Whenever most of us visit Taiwan night markets, we tend to go on a rampage of buying food from almost every stall in sight. Our stomachs always converts into a bottomless pits to accommodate the variety, tastiness, fragrance and low-cost, high-value proposition of Taiwan’s best street food.
If you haven’t personally experienced the magic of Taiwan night markets, just take my word for it and start planning for your vacation. Trust me, the Taiwan night market experience is one to live for – its street food is awesome and somehow always leaves a lingering impression that seduces you into returning for more.
To start you off on the right food (foot, get it?), read on for a street food guide to three of Taiwan’s most popular night markets and the street food that you will find, buy, love and return for.
Shilin Night Market (士林夜市)
Address: No. 101 Jihe Road, Shilin District, Taipei, Taiwan 111
Operating hours: All week, 5pm – 1am
Nearest MRT: Jiantan MRT Station
Directions: From Songshan MRT Station, take Exit 1. Walk 80m north on Wenlin Road and you’ll reach the market entrance.
1. Pig’s Blood Cake (猪血糕)
A night market delicacy, Pig’s Blood Cake is a local staple that attracts only the bravest of tourists. Made with sticky rice, soy broth and obviously, pig’s blood, this snack is often served covered in ground nuts and cilantro. You can eat it as it is, or if you prefer it cooked, some stalls offer it braised or in a soup.
2. Bishop’s Nose (鸡屁股)
Marinated in teriyaki sauce and barbequed to a crisp golden brown, Bishop’s Nose is a fancier name for a chicken’s backside. While some may turn their noses up at the sound of this snack, those who are curious (and courageous) enough to taste it will find that it is like regular meat – fatty, sweet and quite enjoyable.
3. Paper Pork (猪肉纸)
Almost as thin as paper, Paper Pork is Taiwan’s response to our bak kwa. Minced, toasted and flattened, you’ll find this treat presented in both squares and cones. It usually comes with a choice of almonds, seaweed or dried apple, and can be purchased in sealed air-tight packets, making it a great souvenir for your family and friends at home.
4. Penis-Shaped Éclair (大雕烧)
Imagine holding a large, edible (as in chewable without causing pain) part of the male anatomy in public and actually eating it in the full view of everyone. From éclairs, hot dog buns, popsicles and waffles, choose your own flavours and fillings from a rather extensive menu. You’ll be attracting lots of stares, so eat this only if you have a good sense of humour!
Raohe Night Market (饶河夜市)
Address: Raohe Street, Section 4 Bade Road, Songshan District, Taipei, Taiwan 105
Operating hours: All week, 5pm – 12mn
Nearest MRT: Songshan MRT Station
Directions: From Songshan MRT Station, take Exit 5. Walk about a minute and you’ll arrive at the main entrance of the market.
5. Pepper Bun (胡椒饼)
Baked in a kiln, the Pepper Bun is a crowd-favourite. Freshly-made and best eaten on the spot, this snack is a crusty pastry filled with the most generous portion of black pepper-marinated meat, spring onions and shallots. If you’re craving something hot, juicy and fragrant, this pastry will be an absolute treat!
6. Flame-Torched Beef (火焰骰子牛)
Grilled and torched to perfection, the Flame-Torched Beef is an absolute crowd-pleaser. Served in cubes, the thick blocks of beef are seasoned with an assortment of salt, sauces and spices that include rose salt, Xinjiang cumin, Hungarian pepper and Japanese teriyaki sauce. Pick your poison; I’d go back for seconds and thirds if I were you!
7. Deep-Fried Milk (炸鲜奶)
With a savoury crispy crust and sweet milky center, the Deep-Fried Milk is an explosion of all the flavours that we love. First shaped into cubes, the congealed milk is dipped into flour batter and turned into balls for deep frying. Eat them while they’re piping hot, and you’ll be testifying to the delirious effect that accompanies every bite!
8. Fried Scallion Pancake (葱油饼)
Crispy, fluffy and definitely tasty, the Fried Scallion Pancake is Taiwan’s rendition of our roti prata. Though missing the enthusiastic whipping and air-tossing that our prata uncles are known for, this doughy pancake is no less satisfying. Topped with fresh scallions, some stalls even offer you additional ingredients such as ham, egg, and cheese.
Fengjia Night Market (逢甲夜市)
Address: Feng Chia Road, Fu Xing Road, Wen Hua Road, Xitun District, Taichung, Taiwan 407
Operating hours: All week, 4pm – 12mn
Nearest MRT/bus interchange: Taichung Train Station
Directions: From Taichung Train Station, take TCBus route 35. Alight at Fengchia University bus-stop and walk to the market.
9. Small Sausage Wrapped In Big Sausage (大肠包小肠)
With a flavourful Taiwanese sausage pushed into a larger sausage made of glutinous rice, Small Sausage Wrapped In Big Sausage is literally as its name suggests. While this treat is one of the oilier and unhealthier options in the night market, it is a yummy, filling snack that will keep you going for hours.
10. Grilled Scallops (干贝烧)
Sweet and grilled to the perfect texture, the Grilled Scallops is one of my personal favourites. Each scallop is coated with oil, brought to the fire and seasoned according to your preferences. Some stalls even offer 11 flavours, with usual seasonings like lemon and pepper, and unusual ones such as wasabi, pesto cream and Indian curry.
11. Bear Paw Burger (熊手包)
A tribute to Taiwan’s national animal, the Formosan Black Bear, the beauty of the Bear Paw Burger lies in the customisation! Take your pick from a selection of meat patties and sauces and even bun flavours such as milk, yam, squid ink and strawberry. You can even add drinks and fries for a complete meal!
12. Lazy Man’s Crab (懒人蟹)
As its name suggests, Lazy Man’s Crab is for lazy folks who dislike the inconvenience of digging for crab meat sequestered between the crabs’ hard shells and tiny nooks. Like soft-shell crabs, you can simply pop the Lazy Man’s Crab into your mouth and chomp through the soft, barely-crunchy texture of the shells. No mess, no hassle!
With all these fabulous street food offerings, it’s really no wonder that Taiwan’s night markets are constantly touted as the best ones in Asia. Make sure you visit Taiwan and go on a street food expedition at some point of your lives!
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