Taiwanese street dishes: 5 to try in Los Angeles

The great thing about living in L.A. is the foreign street cuisine that’s readily available. Having gone to popular night markets in Taiwan (an island country in East Asia, located off the southeastern coast of China) like Raohe Street, Huaxi Street and Shilin, and eaten some of the most distinguished Taiwanese street foods, we knew what to look for here in L.A. County and the San Gabriel Valley. Here are 5 Taiwanese street dishes to try that don’t require a passport.


5. Zong Zi – Rice Dumpling

This item consists of glutinous rice with Chinese sausage, mushrooms, chunks of braised pork, chestnuts, and sometimes a salted egg yolk, wrapped and steamed in bamboo leaves to achieve its pyramid-esque shape. This delightful entree is enjoyed with a sweet chili sauce.

4. Small Intestines

A simple cold dish of steamed pork small intestines that has a chewy and slightly crunchy texture. Served with fresh julienne ginger and a sweet garlic soy paste sauce to brighten the flavor and cut the gaminess.

3. Oh Ah Jian – Taiwanese Oyster Pancake/Omelet

Similar to an omelet, this dish consists of steamed oysters and Chinese lettuce, for a crunch factor, on top of an omelet egg base. Over the oysters and Chinese lettuce is a gelatinous layer of sweet potato or tapioca starch and served with a sweet chili sauce.

2. Bah Wan – Taiwanese Meatball

This delicacy consists of a pork meatball with braised shitake mushroom and diced bamboo shoots wrapped and steamed in a thick and chewy ‘skin’ made of rice and sweet potato starch comparable to a chewier mochi. It is typically served with a sweet chili sauce and garnished with cilantro.

1. Pig’s Blood Cake

Contrary to the presumed gaminess of this dish, the pig’s blood cake is a delicate dish made of steamed glutinous rice and pig’s blood typically served on a skewer reminiscent of a lollipop or popsicle. The rice cake is then dipped in sweet soy sauce and encased in a peanut powder and cilantro mixture.

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