Avoiding food in Shilin is like avoiding the casinos in Las Vegas. You really need to have super perserverence to manage such a feat, for the very name “Shilin” is synonymous with Taipei’s King of night markets.
Quiet during the day, once the sun goes down the Shilin Night Market becomes a sprawling nightly carnival of snacking and shopping. Everywhere is the frenetic buzz of food carts offering tasty Taiwanese treats such as ice jelly dessert, smelly tofu, beef-noodle soup, fresh cut fruits, and more meat-on-a-stick food than you can shake a stick at.
Also to be found are the latest in trendy clothing from shoes to hats (and everything in between!), carnival games of skill and chance and much much more.
If you can eat it, wear it, or give it a name and bring it home with you, you’ll find it here.
Until recently the centre of the night market had a food court with teppanyaki booths, noodle stalls and milk-tea joints, but after many artery-cloggin decades, city leaders deemed the place a fire risk.
When we got off the MRT at Jiantan Station, we saw this huge digital sign atop one of the nearby high-rise building.
That’s 9pm at night. The sweltering hot weather has definately been unrelentless these couple of days!
Feeling peckish, we made a beeline for the food centre. The first stall that catches our attention is “Hot Star 豪大大鸡排”.
This stall sells the all famous Taiwanese XXL chicken (the food-snack that has reached Singapore shores in one form or another), and was very strategically placed along the front of the food centre. You definately cannot miss the perpetually long queue formed out almost to the main road.
I bought myself one portion while Everest could not resist getting for herself a bowl of “chilli oil wan tons”.
Some other scenes as we dwelve deeper to explore the rest of the food centre.
We walked further out onto the main streets and passed by some carnival style game stalls. Amongst these, one was set-up for participants to use nets to catch (and bring home) small guppies.
Yet another stall had an uncle hustling passer-bys to buy chances at righting up a bottle lying on its side.
Further into the market was a section selling pets and related pet accessories and food. Mainly on sale were dogs and cats, but there was also the odd shop selling fishes as well as reptilian pets.
Some sights as we continued towards Shilin MRT Station, where the other end of the night market begins.
Ah Zhong Mee Sua is well known throughout Taipei and has become something of a franchise here. I misunderstood that there would be oysters together in the bowl of noodles and ended up fairly disappointed when I stirred up my bowl and realized that there was not a single oyster in sight. Only pieces of pigs’ intestines was served together inside the bowl of noodles. I have to admit though that the mee sua and the soup were extremely delicious.
All this little snacking that ends up punctuating longer stretches of walking fails to make us any less hungry, and when we were finishing up our rounds and just about to leave the night market for our hotel, we succumbed to temptation once again and packeted back 1 portion of Smelly Tofu (臭豆腐) and 2 full size Sauteed Crabs (炒螃蟹).
Nearest Metro Station: Jiantan (not Shilin!)
If ever there is one common opinion amongs visitors to Taipei…
If you only have one night to spend in Taipei, spend it here!