We cap our first day off in Taipei and second in Taiwan at their biggest night market, Shilin Night Market. Taiwan is quite famous for their night markets. People have been advising to go and that we go with an empty stomach.
We were supposed to go to 1 night market every night of our stay in Taiwan. But since we only had a 3-hour sleep on Day 1 and had to travel far to the northeast coast, we postponed and scratched off 1 night market in our itinerary. Shilin was first up. My expectation was that it’ll be like Jiufen Old Street but bigger. We alighted at the Shilin MRT station and had no idea where to go. We finally found the entrance to the market after a few questions asked, thanks to the pedestrian woman who spoke fluent English and went out of her way to actually explain to us where it is.
The night market was, as expected, filled with stalls and boutiques lined up. Surprisingly, there weren’t lots of people when we arrived. There were multiple intersections so visiting each and every one of them would be a challenge. However, we also had our own challenge that night and it was to find the penis red bean filled waffle, ha! So that entailed us visiting each stall, asking where those phallic waffles can be bought. Imagine the horror of describing what we were looking for, haha. I felt like a 5th grader, talking and giggling about something I’m not supposed to! I couldn’t keep a straight face when showing the photo to local shop owners.
Failing to find the waffles, we made our way to the food court which was underground. It seemed like an old MRT station turned into a food court. To get there, you’ll have to go to the middle of the night market and you’ll find a covered area. The flow of people will most likely lead you to the stairs as it can be quite hidden.
The food court was jam packed, it was hard to find an empty table for us to eat. They offer mostly local dishes and Taiwanese cuisine and the menu was almost identical for each shop. However, we found this unique space in the middle, something similar to Teppanyaki, with chefs cooking in front of you. They offered dishes familiar to the westerners (and us, though, not westerners). We were seated just in front of the hot pan so it could get slightly sweaty. Thankfully, the cold temperature outside made its way in (or maybe it was air conditioned, hmm). Aluminum foil were our plates and the chef in front of us started cooking shredded cabbage with loads of butter. That was my favorite side dish. Most probably because it was the most savoury one and the rest was a combination of spicy and tongue-numbing heat. It was still very good, though. I’d go back again if I visit Shilin in the future.
Nearby, a man was selling this refreshment. Cold and soothing to the mouth, this lime, honey and Aiyu jelly combo was perfect after the Teppanyaki. Aiyu jelly’s origin is in Taiwan and is rarely found in other countries but Taiwan and Singapore. A must try!
We made our way back up again to the streets and continued to look through stalls and shops with the occasional taste test (aka buying 1 serving and sharing amongst the group) of local snacks.
Cured pork with spring onions inside. This was yummy.
There were also amusement for kids and adults alike, one of which is this Mahjong game. Well, a variation of it. It seemed to me like they were playing a memory game. I initially thought it was a guessing game of tiles facing down, if so, my mum would be the downfall of the shop owner as she’s an expert of it, haha
We found these boxes just above the food court. We finally found what we came for, or so we thought. They were pre-made and we were expecting something fresh. Something that is cooked in front of us. Something with hot red bean filling. We finally gave up after realizing that no one sells that anymore (as suggested by the blog we read before this trip). After finding that one stall with these boxes, we realized we have been passing by a lot of them and they were all in boxes. All night, and we didn’t realize it!
To comfort ourselves from the failed phallic challenge, we had their fresh fruits. It isn’t uncommon to see these fruit stalls anywhere in Taiwan, may it be a night market or not. The stall we approached had shop owners who were too friendly. So friendly they’d let you taste each fruit without a fee. At one point, it seemed like she was force feeding us with strawberries, lol. I think she knew we were tourists so she got excited? Anyhow, their friendliness made us buy more, so that was good marketing, I suppose. It was all with good intentions, nevertheless. Unless you are someone with personal boundary issues, you’ll probably run away instantly.
Green mango with salt and Kiamoy (Li Hing Mui) powder. Yum! I’ll start selling green mangoes with Kiamoy powder here. Never thought the combination would work so good! The lady shop owner force fed me this, like, serving the mango to my mouth. ¯_(ツ)_/¯ It was really, really good though, so I had to buy some.
Juiciest star fruit I’ve ever tasted and sweet strawberries with condensed milk.
How To Get There
We actually did it the wrong way. Since there is a Shilin MRT station, we assumed that the shortest path to the night market would be through there. We had to walk for 15 minutes from the Shilin station to the night market. Welp, after exiting the night market from the other end, we were just a 5-minute walk from the Jiantan MRT station. We also found this sign near the station:
So to make your life easy,
1. Take the Tamsui-Xinyi (red) line towards Tamsui.
2. Alight at Jiantan station.
It’ll be easy from there, I promise.