WEI JIE HEART TAPIOCA 魏姐包心粉圓
at LUO DONG NIGHT MARKET 羅東夜市
at Chongcheng Rd. and Xindong Rd.
Kid friendliness: kids will love the shaved ice and other street snacks
Visit reviewed: 8/19/2014
Previous review: 10/2011
If you try one thing at the Luo Dong Night Market, try this dessert- tapioca pearls stuffed with red beans next to scoops of shaved ice coated in honey and condensed milk (NT$40). It's the one thing that I remembered eating in Yilan years ago and the one thing I wanted to get when I came back again. SO GOOD!
Each glistening tapioca pearl is slightly more oversized than you'd usually get in your boba milk tea, about the size of a marble, and wrapped around a red bean in the center. The name bao xing fen yuan for this type of tapioca pearl in Chinese is so fitting since the word 包 (bao) means package or bundle and 心 (xing) means heart and so each one has a red bean heart bundled inside.
The funny thing is that I prefer the shop that I first had it from- the purple signed Wei Jie Heart Tapioca (or Wei Jie Bao Xin Fen Yuan)- but now there's a competing pink signed franchise, started by Wei Jie's founder's ex-husband. They even have shops right next to each other at the Luo Dong Night Market, as well as sit down shops throughout the streets around the night market. I must have passed by two or three on the way into the night market as well as when we walked out the other direction.
The boba/shaved ice combinations at Wei Jie are more simple, which is what I prefer, while Jing Yuan Ji (晶圆极) has different colored tofu pudding, flavors and combinations that seemed almost too much compared to the simpler combination of the creamy shaved ice, honey, condensed milk and chewy bao xin tapioca pearls.
Another great dessert pick at Luo Dong is the peanut ice cream wrap (burrito!)(NT$35) near the front of the night market. You could totally miss it, but my radar for it zoomed in on the block of peanut brittle.
Deliciousness for only NT$35!!! If you've missed my previous posts about this, they basically take fresh shavings of the mega block of peanut candy and layer that with three scoops of ice cream (taro and pineapple in this case) and the optional cilantro. I totally recommend getting it with the cilantro, but you can choose to leave it out if you are not adventurous. It's wrapped up like a burrito and it's ready to eat on the go.
The last thing I tried that day for was stinky tofu french fries (for the first time!) It's pretty brilliant since stinky tofu isn't the easiest thing to eat and walk at the same time, with the juices dripping out. This way it's finger food and easier to share. The weird thing about this stall though is that you have to choose a flavor, as if stinky tofu wasn't a strong enough flavor on its own. I think some of the flavors included cheese or plum powder or thai sweet and sour sauce, which is what I think I ended up getting if something didn't get lost in translation.
I haven't seen stinky tofu fries in Taipei yet, but I'm sure it's somewhere or will make its way here eventually.
Luo Dong Night Market is about an hour away from Taipei, and really huge, sprawling over different streets. And as you can see from the photos, it's also open during the day- we ate up a storm after lunch. It's a good alternative to those who've already tried the more famous Keelung Night Market which is only one long walkway. Luo Dong is an awesome night market for those wanting to explore outside of the city- you can make it a day trip by visiting the Lanyang Museum in Yilan or making a reservation for Cherry Valley duck at Silks Place.