Armed with a SONY NEX-VG20E handycam and my trusty iPhone 4S, I roamed the bustling streets of Taipei and Taichung to satisfy my vehement streetfood cravings.
Creamy Chicken Stew ($10)
Enjoying a hot meal onboard Tiger Airways, the Creamy Chicken Stew is pure comfort food. Moist chicken chunks are drenched in a smooth creamy sauce that comprises vegetable broth, accompanied by mushroom and potato for a complete meal. Get $1 off if you pre-order your meal!
On my way to Taipei Main Station from Taoyuan International Airport on Kuo Kuang Ke Yun (国光客运), costing less than 200NT a trip.
Taking a cab from Taipei Main Station to Saual Keh Hotel (http://www.saualkeh.com.tw/), costing about 90-100NT. The hotel is conveniently located between Guting MRT station and Chiang Kai Shek MRT station.
Loveeeee this from 7-eleven. It’s like a Taiwanese equivalent of ‘lok lok’.
Calpis drink that reminds me of Boss Café!
Walking around the hotel and stumbled upon Nanmen farmer’s market near Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall MRT station.
Cured meat at Nanmen Market
Cured meat at Nanmen Market
Food stall at Nanmen Market
Ningxia Night Market
Oyster Mee Sua
My favourite thing about Taiwan is definitely the nightlife –I’m not so much into the clubbing scene, but I’m fanatical about the night markets!
Each and every night market has its own unique characteristic and charm.
Ningxia Night Market is bustling with crowd. Comparing my previous visit, where I saw mostly locals patronising, I noticed a growth of tourists during this recent trip.
This is a food lover’s haven. The entire row of food stalls seem to be calling out for you, and you’d be tempted to try every single item from every stall. Many stalls here provide diners with tables and chairs.
I find the pricing of streetfood at Ningxia Night Market to be a little steeper than some other markets.
Prawn / Oyster / Mixed deep-fried bun with egg
The Prawn/Oyster/Mix-flavoured deep-fried bun with egg is a must try. You can only find this at Ningxia Night Market in Taipei, as I’ve combed the other night markets in search for this, but to no avail.
Wufenpu is a shopping paradise. This was where I spent four hours and a good amount of Taiwan dollars, which I consider a feat for someone who barely likes to shop. You probably need two full days to get fully acquainted with the entire market.
How to get there: Alight at HouShanPi MRT Station and walk towards YMCA.
I believe most Taiwanese are ardent dog lovers. I came across a huge Labrador shopping with its owner, and saw no signs of fear from the crowd.
Raohe Night Market
Raohe Night Market is one of the most crowded night markets in Taipei, with tourists and locals aplenty.
It is 5-10 minutes walk away from Wufenpu, so it makes sense to head down to the night market after a day of shopping! The best time to visit the market, in my opinion, is at 6pm. The crowd multiplies from 7pm onwards, and by the time you’re ready to leave, the market is packed to the brim.
Lots of tempting food stalls at Raohe Night Market, it is impossible to leave the place hungry.
Interspersed between food stalls are random stalls selling things from handphone casings to clothing to pet accessories.
Cheesy Potato! I prefer the one sold outside Shihlin Night Market, where the potato is breaded and fried to a golden brown before topping with your choice of ingredients and a cheesy sauce. This version at Raohe Night Market simply uses a normal boiled potato.
Zha Dan (Explosive egg?)
Zha Dan is my newfound love. Though deep-fried and greasy, I fell in love the moment I bit into it, when the egg yolk bled relentlessly into my mouth.
Rice-stuffed Chicken Wings
After combing almost all the night markets in Taipei, this rice-stuffed chicken wings could only be found at Raohe Night Market. If you are intending to travel out of Taipei, you can find this snack at Fengjia Night Market in Taichung.
Chicken meat is diced and wrapped in chicken skin before grilling. There are a few flavours to choose from – such as ‘original’, black pepper, chilli salt and more – but they are merely powdered ‘seasoning’ added to the sausages after they’re grilled.
Ever since I learnt how to make sausages from scratch, adding my own ingredients into the sausages (such as basil and dried fruit) before wrapping it in chicken skin, I found their version to be lacklustre.
If you are fond of smelly tofu, your nose will lead you straight to the stalls. There are plenty of smelly tofu stalls at Raohe Night Market.
Mango Snow Ice (100NT with ice cream, 80NT without)
The famous Mango Snow Ice that everyone said is a must-try at Raohe Night Market was a mere disappointment to me. I found this dessert to be overrated and mediocre at best. It is basically smoothly shaved ice with fruits and syrup. Maybe I went to the wrong stall.
At Ximending, there’s Daiso, SaSa, Uniqlo, KFC, Coco Ichibanya, and many boutiques selling clothes, accessories, bags and shoes. It’s a popular hangout spot for students and youngsters. Street vendors start pushing their carts in around 6pm, but they leave the streets by 10pm.
Shihlin Night Market
One of the most established night markets in Taiwan, Shihlin Night Market is a must visit in Taipei!
Take a train and alight at JianTan MRT Station.
The expansive market covers all your shopping and eating needs. Find great bargains here!
Sniff your way around and look for a sign and arrow that leads to the food section; take the escalator down to a basement to be greeted by a myriad of vendors and wokking actions.
Da Chang bao Xiao Chang (literally translated as Big Sausage wrap Small Sausage)
Xiao Chang (Small Sausage), a meat sausage, is wrapped in a Da Chang (Big Sausage), a glutinous-rice-filled sausage. Depending on the stall you buy from, there are various toppings/seasonings to choose from.
I’ve tried at least 5 Da Chang bao Xiao Chang across Taipei and Taichung, and found the one at Shihlin basement food market most to my liking.
You can also find this special toast, dug out of its doughy interior and filled with a myriad of ingredients and creamy chowder.
Longshan Night Market
This is my first visit to Longshan Night Market. A 5-minute walk from the LongShan Temple MRT station, this market is not difficult to locate. Once you spot the bright lights from the vendors from afar, you know you’re on the right track.
Food is relatively cheaper at Longshan Night Market, and the crowd isn’t overwhelming. I would go back again on my next trip!
Nanshijiao Xingnan Night Market
I came across this night market by accident –and I’ve visited this market thrice during my previous trip in August 2012. How did I get to know about this market… when no one ever recommended it to me? I took the train towards the wrong direction, and knew about this night market from a random friendly local whom I asked directions from. So glad I found this gem.
Take the train to Nanshijiao MRT Station and follow the sign stating ‘Xingnan Night Market’.
There are more locals, and almost no tourists, at this market.
Guess who I spotted from a distance?
It was to my endless joy to see this fluffy baby, because I was missing my dog so much.
Tamsui is said to be a must-visit in Taipei, and I have to agree on that. It is a dreary 30-minute train ride from the city centre, but no regrets at all.
It was a cold, rainy winter evening when I went, and was greeted by strong gusts of winds and slight downpour, which led to slight hesitance on exploring the area further. But I thought to myself, better make the long journey worth it. Glad I did.
About 5 minutes away by foot from the train station is Tamsui Lao Jie (Old Street), where all the streetfood adventure begins.
Doesn’t this look like a Taiwanese variant of our local Roti Prata? Tastes almost similar, except that instead of providing curry gravy to dip into, you get to choose the sauce/seasoning that they smear on the surface of your ‘prata’.
One of my favourite snacks! Similar to xiao long bao, but has a slightly thicker skin and less broth within –and a nice brown crust on the bottom.
As I’m doing this post, I’m missing Taiwan so badly. I’ll definitely be back for more street food!