March 26, 2016

My 12 favorite places to eat in Shida Night Market (plus 12 honorable mentions)

Note: I currently live in Norway, but I lived in Taipei from August 2014 to June 2015 and am slowly making my way through writing posts about my time there.

Click to enlarge!

UPDATE (5/12/16): A reminder about Shida Night Market and all night markets in general: YOU SHOULD VISIT NIGHT MARKETS AT NIGHT. Most night market businesses don't open until the late afternoon to night. Some are open for lunch. Very few places do business in the morning. To the best of my ability, I've included the opening hours of the businesses below so you're not met with a closed food stand or restaurant.

UPDATE (4/12/16): A few places have moved or left the night market since I was in Taiwan:

Moved: Ho Ho Mei, Hsu Ji Shen Jian Bao
Left: Yu Ban Bu Neng Salty Water Chicken
Closed: Niu Lao Da on Lane 105, Shida Rd

The map has been updated with the new locations.

END UPDATE

My retirement dream is to live by a Taiwanese night market where I can squeeze out my terminal breaths eating at cheap food stands and restaurants every day. (Quick message for my unborn children: If that dream doesn't pan out, my other retirement dream is to live near you, assuming you're cool and you like me yeah that'd be dope.) I know this is a solid retirement plan because I've already lived it, minus the part where I'm squeezing out my terminal breaths.

Shida Night Market
Shida Night Market on a Saturday night.

For ten months between 2014 and 2015, I lived down the street from Shida Night Market, or Shīdà yèshì (師大夜市). It was awesome, even if it's not particularly famous for food. Where other night markets are lined with food carts, the main drag of Shida Night Market, Longquan Street, is full of trendy clothing and accessories stores. (I've read that years ago the night market was considerably larger and had more food stands, but new rezoning laws pushed out many of the former food businesses.) If you're a tourist aiming to check off all the Taiwanese street food staples, you're better off checking out Shilin, Raohe, Tonghua, or Ningxia, among other night markets I have yet to try. Check out other recommendations here, here, and here. Shida Night Market may not be impressive compared to more famous night markets, but it has plenty of restaurants and food stalls scattered in between the non-food shops, as well as a few "blocks" dedicated to food stands. If you go to school or live near Shida, the night market is a great place to grab lunch or dinner on a regular basis.

Here are some of my favorite places to eat in Shida Night Market. Have other favorites? Leave your recommendations in the comments!

Full List of Venues / Table of Contents

Favorites:
Honorable Mentions:

Notes About Chinese Translations and Other Stuff

Some of the places I list in this post only have Chinese names, some have Chinese and English names, and at least one stand only has an English name. I've written the English name if there is one on display, or the Chinese name in pinyin, or the Chinese name in Pinyin plus my attempt to translate it into English if I think it's relevant. If you want to find more information about any of these stands, google the Chinese name. Somewhere in the very vast world of Taiwanese food blogs is a post that can provide you with a bagillion more photos than I have here, plus loads of info...written in Chinese.

I've included Chinese characters for dish names plus the pronunciations in pinyin in italics.

My Chinese is elementary, as well as my knowledge of Chinese and Taiwanese food. If you notice mistakes with my translations or descriptions of food, please let me know in the comments. Thank you!

This post is based on my visits to the market between August 2014 and June 2015. Since then, businesses may have closed or moved, raised their prices, or changed their opening hours. I looked up opening hours through Facebook pages and blogs, but they may not be completely accurate. If I couldn't find opening hours, I just wrote down general times of day.

Venues are listed geographically from north to south. Address info may be found on the accompanying map.

Unless you want to feel like you're swimming in a sea of humans, the best time to visit Shida Night Market is on a non-Monday weekday night. Weekday crowds are totally fine. Mondays tend to be the day of rest for businesses, if they have one.

Li Ayi Shui Jian Bao / Aunt Lee's Shui Jian Bao (李阿姨水煎包)

李阿姨水煎包 (Aunt Lee Shuijian Bao)
Aunt Lee's Shui Jian Bao stand.
李阿姨水煎包 (Aunt Lee Shuijian Bao)
Shui jian bao innards.

