A pot of the popular chao daofu or stinky tofu. I tried a sample size that a vendor gave out and that was enough for me to decide that stinky tofu is exactly as advertised (and not for me).

TAIPEI, Taiwan
I just got back from 10 days in Taipei and Taichung, and the main reason I was there was, of course, the food.

Everything is freshly done in Taiwan, and it helps that food there is so cheap. It’s especially cheap at the famous night markets, which are street fairs that start up right before sunset and lasts into the night. Stands pop up to sell a variety of foods, including the famous stinky tofu that adds that certain distinctive bathroom aroma if you’re near a stand that sells it.

But there’s way more to choose from than stinky tofu. There are pepper buns or hujiao bing, which are buns packed with beef spiced with pepper and baked on the side of a clay oven. Also popular is grilled king trumpets that are meaty and juicy, and often sprinkled with your choice of seasoning.

There’s a night market in almost every neighborhood in Taipei and Taichung, the two cities I visited with my sister and brother-in-law. The largest ones include Shilin (in Taipei) and Fengjia (in Taichung), and you basically piece a meal together from snacking from one stand to another. As you can imagine, there are a lot of deep-fried foods that I avoided but could see everywhere, and with the winter time, food stands selling ingredients you choose and then mix into a broth were everywhere. (Sometimes the ingredients were fried up into a mixed bag.)

A lovely light bowl of yu dan tang or fish ball soup from the Shida Night Market.

This vendor at the Fengjia Night Market in Taichung made a popular dish of meat skewers wrapped with cheese.

One of the first bite I had at the Shilin Night Market in Taipei is this tray of okonomiyaki with big octopus pieces.

In many ways, night markets had a carnival vibe (there are arcade games at some sections) but it’s a cheap and easy way to discover Taiwan’s dining scene. Check out my video below to just get a flavor of the night markets.

One Response to Exploring Taiwan’s Night Markets

  1. Carolyn Jung says:

    What a fun way to eat. I’d be all over those trumpet mushrooms. As for stinky tofu, a little definitely goes a long, long way. 😉