With its long history, it makes sense that Tainan is known for its culinary delights. In fact, many would consider Tainan to be the food capital of Taiwan.
When you ask local Taiwanese for recommendations about what to eat in Tainan, they’ll each come up with different recommendations. There are just that many good places to eat in Tainan!
What to do in Tainan: If you’re visiting Tainan, be sure to check my Tainan Travel Guide and itinerary!
In my experience, here are some foods that I enjoyed during my time in Tainan:
1. Tainan Beef Soup for Breakfast
In Tainan, beef soup is a common dish to have for breakfast. It’s not to be confused with the braised beef noodles that are popular all over Taiwan. The beef soup is Tainan is sliced beef soup with a lighter broth.
During my visit to Tainan, I went to Six Thousand Beef Soup (六千泓佐土產牛肉), a small restaurant with a few tables extending out to the sidewalk – a very common sight in Tainan.
This beef soup shop is very popular. You can expect some queues if you’re in Tainan on weekends or public holidays, but when I was there at 9:30 am on a Friday, there was no queue.
NT$ 120 gets you a small bowl of beef soup. You can have the soup by itself or with a bowl of rice, but you must dip the beef in their special sweet sauce with thinly sliced gingers.
Where to eat Beef soup in Tainan
- Six Thousand Beef Soup (六千泓佐土產牛肉)
- A-Tang Beef Soup
2. Migao (Sticky rice pork 米糕)
Migao is a traditional Tainan specialty that has been enjoyed for generations. This dish is made from a combination of glutinous rice flour topped with slow-cooked pork, resulting in a delightfully chewy texture that melts in your mouth.
Tainan is especially known for its Migao, so it is a must try while you’re here!
I went to Nuo Fu Migao (糯夫米糕) based on the recommendation of a Taiwanese friend. The location of this shop was a little unexpected to me. It is a small building in the courtyard of one of the many temples in Tainan. There are not many seats here, only a few chairs in front of the shop itself and some standing tables.
After placing my order, I was instructed to wait at one of their standing tables… at the entrance of the temple. I had to double-check that I was at the right table.
Anyway, NT$45 gets you a small bowl of Migao with melt-in-your-mouth pork bits. Their Migao is very glutinous, it almost looked like it was slimy, but it doesn’t have a slimy texture when you eat it – just pure bliss!
I really regret not getting seconds, because I totally could have. The portion was not big, and this migao was easily one of the most memorable food I had in Tainan.
Where to eat Migao in Tainan:
- Nuo Fu Migao (糯夫米糕)
- Bao An Lu Migao (保安路米糕)
- Lo Cheng Migao (落成米糕)
3. Eel Noodles (鱔魚意麵)
This sweet and savory eel noodle is another dish that originated from Tainan, although it can now be found all over Taiwan.
There are two types of eel noodles in Tainan: A “soupy” one with thick gravy, or a “dry” one with just fried eel and noodles. In Tainan, the dish is also known to be more sweet and savory than in other parts of Taiwan.
I went to De Xing Eel Noodles (德興鱔魚意麵) and ordered the “dry” type of eel noodles. I have to be honest with you, I didn’t find the presentation to be appetizing. There is just something about the way the eel looked that makes me think of… bugs? But I put that thought aside and dug in anyway. I’ve had eel before (Unagi in Japan) and I loved it.
The eel noodles were delicious – it’s sweet yet savory, and it has that “wok hei” taste. I lapped up my plate in less than 5 minutes! A small dish of fried eel noodles at De Xing will cost you NT$ 130.
Where to eat Eel Noodles in Tainan:
- A-Jiang Eel Noodles (阿江鱔魚意麵)
- De Xing Eel Noodles (德興鱔魚意麵)
4. Leng Tih Tong Fried Cookies
I wouldn’t have known about Leng Tih Tong if it was not for the hotel I stayed at, the Retro Tai-pan. They had a packet of these cookies ready for me when I checked into my room.
The retro appearance of the cookies piqued my interest. After googling, I realized they are egg cookies from Leng Tih Tong, a local cookie shop that has been operating for a long time in Tainan, since the Japanese occupation days.
Leng Tih Tong sells only five types of cookies. The egg cookies was one of their best seller.
Despite the name, these egg cookies did not actually taste like eggs at all – it was only named so because they used eggs as one of the ingredients. Eggs were precious in the olden days, so it’s important to highlight egg in the name of the cookies itself.
On the first bite, this cookie tasted very nostalgic to me. And then, I realized why – it’s because these egg cookies taste pretty much identical to the fortune cookies I used to get from Chinese American restaurants back when I lived in Los Angeles!
Where to eat Leng Tih Tong Cookies
- Leng Tih Tong (連得堂餅家) on Chung Ann Street
5. Coffin Bread (棺材板)
Coffin bread is an interesting one. It is deep-fried white bread that has been hollowed out and then filled with cream soup. The bread is then “closed” back with another piece of fried white bread that they most likely saved when hollowing out the bread. Sort of like a rectangular bread bowl, which resembles… well, a coffin. Such dark humor the Tainanese have 😂
Anyway, while the bread was pretty good as a snack, I wouldn’t go out of my way to find this if I didn’t come across it on my travels.
Where to eat Coffin Bread in Tainan
- Anping Old Street market
- Garden Night Market
6. Pork Lard Rice with Raw Egg Yolk (豬油拌飯)
This dish was hands down, one of my favorite things I had in Tainan. I know the name does not sound appetizing at all, but it was actually really, really good.
I had pork lard rice at Ding Fu Fa, a restaurant among the small alleys of Tainan. The restaurant has been dressed up to look like a retro classroom. To order, ask for the english menu and simply mark what you want and pay at the cashier.
It’s quite a simple dish – just a bowl of rice, topped with pork fat, raw egg yolk, and fried shallots. The way you should enjoy it is by simply mixing all the ingredients in the bowl, and dig in!
Enjoy the rich flavor of pork lard and creaminess from the egg yolk, cut by the crunchy texture of fried shallots. Such a simple yet comforting food! If you don’t like eating raw egg yolks, you can also opt to have sunny-side-up fried eggs or even no eggs at all.
But as for me, I really enjoyed that raw egg yolk on rice. It reminded me of Tamago Kake Gohan in Japan but way more tasty.
At Ding Fu Fa, NT$ 45 gets you a small bowl of egg yolk pork lard rice. You can order other dishes too, such as the fish ball soup, but if I were to go back I’d save my stomach space for a few more of those pork lard rice!
Where to eat Pork Lard Rice in Tainan
- Ding Fu Fa – a small eatery in one of the alleys in the West Central district. Ask for the English menu!
7. Muahchee Fritters
I can’t stop thinking about this street-side delight ever since I had it in Tainan. It’s mochi (rice cake), battered and deep fried, then rolled around in fine white sugar. Very simple yet delicious.
Where to eat
- Linjia White Sugar Cakes (台南林家白糖粿) – Located conveniently in the west district, this small stall serves up the best muahchee fritters and other fried goodies
And that’s all the tasty food I got to enjoy during my visit to Tainan.
Until next time! 😝