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Travel - Destinations
By: - at June 21, 2013

Sampling the Foods at the Night Markets in Taipei

Eating the Local Cuisine in Taipei
Located on the northern tip of Taiwan and sitting on the banks of the Tamsui River, the Taiwanese capital of Taipei contains 2.5 million people in an approximately 105 square mile area. The thriving capital offers a diversity of contrasts. Not only is it home to upscale restaurants and clubs, it features roadside stands, wet markets, and night courts that showcase a unique variety of snack-type cuisine.

typical night market in taiwan taipei

Wet Markets in Taipei - Fresh Food Vendors
Wet markets, which feature fresh food and fish, got their name because of the large amount of water that is used to keep the floors of the market clean, wash the fruits and vegetables on display, and keep the shellfish alive. However, to truly experience local Chinese eating, a visit to a night market food court is a must-do activity.

Night Market Fish

A Daring Culinary Pursuit
That's because the food courts in the night markets feature such fare as frog soup (the amphibian included in the broth sans his head), fried crickets, and other fried specialties. In fact, most of the food you'll find is deep-fried and not overly healthful. Nevertheless, there are still plenty of daring foodies who will sample the cuisine.

Typical Taiwan Night Market:
typical night market in taiwan taipei

The Longshan Night Market Area
The Longshan Night Market area is home to four primary night market streets. These market settings include:

  • The Huaxi Street Market (also called Snake Alley) - a favorite of tourists
     
  • The Guangzhou Street Market (a popular market of locals)
     
  • The Xichang Street Market
     
  • The Wuzhou Street Market

Other Well-known Night Markets
In addition to the Longshan markets, the Taipei area is also home to the large Shilin Night Market, the Keelung Night Market, the Raohe Night Market, and the Tonghua Market.

The Night Market Atmosphere
Night markets generally open in the early evening, around 4:00 p.m., with crowds peaking around 10:00 p.m. at night. Businesses, which sell everything from imitation handbags to small, inexpensive lamps, stay open, along with the food stalls, until around 1:00 or 2:00 a.m.

See night market activities on the following video:

The Shilin Night Market - The Largest Night Market in Taiwan
The Shilin Night Market is a local favorite and is considered the largest if not most famous market in Taiwan. The selling venue is home to over 500 food stalls.

The following video shows the hustle and bustle of the Shilin food court at night:

Shilin Food Specialties
One of the specialty foods at the Shilin market is Stinky Tofu served with pickled vegetables.

Shilin Night Market:
Shilin Night Market

Food vendors also feature such foods as:

  • Snails
  • Ox Tongue Pie:
    Ox tongue pie

  • Deep fried crabs (Common Taiwanese fare - the whole crab is consumed, including the shell.)
  • Ox tongue pie (Fortunately, this pie is not made out of an ox tongue but is just shaped like one. The pie or pancake is flavored with peanut or sesame.)
  • Oyster pancakes (These specialties are made with sweet potato powder, oysters, veggies, and an egg with a complimentary topping of sweet and sour sauce.)
  • Coffin bread (This hollowed-out deep fried toast is typically filled with pork chowder. The concoction is a southern Taiwanese specialty.)

The Keelung Night Market: Featured Foods
The Keelung Night market is located in close proximity to the harbor and therefore is well-known for its large selection of ocean catches. Vendors prepare crabs, shrimp, and oysters on-site.

Keelung Night Market:
Keelung Night Market
By Hadge via Wikimedia Commons

Some of the other specialties at the market include:

  • Paopao Bing (Also called bubble ice, the hot-weather favorite is shaved ice that is blended to a smooth consistency.)
     
  • Red Bean Cake (This food is similar to the Japanese version of taiyaki, a fish-shaped cake with red bean filling.)
     
  • Seafood Egg Buns filled with Oysters, Leek, and Shrimp

Raohe Night Market Foods
Located in the Songshan District of Taipei, the Raohe Night Market is one of the oldest markets in Taiwan. You’ll often find long lines in front of vendors who sell black pepper buns - a night market favorite that features a bun containing black pepper, pork, and scallions.

Raohe Night Market:
Raohe Night Market

Custard in egg shells is sold in many of the stalls too and is a common night market snack.

Fukushima Circle Pie
The Raohe Market also features Fukushima Circle Pie. The fried pie is made with a baked egg and ham filling combined with bonito flakes and mayo. Bonito, itself, is a type of fish (also known as skipjack tuna). The flakes are made by shaving and drying the fish.

Squid Stew
Squid Stew is yet another popular food at the Raohe Market. The squid for the fare is placed into a bag with a variety of sauces before being shaken and served. Pudding shaved ice, pan-fried dumplings and a small sausage in large sausage are other market favorites.

Tonghua Market Specialties
The Tonghua Market, also known as the Linjiang Night Market, is famous for such market foods as:

  • Potato and yam fries
     
  • Guabao Sandwich:
    guabao sandwich

  • Guabao (pork, cilantro, pickled vegetables and peanut powder in a sliced bun)
     
  • Teppanyaki Steak (a stringy kind of beef steak that only costs about $4.00)

Where to Find Snake
Popular with tourists, the Huaxi Night Market, also known as Snake Alley, is famous for its snake specialties. Snake is served with wine, broth or without any accompaniment. Vendors also feature turtles, braised pork knuckles, and fatty pork slices. Tomato plums, another vendor offering, are basically cherry tomatoes stuffed with dried sour plums.

Shaved Ices and Aiyu Jelly
The shaved ices at the Huaxi Market are known to be some of the best in Taipei while the Aiyu Jelly Drink is a favorite hot-weather beverage. Aiyu is a gel-like substance that is extracted from the seeds of figs. To save on costs, some vendors sell and serve the jelly drink in plastic bags.

A Memorable Eating Experience
Surrounded by movie theaters, karaoke stores, and video arcades, night market food courts provide a carnival-like atmosphere in and around Taipei. If you're brave enough to sample Chinese fare other than the standard Beijing duck or veggies and dumplings, then head on over to the night market courts and try out the local cuisine.


 

 

 

 

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