Everyone who visits Taiwan and doesn’t stop by the night market is missing out on a great experience. Heaven on Earth, if you’re a foodie, is a place where you can eat for hours on end, maybe even go back to sleep, then come back the next day without repeating anything. The only thing you’ll get out of this is a full stomach and a much lighter wallet. Heaven is spread out around the island, not just in one spot.
Like any street markets around the world, night markets in Taiwan have hundreds of vendors, specialised in one or two types of food. Some vendors in have been selling for hundreds of years, its recipes probably date back even longer. That means the taste is top-notch. For those who prefer multiple dish for a meal, that should not be a problem here.
What to eat in a Taiwanese night market
Like any other markets in the world, there are just too many to account for. Luckily, most markets will serve the same dish (albeit slight different in taste), so you do not need to visit every single one.
1. Fish balls
Far from the healthiest snack, these fish balls are made of fish paste, flavoured, then deep-fried. They can either be served deep-fried, or raw in roadside hotpots. Yellowy, a bit chewy and white inside, this snack can be a great start for your food journey ahead.
2. Stinky tofu
Some say they love it. Many say they hate the smell. But for many who have tried it, they say the taste is amazing. Stinky tofu is, as the name suggests, made from heavily fermented tofu, create a product comparable to smelly cheese, both in taste and texture. It is normally cooked by deep-frying and served with soy sauce or chilly powder.
3. Sausage with sticky rice
Can be understood as Taiwanese hotdog, but replace the sausage with a piece of juicy, well-seasoned, grilled pork, wrapped in a layer of sticky rice. The two are placed together, like a hotdog, with a variety of toppings, then put to the grill, resulted in a crispy outer layer and a juicy, aromatic filling.
4. Oyster omelette
Dubbed as among the best in a Taiwan night market, oyster omelette is an omelette with oysters and vegetables. It will look like your everyday omelette and even less appetising, but it tastes incredible. When served, a layer of sweet chilly sauce is topped, resulting in a dish that you will not stop eating.
5. Iron eggs
Do not mistake these with century egg, iron egg is a special variant of soy egg, which is essentially hard-boiled egg, peeled, then cooked in soy sauce with other spice and ingredients. Iron egg is exactly that, but cook for longer, resulting in a dark, flavourful, and chewy texture. Some say this snack is suitable for drinks.
6. Pork buns
Slightly sweetened and fluffy white bun, stuffed with fatty pork belly, stir-fried with onion, garlic, soy sauce and cooking alcohol, complimented by fresh herbs, fermented vegetables and in some vendors serve with peanuts, resulting in a warm, hearty snack that is well-known across markets in Taiwan.
7. Taiwanese fried chicken
Very easily recognisable, Taiwanese fried chicken, although has been Westernised as popcorn chicken, it is still known among Taiwanese as “salt crispy chicken”. Crispy on the outside and soft, juicy inside, and a bite-size portions, this is a perfect to-go snack to try.
8. Beef noodle
Before deciding to try this, be aware that you may not be able to eat anything else, because the portion is relatively generous. Slightly spicy broth, like Sichuan numbing spiciness, with a generous slow-cook beef portion, fresh noodles, topped with bok choy; all guarantee a warm, filling dish for dinner.
9. Milk tea
Visiting Taiwan without tasting milktea is one of the greatest loss, considering milktea is an iconic drink of Taiwan and served almost everywhere. In night markets, you will be surprised as milktea is sold almost everywhere, with each vendor is different in taste, but all share the same characteristic of a sweet, slight aromatic, with chewy bobba.
10. Pineapple cake
Pineapple cakes are one of the best food to eat on the spot, and the best souvenirs one can bring home. Buttery and a bit brittle crust, filled with candied pineapple that will melt in your mouth, this is the best dessert to end your night market journey, and can also a nice farewell to Taiwan as a souvenir.