Shuǐ jiān bāo (水煎包) is a kind of bun that's pan fried and steamed at the same time, ideally resulting in soft, fluffy buns with crispy, golden bottoms. It's the best of both bun worlds. This stand makes shui jian bao two ways: filled with a fat, juicy pork and chives meatball ("meat", ròu, 肉) or filled with chopped cabbage ("vegetable", cài, 菜). Each hefty bun—about baseball-sized, perhaps—costs just NT$13. One is a good snack, two is a small meal with room for dessert, and three is potentially too much food but you'll eat it all anyway because it tastes awesome.

Depending on how meat-hungry I was, I'd order either two meat and one veg, or two veg and one meat for dinner. (Unfortunately, the stand isn't open for lunch.) There's often a line of people waiting for the next fresh batch, but if you're lucky you'll pass by during a lull where no line stands between you and mega-cheap bao. Even if you're not hungry, you may as well buy one.

Opening hours: 4:30 p.m. - 11:30 p.m. but usually sell out of food before 11:30 p.m., closed one day a week as well as other random days

8anana Crêpe

8anana Crepe
8anana Crêpe stand.
8anana Crepe
Crepe menu.
8anana Crepe
Banana, honey, and custard crepe.
My ice cream banana stuff crepe
Ice cream-enhanced!

I've never been that into crepes—eating a crepe usually makes me wish I were eating a fat-ass pancake instead—but I guess I like them if they're overstuffed with bananas, Nutella, chocolate sauce, custard, honey, ice cream, and/or whipped cream. I think that means I want an ice cream sundae more than I want a crepe, but that it comes in a freshly made edible cone is a plus.

8anana Crepe
Hi, Xiangtai!

Another plus is this giant crepe display next to the stand, there for your novelty photo-taking pleasure.

Opening hours: Afternoon/night

Omelet Store (蛋幾ㄌㄟˇ蛋餅捲)

蛋幾ㄌㄟˇ蛋餅捲 (Omelet Store)
Omelet Store
蛋幾ㄌㄟˇ蛋餅捲 (Omelet Store)
Gonna eat it.
蛋幾ㄌㄟˇ蛋餅捲 (Omelet Store)
I ate it.

Omelet Store's specialty is dàn bǐng juǎn (蛋餅捲), a sort of flatbread and omelet combo rolled up with ham, bacon, corn, cabbage, and cheese in various combinations. I think of it as a Taiwanese night market breakfast burrito. The main downside is the wait, usually 10 to 20 minutes depending on the crowd, but it's a small price to pay for getting everything made to order. The best part is the freshly griddled flatbread that's sort of like a proto-scallion pancake—that is, without scallions or flaky layers. It's well crisped on the outside and has a slightly chewy texture.

蛋幾ㄌㄟˇ蛋餅捲 (Omelet Store) menu
Menu and random lady.

You can go light on the fillings, but I recommend going all the way with the dà zòng hé (大綜合; NT$60) filled with ham, cabbage, and cheese, or the dà zòng péi (大綜培; NT$65) filled with bacon, cabbage, and cheese.

Website: facebook.com/ShiDaYeShiOmeletDanBingJuanZhuanMaiDian
Opening hours: Monday to Friday, 12 p.m - 11 p.m.; Saturday, 3 p.m. - midnight; closed Sundays

Lan Jia Gua Bao (藍家割包)

Lan Jia Gua Bao
Lan Jia stand menu.
Lan Jia Gua Bao
Gua bao dude making a sandwich in like ten seconds.
Lan Jia Gua Bao
Pork awaits, beneath the vegetable matter.

Guà bāo (割包), aka one of the greatest of all sandwich-like objects, takes a humble soft-n-fluffy steamed bun and stuffs it with chunks of stewed pork belly, chopped pickled mustard greens, cilantro, and crushed peanuts. Lan Jia Gua Bao is famous for making the best gua bao in Taipei. Their restaurant in Gongguan is one of my favorite spots to bring out-of-towners for gua bao as well as great zong zi and si shen soup. On my own, though, I'd pop by their gua bao stand in Shida Night Market for a quick NT$50 dinner.

You get five choices for your gua bao based on how much lean or fatty pork you want. Like so:

綜合偏瘦: Zònghé piān shòu, mix with more lean meat
綜合偏肥: Zònghé piān féi, mix with more fatty meat
綜合(半肥半瘦): Zònghé (bàn féi bàn shòu), mix of half fatty, half lean (my usual order)
瘦肉: Shòu ròu, lean meat
肥肉: Féi ròu, fatty meat

Opening hours: Afternoon/night, closed Mondays

Ho Ho Mei (好好味港式小吃)

Update (4/12/16): This stand has moved to No. 19-1, Longquan Street and doesn't look the same as in my photos. The location on my map has been updated.

