Sun Moon Lake Street Food: 8 Must-Try Dishes at Ita Thao Market

Nestled in the heart of Taiwan’s natural beauty, Sun Moon Lake offers more than just scenic views – it’s a haven for food lovers.

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Sun Moon Lake Street Food

Sun Moon Lake, renowned for its breathtaking mountains, serene temples, and crystal-clear waters, is often celebrated as one of Taiwan’s most picturesque destinations.

However, what often flies under the radar is its street food scene, brimming with unique foods that you can’t find anywhere else.

During our visit to Sun Moon Lake, we made our base in Ita Thao, the heart of the area’s street food culture. For three days we explored this lesser-known side of Sun Moon Lake, eating our way up and down its streets.

If you are based in Taichung you can check out the top-rated Sun Moon Lake Day Trip, which includes a lake cruise to Ita Thao so you can try all this delicious street food yourself.

Sun Moon Lake Street Food (Ita Thao) Details

2 Tips for Sun Moon Lake Street Food

  1. Bring Cash
    • Cash is king at every single stall in the district. Ensure you have enough cash on hand to pay for your food.
    • If you need cash, there is a 7-eleven in Ita Thao that has an ATM.
  2. The best time to visit Ita Thao for street food is during the afternoon
    • Unlike other street food markets, the one at Ita Thao in Sun Moon Lake is mainly a day market, and it closes in the evening.

8 Foods to Eat at Sun Moon Lake’s Ita Thao Market

For three days we immersed ourselves in Sun Moon Lake’s Ita Thao Market to find the best food stalls and dive into a wide range of Taiwanese street foods.

We stopped at 8 distinct stalls, each offering its own unique twist on local flavors. From savory snacks to sweet treats, Sun Moon Lake has a huge variety of food to offer!

Below, we’ve put together a detailed rundown of each stall we visited. You’ll find not only our reviews but also Google Maps links to each spot. We’ve included the prices we paid for each dish, so you can plan your food adventure to Sun Moon Lake.

Fried Cabbage Buns

We scoured every nook and cranny of Ita Thao, looking for this food stall! It was the dish we were looking for the most!

Along the way, we stumbled upon a few look-alikes – creating a fried cabbage rectangle instead of a bun, but we didn’t give in until we found the real thing. It took us until our third night to finally find the stall. The crazy part was that this stand was just right outside our hostel. Turns out, it was just closed all this time!

So, did the bun live up to the hype? Absolutely! It was so delicious, that we went back two more times. The bun’s got this super thin, crispy shell that’s just SO amazing. Inside, it’s a mixture of cabbage, shiitake mushrooms, spices, and glass noodles, all deep-fried to perfection. It’s like they took something that could’ve been healthy and turned it into a savory fried treat.

And was it worth holding out for the original stand? Totally. When a stand serves only one thing it’s because they do it extremely well.

Chinese Hamburger

Oh mahh gawww – this was one of our absolute favorites at Ita Thao Market.

When we first arrived, we were a bit confused about how to order, as there was a huge crowd of people standing around. But it didn’t seem like anyone was waiting in line, instead, they were just the owner and her husband fry up these delicious eggy pork burgers. But we quickly learned that everyone already ordered so we just went to the front and told the owner what kind of burgers we wanted.

While we waited, our mouths were salivating just watching the owner fry up the pork burgers in her cooking cast. It’s so cool to watch—she cooks all the burgers in a large metal pan with holes in it that are perfectly sized for each burger. Makes me wonder if she had the pan custom-made.

Watching the burgers cook is a show in itself. She adds the dough for the bread waits for it to puff up, adds the pork, then the egg, then the top bread. It’s truly a mouthwatering sight.

The taste is rich, heavy, and delicious! The outside is crisp, the pork is flavorful and the egg is the perfect touch. It’s like an entire feast packed in a burger.

Trey and I devoured one each and immediately needed a nap – talk about a happy food comatose! Worth every single bite!

President Fish Roll

The presidential fish roll doesn’t look like much at first glance, but it’s actually quite a complicated thing to make!

