Previously I wrote about things to do in Taichung, so this time I want to share some info about the food I ate in Taichung, Taiwan. This time (as opposed to my Taipei food recommendations) the list of what to eat is a mixed bag — there is local food, snacks in the market and even a couple of modern cafes. Are you hungry?
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1. Taichung Meatballs
I’m starting this list with what I think is the most traditional kind of food in Taichung. When I was researching food in Taichung, I found that meatballs seemed to be a typical dish in the city. Taichung meatballs are pieces of pork mince wrapped in a thick layer like mochi, then fried.Taichung meatballs are served hot in a small bowl, sprinkled with spices which go brilliantly with the meatballs themselves. Some use a sweet spicy sauce, but there is also one with soy sauce, a little vinegar and minced garlic. Taichung meatballs are freshly fried to order and are always served fresh from the pan. Yum!There are a few places in Taichung which specialise Taichung meatball — I tried Mao Chuan Wonton & Taiwanese Meatball located near Second Market. Besides Taichung meatball they also serve noodle dumplings which are equally as awesome!
Location: No. 225-1, Zhongzheng Rd, Central District, Taichung
Price: NT$ 100 for 1 meatball and 1 noodle dumpling
2. Three Generations Yee Mien
Located in Second Market, this noodle shop is always crowded. And that’s perhaps because it has been in the same family for the past 3 generations and gained a reputation which is widespread. Yee Mien is Mandarin for ‘dry noodles’. You could say this dish is the same as yamien which is sold in Bandung, Indonesia. They both use yellow noodles that are boiled, strained and then stirred with soy sauce and oil. Delicious simplicity.The topping is usually minced pork with a sprinkle of chopped shallots/spring onions. On the side you can either choose a plain broth or one with a few meatballs added. Interestingly, the meatballs are seafood rather than the more commonly seen beef. It’s located in the market itself, and even though there are actually two kiosks, tables are also placed in the corridor because it’s so popular. Finding this place is easy. Just visit Second Market and look for the busiest kiosk!
Location: No. 1-7, Sec 2, Sanmin Rd (Second Market)
Price: NT$110 for 1 plain yee mien & 1 yee mien plus meatball soup
3. Ban Yue Shau (pancake)
This is one of the foods I tried at the Yizhong Street Night Market. Literally Ban Yue Shau means a half-moon shaped snack. It’s made from a kind of thin pancake (similar to roti canai but thicker and chewier) filled with 4 choices of meat: pork, tuna, chicken and beef, then folded in the middle so that it looks like a half-moon (ban yue).After that, fried egg whites are added as well as green onions and soy sauce. For those wanting something even more special, you can even add some cheese. It’s so awesome because the texture is crispy from the skin and juicy from the stuffing. I reckon this is a must-try snack in Taichung! I loved it that much.
Location: Yizhong Street Night Market
4. Dao Xiao Mien (Knife Cut Noodles)
Because eating Bn Yue Shau was more of a snack than a full meal, I decided to try a more serious sit down meal. This time I went back and forth looking for the store called Shan Shi Dao Xiao Mien Shi Guan. So difficult to find! But the key is to look for noodles being cut with a knife.
It used to be called hand-sliced noodle because the knife is held by human hands, but now technology has taken over and a robot actually cuts the noodles. It’s ridiculous!The noodles which have been cut and boiled are then drained and served according to your specific order (either stir-fried or in a broth). I ordered the fried noodles cooked with beef, but I found the noodles to but uber-thick and not like I’m used to. The dish was generally enjoyable, but not something I would rave about — mainly because of the weird texture of the thick noodles.
Location: 18 Yutsai South Street, Yizhong Street Night Market
5. Yizhong Fong Ran Ice
I love desserts, especially Asian desserts. So it was a no-brainer that I would search for one in Yizhong Street Night Market. I found one dessert stall in a rather quiet area away from the market crowd which looked like a standard garage with a cart out the front.They sell dessert called Fong Ran Ice. Fong Ran Ice is shaved ice topped with red beans and ice cream then sprinkled with plum sauce. On first taste, the sauce is weird! It’s a balance strong sweet plum combined with intense saltiness. After a while you get used to it and it becomes really enjoyable. Just strange!There are 3 options: more red bean but only 2 scoops of ice cream (NT$35), 4 scoops of ice cream but a small amount of red bean (NT$35) or plain without red bean and ice cream (NT$25).
