3 must-eats at Taipei's Tonghua night market

3 must-eats at Taipei's Tonghua night market
PHOTO: The China Post/Asia News Network

Night markets are a beautiful, vibrant part of this island's cultural fabric.

Every day at nightfall, food stalls open for business across the country, from Keelung to Kenting.

Whenever you're looking for something to do in the city, visiting a night market and feasting on the seemingly infinite choices of food is always an option - and often at the top of the list.

Linchiang Street Night Market, better known as Tonghua Night Market, is made up of two intersecting streets. It's much smaller than the likes of the bustling Shilin and Raohe Street night markets, but here you can find all the typical night market fare - and it is much less crowded.

While loved by locals, Tonghua is also popular with tourists, as it's less than 5 minutes' drive from 101.

Tourism development has sometimes seen the soul stripped away from places like this. Shilin Night Market, for one, just isn't the place I remember from my childhood.

But there are some night markets out there that my Taiwanese friends and I still love and that have retained a sense of community, as evidenced by the old favourite stalls that have withstood the test of time.

For me, Tonghua, Nanjichang and Ningxia are a few of the night markets that have held on to that magic.

1. Shanghai-style Pan-fried Buns

You'll see this stall as soon as you enter the Keelung Road entrance.

This popular pan-fried steamed bun and pot sticker stall has cemented itself as a solid staple here, after over 20 years in business.

With a taste arguably better than its posh, sit-down restaurant counterpart Kao Chi, its price is unbeatable, with five buns costing only NT$50.

2. Kou Xuan Pin Stinky Tofu

Stinky tofu has an appalling reputation. The idea of fermented stinky tofu, pig intestines and duck blood might be overwhelming to some, but most Taiwanese grew up with this stuff. The broth is smooth and silky, warming you up almost immediately.

Although I prefer it to be spicier, Kou Xuan Pin's stinky tofu hot pot is a great choice if you're looking for a classic steamed stinky tofu. This is a taste you will miss.

But for those that like fried stinky tofu paired with sweet-and-sour Taiwanese-style kimchi, I recommend the Bite-sized Stinky Tofu stall a stone's throw away.

3. Traditional Taiwanese Sweets

Tonghua Night Market might be small, but there's no lack of traditional desserts that are distinctly part of Taiwanese food culture.

Among the most well known is the Jiufen Giant Taro Balls stall in the middle of the night market's main street - look for the owner with his trademark white towel wrapped around his head. One bowl with a choice of any four toppings is NT$45.

If you're a fan of chewy textures, Tonghua may be paradise for you: Nearby there's also the famous Ice in Wonderland, which sees a perpetual line waiting for their hot and cold aiyu and grass jelly offerings.

So you've tried hot rice dumplings and shaved ice, but have you had them together? One of the hottest spots in town this past month has been Yu Ping Yuan's Ice-Hot Rice Dumplings.

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