It starts with a simple fishcake, then they wrap it up in a cozy bean curd blanket and toss it into the fryer. While frying, the cook pokes dozens of holes into the roll to get it to cook perfectly all throughout.

And when the roll is done frying, they don’t just add one sauce! They go all out with three: garlic sauce, sweet sauce, and a bit of chili sauce for that extra zing. It’s an amazing combo!

And just when you think it couldn’t get any better, they top it off with some chopped coriander. It’s a nice little touch that really brings out the flavors.

Biting into the roll, the first thing I noticed is how crispy it is on the outside. It’s kind of surprising, actually, because it looks like it might be soggy, but it’s actually not.

I wasn’t too sure about it at first, but after that first bite, I was sold. The chili sauce adds just the right amount of kick – it’s not overpowering at all.

But the fishcake inside the roll is where the magic is. Trey described it as a ‘fluffy sausage,’ which is pretty spot on.

All in all, the Presidential Fish Roll was one of the biggest surprises for us at Sun Moon Lake. It’s like a fishcake, but way better.

Wild Boar Sausage

Boar sausage is a big deal in Taiwan’s mountains, and at Ita Thao, you’ll find plenty of spots serving it up. We hit up this one stall where they serve it alongside rice with a hint of sweet sauce and some veggie garnish.

The sausage was pretty good, though it’s got a bit of a rubbery texture. The real surprise was the rice – it’s wrapped in pork intestines, kind of like a sausage. It’s like a rice sausage.

Trey tried one and he thought that the parts didn’t quite come together as a whole. It was more like tasting the sausage, rice, and garnishes each doing their own thing, rather coming together as a whole dish. He said that he would probably just stick to the sausage by itself.

However, we also heard about a ‘sausage in a sausage,’ where they stuff a boar sausage inside a rice sausage. But we couldn’t spot any stalls serving it at Sun Moon Lake. Maybe next time!

Millet Donut

If you need a break from all the savory foods at Sun Moon Lake, then you’ve gotta try the millet donut! This little snack is a fantastic twist on a regular donut. They make it with millet flour, so it’s like a lighter, healthier version of a donut. Plus, they come in a few different flavors!

We were totally into the millet donut. It’s got this amazing crispy outer layer with a chewy inside, kind of like a mochi donut. Seriously, if we could, we’d have these every single day!

Green Onion Scallion Pancake

This unsuspecting stand is not flashy at all, no bright lights, nothing bright to make it stand out from the other stands but wow – is it delicious! It’s one of those dishes that you could eat every day and never get sick of.

The pancake is simple – just green onions and a dab of sweet sauce, all wrapped up in a pancake. The flavors are perfectly balanced, not too strong, making it the ideal companion to anything else you eat at the market.

If you’re a fan of green onions, this is an awesome dish. They also have a pork version, but we stuck to the green onion version since there’s a ton of meaty foods at the other stalls.

The uncle who runs this stand is very sweet and takes his diligent time cooking up the green onion scallion pancake.

Dou Gan Tofu

We almost passed on this tofu because it looked pretty ordinary. But on our last day at Sun Moon Lake, just as we were about to head out, we decided to give it a shot, and we’re glad we did!

This tofu is like a flavor sponge – it soaks up the sauce right to the center of the cubes. I’ve had tofu before where the sauce just kind of sits on top, but every single bite of this tofu was packed with flavor.

And the flavor itself – it was super savory with a nice hint of herbs. Just the right balance. We got the original flavor, but we kind of wish that we’d gotten the spicy version instead since it would complement the savory flavor of the tofu perfectly.

Black Tea Soft Serve

I’m not big on ice cream but I found myself going back to this soft serve stand every single night at Sun Moon Lake! The first time we dropped by, we played it safe with a half chocolate/half black tea combo. But that black tea flavor was so good that we ate it every night!

Something to know about black tea, is it is a staple in Sun Moon Lake. Stores will take black ruby tea and incorporate it into just about anything.

And the soft serve itself is like a cloud – so light and airy, not heavy at all. The black tea taste is subtle, kind of like a fragrant vanilla. It is sweet and ever so slightly bitter.

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