The Taiwanese Ice Cream That's On Everybody's Mind

Taiwan's night markets are full of culinary surprises that visitors would have a hard time tracking down in most other places. Per Lacademie, they are where you find Taiwanese dishes like oyster vermicelli, or rice noodles packed into an aromatic soup with fresh oysters and herbs. You can also try lu rou fan, which is a bowl of fluffy white rice topped with braised pork, a rich sauce, and pickled cucumber and mushrooms.

Night market visitors might also enjoy black pepper buns filled with green onions, pork, and heaps of black pepper, baked until fluffy yet crispy on the bottom. They also shouldn't miss the now-ubiquitous Taiwanese popcorn chicken: bite sized pops of chicken jazzed up with a mix of spices including five-spice powder.

And for the daring with a sweet tooth, there is an ice cream concoction that you've likely never seen before. The sweet, uniquely Taiwanese specialty involves ice cream, candied peanut shavings, and another unexpected ingredient — all bundled into a spring roll wrapper.

This frozen treat includes a divisive herb

Whether you call it an "ice cream burrito" like Cathy Erway of Delish or "spring roll ice cream" like Admiral Adventures, one of Taiwan's most typical street foods is best described as a peanut roll with ice cream, per Hungry in Taipei. The rolled confection hails from northeast Taiwan's Yilan County and is a frozen delight with a difference — starting with its wheat-based spring roll wrapper that is normally reserved for savory foods, like run bing. The wrapper acts as a thin, chewy crepe around the cold ice cream and delicate pieces of peanut brittle, thinly shaved off a huge block.

The ice cream at the heart of this peanut roll is not your average dairy-based dessert. Instead, says Delish, vendors use "a Taiwanese style of ice cream known as ba pu," which is vegan and often made with taro. Other times, a peanut ice cream flavor can be chosen to compliment the brittle, as can fruity options.

Next is what makes the eyes of first-timers pop: several springs of fresh cilantro. This divisive herb, as SBS puts it, "tastes like soap or dirt" to some people, but in Taiwan, it makes or breaks a dish. In the case of this dessert, the herbaceous add-in makes the sweet sing, lending a freshness that counteracts the rich ice cream and peanuts. It also reflects the island's unique cuisine, since fresh coriander is used in just about everything on the island, from soups and appetizers to main dishes.