Hohomei
Line outside Ho Ho Mei.
Hohomei
Menu.
Bolo bao
OMG SO FRESH, SO WARM, FFFFffFFff [clenches teeth, restrains self from smushing face into display window]

Ho Ho Mei specializes in Hong Kong-style pineapple buns/bolo bao (bōluó bāo*, 菠蘿包) and tea drinks. If you don't know anything about pineapple buns, the first thing to know is that it's named so because the criss-cross pattern on its top crust vaguely resembles a pineapple as seen by a very nearsighted person looking at a pineapple a foot away, not because it tastes like pineapple, because it doesn't. This mildly sweet bun pairs pillowy soft, fluffy bread with a top sugar cookie-like layer that, after baking, coats the bun with a crumbly, sweet crust. My Hong Kong-based friend Joanne recommended Ho Ho Mei as the best place to get pineapple buns in Taipei, saying their version is even better than the stuff she gets in Hong Kong.

Bolo bao Bolo bao
OUR MASTER HAS ARRIVED: BUTTER SANDWICH.

You can get them plain (NT$30), but why would you do that when you can get a BUTTER-ENHANCED VERSION? This version, called bīng huǒ bōluó yóu* (冰火菠蘿油; NT$35), or bing huo for short, features a thick slice of cold salted butter tucked into its bisected bun-meats. It's basically a sweet and salty butter sandwich. If you don't think that sounds good then you can go back to the desolate, fat-free hell you came from just kidding. There's a reason that the mascot of the stand is a pineapple bun happily licking its chops as butter drips out of its severed head. It's the star of the show. It wants to be eaten. So put the brain-damaged mascot out of its misery. (There's also a cheese-filled version, but I never tried it. Someone tell me how it is.)

* Although I'm writing the Mandarin pronunciations because Mandarin is Taiwan's official language, in the US I'm more used to thinking of pineapple buns and other foods from Hong Kong, as well as Cantonese foods, by their Cantonese names. The stand acknowledges the pineapple bun's mother tongue in the Romanized version of their name—"Ho Ho Mei" reflects the Cantonese pronunciation of 好好味. I don't know Cantonese, but if you know what jyutping sounds like it goes like this: 菠蘿包 = bo1 lo4 baau1, 菠蘿油 = bo1 lo4 jau4.

Website: hohomei.com.tw
Opening hours: 2 p.m. - 11 p.m. (NOT OPEN FOR BREAKFAST, WAAAAH EXCUSE ME AS I SOB)

Niu Lao Da Beef Noodle Shop (牛老大)

Update (4/12/16): I had previously mentioned that this restaurant had two locations in the night market, but the Lane 105, Shida Road location has closed. You can still visit the one on Longquan Street.

English menu, weeeee
Niu Lao Da menu.
Tomato beef noodle soup
Tomato beef noodle soup.

I frequently ate at Niu Lao Da with friends, but I think it was more out of convenience than quality. It's not a place you'd go out of your way for, but it's good enough. Other things it has going for it: plenty of seating, opening hours during lunch and dinner (I think it's even open during Chinese New Year when seemingly everything else is closed), cheap prices, and unlimited complementary winter melon tea.

Zhajiangmian, I love you. 牛老大's #zhajiangmian is one of my favorite things to eat near my apartment. It's made with thick strips of knife-cut noodles, which I greatly prefer over regular noodles. #taipei #taiwan #shidanightmarket #台北 #台灣 #師大夜市 #醡醬麵 #牛老大刀削
Zhajiangmian.
Pork chop
Pork chop rice bowl, fried rice, egg drop soup.

Although their specialty is beef noodle soup with knife-cut noodles, I preferred their knife-cut noodles in the form of zhá jiàng miàn (炸醬麵; NT$80). Sometimes I tried other dishes, like rice bowls and soups, but I'd usually end up wishing I had ordered zha jiang mian instead. Some of my friends really liked the fried rice as well.

Robot noodle machine
Get to work, robot noodle slave.

Another plus: NOODLE-SLICING ROBOT.

Opening hours: 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.

