Night markets were some of our favorite places in Taiwan. Everywhere you go, every city we went to, there was a night market. Big cities often had multiple night markets. Some are bigger, some are smaller, but all had one thing in common: amazing street food!
Instead of writing about individual night markets in each city, we thought it would be more comprehensive and less repetitive to combine them all together. Plus street food in the night markets of Taiwan deserves its own special post. Most of the food below comes from three of the biggest night markets in all of Taiwan: Shilin Night Market in Taipei, Liuhe Night Market in Kaohsiung, and Fengjia Night Market in Taichung.
Besides the food, the night market atmosphere is an experience in and of itself. We would walk for hours in a seemingly endless sea of stalls and people. There was so much to see, smell, taste, and in general overwhelm your senses.
One of the most popular street foods in night markets was cuttlefish balls on skewers. While a bit oily, they were crispy and tasty. I also liked how they were a tad spicy. Can’t go wrong with these!
Carlos was dying to try some grilled squid, which we saw in every night market. Some vendors sell huge squids that could probably be enough for a meal by itself. We tried a small one, freshly grilled and cut into small pieces on the spot.
My favourite seafood street food was probably the deep fried small crabs. They were not particularly meaty, but I don’t mind eating the shells – that’s where all the flavour is! I liked the deliciously crunchy bites.
Tianbula, literally “sweet not spicy,” is a Taiwanese small eats classic. It’s actually made out of deep fried fish paste, like a tempura. The sauce that came with it made it, well… sweet but not spicy.
Taiwanese sausages were juicy and yummy, the perfect street food snack. It was a bit salty and a bit sweet, and of course, always cooked fresh on the spot, hot off the grill.
A twist on the Taiwanese sausage was the “small sausage inside the big sausage” or Taiwanese sausage with sticky rice. The “big sausage” is actually sticky rice slit open with a regular sausage on the inside, similar to a hot dog. It sounds a bit odd, but it tastes pretty good.
When we were really hungry, we would opt for a large chunk of chicken fillet. They came in a variety flavours – spicy, BBQ, whatever you want. Freshly breaded and deep fried when you order, the chicken fillets were always tender.
I’m a sucker for cute desserts, and we saw some street vendors selling the cutest fish waffles with chocolate filling, so we had to try it out. They were pretty good! It was also really interesting to see how they make it with fish-shaped waffle molds, but I’m sure it’s harder than it looks and takes a lot of dexterity and practice.
Ice cream was the most common type of dessert throughout night markets in Taiwan. Some vendors offered something special to stand out from the competition. For example, one vendor sold super tall cones – that definitely caught our eye.
Another vendor sold ice cream in U-shaped corn cones, which I had never seen before. The U-shaped cones allowed two different flavours of ice cream, one on each side. It was a bit too much ice cream for me, but I loved the unique cone!
Night markets were one of the main reasons why I ate so much in Taiwan – and I don’t regret a single bite! Street foods were some of the best out of all the amazing food and are must tries. You’re bound of find something you like in the diverse stalls or markets.
For more pictures of street food and night markets, please visit the gallery!