Taiwan's Night Markets - Getting a taste in DC
When someone mentions Taiwan, the first thing that comes to mind for me are its popular night markets. Images of street stalls as far as you can see, tons of people, high energy, and of course snacks and foods that you should stuff yourself with! The Taiwanese night markets are truly a part of the culture and way of life in the country.
I dream of visiting the real deal someday, but for now I jumped at the chance to get a taste of these popular markets at the Smithsonian Associates event last week. While this one was just a tad smaller (understatement -hah!) than any of the markets in Taiwan, it was just as packed with delicious snacks, lanterns and the energy of actually being there.
Greeting us right as we entered the aisle where a number of vendors were set up was the stinky tofu stand, a stalwart in any Taiwanese night market. Since I hadn’t tried this before, I was a bit apprehensive. But I dove right in to the fried tofu which came with a pickled cabbage and some sort of hot sauce. It definitely had a slightly funky flavor, but nothing more than a soft aged cheese. I quite enjoyed it! Whether you love it or hate it, you can’t go a Taiwan night market and not try the stinky tofu!
The Taiwanese fried chicken was one of my favorites. Bite- sized portions of salt and pepper fried chicken with a dusting of basil, this was juicy, crispy, salty, and just overall delicious. I can imagine myself walking through the streets of the market with one of these in hand. Perfect drinking food too.
As I was walking around deciding what to eat next (this will probably be the biggest challenge at any night market!), I spotted some ”Taiwan style potstickers”. They were filled with minced pork and some vegetables and were lightly pan fried for a bit of crispiness but some softness from the dough retained as well. I could easily have eaten a dozen of these.
I also learned that night markets all generally began the same way – a group of vendors would basically get together and set up shop near the entrance to a temple so that they could sell their goodies to hungry worshippers and students. Now there are dozens of night markets in Taiwan and many of them have hundreds of vendors!
I had a blast walking through and sampling all the snacks. After wolfing down an egg tart, some scallion pancakes, and fried shrimp I was convinced that I need to get out to Taiwan and experience (and eat) everything at the markets there! Some of the popular ones I have heard about are the Shilin Night Market and the Raohe market. Have you been to any?
As the night came to an end, I sipped on my bubble tea (another must although it’s not really my favorite) and started looking up flights to Taiwan….
Note: This story is sponsored by the Taiwan Tourism Bureau , but all opinions are my own.