5 Taiwanese Night Market Snack Options in Toronto
CNN listed 10 things that “Taiwan does better than anywhere else”, and at the top of their list was night markets! The first thing that comes to mind when people mention Taiwan is their night markets, simply because it’s the best place for you to enjoy local food. What is so special about Taiwanese street food? In Taiwan, food is not only art; it also represents it’s culture.. Centuries of multicultural influence through migration & colonization have shaped what we know as modern-day Taiwanese food.
1. Taro Balls
Taro balls are one of the most famous Taiwanese traditional desserts, which can be found in almost every part in Taiwan. They are made by combining mashed taro root & tapioca starch to form soft & bouncy balls. When made correctly taro balls are translucent and glistening with a soft and chewy texture. There are many different ways to eat taro balls. People can DIY a taro dish by choosing through collection of ingredients (grass jelly, red bean, tapioca, and more) and add-ons (condensed milk, syrup, or shaved ice).
- Where to find this in Toronto: Meet Fresh Toronto（coming soon Yonge/Finch）
2. Bubble Tea
Chinese tea culture has a long history as tea was one of the most common drinks of ancient china. Traditional tea ceremonies involve complicated steps, which has caused its popularity to gradually subside due to busy urban life styles. In the 1980s, the first cup of bubble tea was created in Taiwan by adding milk and tapioca balls into black tea. It soon became a popular beverage around the world. Nowadays, bubble tea has hundreds of flavours to choose from. Besides tapioca, many other toppings can also be added, such as pudding, grass jelly, aloe, red beans, and more.
- Where to find this in Toronto: CoCo Fresh Tea & Juice (multiple locations)
3. Gua Bao
Gua Bao is also called “tiger bites pig” in Taiwan due to it’s shape (the bun looks like a tiger mouth and the contents are the pig!). It’s best known as Taiwanese hamburger. Traditionally it consists of a slice of stewed fatty pork belly with parsley, peanut powder, and pickled cabbage as condiments, placed inside of sliced flat steamed bread. The clever mix of ingredients creates a sweet and sour taste that bring out the savouriness of the pork belly. A wide variety of fillings such as chicken, eggs, stewed beef, cheese and more are being added by modern Taiwanese restaurants. Restaurants catering to a more health conscious audience have even replaced the steamed bread with brown sugar bread.
4. Oyster Omelette
Oyster Omelettes can be found everywhere in Taiwan’s night markets. Though not the most visually appealing of dishes, its complex flavours and seafood aromas more than make up for it's appearance. Geographically, Taiwan is surrounded by sea with rich seafood resources. Small oysters are used as local materials; the freshness of seafood is key to oyster omelette’s savory taste. To make an oyster omelette, you first have to pan-fry mixes of small oysters with egg batter, vegetables, sweet potato powder, and cornstarch. Spicy or chili sauce mixed with lime juice are often added to bring out the seafood flavours and complete the dish.
- Where to find this in Toronto: Mabu Station (Yonge/Finch)
5. Minced Pork Rice
Minced pork rice is the most commonly seen gourmet snack in Taiwan, you can find it pretty much everywhere from snack stalls, luxury hotels to state banquets. The basic ingredients are ground pork marinated and boiled in soy sauce served on top of steamed rice. It’s original intention was to give common people in economic downturns a fulfilling meal at a lower cost. Even today with improvements to the economy, people still love this dish due to its rich flavour.
- Where to find this in Toronto: Papa Chang (Markham... so technically not Toronto!)