Nestled in the hills of Northern Taiwan lies the charming old town of Jiufen. Known for its stunning views, rich history and charming old streets, it is also a foodie’s paradise, attracting people from all corners of the globe.
During our Yehliu Geopark, Jiufen, and Shifen Day Tour, we had the opportunity to visit Jiufen briefly, but due to time constraints, we could not explore the area fully. As a result, we made plans to revisit Jiufen on our last day in Taipei.
In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the best local delicacies that you must try when you visit Jiufen. 🙂
Take the Bannan/Blue line of the MRT to Ximen Station. Exit from Exit 2 and walk straight for approximately 150 metres until you reach the bus stop for bus 965 in front of the Armed Forces Cultural Center (國軍文藝活動中心).
The bus ride takes approximately one hour.
Jiufen is famous for its street food culture, and there is an abundance of snacks to indulge in. Here are some of the snacks that you absolutely must try while in Jiufen:
Jin Zhi Hong Zao Rou Yuan 金枝紅糟肉圓
The Taiwanese meatball or rou yuan is similar to a dumpling and is typically filled with meat. It can be steamed and/or fried and served with a sweet and savoury sauce. Jin Zhi’s Red Yeast Meatball (紅糟肉圓) has a soft, smooth, and springy skin, with a meaty filling that has a sweet and salty flavour. What sets it apart is the use of red yeast rice that gives the meatball a red colour and a distinctive fermented taste. The addition of bamboo shoots to the filling provides a pleasant crunch, while cucumber slices are included to balance out the dish’s greasiness.
For those who prefer variety, the Assorted Balls Soup (五味綜合丸湯) is an excellent choice. This soup features a mixture of tender and flavourful balls, some of which even have meat fillings. The soup itself is light and refreshing, without being overly salty.
Jin Zhi Hong Zao Su Rou Yuan 金枝紅糟素肉圓
This shop is located opposite the one mentioned earlier and serves a similar menu, but in vegetarian form.
The Red Yeast Vegetarian Meatball (紅糟素肉圓) is comparable to the original meat version, but instead of real meat, it contains vegetarian meat and bamboo shoots. The vegetarian meat provides a meaty texture, making it just as satisfying as the meat version.
We also tried the Assorted Balls Soup (綜合丸湯) to have a taste of everything. Each ball in the soup has a unique flavour, making the dish far from dull or boring.
A-Zhu Peanut Ice Cream Roll 阿珠雪在燒
This peanut ice cream roll is a unique dessert that features a rolled-up crepe made with fresh spring roll skin. It is filled with peanut brittle, coriander, and taro ice cream. Although the addition of coriander to ice cream may seem strange, the combination surprisingly works and is incredibly delicious. The dessert is especially appealing due to the contrasting textures of all the components, making it a must-try.
Wu Di Taiwanese Sausage 無敵黑豬肉香腸
Wu Di offers a variety of skewers, including pork sausage, fish egg sausage, squid sausage, sticky rice sausage, and squid balls.
The Pork Sausage (黑豬肉香腸) is juicy and packed with flavour. It is grilled to perfection, giving it a delightful smoky taste.
The Squid Balls (醬爆燒丸子) are far superior to those found in supermarket packets. They have a flavourful taste and a texture that allows you to taste bits of real squid. They are also grilled perfectly, enhancing their overall taste.
A Gan Yi Taro Balls 阿柑姨芋圓
A Gan Yi Taro Balls is a must-visit dessert spot in Jiufen. Their Taro Balls & Assorted Beans Shaved Ice is a popular choice and for good reason – it’s the best taro ball dessert in Taiwan that I’ve had so far! The portion size is also very generous.
The taro and sweet potato balls have a chewy texture. Both balls have a pronounced taro and sweet potato flavour, and a natural sweetness. The dessert comes with a mix of azuki beans, mung beans, and kidney beans that are cooked to a soft texture. This combination is not only delicious but also refreshing.
One of the things that make A Gan Yi Taro Balls a must-visit spot is its dining area, which offers a panoramic view that adds to the overall experience.
