Ubiquitous are the essential staples in Korean cuisine: seaweed, rice cakes, bean sprouts, seaweed, sweet potatoes, fish cakes, red bean, spam, meat on meat on meat and, of course, kimchi and all that fermented cabbage goodness in all its glory. For an outsider, repetitive ingredients and flavor profiles can begin to feel one-dimensional rather quickly. Don’t get me wrong, I do love Korean food, but it’s hard to deny that it doesn’t consistently leave me feeling satisfied.
I expected to have a similar experience in Taiwan. Of course, it would be all new, so it would no doubt be infinitely more enticing than another roll of kimbap or bowl of bibmibap. Under a veneer of low expectations, I was delighted to find a much more diverse ensemble of dishes and flavors in Taiwanese cuisine.
Some of my favorite local eats were stinky tofu, lamb fried rice, pan-fried buns, braised duck over rice with vegetables and ice monster. I am not terribly knowledgeable about what I ate or what is pictured below (in fact, I would venture to say that I had no idea what 75% of what I ate was), but I can assure you that it was delicious.
Note: This is the food I tried outside of the night markets. There will be many more shots of Taiwanese grub on other posts to come!