Taiwan does braised pork, in all styles and flavors, really well.

One of the most popular Taiwanese dishes that includes braised pork is lu rou fan, braised pork belly, minced up and topped over a bowl of rice.

But another Taiwanese food favorite, that makes the perfect afternoon snack, is gua bao – a delicious slab of tender pork, stuffed into a fluffy steamed bun.

Taiwanese food
The crowd

If you do any kind of searching online for gua bao in Taipei, you’ll immediately stumble across a place called Lan Jia Gua Bao (藍家割包).

Lan Jia Gua Bao (藍家割包) really seems to have gained the reputation for being the gold standard of gua bao in all of Taipei.

And for any food lover (or pork lover) it would be almost silly not to join the lines and crowds for a taste of one of the most beloved Taiwanese pork belly sandwiches in all of Taipei.

The entire area is filled with people waiting to grab a boba milk and pork bun

Also, check out my Taipai Travel Guide here!

It’s also impossible to miss Lan Jia Gua Bao (藍家割包), and not necessarily because they are so busy (however they are also always very busy), but right across the street from them, in the same little cul-de-sac, is an even more popular place known as Chen San Ding (陳三鼎黑糖粉圓專賣店).

Chen San Ding (陳三鼎黑糖粉圓專賣店) seems to be a pilgrimage for those who love Taiwanese boba milk.

Between both the gua bao and the boba milk, or the combination of them both, there are typically enough customers hanging around and waiting in line to make the small neighborhood feel like it’s an walking street night market.

gua bao
What is gua bao?

But first, what is a gua bao?

Sometimes referred to as a Taiwanese hamburger, a gua bao is like a sandwich, created with steamed Chinese style bread stuffed with braised pork belly.

At Lan Jia Gua Bao (藍家割包) it begins with the bread, which is steamed bread similar to the bread used for baozi or mantou.

The bread, I noticed, was more like a pita sized bread, rather than being a bun, and instead of having to cut it over to add the insides (like a baguette), it was rather just folded half over like a taco to create the pocket for the meat filling.

You can ask for your gua bao with a combination of either fatty or lean pork, but from what most people recommended, they said half and half is best – don’t go too lean or you’ll lose the flavor.

So I got my gua bao with half fat and half lean mean.

Chinese food
Fresh steaming buns

After she grabbed a freshly steaming bun right off the steamer, she scooped in the pork, which was already pre-braised and shredded, and then slopped in some pickled mustard greens, which also appeared to be braised in a dark sauce, sprinkled it with sweet crushed peanuts, and topped it with some sprigs of cilantro.

Finally, she wrapped it in a plastic bag and handed it to me.

gua bao in Taiwan
The insides of the gua bao

Eating the gua bao

Even with the line, it didn’t take more than a few minutes to grab our Taipei afternoon gua bao treat, and instead of eating it in the crowd, we walked across the street to where it was a little more peaceful.

The bread remained warm and soft, and I could actually feel the softness and fluffiness of the bread when I picked it up (though the bag).

Price – 50 TWD

Taiwanese food
Fluffy gun, incredibly tender pork

As I took my first bite, I immediately knew it was one of the finest gua bao I’d ever had, and why so many people were hanging around snacking there and waiting in line.

The bun was just as fluffy as it felt in my hand, and the pork inside was equally tender, blending into the softness of the bun.

The sprinkle of sweet peanuts gave it a sweet nutty flavor, countered by the freshness of the cilantro.

Everything added up to create a mind blowing-ly good gua bao, a little bit on the sweeter side, but still exceptionally good.

Taiwanese gua bao
I loved all the greens inside as well

I might be making this up, but I think it got even better towards the bottom.

Could be because all the oil and juice and flavor got soaked up by the bottom of the bun.

藍家割包
Corn soup at Lan Jia Gua Bao (藍家割包)

Corn soup

I had also read that Lan Jia Gua Bao (藍家割包) was famous for their corn soup, and even though corn soup really didn’t sound that good to me, I decided I better have it.