Lai Ah Po Taro Balls 賴阿婆芋圓
We tried Lai Ah Po Taro Balls as A Gan Yi Taro Balls was closed during our second visit to Jiufen. However, the taro balls here were not as impressive as A Gan Yi’s. They lacked the aroma of taro and sweet potato and were not as chewy. This could be due to the ratio of taro/sweet potato to starch being off. Nevertheless, it was still a refreshing treat to have.
Ah Lan Hakka Glutinous Rice Cake 阿蘭草仔粿芋粿
The texture of the rice cake skin is akin to ang ku kueh, but it’s chewier, stickier, and more moist. As for the fillings, they come in a variety of flavours, including salty mung bean, preserved vegetables, bamboo shoots, red bean, and taro. The mung bean filling is standard, while the preserved vegetable has an odd taste. The bamboo shoot filling is crunchy and flavourful, and the red bean filling is a standout with whole red beans and just the right amount of sweetness. The taro filling contains chunky cubes of taro that could be softer, but it still has a delicious taste.
Jiufen Hong Dou Bing 九份紅豆餅
Their pancakes come in two flavours: red bean or custard cream. The red bean filling is substantial and you can see and taste whole red beans, making it very satisfying. The custard cream filling is equally delicious, rich, and creamy without being overly sweet. The pancake crust is crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. I highly recommend trying both flavours!
Quail Egg Skewer 鳥蛋串
The quail eggs on skewers are fried to perfection with a nice crisp texture. You can pair them with a seasoning of your choice. As quail eggs have a higher yolk to white ratio compared to chicken eggs, they taste richer and creamier, making them a must-try snack.
Jiufen Dou Hua 九份豆花
Another dessert to try is Jiufen Dou Hua, which is soy pudding served with taro and sweet potato balls. The ginger soup version has a nicely balanced flavour that’s not too sweet or spicy. The soy pudding itself is soft and easy to slurp down, which contrasts nicely with the chewy texture of the balls.
Jiufen Xin Shi Tang 九份心食堂
If you’re looking for a more substantial sit-down meal than just street snacks, you may want to check out 九份心食堂. Although it has received some negative reviews on Google due to complaints about the staff’s poor attitude and service, we didn’t experience any issues during our visit. It’s possible that this was because we went on a weekday afternoon when there were fewer people around.
Steamed Pork Dumplings, also known as Xiao Long Bao (小籠湯包), were tasty but not as good as Din Tai Fung’s. However, it lacked soup in the dumplings.
The Rice with Stewed Pork wasn’t the best lu rou fan (滷肉飯) I’ve had in Taiwan but it still had a good taste and reminded us of home-cooked meals. The stewed pork was flavourful, but the rice was slightly stodgy.
The Rice Vermicelli with Stewed Pork (滷肉米粉) was a nice change from having the dish over rice. The meat sauce was the same as the one used for rice, but the vermicelli added a different texture.
The Chicken Soup (養身鷄湯) was a standout, with a sweet and flavourful taste. It had a comforting and warming effect on the stomach too.
Overall, the meal was not amazing, but it had a homely and comforting taste.
Xing Fu Tang 幸福堂
Xing Fu Tang is a bubble tea chain that’s known for their freshly made brown sugar boba milk. The outlet in Jiufen is particularly noteworthy for its excellent quality. The staff is skilled in creating the perfect drink, and each cup is made to perfection. If you’re a fan of bubble tea, you won’t want to miss Xing Fu Tang in Jiufen!
Jiufen is an essential destination for food lovers. With its plethora of street food, traditional dishes, and mouth-watering desserts, you’re bound to have an exciting culinary adventure in Jiufen. From the delectable taro balls to the unique peanut ice cream roll, Jiufen’s food scene caters to every taste bud. With numerous shops and vendors to choose from, you’ll never run out of new and exciting things to try. So, if you’re planning a trip to Taiwan, make sure to add Jiufen to your itinerary and immerse yourself in the local food culture. You won’t be disappointed!