If you are a foodie, Taipei should be on your list of cities to visit. Taiwan’s capital is famous for its night markets where you can find a wide range of delicious street foods at affordable prices. In this article, we will guide you through the most popular night markets in Taipei and the must-try local delicacies that you shouldn’t miss.
History of Taipei’s Night Markets
Night markets have a long history in Taiwan. They first appeared during the Chinese Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) when street vendors would set up stalls outside the city gates to sell goods to travelers. In the 19th century, Taiwan was under Japanese rule, and the Japanese introduced their night markets, which were called yatai. After World War II, Taiwan became a democracy, and the Taiwanese government began to regulate the night markets to ensure food safety and hygiene.
The Most Popular Night Markets in Taipei
Taipei has over 20 night markets, each with its own unique atmosphere and food offerings. Here are some of the most popular night markets that you should visit:
Shilin Night Market
Shilin Night Market is the largest and most famous night market in Taipei. It has over 500 food stalls selling everything from stinky tofu to grilled seafood. The market is also famous for its game stalls, where you can win prizes like stuffed animals and toys.
Raohe Night Market
Raohe Night Market is one of the oldest night markets in Taipei, dating back to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912). It has a narrow street lined with food stalls selling a variety of local delicacies like oyster omelettes and pork pepper buns.
Ningxia Night Market
Ningxia Night Market is known for its seafood, especially its grilled squid and oyster omelettes. It’s also a great place to try traditional Taiwanese dishes like braised pork rice and scallion pancakes.
Tonghua Night Market
Tonghua Night Market is a popular market among locals for its friendly vendors and delicious street foods. It’s famous for its beef noodle soup, which is a must-try dish.
Huaxi Night Market (Snake Alley)
Huaxi Night Market, also known as Snake Alley, is a famous night market in Taipei that specializes in exotic foods like snake soup and grilled snake. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it’s an interesting experience for adventurous foodies.
What to Eat in Taipei’s Night Markets
Now that you know where to go, it’s time to talk about what to eat. Here are some of the must-try local delicacies that you shouldn’t miss:
Stinky tofu is a polarizing dish that you either love or hate. It’s made from fermented tofu that has a strong odor, but a delicious flavor. You can find stinky tofu at almost every night market in Taipei.
Oyster omelette is a popular Taiwanese street food made with eggs, oysters, sweet potato starch, and vegetables. It’s crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, and it’s usually served with a sweet and sour sauce.
Braised Pork Rice
Braised pork rice is a staple dish in Taiwanese cuisine. It’s made with braised pork belly, soy sauce, and rice. The dish is simple, yet delicious, and it’s a must-try when visiting Taipei.
Bubble tea, also known as boba tea, is a Taiwanese drink that has become popular all over the world. It’s made with tea, milk, and tapioca pearls, and it comes in a variety of flavors. You can find bubble tea stalls in every night market in Taipei.
Scallion pancake is a savory pastry that’s made with flour, scallions, and oil. It’s crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, and it’s a popular breakfast food in Taiwan.
Taiwanese sausage, also known as “xiang chang,” is a sweet and savory sausage made with pork and spices. It’s usually grilled and served with garlic and chili sauce.
Fried Chicken Cutlet
Fried chicken cutlet is a popular street food in Taiwan. It’s made with chicken breast that’s been pounded thin, coated in breadcrumbs, and fried until crispy. It’s usually served with sweet and spicy sauce.
Shaved ice is a refreshing dessert that’s perfect for hot summer days. It’s made with shaved ice and topped with sweet syrup, fruit, and condensed milk.
Grilled squid is a popular seafood dish in Taiwan. It’s usually grilled on a skewer and served with a spicy and savory sauce.
Iron egg, also known as “tie dan,” is a snack made with quail eggs that have been marinated in soy sauce and spices. The eggs are boiled until they’re firm and chewy, and they’re a popular snack in Taiwan.
Tips for Eating in Taipei’s Night Markets
Eating in Taipei’s night markets can be overwhelming, especially for first-timers. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your experience:
Bring cash: Most vendors in night markets only accept cash, so make sure you bring enough money.
Come hungry: There’s so much delicious food to try in Taipei’s night markets, so make sure you come hungry and ready to eat.
Try everything: Don’t be afraid to try new things. Taipei’s night markets are a great place to try local delicacies that you can’t find anywhere else.
Be adventurous: If you’re feeling adventurous, try some of the exotic foods like grilled squid and snake soup.
Watch for food safety: While the Taiwanese government regulates night markets to ensure food safety, it’s still important to watch for signs of unsanitary conditions.
Taipei’s night markets are a foodie’s paradise. From stinky tofu to bubble tea, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Whether you’re a first-timer or a seasoned traveler, you won’t be disappointed with the delicious street foods that Taipei has to offer.
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What is the best time to visit Taipei’s night markets?
The night markets in Taipei are open every day from late afternoon until late at night. However, they tend to be more crowded on weekends and holidays.
Are the night markets in Taipei safe?
Yes, the night markets in Taipei are safe. The Taiwanese government regulates night markets to ensure food safety and hygiene.
How much money should I bring?
The amount of money you should bring to Taipei’s night markets depends on how much you plan to eat and how much you’re willing to spend. Most street food items are relatively cheap, with prices ranging from a few Taiwanese dollars to a couple of hundred dollars. It’s a good idea to bring at least NT$500 (about US$17) to ensure that you have enough money to try a variety of foods.
Can I find vegetarian and vegan options in Taipei’s night markets?
Yes, you can find vegetarian and vegan options in Taipei’s night markets. Many stalls offer vegetable and tofu dishes, and some even specialize in vegetarian and vegan cuisine.
How do I get to Taipei’s night markets?
There are several night markets in Taipei, and they’re all easily accessible by public transportation. The most popular ones include Shilin Night Market, Raohe Street Night Market, and Ningxia Night Market. You can take the MRT (subway) or bus to get to most of them.