On our second night in Taipei, we headed to Ningxia night market, recommended by our friends Winston and Jessica. This one was much smaller than Raohe and Shilin, the latter of which we went to the next night, and was almost exclusively food. Which meant it was perfectly up my alley.We hadn’t stopped into any of the sit-down places the previous night so we decided to start with a little restaurant making fried oyster omelettes (蚵仔煎) on this streetside griddle. The griddle is then covered with a potato starch batter, eggs, and some lettuce.After a good amount of additional griddlin’, the end result (for us) is a gravy-slathered plate of charred stickiness (from the potato starch) and funky oyster flavor. I’ve never been huge on cooked oysters, but this version (particularly the gravy and the omelette parts) were pretty tasty – and it also helped that these oysters were plump and fresh and didn’t have a weird aftertaste (trust me on oysters sometimes having weird aftertastes).Anyway, so Ningxia has a relatively short (one block length’s worth of) runway of food stalls, but they are delicious (from both visual and gustatory points of view). Our first stop was a 烧烤 stall, where my sister went to town on some squid:I went across the way to this roasted meat skewer stand and grabbed a few helpings of chicken skin, gizzard, and fatty pork.A tray of fried chicken bites (I went with the breaded ones): A view of the crowds:Our last stop of the night was a collection of folding chairs and tables near the night market entrance that served up some mian xian (oyster-and-intestine flour-rice noodle soup), similar to what we had at Ay Chung (but soupier, and less potent in flavor), along with a bowl of offal and blood pudding soup and an order of fried stinky tofu (臭豆腐), a Taiwanese food stall classic. The mian xian and soup were quite tasty and moderately spicy – I’m a big fan of stewed intestine so long as they still have that chewiness to them. Stinky tofu is somewhat of an acquired taste. I did not find it to be addictingly delicious, but it’s definitely worth a try. Surprisingly, the stinkiness seemed to be mostly in the aroma (maybe it’s the frying oil), because the tofu inside was succulent and only slightly sour. This was almost a disappointment for me, since I was hoping for something more along the lines of fermented bean curd, especially the spicy version, which sometimes accompanied morning bowls of congee.
But anyway, I digress. A second night of Taipei’s night markets, and I still felt like there were a million undiscovered things, both within Ningxia and without, in the city’s myriad neighborhood markets. The beauty of street food.
Ningxia Night Market (宁夏夜市)
Taipei City, Taiwan 103