Food in Taiwan is one of if not the best things about being here! Even with as much food as we eat in a day, I still don’t feel like I have enough time to try everything Taiwan has to offer! When thinking about food in Taiwan there are three main types of places to get food; convenience stores, night markets, and restaurants.
As students we live off of convenience stores like 7-11 and Family Mart (小七，全家). Walking around Taipei (especially by campus) you can find one of these stores on pretty much every corner of the city. Students flock here before and after class to get drinks and snacks, and some will even have stationary to stock up on! I have a pretty early class in the morning, so I love to run to the 7-11 across from the language build to grab my morning 冬瓜茶 and 巧克力麵包 (winter melon tea and chocolate bread) as i’m running late to class (i’m not much of a morning person). I tend to go to 7-11 more though, as it will take my credit card from the states whereas Family Mart doesn’t really like it. I also love stores like this because they all have ATMs, so I only have to make about a three minute walk from my apartment to get cash out!
In my opinion the best places to get food are at the local night markets! I bet you are probably asking, “Why is it called a night market/I don’t want to wait until it’s dark to get food.” Well I’m glad you asked! Here in Taiwan the sun rises around 6am and sets around 6pm, so it’s good and dark by the time you would normally eat dinner! The reason I love the night markets so much is a majority of the stalls are family owned, and they are open super late (grant it they don’t open until around 6pm but they stay open until 12am!) This being on top of the fact that they have very cheap food. The night market that is closest to me is Linjiang Night Market (臨江街觀光夜市. They have all the food a college student would ever want; ranging from your bubble milk tea to Taiwanese fried chicken! But each night market, depending on its size, will have different types of food. My go to order is usually 炸雞 and 蘋果果汁 (Fried Chicken and Apple Juice), it may sounds like a strange combo, but trust me its amazing together.
The final place to eat is just your everyday restaurant. I tend to eat a lot of food near campus as I will study until dinner time then head home for the day! My favorite restaurant has to be 大李水餃 (translates to Da Li Dumplings). I am normally not one to eat in habit but I think I go to this restaurant at least 4 times a week. My go to order is hot and sour soup filled to the brim with pork dumplings and a sliced cucumber tossed with vinegar and topped with chopped red chilis which comes to about 190 NTD (6.33 USD). The really cool part about most small family owned restaurants around the university here in Taipei is that you never have to buy a drink as they have tea and water on the sauce stations! Some restaurants will also have soup and rice at the station as well!
At the end of the day, I am super happy to be here in Taipei. As someone who loves food, I feel like I have embedded myself into such a unique and interesting food culture and I will definitely have to try to make some of this food at home!