The best things in life are very inexpensive.
I LOVE street food - when I was living in Thailand, I was often the random foreigner eating raw cockles by the road. Fried bishop nose? Mystery unidentifiable meat on the grill? Been there, done that.
Beyond Bangkok, my other go-to city for street eats is definitely Taipei! (Also, the stalls often appear to be generally MUCH cleaner than Thailand's / around the region.)
Here's my list of must-eats and where-to-go when you're there!
WHAT TO EAT
1) Ah Zhong mee sua 阿宗麵線
Not exactly street food since it's a proper shop in itself (except that you have to stand around to eat), the mee sua here is practically the only reason why I often visit Taiwan. Though they now have a few branches, maybe it's placebo but I find the flagship stall at Ximending to be the best. Be sure to have it with lots of vinegar, garlic and chilli!
Address: 臺灣臺北市萬華區峨眉街8-1號 / No. 8-1, Éméi St, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan
2) Flame-grilled beef steak
This franchise is available at almost every night market and we had it every day, sometimes several times a day. Cooked upon order using a large blowtorch, each piece is perfectly charred yet tender and juicy all at the same time. (I found this video on YouTube teehee). There're a few seasonings available and my favourites are Xinjiang cumin and rose pink salt!
3) Cheesy potato
Okay, this is so sinful I don't even know how to describe it. The potato is first boiled then mashed and coated with bread crumbs before it's deep fried to a crispy finish. It's then drowned in a cheese roux topped with ingredients such as ham, tuna mayo, corn, broccoli - I usually just go for the full works because so sinful already, MIGHT AS WELL?
4) Stinky toufu
Sorry, photo of my face cause I forgot to take photo of the food.
I have a love-hate relationship with stinky tofu (how can anything smell SO BAD?) and I've tried it in Hong Kong, Shanghai, various stalls across Taiwan before I conclude that I generally hate stinky tofu EXCEPT the one from THIS particular stall at the foodcourt of the Shilin night market. It's the one in the corner right next to the escalator (try to match the stall to my photo? haha sorry not much help) and their Lu Rou Fan or braised meat rice is very good too!
5) Seafood at Keelung Miaokou Night Market
A little far from Taipei city, Keelung Miaokou Night Market is best experienced after a day trip to Jiufen to make your time more worthwhile. Right next to the second largest port in Taiwan, the Keelung Miaokou Night Market is all the seafood - with its wide range of variety and incredible prices. Check out THAT crab roe?!
6) Glutinous Oil Rice & Crab Thick Soup
While you're Miaokou, don't forget to save tummy space for the Glutinous Oil Rice (not as oily as it sounds, don't worry) & Crab Thick Soup. There are many, many stalls selling it but I think the most famous one will be Wu Ji Crab Thick Soup.
7) Da Chang Bao Xiao Chang 大腸包小腸
Literally big sausage wrap small sausage, this Chinese hotdog features a Taiwanese sausage (my favourite!) wrapped in an outer glutinous rice casing and topped with condiments such as lettuce, salted vegetables and garlic!
8) Random Japanese snacks
I've always seen Taipei as my closest alternative to Japan in terms of culture (the people here are SO polite and the streets are really clean!) and food. I love Aquatic Addiction, Sasa Sushi and Mitsui Cuisine - which to me, come close, if not as close as, what you can get in Tokyo.
But anyway, I digress. Go ahead and try all the various Japanese street food in Taipei's night markets - dorayaki (Japanese red bean pancake, pictured above), takoyaki and okonomiyaki can often be found in their markets and those I tried were all pretty decent!
9) Herbal Tea
Then wash all that food down with a good cup of herbal tea! These tea packets sold at almost all the night markets are SO convenient - they come compressed in a block and all you have to do is to throw it into a flask / cup and add hot water. I particularly like the red date longan and ginger teas though I wouldn't classify them as "healthy" since they come with brown sugar BUT maybe "healthier" than Coke? Especially if you water it down and honestly, they do taste quite good and make a good companion when you're staying indoors while it's rainy out.
WHERE TO GO
1) Shilin Night Market
No. 101, Jihe Rd, Shilin District, Taipei City, Taiwan 111
Getting there: MRT Jiantan Station
2) Raohe Night Market
Raohe St, Songshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 105
Getting there: MRT Songshan Station
Getting there: MRT Ximen Station
4) Keelung Miaokou Night Market
No. 45, si Rd, Ren’, Ren’ai District, Keelung City, Taiwan 200
Getting there: Take the railway (not MRT!) from Taipei Main Station to Keelung Railway Station
5) Ningxia Night Market
(No shopping like the rest, but PLENTY of street food!)
Ningxia Road, Datong District, Taipei City, Taiwan 103
Getting there: MRT Shuanglian or Zhongshan station
Also, I'll suggest you take a taxi where possible cause cab rides are definitely pretty affordable in Taipei!