for its smell. Personally, I like the smell, which is a reason why it is one of my favorite foods. When you first bite into it, the smell fills your mouth and then comes the flavor of the sauce and garlic. There were also stands where they sell fried foods. It serves a variety of fried foods, such as squid, shrimp, chicken, and vegetables. These foods are cheap, yet delicious. I got fried squid, which I really liked because squid is one of my favorite seafoods. Biting into it, you will first experience the crunch from being fried and then the chewiness of the squid. These two textures are paired perfectly along with tasty flavors. Night markets are also something that Taiwan is known for. Night markets are pretty much the same thing as street

Boba tea from Go Cha Bar

food streets, except you go to night markets take place at night. This last winter I went to 士林夜市 (Shilin Night Market). I had octopus legs, which looked really appetizing, but it didn’t taste as good as it looked. In addition, I also had candied strawberries and jello popsicles. Something unique about street foods and night markets is that you are able to walk and eat your food, so you can constantly keep trying new foods. Furthermore, Taiwan is also known for their aesthetic drinks and bubble tea. My favorite drink shops on last winter’s trip was “Go Cha Bar” and “Bobii Frutii.” Go Cha Bar offered a variety of fruit blended drinks incorporating real fruit into their presentation, and Bobii Frutii specialized in colorful drinks with a whole assortment of boba.

Taiwanese hot pot

Taiwan is also known for their hot pots. Hot pot is when you have a personal pot of soup and you cook your own meat and vegetables in that broth. It is usually then served with a choice of rice, noodles, or udon. I ordered the seafood hot pot, which included vegetables, such as spinach and cabbage, and seafood, such as shrimp and imitation crab. If you enjoy cooking your own food, this is definitely something for you. However, if you’re like me and enjoy eating more than cooking, then it does get to be a bit of a hassle. Other than that, the food is delicious and this offers a new experience of eating. Along with the traditional Taiwanese hot pot, Korean hot pot is also popular in Taiwan. Korean hot pot is a little bit different. It is served in a small personal pot; however, everything is already cooked for you. It is typically eaten with a pot of purple rice along with the vast amount of Korean side dishes.

From traditional Taiwanese food to Italian food, Taiwan has it all. Last winter, I went to a dinner where traditional Taiwanese food

Shrimp Tempura – Taipei style

was served. It was served in many courses. At first, they served cold meats as a way to “warm up” our palettes. After that, we were served a Taiwanese take on shrimp tempura. This was one of my favorite dishes. Then, they served another appetizer, which was a baked potato topped with shrimp and then coated with something that resembled the texture of melted cheese, but tasted like shrimp. It was an odd pairing, but it tasted delicious. After that, the main courses started to be served. The first main course was fish. The fish was cooked to perfection resulting the meat to stay soft and tender, accompanied by a sauce that really brought out the fish’s flavors. This was by far my favorite dish of the entire night. There was another main course that came, which was unagi topped on top of sticky rice. This wasn’t my favorite, but it also wasn’t

French duck breast

bad. I also got the chance to go to a French restaurant. Although it was a bit on the expensive side, I got the opportunity to eat duck breast. Its presentation and taste were exquisite. In addition, pasta is also pretty popular in Taiwan. I ate pasta numerous times on my last trip, but my favorite one was from this place called “Rosemary,” where I got seafood pasta in tomato sauce. It came in a

Taiwanese “chicken katsu”

reasonably sized portion and wasn’t overly salted or seasoned, which made it light and refreshing. Furthermore, I got to eat a variety of Japanese food. My two favorite dishes were chicken katsu and sushi. I go to this restaurant named “Saboten” every time I go back to Taiwan. Their chicken katsu isn’t chewy and fatty like some other places; it is tender with a crunch to it. 

My food experience on my trip to Taiwan last winter was definitely one to remember. I am elated that I was able to try so many yummy foods within a short span of two weeks. I am excited to for what adventures my next trip has in store for me.

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