Sometimes, I would ask myself what factor makes a good trip. Jaw-dropping landscapes, unforgettable experiences in local cultures, or maybe just delicious foods? Well, in the end, traveling has given me the one and only answer to everything. Indeed, a memorable trip is one that has everything. It is a combination of fantastic nature, valuable spiritual knowledge about the natives, and last but not least, local cuisines.
In Taiwan, I found that “everything”. After a trip to Taiwan, I really want to share with you guys some special, mouth-watering street foods that I tried on the tour. Particularly, my food list is going to be written through night markets in Taipei, which is a spotlight in Taiwanese culture.
So, let the food marathon begin!
1. Shilin Night Market – The No. 1 Night Market in Taiwan
Located on 4 roads in the Shilin district: Jihe, Dadong, Danan, and Wendi, the Shilin night market is well-known as the largest night market in the rest of Taiwan. To visit there, you can hop on the MRT to Jiantan station, the market is just 70m away from the station.
Shilin’s infrastructures include two areas: Shilin’s building and a variety of stores around the building. Shilin’s building has 1 story and 3 basements. On the 1st floor, it is a place for selling countless goods such as clothing, souvenirs, accessories, etc. About 3 basements, there are 2 ones used for parking, and one is so-called as the food heaven that includes unique, super delicious specialties of Taiwan.
As a street food-centered market, there are lines of food stalls formed on both sides of Jihe road, so you can enjoy easily food while observing the noisy inviting sounds coming from vendors. There are tons of dishes you can try there, but I highly recommend oyster omelet, which is the iconic dish in the market. The oyster omelet is made from beaten eggs, minced chives, and fresh oysters. The mixture will be cooked on a large, flat pan on high heat until it turns yellow, the food will be topped with a homemade sauce before being served.
I bet that you are gonna love this stunning street food on the first try. Additionally, Shilin has its famous crispy, juicy fried chicken in XXL size that will definitely satisfy chicken foodies, so don’t forget to put it into your dinner plan. The market’s working time is from 3 to 1 am and peak hour is between 7 pm to 9 pm. Therefore, you should have the right plan to enjoy scrumptious food without spending much time getting in line.
2. Raohe Night Market – The Collection of Taiwanese Notable Dishes
Although Raohe is not as big as Shilin, it appeals to tourists around the world through a handful of Taiwan’s specialties. So getting out of the market with a hungry stomach is totally impossible. Raohe’s address is Raohe street, Songshan district. You can visit it by train, or by MRT. By MRT, you can take the green line to Songshan station, exit 5. The market is right across the street. On the other hand, by train, you can take any local northbound train from Taipei main station to Songshan station, then locate MRT, exit 5. Apart from Shilin, Raohe has more interesting things that could draw your attention just at first glance such as jewelry, souvenirs, and so on.
Now, the best part: food. If Shilin is famous for its oyster omelet, Raohe has the best pork pepper buns in the rest of Taiwan. The dish is so good that it is labeled as 5-star Michelin street food. It is a combination of crispy texture on one side and juicy in the other one. To make it, the vendor will flatten fermented doughs into round shapes, then they scope a spoon of marinated pork on the doughs and cover it by another round-shaped dough. After that, the vendors will put all of the doughs into a barrel and grill them until they are well-cooked. The smell coming from fresh grilled buns is really hard to resist this amazing dish, so don’t hesitate to put pork pepper bun into your bucket list when you visit Taiwan.
Another best dish that you need to conquer when coming to Raohe is the Taiwanese herbal pork bone soup. Pork bones/ribs will be stewed with traditional herbal medicine in hours until broth is rich and flavor is savory. The food is served with fermented soybean sauce. Just imagine, you have a bowl of hot soup, find yourself a seat to enjoy it after walking hours in the market.
What is better? Besides two must-try dishes above, Raohe also has other great scrumptious food that you can try such a taro sweet soup, grilled squid, oyster noddle soup, chopped fruits, or stinky tofu if you want to challenge your nose.
Want to have a nice, light drink after a big meal? Taiwan has a special treat for you. It is Aiju Jelly drink. It is made from a type of fig tree that tastes sweet like honey and has a subtle sense of fruit. To make the drink more light and tasty, the vendors put a spoon of lemon juice on it. This drink is not only a saver for tired tourists after wandering hours in the market but also a favorite one with Taiwanese people.
