Taiwan: What to eat in Taiwan's night markets

Calamari has long been the measure against which I judge restaurants. There are more reasonable ways, I’m sure, yet I can’t help but weep silently when someone drops off a plate of what might as well be rubber. So imagine my delight to find some of the best squid of recent memory waiting for me on a stick in the middle of a street.

Taiwan is famous for its night markets and rightfully so. The stalls cook up seriously tasty dishes of all things sweet, spicy and most definitely fried. We popped into three while in Taiwan and ate with a bit of reckless abandon at each, all in the name of trying new things of course. Along the way, we found a few new favourites that topped the list in a city where eating well is hard to avoid.

The Savoury

Fried Squid

Shilin Night Market, Taipei, Taiwan

It stuck out, quite literally, from the crowd. Next thing you knew, it was reheated (fried, naturally), chopped and handed over in a cup with a few wood skewers. It was crispy, salty and damn tasty.



Hanxi Night Market, Taichung, Taiwan

Feng Chia Night Market may be the big one in Taichung, but we made our way over to Hanxi to indulge. The plan worked. Not soon after stepping in did we stumble upon a young vendor selling a quite fine serving of ceviche. Taichung is known as the testing ground for new night market foods and we’re hoping this one catches on - the fresh, sweet and slightly spicy fish was the perfect pair to a hot night out and a nice break from the fry fest.

Fried Crab

Keelung Miaokou Night Market, Keelung City, Taiwan

Taipei and Taichung each had some gems, but third time’s a charm over here with Keelung ranking as our favourite night market locale. Keeping in mind we’re picking between a series of knock outs. First up, these tiny crab, split, battered and deep friend were spicy little morsels that easily whetted our appetite for the night.


Pork Belly Sandwich

Keelung Miaokou Night Market, Keelung City, Taiwan

Still in Keelung, this sandwich offered up a near sickeningly sweet pork belly in a warm bun, crisped up in pork fat. Already primed to be a fan favourite, the crispy/chewy balance was made even better by the vendor’s ask - what you like that spicy? He didn’t disappoint.


The Sweet

Deep Fried Milk

Shilin Night Market, Taipei Taiwan

This was not something I expected to ever need or even want for that matter. Yet here I am more than a week later reenacting in my head that first bite into the creamy, warm center of what might be the guiltiest purchase of the night.  


Fish-Shaped Cakes

Hanxi Night Market, Taichung, Taiwan

A sucker for things small and cute, I might as well have walked up to this little truck with a bullseye on my head. I quickly scooped up a batch of these chocolate-stuffed fish to tuck into while still warm and, rather “responsibly,” saved a few to add to breakfast the following morning.


Glazed Cherry Tomatoes

Keelung Miaokou Night Market, Keelung City, Taiwan

Glazed fruit is readily found across the night markets and the skewers of beaming red tomatoes manage to attract your attention at every pass. Stuffed with a bit of plum and heavily coated with a sweet, hard glaze, these gems were a surprising treat. As you bite into a hard candy shell, you’re soon met with the familiar savouriy-sweet tomato flavour when the still raw fruit bursts in your mouth.


Cotton Candy

Shilin Night Market, Taipei Taiwan

I’m not going to sit here and pretend this is a delicacy, not by any stretch. It’s a cotton candy duck. It was glorious. It was glorious to watch be created. And it continued its glory well past the point of melting all over my hand, arm and so on. Glorious.


The Drinks

Lemon Aiyu Jelly Juice

Shilin Night Market, Taipei Taiwan

Look for the stand with a frog on the sign and you’ll find not frog, but a vat full of jelly and juice. It’s sweet, but not too sweet, ice cold and exactly what you need to wash down the spice as the ambient temperature sky rockets. Grab one on the way in, you won’t regret it.