Gourmet Guide

Tags: cuisine | delicacy | food

Dong Po Pork dish
Photo by: Vision International Publishing Co.


When it comes to food, Taiwan is the place that can satisfy all your needs. Countries from all corners of the world are represented here, leaving you with the difficult task to choose from the great variety of food available, ranging from international dishes to traditional Chinese delicacies and authentic Taiwanese snacks. Finding something to eat in Taiwan is not only easy, eating itself proves to be a joy time and time again.

To the Taiwanese, eating is an art and a cultural expression. Because of Taiwan's specific historical background, its food culture has become extremely diverse. Not only are Chinese dishes enhanced, the finest food from around the world converges here, so whether you feel like having some traditional Chinese food or would like to try something different, its all there. All you have to do is choose from the endless array of American, European, Italian, Asia-Pacific or even Mediterranean dishes. It is for good reason that Taiwan is called the "Republic of World Cuisine".

Chinese cuisine goes back to ancient times and achieved its present level through the accumulation of thousands of years of practical knowledge of and experience in cookery. Emphasis is placed on the perfect combination of color, aroma, flavor and shape, through which the most common ingredients are transformed into culinary tours de force. Chinese cuisine has therefore become well-known around the world and continues to attract gastronomes alike. In Taiwan, cooking techniques from all areas of China have merged, and the Taiwanese do not only master the traditional local Chinese specialties, but also continuously use traditional techniques to develop new culinary treats. It is therefore that each year Taiwan attracts many tourists who come to savor these Chinese specialties, ranging from small steamed buns to water-boiled dumplings.

Traditional Chinese food to be found in Taiwan, next to Taiwanese and Hakka-style dishes, mainly includes dishes from Fujian, Guangdang, Jiangxi, Shanghai, Hunan, Sichuan and Beijing.

Following we'll give an introduction to the characteristics and different cooking styles of dishes from each region:

1. Taiwan: Natural original flavors are preserved and there is a focus on light, fresh and simply flavored dishes, influenced by the Dutch and Japanese, raw and slightly water-scalded food is widely accepted.

2. Fujian: Dominated by seafood, preferably steamed, mainly light, sweet, and sour flavorings.

3. Guangdong: Great variety of ingredients, focus on light, fresh, smooth, sweet, tasty and tender dishes, main methods of food preparation consist of frying, baking, stir-frying, steaming, and boiling.

4. Jiangxi: Focus on original flavors, main methods of food preparation consist of stewing, braising, steaming, stir-frying, and cooking, for all of which temperature control is the most important aspect, flavors are light but do not lack taste, bones are removed while keeping shapes intact, although smooth and tender dishes have kept their taste.

5. Shanghai: Dishes breathing international fame originate here, local flavors are adhered to and dishes are mostly oily, drowning in sauce and brightly colored.

6. Hunan: Sour, hot, and rich flavors are the secret behind the popular dishes from this area, a well-known specialty is the smoked bacon, dishes from Hunan and Sichuan show some similarities as many are hot-flavored because of the use of large amounts of red pepper.

7. Sichuan: Famous for its hot-flavored dishes as preferably dried and fresh red pepper is used during preparation, fish and other seafood is favored, extremely popular among those who favor strongly-flavored food.
8. Beijing: A combination of flavors from all corners, magnificently and delicately prepared, dishes combine color, shape, flavor, and nutrition, and are mostly light and tender.

9. Hakka: Dried and preserved materials form important ingredients of the Hakka kitchen; dishes are mostly strongly flavored (burnt, flavored, well-done, salty, fat).

Next to these Chinese delicacies, the enormous variety of typical Taiwanese snacks is unique in the world and most perfectly illustrates the important place that the food culture takes into the lives of the Taiwanese people. Famous and unique Taiwanese snacks range from oyster omelets to fried rice noodles, tempura, Tainan Tan-tze noodles, Taiwanese spring rolls, rice tube pudding, and braised pork rice. Food is cheap and delicious, and by no means inferior, while each specialty gives you an insight in the people of the area it originates from. Typical Taiwanese snacks are found everywhere, but Taiwan's night markets in particular, each night market having its own traditions and characteristics, are the places where these snacks can be found in abundance.


Zong zi (sticky rice dumpling with stuffing, wrapped in bamboo leaves)

Photo by: Eugene Yeh



Steamed buns with stuffing

Photo by: Guan Chun Company




Traditional Hakka cuisine

Photo by: Vision International Publishing Co.



Veggie dish

Photo by: Vision International Publishing Co.



Fish and fishball soup

Photo by: Guan Chun Company



Shrimp dish

Photo by: Guan Chun Company



Soft rice noodles


Text and images are provided by Tourism Bureau, Ministry of Transportation & Communications, R.O.C.