Top Taiwanese savory street foods to explore

Photo of Oyster Omelette
Kyle Lam/Creative Commons

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My hot take for the day is that savory foods are arguably more delicious than desserts. To prove it to you, I am back with a savory food edition of Taiwanese street foods after previously sharing my favorite street food desserts. Although some of these might sound unappetizing at first, I hope you’ll give them a chance.

Taiwanese Rice Balls (飯糰)

A popular breakfast, Taiwanese rice balls can be customized completely to your liking. After choosing between white rice and purple rice for the base, toppings such as egg, youtiao (fried dough), meat floss, seaweed and pickled radish are laid on top. Lastly, the sheet of fillings is wrapped into a rice ball, as the name suggests. The steamy rice and crunchy youtiao paired with the savory seaweed makes Taiwanese rice balls a delicious yet filling breakfast. If you want to give this a try and if you are willing to drive down to San Jose, Sogo Tofu sells this!

Stinky Tofu (臭豆腐)

Contrary to the name, stinky tofu is a mouth-watering street food that is a staple at all night markets across Taiwan. Plain tofu is first fermented in a brine made up of milk, shrimp paste and vegetables for at least 24 hours. Then, it is deep-fried to perfection and voila! It’s usually eaten with a spicy salty sauce that is comprised of minced garlic, soy sauce and Sriracha sauce, as well as pickled vegetables such as carrots, radishes and cabbages. The lightness of the sauce offsets the oiliness of the fried tofu, making it the perfect accompaniment. To put my words to the test, you can get this at Shilin Taiwanese Street Snacks in Berkeley!

Oyster Omelet (蚵仔煎)

A classic oyster omelet is a pan-fried street food that is savory, yet sweet and spicy. To make this dish, some sweet potato starch is mixed with water until it forms a roux-like consistency, which is then poured into a pan with hot oil. Next, an egg is cracked and scrambled with the mixture and left to set for about a minute before the raw oysters are evenly placed. Lastly, it’s topped off with some basil and mint leaves for freshness. Once you add in some Taiwanese sweet chili sauce, this oyster omelet is irresistible. Like the stinky tofu, you can also get yourself an oyster omelet at Shilin Taiwanese Street Snacks on Durant Avenue in Berkeley.

Now that I’ve introduced both the savory and sweet classics of Taiwanese street food, you’re all set to start exploring Taiwanese cuisine!

Contact Erica Jean at [email protected].