I’m ready to eat like a local in Taiwan: now what?

Great, you have decided to go exploring and get a taste of the great local food that is just lurking around the corner! First, let’s try to figure out what food is on offer. (If you haven’t read my Beginner’s Guide to Local Taiwanese Eateries, read it first here.)

Anywhere in Taiwan’s cities, big and small, you will find mom-and-pop eateries. Be warned: They usually don’t look like much! But that doesn’t mean that the food isn’t great.

A noodle bar in Taipei.

Before you can use my translated menus (download a sample here), you need to know what kind of food is on offer.

There’s two ways to do that: The easiest way, of course, is to show the owner the different menus and ask them to point to the one you can use in their eatery. Even if they don’t speak any English, that should work.

If you’re feeling particularly inspired, however, you can try to figure it out yourself by looking at the Chinese characters.

That’s easier than it sounds, because not only the menus of these places are pretty much standard, the signs are too. They follow a simple format: restaurant name + type of food.

So in the picture above, you’ll see this character at the end:

That means that noodle dishes are sold here.

At the top of the translated menus in my travel book, you’ll see groups of Chinese characters. Those are the ones to look for. In some cases, like beef noodles, it’s always the same group of characters. With other types of food, there are several possibilities.

Don’t get discouraged, with a bit of practice, you’ll figure it out easily!

I hope you will find my Taiwanese food menus useful. I would love to hear your stories and see pictures when you try them out in Taiwan! You can contact me through my website, ph6point6.com. There, you can also find more information on the Taiwan Traveller’s Notebook.

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