But it’s just not expats who frequent 7-Eleven. Though there are many convenience stores on the island, i.e., Family Mart, 7-Eleven seems to be the convenience store of choice.
A first-time visit to a Taiwanese 7-Eleven is somewhat of an adventure. After opening the front door, visitors are promptly greeted with an automated voice chiming out something that sounds like “Morning!” but is really “欢迎” Huānyíng, which means “Welcome.”
It took my roommate and I a little too long to figure this out.
Happy Mandarin messages and music about on-sale items play over and over again as one peruses the goods. Keychains, stickers, and 7-11 cartoon figurines sprout up throughout the store.
Like convenience stores around the world, Taiwanese 7-Elevens offer junk food such as potato chips, snack cakes, ice cream, and hot dogs on a rotating grill.
Other delicacies include seaweed chips, pastries, steamed buns filled with meat, vegetables or custard, lunch boxes, noodles, microwavable curries and dinners (a new expat’s dietary staple) and fruit.
There are stranger items, some of which I grew to love. Like jelly-infused food and drink (though I was not a fan of the grass jelly tea).
There is a jelly addiction in Taiwan. Stores across the country offer numerous drinks containing cubes of various flavored jellies. The love does not end there. Some brands of pudding and yogurt also contain jelly surprises.
Bags of dried seaweed, squid, and tiny fish mixed with almonds are hot 7-11 commodities.
Not a fan of the little dried fish.
Treats such as tofu, squid balls, pig’s blood cakes, and other steaming snacks can be found at the front of the store.
One of the strangest things one might discover is the cauldron of bubbling black mystery behind the counter. After several months eyeballing said pot I got up the courage to sample its contents. And I promptly fell in love with tea eggs. A pot of tea eggs is a fixture at many a Taiwanese convenience store and they’re so addicting you can’t eat just one. Make sure to grab a bag!
If you’re ever in Taiwan, head on over to that 7-11 just down the street for a mini culinary adventure.