The Not-So Starving Student—Taiwan 7-11 Food Tour

At Canadian 7-11s, we fill up our gas, grab a cup of coffee and in the midst of summer heat, maybe gulp down a cup of Slurpee.  Unlike the familiar 7-11 convenience store and gas station combo, 7-11s across the globe in Taiwan have a familiar but culturally unique vibe that is worth a visit.  What are some of the features of this world renowned convenience store chain in Taiwan?

Braised Tea Eggs:

One of the most distinctive ways to prepare eggs includes boiling them in the thick broth of tea, soy sauce, and five spices.  Don’t be deceived by the name “tea eggs”.  In reality, these popular breakfast items taste more savory than bitter.  Upon visiting a handful of 7-11s on the Taiwan island, I can safely say that this is a breakfast staple found across all convenience stores including Family Mart and Hi-Life.

Sesame Sauce Noodles:

These noodles are a traditional cold dish served with aromatic sesame sauce and vinegar dressing.  Upon arrival in Taipei, I was ready for a quick bite at the 7-11 found in the underground metro station.  Given the cheap plastic wrapping of the bowl noodles, I was expecting a mediocre filler before I sat down for formal dinner.  However, these noodles tasted no less gourmet than an appetizer dish at a local restaurant.  The noodles were chewy, and the sauce added a blast of flavor to make an amalgam fit for Michelin Star nomination.

Steamed Pork Buns:

Found inside the steamy miniature fridge of the three-shelf wide convenience store, steamed pork buns were one of my favorite snacks, whether it be for breakfast or late night dinner.  Instead of a cold mini-fridge, this steamer fridge helped retain the moisture in the pork buns so that, despite not being freshly prepared, the texture of the buns was spongy soft.  These buns come in four flavors: barbeque pork, pork with bamboo shoots, vegetarian, and sesame.

Tofu Skewers:

These skewers attracted my attention upon my first visit.  Most of the skewers seen here are tofu-based, including fish tofu, lobster tofu, fried tofu, and tofu sausage.  However, other miscellaneous options included daikon and pork blood.  After watching a local fill an entire disposable bowl full of skewers and topping it off with delicious seasoning and hot sauce, I knew I had to give these a sample.  The tofu skewers were steaming hot and savory, quite unlike any skewers I’ve had!

Baked Sweet Potatoes:

Another grill nearby was packed with baked yams.  The sweet scent of baked yams could be detected immediately after entering the store.  Sweet potatoes are a local favorite and street vendors sold them at every corner of the street.  However, to find them at a local convenience store was truly a gem.