Southern Taiwan holds a lesser-visited foodie gem.
While Taipei offers a beginners’ guide to Taiwanese cuisine, serious foodies should head further south, to culinary capital Tainan—the birthplace of some of the country’s most popular dishes. Here, we seek out six quintessential local eats in this coastal food hub.
MIGAO (glutinous rice cake) While called a cake, this classic dish more closely resembles the ubiquitous Taiwanese lu rou fan (braised pork rice), but swaps out steamed rice for the sticky kind. Along with soy-braised pork, the Tainanese version is also topped with fish floss, cucumber slices and boiled peanuts. Visit
Shui Xian Gong Migao near the Shui Xian temple, where constant crowds wait for one of their hearty bowls. 48, Section 3, Guohua St.; mains from NT$25.
WA GUI (savory rice pudding) While this wobbly, brown dish won’t win anyone over with its looks, wa gui is a surprisingly toothsome snack. Made from rice flour, pork and shrimp, and topped with thick soy sauce, it’s served in the same bowl as it is steamed in. Traditionally eaten with a small wooden paddle (good luck with that), add some garlic or wasabi for extra flavor. One Good Pin draws long queues. 177, Section 3, Guohua St.; mains from NT$30.
SHAN YOU YI MIAN (eel noodles) A mix of yi mien (egg noodles), cabbage, garlic, onion and chunks of fried eel, this thick, sweet and tangy soup is a Tainan roadside classic. The stall on the corner of Guohua Street has been serving it for more than 40 years—order the stir-fried version if goopy soup is not your thing. 46, Section 3, Guohua St.; mains from NT$80.