This week we have a special guest post from instagrammer: Travellingeats. We had a conversation about food on a post and Travellingeats was in Taiwan. Then I asked them if they'd be able to post about their experience in the food markets of Taipei.
This post will look at where to eat in Taipei, Taipei night market food and Shilin Night Market.
Taiwanese people are extremely food driven. On any given street you will see more restaurants than you can count and more smells than your nose is willing to inhale. Night markets are a unique part of the food culture in this metropolitan city. Talk to a local, or a foreigner, and they are likely to tell you which food market is “great” and which one “is not worth going to”. I made the mistake of asking more than one local and was given such mixed messages about the “best” market, that I decided to try out both of the main ones: Taipei Shilin Night Market and Raohe Night Market. But, these are just two of several night markets in Taiwan so by all means explore them all, but be prepared for the numbers of the scale to laugh at you upon your return home.
Taipei Shilin Night Market was my first stop. I was told this was the best one by more than one foreigner and decided to give it a shot. Perhaps the main problem with my food adventure was that my hopes were too high. The first thing I ate was a “to-go” cup of mixed fried mushrooms which is one of the first stands you will see at the Night market as it is located close to the beginning of it next to the street. This food stand covering 4 different types of mushrooms in tempura sauce and deep frying them to crunchy perfection. This delicious snack made me get so excited about all things that were about to enter my mouth.
After the mushrooms, I saw a line of people waiting for a deep fried scallion pancake. I had already eaten one of those famous scallion pancakes during the day (they are AMAZING), but decided this one must be special due to the line. OH.MY.GOD. This ended up being my favorite at Taipei Shilin Night Market. The old Taiwanese man deep fries the pancakes and then cracks and egg on the. This is not a dish for those on a diet or with high cholesterol but it will rock your world. I walked and stuffed my face with my pancake as I approached the famous pepper pork buns.
I had seen pictures of these famous pork buns online from other food bloggers who raved about them. I knew I had to try one. The funny thing was that there was no line. No one was waiting to eat them so I really just did not understand how they could possibly be so special. Turns out I was right. I ate one and thought, “I don’t get it”. Then I looked online and realized the famous pork buns are in the other Night Market! FML. Oh well, not the worst mistake I’ve ever made. I still ate it of course and don’t regret it.
Next up was the dumpling/buns. These are located adjacent to the guy selling the mediocre Pepper Pork Buns. There is a HUGE line for these! Bigger than any line I saw for any food market. They prepare the dough and the filling right in front of you and while you wait in line you get a front row seat to the action (minus the seats). I got two of the scallion dumplings and covered them in hot sauce. I was not disappointed and they were definitely worth the wait.
After this I tried something less delicious, the famous Pork Bone Soup. Apparently, this is a favorite for Taiwanese families and they head to the night markets frequently to get their fix. There are multiple stalls selling the same soup and people waiting in long lines in all of them. I made the line which moves rather quickly and was given what I would describe as a slop bucket. The soup was think and very fragrant, as it was full of herbs and things I could not recognize, but the taste was just not for me. There was barely any meat on the bones and the smell/texture just really threw me off. Luckily they have toppings and I covered mine in fried garlic and fresh herbs, as well as plenty of hot sauce, and took it down anyways. Personally, I think this soup is overrated and would most likely not eat it again.
It actually left such a weird taste in my mouth that I ate emergency grilled mushrooms to alleviate the problem (I’m quick on my feet when emergencies hit). The grilled mushroom lady was so sweet and grilled my giant mushrooms to perfection. There are 4 flavor options and I chose Lemon and Pepper and was very happy I did so.
I was so disappointed by Taipei Shilin Night Market that I took my ‘shrooms' to go and got on the metro to Raohe Night Market.
Tip: DO NOT drink or eat on the MRT in Taiwan. There’s a big fine if you do so!
Check out next week's post about Raohe Night Market and see what Travellingeats thinks about it! Travelling.eats on Instagram