Raohe Night Market (饒河夜市)
Raohe St., Songshan Dist., Taipei City 105 (Near Songshan MRT)
If you ever visit Taipei, you’ll definitely want to put “visit a night market” on your to-do list. If you’ve never been to one before, most will recommend checking out the Shilin Night Market (士林夜市) as it’s the largest and most famous night market in Taipei.
While I think Shilin is great, most locals have actually told me that they avoid the Shilin Night Market now because it’s too crowded – for locals, night markets are simply a place where you dip in and dip out for your favourite Taiwanese cravings but the crowds in Shilin are now way too insane (and drunk) for that.
In my opinion, a strong number two market to check out is the Raohe Night Market. While still popular and incredibly busy, it preserves the charms of a traditional Night Market with a mostly a local crowd, offers a great variety of food and crafts without the shyster game stands found in Shilin and offers a chance to visit one of the oldest night markets in Taipei.
What is a Taiwanese night market anyway?
A night market is a place where many businesses go to set up “mom-and-pop” type, clothing, entertainment, and small vendor shops, but the real draw of night markets is the atmosphere of people gathering and a between or late, meal snacking cultural element, called xiaoye (宵夜) in Chinese. Great food at night markets serves as a reason for friends and people young and old to hang out together. Most night markets usually cater to neighbourhood / district customers, but to draw additional people from other parts of the city or country, many spots offer items or foods unique to their particular market. The pork pepper buns at Raohe, for example, are considered to be a Raohe Night Market speciality.
Foods to definitely check out:
The Pork Pepper Buns (胡椒饼) from Fuzhou Shi Zu Pepper Buns (福州世祖胡椒饼):
These buns are cooked in a type of tandoor oven. They come out super crispy – the pork inside the bun is beautifully seasoned and comes out slightly soupy with a good hit of chives and pepper. One bite and you’re know why this item is famous at Raohe.
Stinky Tofu from Xia Gang Stinky Tofu (下港名彭臭豆腐):
I’m a big fan of stinky tofu, but only the best kinds – and by best kinds I mean the absolute STINKIEST. The Hong Kong versions don’t cut it for me. There were several stinky tofu shops in Raohe, but I knew right when I walked by Xia Gang Stinky Tofu that this was the shop to buy from. Seriously, when I smelt it, it sent me reeling backwards. That’s a really good sign. If you like strong cheeses, durian, fermented foods, then you might also enjoy stinky tofu – if it’s your first time eating this, I’m going to warn you, brace yourself. It’s truly stinky!
Pork Ribs from Chen Dong Pork Ribs Medical Herbs Soup (陳董藥燉排骨):
Even listed in the Michelin Guide, this pork ribs soup is no joke. People love it because it tastes healthy and also offers a strong, warm, Chinese herbal hit with delicious pork ribs. Many of my Singaporean friends say the taste reminds them a lot of Singapore’s Bah Kut Teh. The mutton version of their soup and the lu rou fan or braised pork rice (滷肉飯) is definitely worth checking out as well.
Clothing Shopping Outlet Wufenpu (五分埔): a popular outlet to pick up some great, youth-inspired fashion bargains.