While I predicted from the start that the gua bao was going to be good, it wasn’t the same for the corn soup… but the corn soup surprised me.

It was plain and simple, but somehow the soup had a wonderful sweet corn flavor, like sweet corn infused water, all wrapped up in a perfectly salty liquid.

Price – 60 TWD

corn soup
I was impressed with the corn soup

There were also big nuggets of tender pork in there as well. The corn soup was actually really good, and went really well with the gua bao.

I’d recommend it.

Chen San Ding (陳三鼎黑糖粉圓專賣店)
Boba milk at Chen San Ding (陳三鼎黑糖粉圓專賣店)

Boba milk

My wife Ying is actually the one who ordered the boba milk drink, and while I was off taking photos of the two stall, she stood in line for about 10 minutes to get the famous drink.

Ying ordered with no sugar, as you could order your preferred level of sweetness. The drink came with a scoop of tapioca boba balls, plus a bunch of creamy milk on top, and a scoop of ice, all filled into a plastic cup.

Chen San Ding (陳三鼎黑糖粉圓專賣店)
Chen San Ding (陳三鼎黑糖粉圓專賣店)

I did a little shake up, and mixed all the ingredients, and then popped my straw into the plastic top of the cup.

When I had my first taste, I didn’t taste any tea, although I thought it was a Taiwanese milk tea. So I thought there was no tea in it, and after posting the video, many people confirmed that it was not tea at all, but just a milk beverage.

The little tapioca balls were chew like mochi, and they were cooked in a brown sugar syrup so they had a caramel like flavor to them, almost like molasses.

Since Ying ordered her cup of boba milk without extra sugar, it was still sweet from the boba, but not overly sweet.

Price – 35 TWD

Taiwanese street food in Taipei
That’s the boba line!

The milk was creamy and refreshing. Overall, pretty good, but I’m not a huge boba milk drinker, so I’m not a great judge in that department.

Nevertheless, jumping in line at Chen San Ding (陳三鼎黑糖粉圓專賣店) after you grab you gua bao is not a bad idea.

If you want to get the full feel of the food and environment, here’s a full eating video of the experience and he food:

(If you can’t see the video, watch it on YouTube)

藍家割包
The outside of Lan Jia Gua Bao (藍家割包)

Conclusion

Located near the University of Taiwan, Lan Jia Gua Bao (藍家割包) is a small restaurant that’s known for serving one of the best versions of gua bao, a Taiwanese braised pork belly sandwich, in Taipei.

I ordered a mix of both fatty and lean braised pork, which was filled into a steamed bun, topped with preserved mustard greens, and seasoned with crushed peanuts.

Their gua bao was one of those things that you take a first bite of, and before you consciously realize it, you’re on your last bite.

Chen San Ding (陳三鼎黑糖粉圓專賣店), located right opposite Lan Jia Gua Bao (藍家割包) is wildly famous for their boba tapioca pearl milk (tea), and it’s not a bad idea to include as well.

Lan Jia Gua Bao (藍家割包)

Address: No. 3號, Alley 8, Lane 316, Section 3, Roosevelt Rd, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan 100
Open hours: 11 am – midnight from Tuesday – Sunday (closed on Monday)
Prices: The gua bao was 50 TWD, corn soup 60 TWD, and the boba milk was 35 TWD
How to get there: Lan Jia Gua Bao (藍家割包) is located very close to National Taiwan University, and within the Gongguan Night Market (though I went there during the day). It’s about a 5 minute walk from Gongguan MRT station.



25 comments. I'd love to hear from you!

