Hualien Street Food

January 29, 2015 Ivan Teh - RunningMan 0 Comments

Hualien Street Food

Hualien Street Food shares much of its ingredients, characteristics, and flavour with the majority of Taiwan, with some distinct differences. As an agricultural state famed for its farmlands, mountains, and lakes, Hualien cuisine uses a lot of fresh ingredients in their dishes, which are often simply prepared and straightforward, with light sauces. Besides heavy influence from South Chinese cuisine, there is also influence from the Aboriginal cuisines of Taiwan.

Food in Hualien can be found in kiosks, in small cafes, in mid-range restaurants, and fine-dining establishments. Street side stalls and kiosks are largely limited to the Night Markets or small villages. Common ingredients used in many Hualien dishes include chicken, pork, fish, rice, wheat, seafood, tofu, corn, basil, soy bean, cabbage, chinese cabbage / bok choy, cilantro, sweet potato, taro yam, tapioca, scallions / spring onions, peanuts, papaya, mango, watermelon, flour, milk and more.

Hualien has the smallest population of any state in Taiwan. This also means that unlike elsewhere, long queues are not the sole indicator of how good a stall in Hualien is. Check with locals if a stall with a long queue has any other competitors, as some stalls in Hualien achieve fame simply by being the only stall, in the entire state, selling that dish. Food in Hualien is also generally cheaper than the rest of Taiwan, going for almost half the price for similar dishes elsewhere.


Taiwan style Beef Noodles, or Beef Noodle Soup, from Hualien. This is probably the one iconic Taiwan dish to avoid in Hualien, as very few shops sell it, and those that do, are not very good at cooking it.

Beef Noodles

Beer Taiwan is the best selling beer on the island, and is an icon of Taiwanese culture. It is an amber lager beer, with a distinct taste from the addition of Taiwanese formosa rice during the fermentation process, and pairs especially well with seafood dishes. Beer Taiwan Classic has 4.5% alcohol, while Beer Taiwan Gold Medal contains 5% alcohol.

Beer Taiwan Classic

Beer Taiwan Gold Medal

Unlike other bittergourd dishes elsewhere, the Bittergourd In Sour Plum Sauce actually has a sweet taste, with only a very small hint of bitterness towards the end. The bittergourd is fresh and very crunchy, and absorbs the sweet and sour plum sauce, giving it a pleasant, fruity flavour. This dish is most commonly found in the mountain villages of Hualien in Taiwan.

Bittergourd In Sour Plum Sauce 01

Bittergourd In Sour Plum Sauce 02

A dessert beverage known worldwide, Bubble Tea is named for the frothy foam created when shaking the drink, and for the round, chewy tapioca balls that accompany it, known in slang as 'Boba', or as 'Pearls'. The actual tea itself could be made from either black tea, red tea, green tea, milk tea, or a fruit flavoured tea. Besides tapioca balls, Bubble Tea may sometimes contain fruit flavoured jelly, azuki beans, or sago balls.

Bubble Tea

Not an ordinary roast chicken, this Taiwanese classic is rarely served due to its time consuming preparation, and is often a restaurant dish. A whole chicken is stuffed with various Chinese herbs and aromatics, then charcoal roasted over a flame. The drippings and fat which melt off are retained, and turned into a gravy. When served, diners are supposed to peel all the tender chicken meat off the bone, which comes off clean. Once the entire chicken is peeled, the drippings and gravy are then poured over, before being consumed.

Charcoal Roast Chicken With Stuffed Herbs 01

Charcoal Roast Chicken With Stuffed Herbs 02

Charcoal Roast Chicken With Stuffed Herbs 03

Charcoal Roast Chicken With Stuffed Herbs 04 - Drippings Gravy

The Golden Needle Soup is made from the edible daylily flower, along with lean pork loin, shiitake mushrooms, black fungus, carrots, and pickled mustard greens. A common comfort dish and appetizer in Hualien and throughout Taiwan.

Golden Needle Soup

Grilled Corn is a common Night Market street food in Hualien, but less so in other parts of Taiwan. Fresh corn on the cob are basted in a sticky, savoury sweet sauce, then barbecued over a charcoal flame. The result is incredibly flavourful, moist corn, where the savoury sweet sauce is enhanced with a smoky char. Definitely a must try in this area!

Grilled Corn

Available mostly in convenience stores across Hualien and Taiwan, Guan Dong Zhu is inspired by Japanese cuisine, specifically the dish known as Oden. It consists of several individual ingredients on sticks, such as tofu, fish cakes, mushrooms, fish balls, pork meat balls, blood pudding, simmering in a light, soy and fish soup / broth. Often considered a slightly healthier option of street food. Due to the lack of night markets in Hualien, this is probably the most readily available street food.

Guan Dong Zhu

The western-influenced dish of Hotplate Beef Rib Noodles features fresh pan grilled beef ribs, a swirl of yellow egg noodles, and a sunny side up egg, covered in a fragrant mushroom sauce, served on a sizzling, smoking hot plate. A novel dish, part of the appeal is the smoky fragrance which hits you the moment the lid is lifted.

Hotplate Beef Rib Noodles 01

Hotplate Beef Rib Noodles 02

The western-influenced dish of Hotplate Beef Steak Noodles features a thick slab of beef steak, done till medium rare, along with a swirl of yellow egg noodles, and a sunny side up egg, covered in a fragrant black pepper sauce. The meat is very tender and juicy, with good beefy taste. The pepper sauce is spicy / fiery enough with that peppery kick, but doesn't overwhelm or sting the palate too much.