Shi Yun Fried Chicken (師園鹽酥雞)

師園鹽酥雞 (Shi Yun)
Shi Yun stand.
師園鹽酥雞 (Shi Yun)
WE CAN HAVE IT ALL.
師園鹽酥雞 (Shi Yun)
SO MUCH FRIED.
Fried chicken, mmmm
Fried chicken nubs and basil.

This over 30-year-old stand is famous for their fried chicken, but it's more than just a fried chicken stand— it's a "fried anything we have on display" stand. You can order here like at the lu wei stand, by putting one of each thing you want in a basket, or you can write your order on one of the paper forms at the register. Just remember that putting, say, three string bean or five french fries in your basket translates to one order of string beans and one order of fries, not just three string beans or five french fries. And that's why when I brought my friends Lily and Kathy there, we unintentionally ended up with this:

Me, Lily, and giant food bag
Me and Lily. In horror.
師園鹽酥雞 (Shi Yun)
Sure, that's enough I guess.

A shopping bag-sized order. Classy. No regrets.

Website: facebook.com/ShiYun23633999
Opening hours: 12 p.m. - 1 a.m.

Yu Ban Bu Neng / Cannot Stop Salty Water Chicken and Spicy Chicken (欲罷不能 鹹水雞 麻辣雞)

Update (4/12/16): This stand has left the night market, but I'll leave this info here for posterity's sake.

The salty chicken and veggies and stuff stand The salty chicken and veggies and stuff stand
Yu Ban Bu Neng stand and menu.
The salty chicken and veggies and stuff stand
Veggies, mushrooms, etc.
The salty chicken and veggies and stuff stand
Mixing it up.
Veggie bag
Food bag, unleashed.

This stand is one of a handful of stands in the market that specializes in a chilled, boiled chicken dish called xiánshuǐ jī (鹹水雞), or salt water chicken, chopped up with vegetables and other stuff. But you can also skip the chicken and just order the "vegetables and other stuff" like I preferred to do. Tell the guy what you want (or if you're me, point at things) and he'll chop everything into bite sized pieces, toss it with green onion, garlic, and other seasonings, and plop the resulting veggie/fish mash/tofu party mix into a plastic baggie. If you want to eat it on the street you can use the accompanying sharp poking sticks, but I preferred to take it home and eat it with not poking sticks.

Website: jeedong.com
Opening hours: Afternoon/night

Huo Li Fan Tuan / Vitality Rice Balls (活力飯糰)

Fan tuan stand
Lil' fan tuan stand.

Fàn tuán (飯糰), Chinese-style rice balls, is a popular breakfast food in Taiwan that, as far as I can tell, isn't nearly as well known among non-Chinese people as it should be, assuming non-Chinese people also like starting their days with excessive carbs. Fan tuan is a densely packed ball or log of of glutinous sticky rice traditionally stuffed with yóu tiáo (油條, oily deep-fried bread sticks), chopped zhà cài (榨菜, pickled mustard plant stem) or suān cài (酸菜, pickled mustard greens), and ròu sōng (肉鬆, fluffy dried pork). It's one of my favorite foods, but by virtue of it almost always being gut bomb-y, I didn't eat it often when I lived in Taipei. Of course, now that I don't live in Taipei I'm roiling with regret that I didn't visit this fan tuan stand all the time instead of just one time. :(

Fan tuan stand
Menu.

Besides the aforementioned traditional version, this stand also makes fan tuan with cheese, peanut, fried egg, bacon, ham, curry, nori, tuna, soy sauce eel, or Italian meat sauce, ranging from NT$30 to NT$45. But I didn't know that at the time because even though I could theoretically read most of the menu, doing so would've made me late for class. By an hour. So I internally went, "Uhhhhh," for too long before asking the guy to make me something traditional.

Baby fantuan lunch
I drew a baby on it.
Fantuan innards
THEN I ATE THE BABY.

:D

Website: facebook.com/活力飯糰師大路-114962141906660
Opening hours: Mon. to Fri., 6:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.; Sat., 6:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.; closed Sundays

Lin Yuan Cu Shi / Lin Yuan Homestyle Food (林園粗食)

Lin Yuan Lin Yuan interior
Lin Yuan Homestyle Food.

I'll note that my dictionary translates「粗食」as "crude/rough food." I'm taking the liberty of translating it to "homestyle food" to give the restaurant's name a less sewage-y feel.

