As Pingtung is surrounded by mountains and the sea, it is an area rich in farm produce that the locals are naturally proud of. Ready to taste the mouth-watering foods that even the locals can't resist? Pingtung Tourist Night Market has a Shantou beef restaurant that serves delicious soup made from extremely tender fresh beef. You can also try Yilan-style sausages as well as widely praised fried meatballs and intestines prepared using ancient methods. Hou’s Salty Duck, a time-honoured brand, has a unique smoky aroma that attracts huge queues of people. Other must-try foods include Wanluan pork knuckle as well as popular summer products such as Sichuan-flavoured Ren's cold noodles and Yang cold noodles made with special Shaanxi noodles. Don't miss Donggang Seafood Street, where you'll find a wide variety of seafood, ranging from exquisite bluefin tuna dishes to affordable Japanese cuisine and sailfish tempura, a popular snack at Huaqiao Market. Fancy dessert? Treat yourself to Peking Kong’s signature pancakes. Pingtung’s fantastic local cuisine will leave you feeling satisfied.

    1

    Xinyuan Beef Hot Pot

    If you want to try authentic Pingtung beef hot pot, Xinyuan Shantou Beef Hot Pot is a must-visit. This time-honoured eatery is located in the alleyway next to Pingtung Tourist Night Market. Xinyuan is always bustling with foodies, who come here for its beef hot pot even in hot weather. The restaurant is famed for its fresh beef, which has been slaughtered the same day, as well as its highly popular frozen beef. The soup is prepared using flat fish to give it a fresh, sweet flavor. The beef is ready to serve with just a quick blanching. You can then dip it in the warm and rich-flavoured barbecue sauce, which is highly recommended. Apart from the meat and vegetables that must be ordered from the waiter, dishes are provided buffet-style and at affordable prices. It's no wonder that Xinyuan has been an institution for more than 60 years. If you're having a day out, Xinyuan is a great place to bring your family and friends for a memorable meal. It's advisable to book a table in advance or come early. If you arrive too late, you may not get a table.

    Location: No. 13, Xingshi Ln., Pingtung City, Pingtung County, Taiwan 900

    Open: Daily from 11.30 am to 3 pm and from 5 pm to 1 am the next day

    photo by Johnson Wang (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    2

    Shangzan-Style Meatballs, Stewed Pork Intestines and Sausages

    Shangzan-style meatballs, stewed pork intestines and sausages are must-eats at Minzu Road Night Market, which has a history stretching back more than 70 years. When the market first opened in 1945, the restaurant's founder sold meatballs, stewed pork intestines, sausages and other pig offal dishes from a cart. The restaurant also sells noodles and braised pork rice for travelers who are looking for a feast. Fried meatballs are made by hand using traditional methods. They are first steamed and then deep-fried over a low heat. The outer skin is chewy and the filling is rich. You can taste the texture and flavor of the meat in almost every bite. Compared with the steamed meatballs commonly found in Pingtung, fried meatballs have a distinctive flavor that pairs wonderfully with the restaurant's homemade sauce. The most popular dishes among diners are stewed pork intestines and sausages, which are hearty and full of flavor and are reasonably priced. If you love spicy food, be sure to try the restaurant's special garlic chili sauce ‒ but be careful not to take too much at once!

    Location: No. 22, Minzu Rd., Pingtung City, Pingtung County, Taiwan 900

    Open: Daily from 7.30 am to 9 pm

    photo by Takoradee (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    3

    DAH-JIANG Japanese Restaurant

    DAH-JIANG Japanese Restaurant is a long-established Japanese restaurant in Pingtung County that has been awarded an official seal of excellence, so you can enjoy peace of mind when you dine here. The restaurant uses only fresh ingredients and offers a wide variety of dishes, including assorted sushi, nigiri sushi, sashimi of all types, hand-rolled sushi, exquisite set meals, banquets and dishes for group meetings. In addition to open seating, the restaurant provides separate booths where you can enjoy your meal without being disturbed. The booths are suitable for small gatherings and business meetings. There are also sushi bar seats where you can admire the delicate knife skills of the chef while enjoying your food. The chef expertly prepares nigiri sushi by cutting fish fillets, dipping them in wasabi, and wrapping them around rice to bind the whole mixture together in one go. The actions may seem simple, but require years of practice to perfect. It is this kind of dedication that makes the restaurant so popular among Pingtung locals.

