Shilin Night Market is often mentioned as one of must-visit-places while you’re in Taipei. Yes, I heard about it as well from my friends who have visited the place. So, I put Shilin on my itinerary with a mission to accomplish: find a memorable-digestible-souvenir for my colleague.
Yes, Shilin Night Market was on my Taipei checklist event it’s kinda mainstream whilst my colleague recommended us to check Raohe Street night market instead. Actually Raohe was closer to our hotel but instead we headed to Shilin because you haven’t been to Taipei yet if you skip Shilin night market.
It’s the biggest night market in Taipei where you can find local foods, souvenirs (even though I was pretty sure most of the products are imported from China mainland), attractions (ever heard about “shrimping?”) and so on.
We arrived around 7.30 PM that night, enough time to have dinner there and explore the market since the stores mostly operate until 1 AM. My first impression that… it’s cleaner than I thought! Haha really don’t even compare Shilin with traditional markets in Indonesia. The main building was bright with fine air circulation even the alleys were full of tourists.
Seafood at Shilin Night Market
Our first agenda together is to find local food to eat. The food court is located on basement floor of the main building and dominated mostly by seafood, stinky tofu and pork, and then other meals made from pork and pork-based food. I went there with my Acer colleagues from Vietnam and India. My Indian friend doesn’t eat beef (he’s a Hindi) and as a Moslem I don’t eat pork, so we chose to eat seafood. And my Vietnam colleague basically eats anything. Yeay win win solution!
So if you’re a pork-eater, this is kinda heaven for you. Here you can find sausages (in various sizes), braised-pork rice, minced-pork noodles, BBQ pork etc. at the restaurants or food-stalls around the market. But if you don’t eat pork, don’t worry you can easily find seafood there (and stinky tofu, if you dare).
There were several seafood restaurants at the food court. Salty fried crab with that aroma that could be found anywhere, reminds me to smell I got whenever I passed the Shilin Taiwan Snack in Grand Indonesia, Jakarta. But then the other way around happens, every time I get to pass that Shilin counter in Grand Indonesia, it would be reminding me to those nights in Taipei.
We had salty fried crabs, fried rice noodle with seafood, beef noodle and steamed chicken (which reminds me to Hainanese chicken or dead chicken, whichever closer to describe how it looks: white and undercooked). The foods were pretty nice, I love the salty fried crabs and I got to finish it alone since my friends were busy with other foods which were easier to eat.
Dare to Try: Stinky Tofu?
It’s like ALL my local friends suggested us to try Stinky Tofu, a famous local food that can easily found in Shilin.
“Is it delicious?”
“Yes. Taste is pretty nice, delicious”. .
“Does it really stink?”
“Do they make it only for tourist attraction or do they really consume it as daily menu?”
“Local people LOVE it and eat it like every day”.
I was planning to try it, for the sake of having the experience then make it as content for my blog. Guess it would be cool if I try and EAT the Stinky Tofu.
When we were exploring the food court finding some less-haram food to eat, Tony from Vietnam says, “Do you smell something?” Soon I realized that smell, one of the worst food aromas ever torturing my nose like hell: the famous Stinky Tofu. Really you can smell it from 5 meters far or maybe it just because so many people were enjoying the tofu like it wasn’t smelly at all!
So I gave up. I didn’t have the gut to taste it, thus I can’t describe how it tastes. Sorry to disappoint you.
Shaved Ice Cream for Dessert
Taipei is known for its shaved ice cream, which is now one of the most popular desserts in Jakarta as well. There was an ice cream store near the hotel has a long queue of customers when we’re passing. But since I don’t have sweet-tooth, trying Taiwanese shaved ice cream was not on my check list.
After walking around Shilin Night Market, Tony my colleague from Vietnam asked us to have dessert there. So we went to an ice cream store inside the night market and had two ice creams: chocolate and mango, we shared the ice cream for three of us.
The shaved ice cream was so fine, and I believed it’s finer than snow. I love how they melt on my tongue and leave the milky taste infused with the ice. And oh, the mango was so sweet and fresh! It was a perfect way to end my culinary experience at Shilin Night Market.
Stinky Tofu image taken from Bon Appetit.