Lin Yuan is a great spot for simple, homestyle Taiwanese/Chinese meals in a more refined setting than your typical biandang/lunch box joint. "Refined" like they give you plastic bins to put your bags in so you don't have to resort to placing your precious bags on the floor, which everyone knows is the worst fate that could befall ones bag. (BTW, personal bag bins are pretty common in Taipei, generally in nicer restaurants.) The prices are also higher than your typical biandang joint, ranging between NT$180 and NT$210, but for the higher price you get a set meal including soup, a drink, and a dessert to go with your entrée, rice, and vegetables.

Menu
Menu: fried chicken thing, chicken drumstick, grilled mackerel, fried porgy, sweet and sour yellow fish, lion's head meatballs, hongzao roast pork, fried pork chop, shrimp spring rolls, lotus leaf-wrapped pork chop sticky rice.
Fish, rice n stuff, soup
Fried porgy set meal.
Ice cream and iced coffee
Iced tea and ice cream. Other drinks include hot coffee/tea and orange juice. Other desserts include tea jelly and creme brulee.

The portions are not large. If you're like me and tend to eat everything in front of you whether or not you're actually hungry, reasonably-sized portions are a good thing. I'm satisfied with the portion size. But if you're a six-foot tall guy with superpowered metabolism (or have the appetite of one), you're going to want a second meal afterward.

Opening hours: 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.; 5 p.m. - 9 p.m.; closed Mondays

Yunnan Restaurant (雲南小鎮)

Yunnan Restaurant in Shida Night Market
Yunnan Restaurant
Jiao Ma JiJiao Ma Ji
JIAO MA JI!!!!

I ate here so, so many times with my friends mostly to eat one dish: jiāo má jī (椒麻雞; NT$130), or pepper chicken. It's fried chicken thigh atop a bed of shredded lettuce, doused in a tangy fish sauce-enhanced dressing, served wth a fat mound of white rice and two sides of something vegetable-y and tofu-y. Wash it all down with complementary sweet iced tea. The dish is spicy by default, but when you fill in the ordering sheet you can request a different level of spiciness, from "none" to "lots".

Menu
Meals for one.

They also have a menu for ordering family style, but my friends and I never tried it. We usually wanted our own plates of jiao ma ji.

FUN WITH FACES
You too can make dumb faces in the restaurant's mirror like Xiangtai and me.

Opening hours: 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.; 5 p.m - 10 p.m.

Jian Kang Lu Wei / Healthy Lu Wei (健康滷味)

Jian Kang Lu Wei
Jian Kan Lu Wei stand.
健康滷味 (Jian Kang Lu Wei) 健康滷味 (Jian Kang Lu Wei)
Soup add-ins.
健康滷味 (Jian Kang Lu Wei)
Hungry now.

Ordering at a lǔ wèi stand can be confusing if you've never had it before, more so if you don't know Chinese. Thankfully my friend Charlotte guided me on my first visit (and, um, honestly, every visit after) so I wouldn't starve. She's a good friend. I'm keeping her. Forever.

Lu wei doesn't translate to "DIY noodle bowls," but in the case of this type of food stand it's kind of like making your own DIY noodle bowl. Or not noodle bowl. It could be a vegetable bowl. Or tofu bowl. Or fish ball bowl. Or quail egg bowl. Or all of the above. Grab a set of tongs and a red plastic basket, then put in one of each ingredient you want in your basket, "one" being a pack of ramen, or a bundle of leafy greens, or a fish ball, or a tofu block. When you give your basket to the vendor, they will adjust the ingredients when necessary, like adding more fish balls or cutting up the tofu block. They'll tell you the meager price and hand you a tile with a number on it that corresponds to your order. When it's time to cook your ingredients, they'll call your number and ask you if you want your order spicy, sour, and/or soupy, although "not soupy" is still pretty soupy. This is also when you should tell them if you want your order to go or to stay. There's a small dining room behind the stall with tables and utensils where you can eat your noodles out of a trough-like bowl instead of a take-out baggie.

Lu wei is great for customizing the size of your meal. You want a mountain of food? Go to town. Eat all the things. For a reasonably-sized serving, I recommend one noodle plus four extras.

Opening hours: 4:30 p.m - 11:30 p.m., closed Tuesdays

Honorable Mentions

Aka "not my favorite but potentially worth checking out."

Hajime (麵屋元)

Hajime menu
Hajime menu.
Garlic tonkotsu ramen Garlic tonkotsu ramen
Tonkotsu ramen.