    Location: No. 143, Xinyi Rd., Pingtung City, Pingtung County, Taiwan 900

    Open: Daily from 11 am to 2 pm and from 5 pm to 9 pm

    4

    Wantai Pork Knuckle King Restaurant

    Wanluan Township is a small township famed for its pork knuckle dishes, and its "pork knuckle street" is always crowded with tourists in search of a feast. With a history stretching back more than 48 years, Wantai Pork Knuckle King Restaurant's humble appearance belies its status as a local institution. The restaurant serves pork knuckles with a chewy texture, rich braised flavor and aromatic fat. They are even more delicious when dipped in the unique garlic sauce. Once you've taken your first bite, you won't be able to stop eating. In addition to the famous Wanluan pork knuckle, the restaurant's other signature dishes include cold vegetable fern dressed with sauce, crispy tofu, fried pork intestines with ginger, and various Hakka stir-fried delicacies. Each dish is prepared by the proprietor herself. Next time you come to Wanluan's pork knuckle street, dine at Wantai Pork Knuckle King Restaurant, a hidden gem known only to local foodies.

    Location: No. 32, Minhe Rd., Wanluan Township, Pingtung County, Taiwan 923

    Open: From 9 am to 6 pm, closed on Tuesdays

    photo by 挪威 企鵝 (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    5

    Sailfish Tempura

    Donggang offers a number of must-eat local snacks, one of which is sailfish tempura. Sailfish tempura, a signature dish of Pingtung, is made by shaping fresh sailfish paste into a stick, which is wrapped around a quarter of a hard-boiled egg, fried over a low heat, and then stir-fried before being served to customers. The tempura is first fried over a low heat and then stir-fried until golden brown. The two steps are the secret to creating the crispy outer texture. Made from fresh sailfish, the tempura is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The egg surprise in the middle adds a delicious flavor and texture, inviting you to take one bite after another. You'll often see long queues of people waiting to have a taste of sailfish tempura outside restaurants at Huaqiao Market, Guangfu Road, and Jianguo Road. Each restaurant offers its own unique take on the dish and has a loyal customer base. If you have time, it's worth giving several restaurants a try.

    Location: Booth A472, Huaqiao Market, Xinsheng 3rd Rd., Donggang Township, Pingtung County, Taiwan 928

    Open: Daily from 12.30 pm to 7 pm; vacations from 11 am to 7.30 pm

    6

    Houjia-Style Braised Salted Duck

    Houjia Braised Salted Duck Restaurant, located on Zhongzheng Road, is a time-honoured brand with a history stretching back over 60 years. It's considered to be one of the top three restaurants in the world for braised cuisine. It's so well-known that even Wu Feng, host of the food show iWalker, and the cast of Stories in Taiwan have visited the restaurant. The restaurant's signature dishes include salted duck, smoked duck and duck with rock sugar sauce. The salted duck is made in a complex and time-consuming process. After the duck is dehaired and cleaned, it is immersed in a variety of Chinese herbs and spices, steamed at high temperature, and then coated with a unique sauce to give it a Nanjing flavor. The salted duck meat is soft, tender and chewy with a delicious, salty-sweet marinade. It's a dish that attracts huge crowds to the restaurant. Smoked duck is also popular, with a combination of dry and moist meat and a smoky aroma that lingers on your tongue.

    Location: No. 169, Zhongzheng Rd., Pingtung City, Pingtung County, Taiwan 900

    Open: Daily from 8 am to 7 pm, with unplanned closed days on vacations

    photo by AddisWang (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    7

    Pingtung Renjia Cold Noodles

    Founded in 1959, Pingtung Renjia Cold Noodle Restaurant has a history stretching back more than 60 years. The founder was a woman who came from Sichuan Province and lived in a military dependents' village in Taiwan. She adapted the recipe for spicy Sichuan cold noodles to create a popular dish incorporating local flavors. The second generation of her family opened a number of other branches. Together with the founding restaurant on Shengli Road in Pingtung, there are currently a total of six branches in Taiwan, even as far away as Taipei. Renjia cold noodles are thicker and chewier than regular noodles, but are not at all greasy. They are served with shredded cucumber and beansprouts for a crispy texture and topped with a special sesame sauce and crushed peanuts. The sesame sauce and rich garlic aroma give Renjia cold noodles a refreshing and unique flavor. After your first bite you won't be able stop until you've cleared your plate. Even if you're not used to spicy food, you should definitely try the sauce, which is based on a traditional Sichuan recipe. It has a strong aroma of sesame and pepper and a spicy, yet slightly sweet taste.

