Taipei, Taiwan is a foodie’s paradise. Its cuisine is a tantalizing blend of Chinese and local aboriginal flavors and Taipei night markets are among the finest you’ll find in the world.
Food stalls at Taipei night markets usually start selling from about 5 pm and stay open well after midnight. Here are 3 Top Taipei Night Markets, along with advice on what to eat at each of them!
Shilin Night Market (士林夜市)
Google Maps Link Train Station: MRT Jiantan (Line 2)
Taipei has a number of night markets…but Shilin is the biggest and the baddest of them all. It’s a wonder to behold and given its sheer size, you’ll need some time to explore all of it. Locals say it’s become more of a tourist trap, with prices recently going up and food stalls adjusting their offerings to cater to the many mainland Chinese tourists.
Despite this and a more commercialized feel, Shilin is a must visit. Take note that the “Street Area” serves better food than the “Market Area”, which is indoors and has a lot of tables for customers.
You can find toys, a range of commercial goods
Below are some classic Taiwanese street foods you can find at the behemoth known as Shilin.
FROG EGG DRINK (青蛙下蛋, Qīng Wā Xià Dàn)
Don’t be alarmed, as this sugary drink has nothing to do with frogs or their eggs. Aiyu jelly is extracted from the seeds of a type of local fig and placed in sugary water with floating lemons. Fun to try but your dentist won’t be happy.
STINKY TOFU (臭豆腐, chòu dòufu)
No trip to a Taipei night market is complete without some stinky tofu. I guarantee you’ll know when there’s stinky tofu around. In addition to the sewer smell, there’s bound to be Japanese tourists with handkerchiefs over their mouths.
Stinky tofu is the result of fermenting tofu for months in a complicated process. But some places take shortcuts, only fermenting tofu for a few days. If you find a stinky tofu stall that has a long line of people, chances are high that they serve the Real McCoy.
This place served stinky tofu in a bag with pickled cabbage bits. Stink tofu is both sweet and spicy. Much like kimchi or natto, the smell is worse than the taste.
GRILLED SQUID (烤魷魚)
If you like seafood, grilled squid should be at the top of your Shilin food list. They’re usually grilled with soy sauce. If squid reminds you too much of the Alien movie franchise, you’re welcome to pass.
FATTY PORK SAUSAGES (香腸, Shang Tang)
Compared to most other Chinese sausages (like Cantonese), Taiwanese sausages are fattier, sweeter and firmer. Meat lovers will surely sing.
OYSTER OMELETTE (蚵仔煎, ô-á-chiān)
This is not your typical omelette. Its made with sweet potato starch, eggs, lettuce, and oysters, of course. Its topped off with a sweet chilli sauce. Much like how I prefer my egg omelettes, parts of the egg were nice and runny.
Raohe Street Night Market (饒河街觀光夜市)
Google Maps Link Train Station: MRT Song Shan Station (Line 3, Exit 5 or Exit 1)
Raohe is one of the oldest night markets in Taipei, right in the heart of downtown. Unlike some other markets, you’ll definitely find more food here than electronics or clothing.
It’s long…600 meters of stalls serving mouth-watering Taiwanese snacks. There are walking routes on either side and smack in the middle are tables and chairs to sit and eat at. If you’re big into meat, Rahoe is heaven…below I’ve included plenty of meat snacks.
SUGAR-DIPPED CHERRY TOMATOES (糖葫芦, tanghulu)
Cherry tomatoes or strawberries are dipped in sugar syrup and served on a stick. I’m seeing a sugary pattern in Taiwan…
I’m not much of sugar addict but these unique snacks should be crossed off the “to eat” list.
Cherry tomatoes have a bit of plum in them
GREEN ONION PANCAKES (葱油饼, cōngyóubǐng)
Better known as scallion pancakes, these guys are a staple of Chinese street food. Dough is folded and married with oil and minced green onions, or scallions. The soft dough is a joy to bite into and the green onions come alive with flavor.
