Every one who travels to Taiwan must visit a night market and the most popular one in Taipei is Shilin night market. Every night market also have their specialities like the pepper biscuits is well known at the Raohe market, while Shida market is known for modern clothes and accessories for youngsters as it is near a university. This time round we got to visit a market which is more popular with locals and is filled with more authentic Taiwanese food. A local taxi driver lamented about how the night markets these days sell modern food like cheese toast and grilled lobsters but these are hardly local Taiwanese fare so he recommended that we visit Ning Xia night market.
Like all night market, Ning Xia is crowded as well with more locals than tourists. The human traffic was crawling with long queues at some stalls. There are some really good food hidden here as well.
One of the stalls with extremely long queues is the one selling braised food. From braised chicken wings to duck neck and bean curd, there is basically any kind of braised food here. The locals usually buy them by bags and bring them home.
The steamed corn and peanuts are also a favourite local snacks the locals buy to eat at home or while walking along the night market.
This stall is the hidden gem of this market and many locals definitely agree seeing the long queue during meal times. This stall sells very simple steamed dishes like steamed egg, blanched vegetables as well as chicken rice and minced pork rice.
The star of this stall is the chicken rice although some might like the mince pork rice better. As simple as it sounds, this dish is basically shredded chicken meat laid on top of rice and splashed with a dash of chicken oil and sauce. While the sauce tasted like soy sauce, there should be some other special ingredients as this tiny bowl of rice is fabulous. The key here is really not the chicken but the sauce on the rice. The chicken oil combined with the sauce is fragrant and sumptuous with great umami flavours. Every grain of rice is nicely coated with the sauce and every grain delicious till the bowl is cleaned out
This is also a popular stall with something that is quite traditional with a modern twist.
The lady adds ice cream with freshly shaved peanut powder and wrap them up with a flour skin.
The end result is like a popiah ( raw spring roll) which is sweet and cold with a nice crunch from the peanut powder.
This is one of those modern stalls selling barbequed clams which you probably can find in Bangkok or Seoul night markets as well.
For the fun of it, we decided to give it a try by ordering the jumbo scallops.
The scallops is minced up and mixed with minced meat and vegetables and topped with cheese before grilling them on the stove. The result is a cheesy mixture where you cannot really taste the scallops anymore.
This next stall is another winner with long queues selling scallion pancakes
It was quite therapeutic to watch the young owners make the dough and fry them in front of you while you wait for your turn.
Slightly different from the scallion pancakes from the streets, the dough filled with scallions is first flattened and fried in oil till crispy, another egg batter is fried at the same time and combined with the frying dough. The result is this extremely crispy and delicious pancake with subtle scallion fragrance. This was so good, it was gone in a few bites.
After the row of food stalls, there are also another row of games stalls where you can play traditional games like fishing and racing car. Surrounding the market, you can also find some old school shop houses with restaurants, supermarkets and even fruits carts selling seasonal Taiwanese fruits. I am really glad to have visited this market to discover at least the chicken rice and the scallion pancake which in my opinion is the 2 items you must try before leaving.
Address: Ningxia Road, Datong District, Taipei City, Taiwan 103
Operating hours: 5.30 pm to 12 am
Nearest Station: Zhong Shan or Shuang Lian ( Both 10 – 15 mins walk away)