    Location: Address of the founding store: No. 183-2, Shengli Rd., Pingtung City, Pingtung County, Taiwan 900

    Open: From 5 am to 2 pm, closed on Mondays

    photo by 張采如 (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    8

    Jiazhen Seafood Restaurant

    Jiazhen Seafood Restaurant, located near Donglong Palace, is well known in Donggang and attracts a steady stream of tourists. The restaurant owner is a captain who grew up on a fishing boat in Donggang and has a keen sense of taste. Since the Bluefin Tuna Cultural Festival was launched 15 years ago, Jiazhen Seafood Restaurant has been voted the top bluefin tuna restaurant in Donggang 10 years in a row. Four presidents and the internationally renowned movie director Ang Lee have visited Jiazhen Seafood Restaurant to try its bluefin tuna dishes, and its popularity is unrivaled. With more than 30 years of fishing experience, the restaurant owner has worked with fishermen for many years and has exclusive suppliers. Every piece of fish is carefully selected by him. Jiazhen's handmade dishes include sakura shrimp rice, flying fish roe sausage, teriyaki tuna, crispy fried fish and pan-fried pie. These creative dishes are unlike anything you'll find in most seafood restaurants, and make Jiazhen well worth a visit.

    Location: No. 47, Sec. 2, Guangfu Rd., Donggang Township, Pingtung County, Taiwan 928

    Open: Daily from 11 am to 2.30 pm and from 5 pm to 9.30 pm; vacations from 11 am to 9.30pm

    photo by 挪威 企鵝 (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    9

    Beiping Kongjia Restaurant

    Located in Donggang Township, Beiping Kongjia Restaurant offers a variety of northern-style noodle dishes as well as stir-fried dishes. One of its signature dishes is a sweet pancake, which resembles pastry in appearance but has a rich aroma with a hint of slightly burnt crust. It has an irresistibly unique taste that is crispy and sweet, but not greasy. Another recommended dish is fried Xi Shi, which is made from dough fried until golden and crispy and filled with tofu and wild vegetables. It tastes refreshing and not at all greasy. Its pork roll is unlike anything served in other restaurants. The pork filling is coated with honey, similar to sweet and sour pork ribs, and then fried together with the outer crust. The combination of crispy crust and slightly sweet pork filling has earned this dish high praise. The dishes served by Beiping Kongjia Restaurant are delicious and reasonably priced, attracting an endless stream of diners at mealtimes.

    Location: No. 315, Ziyou Rd., Pingtung City, Pingtung County, Taiwan 900

    Open: From 11.30 am to 1.45 pm and from 5.30 pm to 8.45 pm, closed on Thursdays

    10

    Yangjia Cold Noodle Restaurant

    The cold noodle dishes served by Yangjia Cold Noodle Restaurant are famous in Pingtung. Since its establishment more than 30 years ago, the restaurant has featured in numerous food shows. Many locals have frequented the restaurant since their childhood. Yangjia Cold Noodle Restaurant was initially opened in the military dependents' village of Dawuting and later relocated to Heping Road after the village was reconstructed. The restaurant serves two kinds of noodles. One is cold thin noodles, while the other is a more special kind of noodle called Shaanxi noodles, which are similar to Hakka rice noodles but chewier than ordinary thin noodles. Shaanxi noodles are served only at specified times. Many food lovers come early in the morning in search of them, and they are often sold out before 9 am. Another noodle dish is assorted noodles, which is made from thin noodles mixed with dough to give a rich and unforgettable flavor from the very first bite. One of the secrets to making delicious cold noodles is the homemade sesame sauce, which looks darker than a regular sauce and is made from Pingtung's special Shandong vinegar. It has a mild taste and won't irritate your nose.

    Location: No. 26, Heping Rd., Pingtung City, Pingtung County, Taiwan 900

    Open: From 6 am to 1.30 pm, closed on Mondays

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