Friday night, my friend Justin and I decided to have a walking dinner at the Raohe Street Night Market (饒河街觀光夜市) in Songshan. It's an easy walk from Xinyi, the neighborhood where I'm staying in Taipei. In fact, during my daily wandering around the neighborhood, I had run across it in the daytime on my way to the river, which is just north of the market street. It didn't look like much during the day, because all the booths and shops are closed down, but at night it turns into a pretty exciting stretch to walk through if you're hungry for food or looking for neat shops to browse through. If you want to shop for clothes, Wufenpu is a huge clothing market in the same area.
The market itself stretches down one street, with the very pretty Ciyou temple at one end.
We passed through handily-marked gates (at both ends of the street), which in most American cities would indicate where a Chinatown starts. In Taiwan, it's to show you where the night market starts.
Right away Justin pointed out a really popular vendor selling hujiao bing (marinated pork in a flaky crust). I've waited in enough lines in San Francisco, so we passed by the 10-15 people queueing there and made our way down the street, when I couldn't stand passing by so much amazing food -- the smells were making my stomach growl! I'm not sure anymore what exactly we were looking for, but I got a pork sausage to take the edge off my hunger.
We passed by a few stinky tofu stands, but they either didn't smell stinky enough (a very important measure of how good it's going to be) or they were completely mobbed by other people. Eventually we found a stall that had a bunch of extra seating inside of the old Songshan market, and we settled in on our rickety stools for some really Taiwanese delicacies.
I have to admit, I'm not really a fan of this Taiwanese dish. I don't think my parents particularly like it either, so I also wasn't introduced to oyster omelettes as a kid. There's a little too much gooey starch mixed in with a gooey egg and some gooey oysters. I'm not squeamish about the texture, but combined with the sweet sauce, it's not particularly appetizing.
On the other hand, I've been eating stinky tofu forever. I remember as a little kid visiting my grandparents in Taipei, my parents put me in some sort of kindergarden/daycare for a few days, and when the stinky tofu man would come by in his cart, the teacher would order some and share it with all of kids. Up until this point, I've always eaten stinky tofu fried with kim chi and other pickled vegetables. It's hot and crunchy and spicy. This time though, I was introduced to stinky tofu in soup.
Giant fried chicken
Yakult lemon bubble tea