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The Best Braised Pork Rice in Taipei and Taichung

6 Restaurants
Explore the different styles and variations of braised pork rice offered by Bib Gourmand establishments across Taiwan to best appreciate this humble dish that's rich in layered flavors.
Updated on 26 October 2022

One of the most well-known street foods of Taiwan, braised pork rice is the working class staple that carries the flavor of nostalgia and perhaps, the essence of Taiwanese food culture. Explore the different styles and variations of braised pork rice offered by MICHELIN-recommended establishments across Taiwan to best appreciate this humble dish that's rich in layered flavors.

The true origins of Taiwanese braised pork rice may be impossible to ascertain, but an old Taiwanese saying offers a clue: “Even if you’ve never eaten pork, you would have seen pigs walk.” Pork would have been a rare luxury in early agrarian communities, and the poor would have stretched any meat they had through ingenious cooking techniques. Pork skin, fat, and other scraps trimmed from meat would be chopped up, marinated with soy sauce, and cooked down into a gravy with fried shallots. The rich and aromatic gravy would then be served over rice for a hearty meal. Braised pork rice became a street food staple for the working class, affording busy workers with a simple and delicious meal at all hours of the day. Though usually eaten at lunch or dinner, braised pork rice is also a breakfast staple for people in southern Taiwan.

When it comes to styles of braised pork rice, preferences vary between the northern and southern parts of Taiwan. In the north, the dish is referred to as lu rou fan, while Southerners call it rou zao fan. Southern-style lu rou fan is made with pork belly, or three-layered pork. Just like in Northern Taiwan, the dish is known as lu rou fan in Central Taiwan; however, the pork belly version, which is more common in Southern Taiwan, is served.

Regardless of the differences, all these braised pork rice dishes are similarly delicious with a luscious gravy that is rich in gelatin, leaving a sticky kiss on the lips. There is no need for expensive cuts of meat, but freshness is key. Each establishment marinates chilled fresh pork in their own secret blend of seasonings, and cooks down the gravy in their own laborious, time-honored methods. Pork minced by hand results in a more favorable texture than machine-ground meat, and the ratio of fat to lean meat is a personal preference. Some prefer the indulgence of a fattier blend and others swear by an even 50-50 distribution, while increasingly health-conscious consumers are opening for leaner meat.

Other factors that make or break a bowl of braised pork rice include the selection and preparation of the rice, the amount of meat gravy going on top of it, as well as the side dishes that accompany it. Along with accompaniments like pickled yellow radish, cucumber slices, pickled gourd, or marinated eggs that are enjoyed together with the braised pork, the humble dish is transformed from ordinary to extraordinary.

The use of the rich and aromatic sauce isn’t just limited to rice. It is also used to dress blanched vegetables and dry noodle dishes like yi mian and dan zai mian, imbuing these simple dishes with much soul.

On the streets of Taiwan, you might find signboards that read 魯肉飯 instead of 滷肉飯. Though the first characters are read the same way, “lu”, the former, is an intentional typo to attract the attention of passersby and to stand out from every other establishment offering the same thing. This is a fascinating tradition that harks back to an earlier era. Braised pork rice is so ubiquitous that it is hardly ever listed on the menu, though it can most certainly be ordered anywhere. So ingrained is it to the food culture of Taiwan that the Braised Pork Rice Festival has been held every year since 2017 to share the delicacy with the rest of the world.

Taipei

Wang's Broth
Huaxi Street Night Market, Stall 153, 17-4 Huaxi Street, Wanhua District, Taipei
$ · Street Food

The signature at Wang’s Broth is the braised pork and mushroom with rice, which regulars have christened the "black gold" pork sauce. With the luscious sauce, rich with the fragrance of braised mushroom coating each pearl of rice and tender, juicy mushrooms, it is no wonder the establishment is a Huaxi Street stalwart.

Yi Jia Zi
79 Kangding Road, Wanhua District, 108 Taipei
$ · Small eats

Run by a father-and-son duo from Tainan, Yi Jia Zi brings the most authentic taste of the region to Taipei. Besides its signature roast pork rice, the humble braised pork rice is also a local favorite. Specialty rice sourced from South Taiwan is blanketed in the amber-coloured braised pork gravy and garnished with marinated cucumbers for a crowd-pulling delicacy.

MoonMoonFood (Qingdao East Road)
6-2 Qingdao East Road, Zhongzheng District, 100 Taipei
$$ · Taiwanese

Mealtimes see long lines at this stall for its signature herbal chicken stew, with customers always ordering a staple bowl of braised pork rice, then adding on a few other herb-infused braised dishes and nutritious chicken soup — a hearty meal that warms the stomach all year round.

Taichung

Fresh Fish Stock
75 Beitun Road, North District, Taichung
$ · Small eats

This stall offering a taste of Tainan is famous for its milkfish dishes. Must-orders for its Tainanese regulars include the milkfish soup, braised pork rice, and cold side dishes. The braised pork rice features three-layered pork belly, shredded and cooked into a gravy of bean paste, rock sugar, soy sauce, and spices. The pork is left to simmer overnight to develop its flavors and stewed for another hour before it is served — rich and aromatic — to hungry guests.

Fu Juang Yuan
203, Section 1, Meicun Road, West District, 403 Taichung
$ · Taiwanese

When on the hunt for braised pork rice, stalls offering braised pork trotters are also a good bet. Fu Juang Yuan keeps its amber-hued liquid gold on a simmer all day long at its storefront, filling the air with delicious smells. The braised pork rice features meat that is mixed with tender, perfectly cooked pork skin and trotter meat that has been stewed for three to four hours. It is best enjoyed with side orders of shredded bamboo shoots and fried bean curd.

Fu Din Wang (Central)
560, Section 1, Taiwan Boulevard, Central District, 400 Taichung
$ · Taiwanese

The proprietors at Fu Din Wang and Fu Juang Yuan may share the same culinary background, but their cooking techniques differ, with each having their own supporters. Garnished with spring onions, Fu Din Wang’s braised pork rice features an even blend of fat and lean meat, with the pork skin stewed until it disintegrates, imbuing the gravy with rich collagen that leaves a sticky kiss on the lips.

This article was written by MICHELIN Guide Taipei  & Taichung and translated by Rachel Tan. The original article can be viewed here.