PORK BONE SOUP (肉骨茶)
Taipei doesn’t get that cold, but if you were in Canada in the winter and had a horrible hangover, this is probably what you’d want to eat. An oily, savory broth is punctuated only by the large pork bone sticking out of it. Unless I’m mistaken, I think this dish is more common in Korea.
QUAIL EGG TAKOYAKI (鳥蛋蝦球)
Now these are really fun. They’re indeed like mini Takoyaki (Japanese balls of octopus). Balls of batter are stuffed with quail eggs and tiny shrimp and are cooked. Pictured are the honey and wasabi flavored ones, which I hear are the most popular. Like good Takoyaki, they’re gooey but the quail egg on the inside give them that final uppercut.
POPCORN CHICKEN (鹽酥雞, yán sū jī)
Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken is frigging awesome. What makes it unique is that outer crunch, courtesy of the sweet potato flour that’s used in the breading process. So they’re a little sweeter than you might be accustomed to in the West.
BONELESS GRILLED CHICKEN
This place is Japanese-themed and their chicken is as tender and juicy as can be.
FLAME-BROILED STEAK CUBES (火焰骰子牛)
From my understanding, steak cube vendors are at most Taipei night markets. The prep is fun to watch, since the cubes are flame-broiled. The dude literally takes out a flamethrower, creating perfectly singed, bite-sized cubes of steak. They come in a variety of “flavors” too.
DEEP FRIED MILK (炸牛奶)
I love these things…deep fried milk on a stick. It’s like they spoke to someone at a State Fair in the Midwest. The center of each ball is hot, and creamy like custard would be. They’re great as a dessert and a great way to end one’s adventure to Raohe.
Ning Xia Night Market (寧夏夜市)
Google Maps Link Train Stations: MRT Zhongshan, MRT Shuanglian (Exit 1)
Also centrally located, Ning Xia has an authentic feel to it. It’s an older market frequented mostly by locals and boasting a number of famous stalls, serving everything from papaya milk to duck head. There’s a lot to see in the area too, with Taipei Main Station not too far.
FRIED TARO BALLS (香脆芋丸)
This place is popular and you’ll likely to have to wait in line a bit. But like on an assembly line, they produce their fried taro balls at an alarmingly fast rate. They’re deep-fried and made with pork floss (dried pork) and with or without egg yolk in the middle. The outside is crunchy and the inside fairly soft.
With the egg yolk
SUGARCANE JUICE (甘蔗汁)
A little too sweet for my taste. A bottle of this would likely go well with 2 liters of water.
PIG’S BLOOD CAKE (豬血糕)
This treat might not be for everyone. In addition to the pig’s blood, its made with sticky rice and soy broth. The sticky rice makes it taste like Japanese mochi, but it’s far grainier.
DUCK HEAD (鴨頭)
This one too is not for the faint of heart…
The Fa Fa Dongshan stall is like Frankenstein’s laboratory. And I just happened to grab the last duck head. Can you spot it below?
Very bony and with little meat, I don’t know if this is something I’d want to regularly consume. But I can now say I’ve eaten duck head.
GRILLED FOOD ON A STICK
Maybe not the most exotic food, but this food stall and others like it stock all kinds of food you can choose to be grilled. Vegetarians and veggie lovers will be happy, as most Taipei night markets are very heavy on the meat. But stalls like these have a fair amount of vegetables.
PAPAYA MILK (木瓜牛奶, mùguā niúnǎi)
Look for the big white sign with the papayas on it. They also have strawberry milk, apple milk, strawberry juice, apple juice, and so forth. Papaya milk is their champion though.
OYSTER OMELETTE (蚵仔煎, ô-á-chiān)
My boy cooking up a storm
Oyster omelettes appear again on this list…but only because this place is famous. Each omelette is packed with plenty of oysters and the omelette sticks together a bit more than others I’ve tried. The chilli sauce on top is not as sweet and is slightly more gooey in texture. All in all, this blue and white sign place serves amazing oyster omelettes. You’ll find it near the entrance.
If you haven’t been to Taipei and love street food, you’re missing out 🙂