3. Ximending Night Market – The Colorful Taipei Night Market
I will vote Ximending as one of the coolest and best night markets in Taipei. The reason is, you will be immersed in the bustling atmosphere but still very natural and airy, not confined like other crowded shopping areas. The main items of the Ximending night market are fashion items with styles from many different countries like Japan, China, or Western countries.
Moreover, here they have big brands from fashion to fast food chain go alongside with local ones. As well, you can even find one of the largest milk tea chain of Taiwan here, Xing Fu Tang. I had even got in a long line for more than 30 minutes, just to try it’s trending Brown Sugar Boba Milk a Golden Leaf on top. It was really interesting to try. The cup was so cool with a golden leaf. But honestly, I was more in love with the unbranded milk tea made by the locals.
Of course, it will be a big mistake when visiting a night market but don’t try the foods. At Ximending, you have a long list of Taipei cuisine that you definitely must-try, those are:
- Yonghe soya milk at No.30, Section 2, Hankou Street, Wanhua District
- Grilled mochi at No. 49, Emei St, Wanhua District
- AY-Chung noodles at No.8-1 Emei Street
- Big-sized fried chicken at No. 104, Hanzhong Street, Wanhua District
- Rice stuffed omelet with braised pork at No. 1, Lane 32, Hanzhong St
- Youngfu traditional ice-cream at No. 68, Section 2, Guiyang St
- 50 Lan milk tea at No. 48-4, Xining Rd
4. Ningxia Night Market – Many Delicious Foods You Cannot Miss
Not so many news or blogs mention about Ningxia, but this night market is one of the place you shouldn’t miss when visiting Taipei. Actually, my booked hotel, the Queens Hotel 2, is just about a 10′ walk from the market. Therefore, I had a great chance to explore this must-go night market of Taipei.
All the night markets in Taipei have so delicious foods, and so does Ningxia! Indeed, the market is not too big, so you can easily try all the foods there. I especially want to highlight the king oyster mushroom. Because those mushrooms are placed extremely attractive on the counters. In addition, the mushrooms’ scent rising while grilling will make your stomach instantly hungry. After grilled, those mushrooms will be cut into bite-sized pieces, then added sauces with spices, making them so much more delicious.
Furthermore, it will be your biggest regret if you miss the Deep Fried Taro Ball at the night market. The shop named Liu Yu Zai, and you have to get in a long line till your turn to buy. Here, they have 2 types of fried taro balls including a normal one, added pork, and another one with salted egg yolk. Remember me, don’t miss trying this dish!
Also, there are more foods and drinks at Ningxia night market which you can try such as beef noodle, fried oyster cake, Rong’s pork liver, Ya-tou-Zheng-Er-dai, A-Tong A-Bao SishenTang, Lin-zhen-yao, herbal tea, and purple milk tea, etc.
And Many Many More
Yes, Taipei actually has many more interesting night markets for you to spend days discovering. Besides the four markets that I had a chance to go to, here is the list of the others in Taipei that you can take visit:
5. Huaxi Night Market
Or snake alley Taipei is where you will enjoy special dishes made from snakes. There are some popular dishes from snakes that many tourists usually request such as snake blood alcohol, snake bile, snake soup, etc. Besides that, Huaxi night market also sells a lot of other foods such as squid soup, pork soup, eel noodles, etc.
6. Gongguan Night Market
This market is a common destination for students in Taiwan as well as international tourists. Gongguan night market is located near Taiwan University. The market has movie theater, bookstores, cafes, restaurants, and many of clothing shops.
Also, you can enjoy the delicious dishes sold here such as oyster noodles, pork blood pudding, boba milk tea, etc. Nonetheless, due to its proximity to the university and the subway station, the number of people coming to the Gongguan night market is very crowded. Hence, you may have to queue for a long time to buy the items you want. Just a note so you know!
Overall, those are dishes I ate on my trip to night markets in Taipei. It cost me a few days to try but not everything. Evenly, there are still Taipei’s night markets I haven’t been to. And surely those are all amazing ones waiting for you and me to explore. Thus, if you find out any new ones or your go-to stores in these markets, feel free to share them with us.
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