Friday, November 24, 2006

night market: i strongly recommend SHIH LIN NIGHT MARKET

Between end of Wenlin Rd., Jihe Rd. and Zhongshan N. Rd.
(near the movie theaters)

MRT: Jian Tan


afternoon to 2-3am


date reviewed: 11/24/2006

Back in the 90s when I used to be a visitor rather than a part time resident of Taipei, I would always make sure to visit Shih Lin night market sometime during my trip. There is so much to see, eat, shop- you could spend all night fighting the crowds on a busy weekend night and not even cover half of it. One of the most popular destinations to buy souvenirs and bargain for goodies and eat everything and anything- it can also be a great people-watching spot as you'll find everyone there- students, families, couples, tourists.

A few years ago, they moved the main eating area to a enclosed space near the MRT Jian Tan exit, but disjointed from the main part of the night market. If you are looking for stinky tofu, oyster omelette, giant slabs of fried chicken or sausages wrapped in sticky rice sausages (YUM!!)- head over there (and I'll return to review another day!)

But you can also find lots of cheap good eats inside the main section of the night market- specifically the side near the movie theaters where there is a cluster of stands and shops, which is where we went on this night.

One of my favorite snacks is the pan fried dumplings (NT$10)- first steamed in this giant pot and then the bottom is fried to a delicious crispness. I think that the prices are the same as when I first ate them almost 10 years ago!

pork and green onion filling

There are about 3-4 bao places- they are all pretty good, but there is one located next to the shaved ice place that usually has a line which is my favorite. The bao is almost too hot to hold and thankfully it's too big to eat in one bite so you can enjoy all the bites after the first. The skin is thicker than xiao long bao, with a steamed doughy texture accompanied by the crispy bottom. The ground pork is tender and juicy, so watch out for the juices dripping down your chin or to your shirt!

Jien bao or pan fried dumplings. Buy 10 get 1 free!

NT$10 for one??!?!?! YUM!

I love shaved ice. I rarely find good shaved ice at the malls- instead you find it at the night market with the whirring machines and big blocks of ice and larger selection of toppings. They were out of some of my favorite toppings (rice mochi balls) so I opted for a red bean with evaporated milk (NT$40) and my cousin had green bean with evaporated milk (NT$40).

Hong doh/lyu doh bing or red bean/green bean ice

When it was brought to our table, I was pleasantly surprised at how huge it was!! It's definitely enough to share with a few people and yes, it's just ice, but you'd be surprised the varying sizes of shaved ice you'll get for the same price at different places.

There's something about the crunchy ice and the mushy beans and the overly sweet milk that combines into a irresistible treat. The ice here is shaved the way that I like- not too fine and not too coarse. Some places have shaved ice that seem like you are eating the ice from your soda, and some have powdery ice that melts too quickly- this one falls somewhere in between.

They also have aiyu bing or lemon jelly ice, with boba and extra lemon juice (NT$40). It's more soupy than like shaved ice and the extra lemon gives it an extra sour punch.

You just wander around and navigate the crowds to find what you like. Since there's not a lot of English signs, but everything is on display, you can usually get by with just pointing and finger signs if you don't speak fluent Chinese. There's also lots of food on sticks, fruits, sausages, noodles, roasted corn and even a stand offering wraps made with freshly made naan and Indian flavored chicken, beef and lamb kabobs.


As the biggest night market in Taipei, it is PACKED on weekends, sometimes you can barely squeeze through the aisles through the people. But it's also a great place to go if you want to hang out- it's open late sometimes until 1am - 2am (but remember to head out earlier if you need to catch the MRT). Some shops have a place to sit, but most of the stands in this area you eat and walk. If you need to sit down, head over towards the enclosed area. If you want to avoid the crowd, go during the day, on a weekday or earlier in the evening. Just exit the Jian Tan/Chien Tan MRT exit and look for the crowds- or ask the taxi driver to take you to "Shih Lin yeh sih." (yeh sih= night market!) If you only have a few days in Taipei, definitely try and save one night to check it out!


Chubbypanda said...

Oooooh. I used to go there all the freaking time. I miss the food so much. You can't get a good oo a jen anywhere in the states.

- Chubbypanda

Jean said...

those dumplings are my absolute FAVORITE.

(and in this case the oil/juice from inside got all over my pants!)

Anonymous said...

ya everyone loves shilin yeshi..good to take a visiting friend to too. so many people.

Anonymous said...

There are actually two Shenjian bao vendors at Shihlin night market. The one you have pictured is what I consider the better of the two, and the optional spicy thick sauce you can pour on the bun makes the experience that much better!

But there's also one item you should try when you go there, and that's the wujiao beng or pepper bun. Imagine a shenjian bao but inside is peppery and has a few more ingredients. To get there, get off the MRT from Jiantan, walk across into the mouth/entrance of Shihlin Night Market (where there are shops and stalls on both sides, the part where it is closed to cars during afternoons/evenings), go straight until you see a sports shoe store on your left, then turn left. The stall selling wujiaobeng is to your left in big sign (it will say original wujiaobeng in yellow and black, if I am not mistaken). These guys opened up a branch in Taipei near Mitsukoshi. I highly highly recommend getting it at Shihlin first though.

jamesyshih said...

I would recommend trying to go to ShiLin night mkt (JianTan MRT station exit 1) on the weeknights or afternoons (you'll be surprised how much is opened around 4pm). The reason being, it gets PACKED. I live near the night market, and honestly Friday and Sat. nights get ridiculous. Unless you really want to get that "people mountain people sea" night market feeling, try to plan for an early dinner.

Anonymous said...

The jian bao were introduced to me by my wife. She said that these were excellent and probably better than 90 percent of other places in Taiwan. Visiting Kao Hsiung's night market, I found that to be quite true.
I would really love to see what you think is the best stinky tofu place.

Jeff C

gaga said...

Aaah, this is seriously my favorite place on earth! I still haven't found a decent place for oyster pancakes here in the states. *sigh*

Anonymous said...

I love your blog. THANK YOU THANK YOU for creating this blog of love in English. Food is love and LOVE IS LOVE. whatever!

Keep it up! I'll fwd this blog to my friends - so they know where to go eat.

Sincerely, Alaster

joanh said...

alaster/gaga- thanks! and thanks for reading!