I tried this ramen shop once with a Japanese friend. She said it tasted average by Tokyo standards, but it wasn't bad for the price. I, having a far less refined ramen palate, thought it was better than that, especially for NT$140 (less than US$5). You can specify the doneness of the noodles and the saltiness of the soup. Comes with free roasted barley tea.

Opening hours: 12 p.m. - 2 p.m.; 5 p.m. - 10 p.m.

Hi-Way Shawarma (駭味沙威瑪)

Shawarma stand menu
Shawarma stand menu.

Because sometimes you want a cheap sandwich that isn't like those crustless white bread sandwiches from 7-Eleven nor tastes like Chinese food. This sort of hits the spot, even if it doesn't quite resemble any shawarma I've ever had before.

Website: facebook.com/駭味Hi-way沙威瑪-108161922568091
Opening hours: 4 p.m. - 11 p.m.

Yang Ji Tian Jing Cong Zhua Bing (Scallion Pancakes) (楊記天津蔥抓餅)

Scallion pancake stand near my apartment
Scallion pancake stand.
Scallion pancake with egg
Scallion pancake with egg.

Few foods make my heart simultaneously cry and drool with blubbering longing as much as cōng zhuā bǐng (蔥抓餅), or scallion pancakes*. Flattened rounds of coiled dough rolled up with chopped scallions get slapped on an oil-slicked griddle, fried until both sides are blistered with golden crispy bits, and emerge as floppy, crisp-chewy flatbread rounds that when torn or bitten into reveal thin, scallion-studded layers.

This isn't my favorite scallion pancake stand in the city, but it's good. And it's the only scallion pancake stand in Shida Night Market, as far as I remember. Besides the standard egg topping, you can also add bacon, sliced pork, cheese, kimchi, corn, and pickled cabbage, plus your choice of sauces (garlic soy sauce, soy sauce, ketchup, mustard, chili, pepper). They usually have a pile of already-made pancakes at the ready, which they fluff and warm up on the griddle after you order.

* There are at least three kinds of scallion pancakes that go by two Chinese names: cong zhua bing or cong you bing. My general understanding is that "cong zhua bing" refers to the single-serving, giddled-cooked, fluffed-up type, while "cong you bing" refers to the single-serving, deep-fried version as well as the large, griddled-cooked version that's sliced into smaller pieces. If I have it in me I'll do more research and write a dedicated post about scallion pancakes.

Opening hours: Lunch and dinner

Bei Gang Dou Hua (北港豆花)

北港豆花
Bei Gang Dou Hua stand.
Sweet mung bean soup
Sweet mung bean soup.

This over 30-year-old stand specializes in cold dessert soups and dòu huā (豆花; soft tofu) desserts made with red beans, mung beans, Job's tears, kidney beans (if that's what 花豆 means—I'm not positive), peanuts, and tapioca balls in whatever combinations you want, starting at NT$35.

Opening hours: 3:30 p.m. - 12:30 a.m.

Vegan Bian Dang Stand

Cheap vegan biandang for NT$55 Cheap vegan biandang for NT$55
Vegan biandang.

I think this vendor only appears at lunch time, but I'm not positive what the hours are—maybe 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., maybe later if they have more food than they know what to do with. For only NT$55, it's quite good.

Opening hours: Lunch

Zhen Pin Wei Charcoal-Grilled Thai Cuisine (珍品味泰式炭烤)

Hi, Pirate Jordan! At 珍品味泰式炭烤 (Zhenpin Wei)
Zhen Pin Wei, plus my friend, Pirate Jordan. (...It was Halloween.)
Grilled chicken at 珍品味泰式炭烤
Grilled pork, grilled chicken leg.

As the name says, this place specializes in Thai-style grilled meats. The boneless chicken leg is the thing to get. For NT$100 your rice place also comes with three okay sides and a bowl of soup, plus optional condiments. I think I would've eaten here more if the dining room hadn't disagreed with me so much—I thought it felt uncomfortably dim, and the hospital-green table color didn't help.

Opening hours: 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.

Gu Zao Cha Fang / Olden Times Tea House (古早茶坊)

古早茶坊 (Gu Zao Cha Fang)
Gu Zao Tea House.
古早茶坊 (Gu Zao Cha Fang)
Menu, probably best navigated with an old Chinese person.

