Mochi is a soft, marshmallow-like glutinous rice cake that’s pounded into a paste before being moulded into the desired shape. It can contain either sweet or salty ingredients, but the most traditional types are filled with a red bean paste and rolled in peanut powder. Make sure to get yours from a shop that makes them fresh daily. This is more a textural preference, I quite liked them, but Andre didn’t like the squishy texture!
Easily found at the Dongdamen Night Market in Hualien, a block of frozen mochi is placed on a grill where it puffs up repeatedly before being flattened out with a spatula and topped with peanut powder and your choice of toppings. We tried the most popular one topped with condensed milk and peanuts, but to be honest we were rather disappointed. There was not a lot of flavour and we found the really sticky texture rather unpleasant.
This is a very traditional sweet snack which many people take a box of these home as a gift from Taiwan. One reason why it’s so popular as a gift is because the pineapple is considered an auspicious symbol in Taiwanese, meaning “incoming fortune”. You will find these yummy treats in many different shapes and sizes. The candied pineapple is contained within a buttery shortbread crust which just melts in your mouth and is surprisingly not overly sweet.
SUN CAKE (Taiyang bing)
This is a popular Taiwanese flaky crust pastry with maltose filling traditional enjoyed with tea.
RED BEAN WHEEL CAKES
These were traditionally made with sweet azuki red bean paste, but today you’ll find a wide range of fillings like chocolate, vanilla custard, peanut butter, fruit, and matcha. You will find wheel cake vendors all over Taiwan, at night markets and along busy street sidewalks. We enjoyed the banana and custard filling a lot more than the red bean paste.
These are often served as part of a gelatinous dessert but in our opinion, they are best enjoyed in a bubble tea!
Also known as boba or pearl milk tea, this can be served hot or cold and is a very typical drink of Taiwan. Usually, the warm tapioca balls are added to cold milky tea and depending on where you get your bubble tea (and how much English they speak!) you can specify your desired temperature and level of sweetness. At first, it is really strange drinking chewy tapioca balls, but we really enjoyed the burnt brown sugar bubble milky tea variety.
A refreshing drink made with ripe papaya and fresh milk, you will find this all over Taiwan. We found almost every food stall at Liyu Lake, Hualien selling this.
GLUTINOUS RICE CAKE
These come with or without various fillings. We are not particularly fond of the squishy texture nor the sweetness of these snacks.
Shaved ice dessert topped with condensed milk and a variety of ingredients like fruit, ice cream, taro, azuki beans, sweet potato chunks, peanuts, and grass jelly.
PEANUT ICE CREAM ROLL
Vanilla ice-cream, fresh coriander and crushed peanuts are rolled into a very thin pancake. We found this interesting combination rather refreshing and delicious and kept returning to the lovely lady at the Dongdamen Night Market, Hualien.
ICE CREAM PUFF
A fun alternative to an ice-cream cone, ice cream is sandwiched between two halves of a large, flaky puff pastry.
TOWER ICE CREAM
Found near the Lover’s Bridge at Fisherman’s Wharf, New Taipei, this is exactly what is says… a ridiculously tall tower of ice-cream!
TANGHULU (candied fruit)
You will find these bright red skewers dipped in sugar syrup to form a hardened candy coating at almost every night market across Taiwan. They are usually either strawberries or cherry tomatoes stuffed with a sliver of dried plum.
We were rather surprised that this is a popular speciality in Taiwan. We found two stalls at the Dongdamen Night Market, Hualien which had so many different and delicious hand made varieties which you could taste before purchasing by weight.