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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Shilin Night Market 士林夜市 @ Taiwan

Introducing Shilin Night Market (or better known as 士林夜市), one of Taiwan's largest and most popular tourist spot and which I guarantee is on 99% of anyone's Taipei itinerary. Besides boasting well-known Taiwanese snacks such as chicken cutlet, oyster omelette and beef noodles (just to name some, or for the adventurous - stinky tofu and pig's blood), it also serves as a late night shopping haven for locals and tourists alike.

Directions to Shilin Night Market

1. From Jiantan MRT station, walk towards JiHe road. Try looking for a cross-road junction (ref above). Do note that the night market is NOT located at Shilin Station, which is one stop away from Jiantan.

Shilin (WenLin Road)

This is the main entrance to Shilin Night Market, usually crowded with locals and tourists taking a picture of themselves together with the neon signboard. It gets really crowded on Friday nights and weekends and if you do not want to end up like sardines in a tin, opt to visit at a weekday instead.

One does not simply miss the prominent 士林豪大大雞排 (fried chicken cutlet) shop located just beside the main entrance and for lucky Singaporeans, there are currently 2 branches locally, located at Ion Orchard and Nex.

For NT$55 a piece, you get to enjoy a piece of fried chicket cutlet as huge as a person's face.

It was slightly oily but not exactly greasy. I wished that the layer of batter was thinner though, nevertheless this is much better than the ones you can get from Singapore. Here's an up-close shot of that sinful goodness:

I do recommend this particular restaurant, which specializes in oyster omelette. It is located at the end of JiHe Road.

Keelung Tempura  甜不辣 (NT$50, translated directly as "sweet, not spicy"), which is different from the Japanese version is actually fried fish paste, usually served with slices of crunchy pickled cucumber and sweet sauce.

And of course, their well-known oyster omelette 蚵仔煎 (NT$50) which comes with a great deal of oyster and topped with sweet and spicy sauce. For me, I don't usually eat oyster omelette in Singapore, but since I was at its birthplace, I knew I got to try it out. The verdict? Delicious.

Another part of the night market is nestled at the basement and is especially popular and crowded with tourists, as most of the street snacks are housed within the roofed area. Most of the stall owners tout their specialities as you walk pass by the food stalls, but do continue to look around and compare. Usually for newbies like me, I either research online beforehand or look for long queues (Singapore kiasu spirit, if you know what I mean).

One of the must-try is 大腸包小腸 (NT$50). It resembles an American hotdog bun, just that it is replaced with a Taiwanese sausage and crunchy veg wrapped between glutinous rice "sausage" (bun, rather).

You can never get 2 soft shell crab for the price of NT$100 in Singapore. As a crab lover, Peiyi raves about it, while it tasted only pretty decent for me. But again, it is still darn cheap.

Oyster Mian Xian (NT$60) as another highly acclaimed dish but where I ate it, the broth and noodles are fine, however the oyster standard is sub-par.

Similarly to 大腸包小腸, Da Bing Bao Xiao Bing 大餅包小餅 (NT$30) is a crunchy and crispy bun wrapped in a popiah skin. The fillings do come in different flavours such as taro, mung beans and peanuts. I had mine with red beans crisp, which proves to be a nice choice.

Feeling thirsty? Why not try out their honey bittergourd juice (NT$50)? Peiyi was skeptical at first, but grew to like it with every single sip. The fruit, similar to bittergourd but pale yellow in colour, is sweet with little traces of bitterness and leaves your tongue slightly dry after. Interesting eh?

The above are only a fraction of the food Shilin has to offer, hence it is highly recommended to grab a few friends and start a gastronomic trip right here at Shilin. Good food are meant to be shared, isn't it?