Location: 6 Yutsai Street, Yizhong Street Night Market
6. Caffaina Coffee Gallery
I think this is the most luxurious cafe I visited in Taiwan. Once I saw the front I immediately thought “Wow … expensive!” Entering the 2 floors of the building you’re immediately greeted with a magnificent room with luxurious interior. In one area there is a row of glass displays filled with many dozens of types of cake that look so delicious.Most people come here to drink coffee and eat cake while hanging out with friends. But if you want more heavy food there are also several options which should do the trick. Also, if you’re not into coffee, there are plenty of other hot and cold drinks to choose from.The system of selecting food is to pay first at the cashier and then find a seat. You’ll be given a buzzer so that when you’re food is ready, you can go pick it up yourself. This is an expensive cafe and totally different to anything I would normally try in Taiwan. But it’s sometimes great to just escape with a coffee and cake and cool down in the AC — and this is a great place for that. FYI, Caffaina is not just in Taichung, but also other cities in Taiwan.
Location: No. 45, Section 2, Huizhong Road, Xitun District, Taichung City
Price: NT$430 for 2 drinks and 2 cakes
7. Haritts Donuts
Haritts Donuts is located in an area near Fantasy Story which seems like it’s the trendy place with the kids these days.
Although small, the shop is cute, with Japanese-style wooden door and window frames. I wanted a couple of donuts and I wanted to eat them in the air-conditioned shop. But the problem is, Haritts Donuts has this crappy rule which means you need to buy drinks if you want to sit inside at all. You can’t even sit on a bench inside. So in the end, I had to sit in the gutter out the front to eat my donut and that sucks bad.Buuuuuuut… the donuts were awesome! The donuts are more ball shaped than normal donuts and don’t have holes in the middle. The dough is soft, kind of chewy and the filling is also delicious. I tried the matcha and raspberry white choc and they were both crazy good.Interestingly, the dough of each donut was different based on the filling I chose. These donuts are not expensive (about NT$45-50). I can’t wait to try these donuts in Japan soon.
Location: No. 6, Lane 128, Zhongxing Street, West District, Taichung City
Price: NT$95 for 2 donuts
8. Pearl Milk Tea at Chun Shui Tang
It is true that Pearl Milk Tea is all over Taiwan, in every city, whether it’s a small town or a big city. But if you’re in Taichung, stop by Chun Shui Tang, the birthplace of Pearl Milk Tea, the drink which eventually spread around the whole world. Although Chun Shui Tang has about 40 outlets all over Taiwan, it is certainly great to stop by the original location.The first location of Chun Shui Tang in Siwei Street opened in 1983. It originally just sold Pearl Milk Tea, but now they also sell food such as dimsum as well as some heavier meals. The pearls were tasty, chewy, soft and not overly sweet.I originally was just going to order the famous Pearl Milk Tea, but I was tempted by the brunch snacks and ordered some shrimp spring rolls, butter toast and a portion of fried mantau with condensed milk for dipping. Delicious!
Location: No. 30, Siwei Street, West District, Taichung City
Price: NT$475 for 2 pearl milk tea + 3 servings of food
9. Chicken Sausage
I stumbled across this randomly in the streets of Feng Chia Night Market. The shape of these sausages is fat not uniform because they aren’t produced in a factory. The sausage is filled with finely chopped chicken and wrapped in a thin skin which I assume is some sort of intestines.They grill that sucker hard until the skin shrinks and becomes crispy while the inside oozes with juices. Before serving, they sprinkle the sausage with some powder to amp up the flavour even more. So delicious!
Location: Feng Chia Night Market
Price: NT$40 per sausage
10. Specialty Coffee at Coffee Stopover
Finally, some info for coffee lovers. I was quite surprised to find good coffee in Taichung. At Coffee Stopover, not only do they serve world class coffee, they also conduct brewing classes.The bottom floor of Coffee Stopover is more for people interested in and wanting to know more about coffee. Scattered around are roasting machines, coffee beans and an assortment of coffee brewing tools. The 2nd floor is for sitting and relaxing and there is a big tall bench that can be used for small groups as well as a few tables & chairs for couples.Coffee sold here has been specially formulated and divided into 5 different types: Dancer, Backpacker, Painter, Dauber & Professor. Each blend has a distinctive aroma and strength. If you like strong coffee, choose Professor. If you don’t like strong, choose Dancer. This is one of the best coffees I had in Taiwan. Simply sensational.
Coffee Stopover: No. 24, Lane 217, Minquan Road, West District, Taichung City
Price: NT$220 for 2 cappuccinos
Where to Stay in Taichung
Because Taichung is a little lower down the scale of modernity compared to Taipei, you generally find accommodation to be cheaper here. I stayed at the very respectable Fly Inn for $29.50 per night. Definitely recommended if you’re on a budget.
And that’s my recommendation of what to eat when in Taichung! If it’s a nifty little city and well worth a visit. Let me know if you have any favourites in the comments so I can keep this list up to date!
My other Taiwan posts:
Review: Centre Hotel, Kaohsiung