Tainan BaWan 臺南肉圓

Tainan has become one of the most popular weekend spots in Taiwan, and for good reason. The city is not only full of incredibly diverse cultural sites, but a staggeringly large proportion of good food and scrumptious eats.

One of the foods that every visitor needs to get in Tainan is BaWan - said in Taiwanese and written 肉圓 - a delicious and versatile food eaten by locals any time of the day. Despite its shapeless squishy and completely unassuming appearance this food is a legitimate tourist attraction unto itself.

These 肉圓 came from the Wumiao Bawan 武廟肉圓 store. Famous and tasty!

Bawan come served in a shallow bowl covered in a mild orange-brown sauce which each store brews up using secret recipies. The general trend is a lightly sweet overture which gives way to the dumpling's flavors, finishing with a a garlic and sour medley that dances in your palate long after you swallow.

The dumplings themselves are made from rice which has been soaked and pressed together around the meaty middle. While it sticks to your fork and bowl the rice isn't super chewy and it won't stick to your teeth. Because they're made by hand each dumpling will be roughly the size of a fist.

The inside of these guys usually contains pork meat from the back of the pigs legs. There are stores which offer a seafood infused version, although they're made in far fewer quantities and sell out fast. If you hunt around some of the (super busy) night markets in town you should find one or two stands offering sweet flavors like peanut or taro in addition to the standard meat variety.

Took three days to find this shop open because they only use the highest quality meat and shrimp inside. No tasty meat, no fresh shrimp, no bawan. When they do open, they sell out FAST. Find it near Laos Coffee

Bawan in most often sold in sets of two for around 40NT, although some of us gluttons will talk our way into bowls with three or more. A great place to grab a bowl is directly across from the front lawn of the Confucius Temple at 福記肉圓. Their bawan are superb and while they do sell out you're less likely to walk away empty handed if you come here. A bonus is they offer as much clear broth as you can drink which you doll out of a huge steel pot at the counter.

Simple yet satisfying broth in a cup.

You can find this store across the street from the Confucius temple.