Food | Location | Taiwan | Taiwanese

What to eat at Shilin Night Market

January 13, 2018

Hello my foodie friends!

It’s been a while since I’ve done a “travel” blog entry. I’m sure I have a million excuses as to why there hasn’t been one in what feels like ages but I think that it would be pointless for me to do so. As some of you may know or not know, I lived in Taiwan last year. While I was there, I made sure that I was able to have all that Taiwan had to offer. Food-wise at least.

One of the things that Taiwan has been deemed famous for are it’s extensive array of night markets to choose from. Unlike Vancouver where they’re only opened during the summer on weekends, the ones in Taiwan are opened every single night! To be honest, they lost their thrill after the first month but that doesn’t mean that they weren’t fun to go to!

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The biggest night market in Taipei is Shilin night market. Not only are there stalls on around the block but they also have an underground food court!

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One of the things that are found at all night markets is sliced fruit. Surprising right? You’d think that all they have are deep fried snacks and food on sticks but nope, they have lots of fruit too. They sell by the 100g so don’t go too crazy or you’ll end up spending a good $20 CAD on fruit unknowingly! The good thing about these stalls is you’re able to try a bunch of new fruits you may not have tried before including custard apples, rose apples, pink guava and pink dragon fruit.

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Deep fried potato balls: Don’t get me wrong, these are not simply deep fried sweet potatoes. They’re like donut holes but made out of sweet potato starch and tapioca starch which leaves them with a chewy consistency similar to mochi. If you love mochi, you’d love these.

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Bone broth: I’m not really sure how else to call this but it’s essentially soup that’s made from boiling either beef, chicken, fish or lamb bones for a hours on end. We weren’t sure which one to go to but this one had been opened for 40 years and there was a huge line outside so we decided to go to this one.

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From the store front, you’re able to see huge stainless steel pots of the soups. Sometimes the pots are placed on the floor so they’re probably not up to North American cleanliness codes so pick and choose the one you want to go to depending on what you’re comfortable with

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A few minutes after you place your order, the server will bring the soup to you in a paper bowl. It’ll come with the bones and some meat. It’s up to you if you want to eat it or not.

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Steamed rice cakes: When Old Bean and I were finished with our soups we saw this cart with a man making what seemed to be little rice cakes. Upon further investigation, it seemed that he was packing ground up glutinous rice into a container and steaming it.

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What comes out are these little cup like treats. They come with either ground peanuts or ground sesame seed mixed with sugar to sweeten it up. These snacks are pretty unique and are worth a try. They’re only 20NT for 5.

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When we were done getting lost in the night market alleys, we decided to head to the underground food court for some more eats.¬†Once you’re down there you are surrounded by people, food stalls and the smell of stinky tofu!

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We had a hard time deciding on which stall to go to for stinky tofu and oyster pancakes but we settled on this one because apparently you should always go to the stalls with the most people. That’s Old Bean’s night market hack.

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Oyster pancake: I’m always skeptical about these because most of the time they end up being too starchy and gooey for my liking but the one here was great! The potato starch that’s used in the batter makes the whole pancake chewy which is definitely something unique about the savory pancakes here.

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They also put lettuce and an egg inside it. Then they top it all off with a sweet sauce.

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Stinky tofu: The must eat when you get to Taiwan is the stinky tofu. Few can stand the smell of it and those of you who can’t are going to be clear outliers in Taiwan. Practically everyone is crazy for it here and being a fan of fermented foods, I didn’t mind the smell. It’s usually served deep fried with a soy vinegar sauce on top. I promise it tastes better than it smells! It’s not pungent in my books and it’s worth a try! Pinch your nose if you have to!

Cuttlefish soup: It’s not that you have to get cuttlefish soup but it’s more about the way that it’s prepared that makes it a must try food. The “soups” are thick and almost roux like similar to hot and sour soup if you’ve had it before. The soup had lots of cuttlefish and bamboo shoots in it. It’s a little sour and fermented in flavor.

BBQ grilled squid: This was our favorite of the night. It’s a whole bbq grilled squid at 100NT each.

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These take a while to prepare so don’t go to a squid stand hungry. That’s something we learned fast. The squid gets painted with a brush of bbq sauce and then further seasoning is sprinkled on top. Flavors include wasabi, honey, salt and pepper, lemon pepper, and more.

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We decided to go with the lemon pepper this time but on one of our other visits we got the wasabi. Both are delightful and they are not shy on the flavor sprinkles. Definitely worth the money!

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That’s all for this night market and I have more night market posts on the way. If you’re a bread lover, feel free to head on over to when I visited the famous Wu Pao Chun bakery.

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