Judging from the name of this stand, I assume its menu hearkens back to a time when Taiwan wasn't awash with bubble tea shops and people drank stuff that wasn't enhanced with tapioca balls or milk. Such old fashioned drinks include sour plum juice, winter melon tea, lotus seed and white fungus soup, Roselle tea, and more things I don't exactly know how to translate. I've only tried their sour plum juice, suān méi tāng (酸梅湯), a popular summer drink whose sweet, tart, and smoky flavors may help numb the sensation of transforming into a braindead puddle of sweaty flesh that you will inevitably experience while steeping in Taipei's humidity. Gu Zao's version was a bit mustier than I was used to. It brought one word to mind: "Grandma." Also, three words before that: "This tastes like." Not exactly code for "universally appealing," but I liked it.

Opening hours: 11 a.m. - 12 a.m.

Hsu-Ji Sheng Jian Bao (許記生煎包)

Update (4/12/16): This stand has moved to No. 12, Lane 39, Shida Road and doesn't look the same as in my photo. The location on my map has been updated.

許記生煎包 Hsu-Ji Sheng Jian Bao

As far as I know, the names shēng jiān bāo (生煎包) and shuǐ jiān bāo (水煎包) refer to the same kind of bun, with sheng jian bao being the more widely used name. Please correct me if I'm wrong. In the case of Hsu-Ji Sheng Jian Bao vs. Aunt Lee's Shui Jian Bao, their respective filled dough pouch-things are very different. Hsu-Ji's are more like regular dumplings in that they're small enough to be eaten with chopsticks and their skins are more, well, skin-like, thin and fragile instead of thick and hearty, with a bottom crust that doesn't stay crisp for long. Aunt Lee's are like the roided-out monster version of that. Sometimes you want monster buns; sometimes you want two-bite dumplings. They're both good depending on what you want. You can buy Hsu-Ji's sheng jian bao by the piece (NT$8), five pieces (NT$35), or 12 pieces (NT$80).

Website: facebook.com/許記生煎包-126689814012620
Opening hours: 3:30 p.m. - 11 p.m.

Wu Ding Oden (烏頂關東煮)

烏頂關東煮 Wu Ding Oden
Wu Ding Oden.
烏頂關東煮 Wu Ding Oden
Oden bowl.

For all those times you want fish cakes and other chunky stuff in kelp-flavored broth, oden is there for you. Pick from a wide selection of broth add-ins—daikon, pig's blood, fish balls, fish cakes, pork balls, crab sticks, fried tofu, and more—and they'll plop it in a bowl of broth for you (or you can get the broth on the side).

Opening hours: 5 p.m. - 11:30 p.m.; closed Mondays

A Ying Guo Tie / A Ying Fried Dumplings (阿英鍋貼)

阿英鍋貼 (A Ying Guotie)
A Ying Fried Dumplings.

If you're in a rush and want cheap dumplings to-go, check out this stand. You have one choice: fried pork and cabbage dumplings (guō tiē, 鍋貼) at NT$5.5 per dumpling, plus a little baggie of dipping sauce. Another plus: The woman who runs the stand is super nice.

Opening hours: Lunch?

Mu Ting Japanese Green Tea Ice Cream (木町日式抹茶冰品)

木町日式抹茶冰品
Mu Ting
Menu
Menu.
Oyakodon
Oyakodon, chicken and egg on rice.
Katsu curry rice
Katsu curry.

Despite that donburi is one of my favorite food groups, I only tried this place a handful of times for simple Japanese-style rice plates, like oyakodon or katsu curry. It's not mind-blowing, but it's good enough for the cheap prices—NT$100 to NT$190 per plate. I never got around to trying the green tea ice cream or shaved ice bowls.

Opening hours: 11:30 a.m. - 11:30 p.m.

Yong Feng Sheng Handmade Baozi (永豐盛手工包子饅頭糕餅專賣店)

永豐盛手工包子饅頭糕餅專賣店 (Yong Feng Sheng)

This popular stand churns out 14 kinds of homemade steamed buns plus soy milk from early morning until late night. Great for breakfast before class or a late night snack.

Website: facebook.com/bun23658619/
Opening hours: Tues. to Sun., 7:00 a.m. - 11:00 p.m.; closed Mondays

Posted by roboppy at 5:57 PM

Tags: daan, favorite taipei things, lists, night market, shida night market, taipei, taiwan

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