Hotplate Beef Steak Noodles 01

Hotplate Beef Steak Noodles 02

Of all regions in Taiwan, Hualien is probably best known for their Milk Tea, as due to their status as an agricultural city, they have a lot of fresh milk. The difference is distinct in taste, their Milk Tea has a slightly fuller, more creamy flavour.

Milk Tea 01

Milk Tea 02

A bowl of healthy Mixed Rice White & Red is mostly served in restaurants, or in the outskirts of the city in the mountains. It is often sold much cheaper than elsewhere.

Mixed Rice White & Red

The signature dessert in Hualien is Moa Chi / Mochi, for which they are known through Taiwan. The most common and popular flavours include Moa Chi / Mochi Peanut, Black Sesame, Green Bean, Red Bean, Taro / Yam, and Sweet Potato. There are also several other exotic flavours.

Moa Chi Black Sesame 01

Moa Chi Black Sesame 02

Moa Chi Green Bean 01

Moa Chi Green Bean 02

Moa Chi Sweet Potato 01

Moa Chi Sweet Potato 02

An uncommon dish, the Mountain Vegetable With Mountain Nuts is exactly as described, with stir fried mountain vegetables along with mountain nuts in a light, fragrant stock of ginger and water.

Mountain Vegetable With Mountain Nuts 01

Mountain Vegetable With Mountain Nuts 02

Taiwanese Nougat is so famous it even has its own museum! Taiwanese Nougat is characterised by its soft, chewy, slightly creamy texture, a taste that is not overly sweet, and the use of fresh, crunchy nuts. Common basic flavours include Nougat Original, Chocolate, Strawberry, Peanut, and Black Sesame, but there are well over 50 different flavours of Nougat available.

Nougat Original, Chocolate, Strawberry

Nougat Peanut, Black Sesame

The Chinese influenced Scallion Green Onion Egg is a simple stir fry of scallions / green onions, and eggs, with the result partially between scrambled eggs and an omelette. Often served as a side dish, or as a breakfast item.

Scallion Green Onion Egg

The Chinese influenced Scallion Green Onion Pancake is a popular street food and breakfast item in Hualien and throughout Taiwan. Made with scallions / green onions, water, salt, all-purpose flour, and vegetable oil, this snack is quick and easy to prepare, and can be eaten at all times of the day. Urban legend has it that this dish influenced the creation of Pizza!

Scallion Green Onion Pancake

Seafood plays a large part in Taiwanese street food snacks, and the most common seafood is Squid. The Squid Fried is a whole squid / sotong, battered in a crispy crumb coating and deep fried, then served with a sprinkle of pepper and chinese 5-spice powder. The freshness of the squid is key here, as is the balance of seasoning.

Squid Fried 01

Squid Fried 02

This love it or hate it dish of Stinky Tofu looks like a normal deep fried tofu, doused in a sweet, spicy sauce and served with pickled cabbage and cilantro. With a slightly crisp exterior, and a warm, soft interior, Stinky Tofu has a normal texture. The difference lies in the pungunt, almost repulsive odor it gives off due to fermentation, but the Taiwanese have got the fermentation just right, so that it's not rotten.

Stinky Tofu

Stir Fried Vegetables are very commonly served as a side dish at all times of the day, and are heavily influenced by Chinese cuisine. The ingredients used are mostly similar, including Bean Sprouts, Bok Choy / Chinese Cabbage, carrots, leeks, Scallions / Green Onions, Cabbage, ginger, garlic, kang kong / water spinach / Chinese spinach, Tofu, and more. The key is the freshness of the vegetables used, and a simple, straightforward style of preparation with little or no sauce, that allows the natural flavours to shine.

Stir Fried Bean Sprouts

Stir Fried Bok Choy Chinese Cabbage

Stir Fried Cabbage

Stir Fried Tofu

Despite having a similar name to a dish from Chinese cuisine, the Tofu In Salted Egg Sauce in Hualien, Taiwan, differs quite a bit. The main difference is the sauce is actually more like a light gravy instead of a sticky paste, which is flavoured with salted egg and regular egg. The gravy also contains bits of other vegetables like scallions / green onions, and red chili. This results in a savoury, sweet, salty, slightly spicy dish, with the tofu having that incredibly soft, braised / steamed texture.

Tofu In Salted Egg Sauce 01

Tofu In Salted Egg Sauce 02

Wontons Shrimp And Pork are from Chinese Cantonese cuisine, and are prepared in almost a similar style, with minced pork, diced shrimp / prawns, stuffed into a wonton casing. Served steamed, it's usually garnished with a little vinegar and ginger before being eaten.

Wontons Shrimp And Pork

Despite its origins in Chinese Cantonese cuisine, the Taiwanese may have perfected the art of Xiao Long Bao / Steamed Soup Dumplings, where a filling of either meat or seafood, is steamed within a dumpling casing, until it releases a savoury broth / soup into the dumpling. For Xiao Long Bao Steamed Pork Dumplings, this filling is minced pork, and for Xiao Long Bao Steamed Crab Meat Dumplings, the filling is a mixture of crab meat and crab / fish roe. Bite a small hole first, drink the soup / broth, then garnish the dumpling with ginger and vinegar, and consume it.

Xiao Long Bao Steamed Pork Dumplings

Xiao Long Bao Steamed Crab Meat Dumplings

The Taiwanese wild boar is often a Formosan boar, which is native to the country. Most commonly reared in the mountain regions for food, such as in the dish of Stir Fried Wild Boar, the meat is often braised, stewed, or stir fried till tender.

Stir Fried Wild Boar


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