Everybody knows Shilin, or Raohe, or even Ningxia, but few know of this night market, Nanjichang. Actually, if you ask any native and they’re sure to recognize it, but it’s remained obscure to many tourists. If for some reason this post blows up, I’m sorry for exposing your hidden gem, Taipei.
Nanjichang is probably the toughest contender for the best night market in Taipei, probably in Taiwan. Everything they have is delicious. There is not one thing that you will think is sub-par. At their worst, the food is at least comparable to the food at other night markets. At their best, it far surpasses other night markets. The huge lines at most stalls are a testament to that.
First, let’s discuss getting there. The easiest way is to take the blue like to Longshan temple 龍山寺站 and walking from there. If you’d rather take the green line, you can get off at Xiaonanmen 小南門站. After that, follow Google’s directions to get to the night market, otherwise, you’ll get a little lost. Once you’re there, dig in!
1. Fried Oyster Patty | 好佳蚵嗲
While researching some things to try at this night market, somebody recommended I try the 蚵嗲 or fried oyster patty. I’ve had pretty good oyster omelets, so I was excited to try this. It’s filled with oyster and 韭菜 or Chinese chives. The outer shell is fried to crispy perfection and topped with a savory sauce. This stall doesn’t have the greatest reviews, but don’t let that stop you from trying the 蚵嗲.
2. Chicken Cutlet | 好吃雞排
Chicken cutlets are some of my favorite snacks or 小吃 in Taiwan so of course, I had to try this place, especially when it’s named tasty chicken cutlet. The size of the cutlet is pretty sizeable and well worth the money. It’s not the best I’ve had, but it’s large, tastes really good, and is cheap. Those are three qualities you can’t beat.
3. Dumplings | 來來水餃
People say, if you’re going to Nanjichang, you have to go to 來來水餃 or come-come dumplings. The people there that night must have taken that to heart because there was a crowd of people waiting for a seat. What lailai serve, as their name suggests, is dumplings. You can only order dumplings in sets of ten. People hyped this place up so much that it kinda fell short of expectations. It tastes very different from other dumplings I’ve had in Taiwan, and though not a bad thing, it’s not that great either. Don’t get me wrong, it was good, it just wasn’t as great as the people around me exclaimed. Maybe we got a bad batch, maybe I just can’t appreciate the taste. Regardless, I still recommend you go and check it out for yourself.
4. Flaky Pastries | Unnamed Stall
Lastly, we have this unknown stall. It’s actually a little hard tucked away in one of the corners, but you’ll notice the huge line of people waiting for it. What they offer is a long clay oven roll長燒餅, a savory, flaky pastry 鹹酥餅, and a sweet, flaky pastry甜酥餅. They’ve actually been awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand so you know they must be good. They’re mainly known for the 燒餅 so that’s what I got. It was a really simple, lightly salted flaky crust, enveloping some green onions or herbs. It was surprisingly delicious given how simple and delicate the taste was. I guess sometimes simple things are best. Definitely check it out!
Bonus: Guabao | 割包
Right at one of the entrances was a stall selling guabao. I visited this night market over a year after I first landed in Taiwan. I’m ashamed to admit it was the first time I tasted guabao. It felt as if I was living life blind, ignorant of this delicious Taiwanese treat. For those of you that haven’t had the pleasure of eating guabao, it’s heaven. It’s basically a red-stewed pork belly topped with cilantro, pickled mustard greens (酸菜), and peanuts or peanut sauce. I’m not sure if Nanjichang guabao is superior to other places, but it was difficult controlling myself not to instantly devour the whole thing.