We’ve finally come to the part of my travel series where I post about the edible things! There are a ton of things you can buy from Taiwan, but the nine I’m about to share today are my current favorite can’t-leave-without Taiwan souvenirs.
Souvenir shopping in Taiwan can be quite daunting because of the sheer number of options and an equally large number of brands producing them. The brands on my list are my specific choices from the different ones I’ve tried so far, but do note that I haven’t tried them all so there might be changes or additions in the future. Right now though, these are the Taiwan souvenirs I highly recommend!
1. French Nougat from Sugar & Spice
A lot of Taiwanese nougats have passed through my tastebuds over the years, but none of them have made as much of an impact as these ones from Sugar & Spice. They’re just the right amount of sticky with the right amount of almond bits inside, and they are more creamy and milky than the usual hard nougats. The flavor and the chewy consistency are just right with these! The best nougats I have ever eaten, HANDS DOWN.
2. Green Onion Nougat Crackers from Chia Te (佳德糕餅)
On the topic of nougats, Taiwan makes these savory onion biscuits that hold a layer of sweet nougat in between. Oddly enough they are the perfect combination! My Dad loves these nougat crackers so we constantly have them in different brands here at home, but ever since we tried Chia Te’s version, we have never bought any other. Ever since I tried Chia Te’s version, these have also become my faves!
For one thing, the quality and flavor of Chia Te’s Green Onion Nougat Crackers are simply superior compared to most other brands I’ve tried. Chia Te’s has the best balance and crunch. The crackers have a good onion flavor and a nice crispness to them that biting into the chewy, milky nougat center almost comes as a surprise. It’s a great mixture of textures. As for the taste, I love how the savory green onion flavor melds into the sweet nougat. It just works!
3. Sheng Tan Salted Egg Yolk Malt Sugar Biscuit
This one took me completely by surprise. I wasn’t sure at first what to expect, but these little cookies are addictive buggers. You can’t have just one. You just can’t! It’s basically biscuits with a caramel-like filling flavored with salted eggs and malt. All the flavors hit your tastebuds at once, leaving you wondering which it was you tasted first… The salted egg? The milky malt? The caramel-y undertones?
There are actually a lot of these kinds of biscuits being sold where tourists venture in Taiwan, but this brand is just so good! The crackers aren’t as crisp as the ones above with the nougat, and these are a bit harder to the bite but still manageable. Imagine a caramel toffee sandwiched in mini, slightly-salty crackers. (Someone actually imported these into the Philippines from Taiwan. That’s how good they are!)
4. Pineapple & Egg Yolk Pastry from Chia Te
You’re going to see a lot of Chia Te products on this list. In fact, I adore them so much I wouldn’t mind lining up for them. (And indeed there is always a queue at their bakery.) You know how Taiwan has a slew of pineapple pastries? Well Chia Te‘s stand out. They are the best I’ve eaten by far, with a really nice pastry to filling ratio. (I’ve encountered those really dry pineapple cakes where the pastry is so crumbly I choke on them!) The pineapple filling isn’t overwhelmingly sweet, and instead it complements a delightfully buttery shell. SO GOOD.
5. Pork Floss & Red Bean Q Biscuits from Chia Te
Even though everything I’ve tried so far from Chia Te is good, including their Sun Cakes and Wife Cakes, it’s their Red Bean Pork Floss Glutinous Rice Cake that is my absolute obsession from this brand. This mix of flavors is highly unusual but my goodness it is so so good! Outside is a layer of yummy flaky biscuit that hugs a thin layer of mochi, with pork floss and red bean paste sitting inside. For good measure, they added a salted egg yolk in the middle. Is your mind blown yet?
I don’t really know how all those layers I mentioned translate to you or whether the combination sounds good to you or not. But I can assure you one bite is all you need to be converted. 😉 And yes, I have tried other brands and it just is not the same once you’ve tasted Chia Te‘s version.
6. Taro Pastry from A Chuan (阿傳師)
Taiwan may be known as the land of pineapple pastries but I am more of a taro pastry girl through and through. The only problem is: Not all taro pastries are created equal. I had to learn that the hard way. Some brands make really dry taro pastries, from the shell to the filling. It’s almost like eating cardboard! Now this brand I mention is one of the best I’ve eaten. (There is another one but I haven’t managed to hunt it down yet.)
A Chuan‘s filling is creamy, with a lovely taro flavor and just the right amount of sweetness. The shell is buttery and flaky but just thick enough to hold the filling in, and not so thick that it ruins the eating experience. I always hoard these in my bedside drawer to consume slowly haha!
7. Pork Jerky from Hsin Tong Yang (新東陽)
Generally, dried pork and jerkies taste good across brands here in Taiwan, but I find that the highest quality ones come from Hsin Tong Yang. They are also a bit more expensive than other brands because of that. Taiwanese dried pork products come in different shapes, sizes, and thickness, depending on what you prefer. I like the sliced pork sticks (below) because they are chunky and portable.
I generally prefer the spicy variant rather than the sweet. They also have a milder black pepper version which is less sweet than the classic flavor, and with a kick! (PRO TIP: Try these with a warm bowl of rice!) Since sellers usually offer free samples, you can try before you decide.
8. Vegetable and Mushroom Chips from anywhere!
I love veggie chips and here in Taiwan is where I feel like I’ve eaten the best sort. Their chips are just rightly seasoned, and the quality of them are great. You can see it just by the coloring of the veggie chips. One of the main differences I have noticed across brands with price points is the crispness of the veggie chips, which also reflects how fresh they were when they went in the bag. The cheaper ones tend to be a little tougher, but not by too much. The same concept applies for the mushroom chips. These come in more flavors and are super addictive, by the way!
9. Mom’s Dry Noodles / Lao Ma Dry Noodles (老妈拌面)
Taiwan makes some really great instant noodles, but the noodle-lover in me totally fell for these Lao Ma Dry Noodles. They are high-quality and authentic-flavored dry noodles that could almost be mistaken for restaurant grade if you decide to add toppings as suggested on the picture on the pack. I was super in love with the peppery black vinegar variant! The only downside is these are a bit difficult to find. Some Carrefour branches carry it while others don’t.
Where do I buy these Taiwan souvenirs? The instant noodles can be found in some Carrefour branches, while the other souvenirs can be bought in the airport and in areas frequented by tourists, like Ximending. Brands like Chia Te are best bought in their own bakery branches, but you will have to line up. (Worth it though!)
Well there you go! I hope you find my list of quintessential Taiwan souvenirs helpful for your shopping. Though I know for a fact that these brands I mentioned won’t do you wrong, as always, I urge you to explore and discover things for yourself. Leave a comment below if you find something tastier than what I recommended and I would gladly go and try that out!