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  • Steven Crook

    1 year ago

    Hi,
    I hope this message finds you well.
    I’m writing an article about Taiwanese gua-bao for Taiwan Business Topics’ annual food special, which will appear early next year. You can see the 2016 edition here:
    http://topics.amcham.com.tw/2016/01/
    The magazine is read by members of the American Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan, and sold at bookstores across Taiwan.
    I’d like to quote you in my article. First, I’d go through what you wrote on your blog, then perhaps ask you a question or two to fill it out. You would, of course, approve every word before I use anything. When attributing the quote to you, I’d mention that you’re a blogger and include the URL of your blog.
    Are you able to assist in this way?
    Regards,
    Steven Crook
    http://crooksteven.blogspot.com

  • Zach

    1 year ago

    Definitely the place to go for gua bao in Taipei! Glad you enjoyed!

  • Serhat

    1 year ago

    Oh my god! I just ate my dinner and I was browsing your blog. Now I feel hungry again. Look what you have done! 🙂 I am very fond of Sandwiches and this one look yummy. I can’t help wondering its taste. Lucky you!

  • Kai Liu(The food photographer in New York)

    1 year ago

    so 刈包 and 割包 both correct? I still do not know the correct way of pronounce it in Chinese.

    • Mark Wiens

      1 year ago

      Hey Kai, I’m sure you know more than I do, I used what I thought was the most common spelling. Thanks!

  • Trisha Velarmino – P.S. I’m On My Way

    2 years ago

    Damn it, Mark! The gua bao looks ridiculously delicious! I grew up in the Philippines and although we have a lot of Taiwanese migrants here, I have never encountered an authentic Taiwanese restaurant. Some restaurants specialising in flavours of the east try and integrate gua bao into their menu but I have never been satisfied with any of the offerings. I have never been to Taiwan but I heard about how it’s one of the best places for street food enthusiasts! I love seeing the street food culture of any and every country. I love looking at every post of yours! I fell in love with cooking whilst long term traveling and it’s interesting how I now make sure to look at the components of a dish when I encounter a post about it. More power to you and your travels in search of great food, Mark!

  • Robin

    2 years ago

    I likes to eat Taiwanese foods and i am also a big fan of Taiwan’s food. Pork Belly Bun is one of my favorite food. it is very delicious and i like to it very much.

  • Pallab

    2 years ago

    This looks amazing. I’ve tried a few varieties of Bao at the “Fatty Bao” restaurant in Bangalore, but I’m sure the authentic experience will be much better. 🙂

    • Mark Wiens

      2 years ago

      Thanks Pallab, and cool to hear you can get it in Bangalore as well!

  • Jay Dee

    2 years ago

    Looks awesome! Will have to stop over there.

  • Kelly Kilgore

    2 years ago

    Hey Mark,
    First time on your blog and it looks very impressive. Long time watcher of you on youtube, I’ve seen all your videos, even the early ones, lol. What a transformation! Your whole production is so professional and good enough to be on the Food Network IMHO (maybe someday). I’ve noticed a steady increase in viewership so good for you. Keep up the good work. P.S. I’m super jealous you get to eat all that amazing food… Not the best Asian food selection here in Idaho. 🙁

    • Mark Wiens

      2 years ago

      Hey Kelly, great to hear from you, and thank you for your support both on the blog and videos. Really appreciate it. Hope you’re doing well!

  • JamieTravelFanatic

    2 years ago

    Those steamed buns… 🙂 I could eat them plain!

  • Emilka

    2 years ago

    Boba milk looks also incredible! Must be very good! I am fond of milk drinks, smoothies and shakes and also like tapioca a lot 😉

    • Mark Wiens

      2 years ago

      Hey Emilka, good to hear that. Thanks for reading!

  • Jenn Flo Taylor

    2 years ago

    Looks delish! I think the golden rule of food- if you see a line join it- definitely applies here!
    Great post!

    • Mark Wiens

      2 years ago

      Thank you Jenn – that’s a good rule to follow!

  • Izy Berry

    2 years ago

    Amazing food it seems delicious!!!

  • Jacob Fu

    2 years ago

    Yummm! I love gua bao! That one looks sooo good. I’ll have to plan a trip to Taiwan now 🙂