Shida Night Market

January 9, 2011 § 5 Comments

Yesterday saw a night out on the town with A’s colleagues. I decided before we stepped out that I would experiment with Taiwanese speciality foods, because it’s not everyday that we have a group of Taiwanese friends guiding us through the market and explaining to stall owners that we do not consume certain animal products.

The Shida Night Market is positioned close to my Chinese school, yet we had not been there previously. Taipei has many night markets, which often stay open until the early hours of the morning. As soon as we walked out of the MRT station, we were in the midst of crowds of youth, many of whom probably attend the National Taiwan Normal (don’t ask) University close by. Our group of 7 managed to keep together through this:

The market hosts a range of stalls and stores. There are many xiaochi (small eat) stalls, jewellery stores, fresh fruit and fruit juice stalls, clothing stores and even a stationery store. Our first stop was a famous Crepe stall. This was not the conventional type of French crêpe that I am more familiar with, but a more firm “crêpe” which is rolled into a cone and stuffed with sweet or savoury fillings of your choice.  The menu was in Chinese, so we asked his colleagues to order what they felt was fitting for first-timers. We were presented with this a few minutes later:

It was HUGE! This picture does not to justice to the size of this monstrosity. The fruits inside were really fresh and juicy. The ice-cream was so-so and the crêpe was not very crêpe like, but is tasted pleasant nonetheless. The fresh cream was slightly sweetened and it went very well with the crêpe and fruits. I was happy we got to sample this baby.

I was not as happy to sample one of these poor excuses for food:

I mentioned to one fo the girls that I had not tasted Stinky Tofu as yet. She immediately rounded up the troops and directed us into a little alley leading to a busy restaurant. My suspicion that the horrid smell on the road of our hotel a few weeks back was in fact the Stinky Tofu, was confirmed. Once the fried tofu arrived, the girls casually picked up their chopsticks and began to dig in, one by one. I followed suit soon afterwards. If they swallowed one after the other with such ease, it couldn’t be so bad, right? WRONG! I broke my block in half and bit into it. The texture was similar to halloumi – not bad at all. It was also crunchy on the outside because it was deep-fried. It was fine, until I started to taste the smell (if that makes any sense). It’s almost as though the stinkyness of the Tofu comes into the taste at some stage while you’re chewing it – hard to explain. A managed to snap a picture of my expression while I was biting on it. I did not know that my face could look that ugly. No, I will not share. At least I didn’t almost throw up, like he did. Luckily his colleagues mistook his almost throwing up for almost crying. I don’t know which is worse.

We ventured back into the market after the tofu experience. I bought some hand cream which costed much less than it would in a regular chain store. The girls mentioned that if you buy products in a store (no matter the size), they are generally originals, but we should be wary of what the street vendors sell.

Once our stomachs had settled from the half-a-tofu we each consumed, we braved ourselves through the doors of another little restaurant. This time, we sampled a stew of mixed vegetables, which is supposed to be similar to Hot Pot (another Chinese speciality). I think A‘s colleagues were set out to feed us something more appetising than the ‘Tofu. This dish did not disappoint.

It is pretty much made up of a hot water with spices and herbs, into which fresh vegetables are dipped. Very simple, yet very delicious. The vegetables were mostly local favourites, such as a variety of mushrooms and baicai (Chinese cabbage). Even though it was hen la (very spicy), I probably ate more than anyone else on our table. The restaurant did not serve any cold drinks, so we went to the 7/11 down the block and got some drinks to sooth our taste buds. I had a papaya milk drink . It was perfect.

 

 After much deliberation about where to visit next, we settled to go to a tea emporium close to our home. I will write about that in my next post.

How to get to Shida Night Market: Take the MRT to the Taipower Station stop and then just follow the crowd. You will find it 🙂 If you’re still battling, walk down Luosifu Road in the direction of Guting MRT station and turn left onto Shida Road.

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