Top 5 Bites in Tainan, Taiwan
By Randy Mulyanto
The ‘culinary capital title’ might excite you already.

If you’re heading to Taiwan anytime soon, especially for their culinary, you seriously need to add Tainan on your list. Tainan is named Taiwan’s food capital and also the oldest city. What is more exciting than enjoying authentic bites surrounded by traditional atmosphere?

 It takes about 2 hours to reach Tainan from Taipei by Taiwan High Speed Rail. Tainan offers real Taiwanese food, which a lot of bites nationwide were first invented there. How would the flavors be like? Well, the dishes in Tainan tend to be sweeter than other parts of Taiwan. The city was once Taiwanese sugar production hub.

 The ‘culinary capital title’ might excite you already. That also brought me to visit this southern area of Taiwan. These are my top five picks. Believe me, they’re so good.

Danzai noodle:

Danzai noodle Bite, Taiwan

This is Tainan’s soul food, proved by its existence since 1800s. My favorite danzai noodle is the one from Chih-kan Peddler’s Noodle. The founder, Ms. Tseng, established her noodle business in 1980. In 2002, she moved into a building that was once a dentist’s office during Japanese colonial rule. A bowl of danzai mian from this restaurant was served at the presidential office in Taipei.

 The dish is actually really simple, but that’s the charm. Oil noodle is served with minced pork and light soup. Don’t forget its cooked shrimp on top. The broth itself is made of simmered pork bones, prawns, onion, spices and veggies. Minced pork is done after simmering three cuts of pork for hours.

 Its portion might be small for you, however Tainan residents believe danzai mian is a snack enjoyed between lunch and dinner. A bowl of danzai noodle costs you just 50 NTD, and I think it’s a real gem.

Chih-kan Peddler’s Noodle

No. 180, Sec. 2, Minzu Road

Milkfish:

You can find milkfish at the same restaurant above, too. In Taiwan, milkfish has been cultivated for approximately four centuries. Tainan also has a museum called The Milkfish Palace, located in Anping District, specially preserved for milkfish.

Milkfish Bite, Taiwan

My personal favorite, indeed, would be their steamed milkfish with broad bean paste. The texture of steamed milkfish is somehow quite similar to cooked salmon. The ginger and red chili make the taste much richer. A portion of steamed milkfish is 110 NTD.

They also serve you pan-fried milkfish, in case you don’t like it steamed.

Chih-kan Peddler’s Noodle

No. 180, Sec. 2, Minzu Road

Cigu Oyster:

Cigu Oyster Bite, Taiwan

Tainan Garden Night Market has tons of street food, including the abundant Cigu oysters. These oysters are kept at Cigu Lagoon, an area of 1,600 hectares with high salt concentration, making it the largest of its own in Taiwan. Note that this night market only opens on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.

This is the place where you can have oysters easily and cheaply. You are guaranteed to meet a vendor selling seven grilled oysters for 100 NTD. What? Seriously, these oysters are in best quality. No rancid smell and taste, anyway. You can also taste the sea salt, meaning these are prepared fresh.

Tainan Garden Night Market

Sec. 3, on an intersection between Haian Road and Hewei Road

You can ask your taxi driver to drive you to Hua Yuan Ye Si

Fish soup & fried tempura:

Fish soup & Fried Tempura Bite, Taiwan

Situated just across the historical Chihkan Towers, you may spot King of Thick Fish Soup. This open-air restaurant serves original fish soup since 1988. I would suggest you their specialty. A bowl of fish chunks goes hand-in-hand with thick sugar-like broth. These fish bites have rough texture, but no longer fishy after being seasoned with pepper.

Their shrimp roll is another top-notch. Six small pieces of fried roll have minced shrimp and spring onion on the inside. It is also complemented with ginger, also mustard and sweet sauce on a separate saucer. This Tainan’s favorite snack is definitely worth that 50 NTD extra.

King of Thick Fish Soup

Right across Chihkan Towers

Tofu pudding:

Tofu pudding Bite, Taiwan

Coming from Tainan, tofu pudding is a treat known throughout Taiwan. One place to grab a decent bowl of tofu pudding, I say, would be Mao’s Anping Black Sweet Tofu.

Tainan currently hosts four branches of the kiosk. Its selling point is certainly the black pudding made of black beans. The plain black tofu is priced 35 NTD. It tastes far beyond disappointing. Pudding’s real soft and chilly, which is nice. The sugar water is refreshing.

Don’t like it plain? No worries. There are barley, red bean or lemon that you can have as a single topping on your pudding. They also allow you to mix your pudding with two or all toppings above.

Mao’s Anping Black Sweet Tofu

No. 409, Sec. 2, Minzu Road

Randy Mulyanto
By Randy Mulyanto
Randy Mulyanto is a freelance journalist from Tangerang, Indonesia. He has covered Indonesia, Singapore, South Korea, China, Vietnam and Taiwan for Indonesian magazines and newspapers. He’s specifically passionate in oriental tastes and sights. Chat him through Instagram at @randymulyanto. He would love to discuss about East Asia with you.

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