Shilin Night Market (士林夜市) is a sprawling night market that extends along several streets in the middle of Taipei’s 2nd most populated district of the same name. While it’s widely cited by tourist guides and a great experience overall, if I were pressed for time, I’d pass this one, only because it lacks the signature grittiness of other Taipei night markets. (Food’s still awesome).
We somehow managed to squeeze this night market into our packed itinerary. Using Taipei’s very convenient public transit, we took the Metro Line No. 2 (淡水信義線) from Tamsui, exiting at the Jiantan Station, which is about a block away from the market, arriving around 9 pm.
Shilin Night Market is strikingly well organized. At the center of it all is a huge imposing structure, Shilin Market, that houses a bunch of underground stalls and hawker stands. It was packed with young families and college kids having a night out with friends.
Inside the structure are neatly arranged stalls and seats and tables for eating. All neatly organized and labelled– to the point of feeling sterile, akin to a mall food court.
№ 1: fried chicken breast 香雞排 (hiuⁿ-ke-pâi)
Before we entered Shilin Market, Alvin spotted a famous breaded chicken cutlet place called Hot Star Large Fried Chicken ( 豪大大雞排), one of Shilin’s biggest names.
So naturally we went for it, ordering a huge chicken breast that was fried in crusty salt and pepper batter.
The cutlet was absolutely monstrous. But kudos to the cook, who managed to keep the entire slab juicy inside, and absolutely crispy outside.
№ 2: pepper cakes 胡椒餅 (hô͘-chio-piáⁿ)
Next up was a stall selling so-called ‘pepper pork’ pastries, sold at NTD 40 apiece. Having arrived a bit late, the stall had run out of the other varieties, such as curry chicken and scallion.
But the pastry did not disappoint. Toasted sesame seeds, check. Flaky crust, check. Juicy marinated pork, check. My only gripe: it wasn’t fresh out of the oven, so the pastry was on the lukewarm side. For that reason alone, I’d recommend Fuzhou Shizu Hujiao Bing at the Raohe Street Night Market. Plus, there, you see how much labor goes into each pastry, real time.
№ 3: pulled tea 拉茶
Milk tea is a pretty huge thing in Taiwanese night markets. On the street, we came across PJ’s Indian Pulled Tea （P。J印度拉茶）, which serves up a variety of milk teas, all priced at NTD 40, including Indian milk tea, English milk tea, Thai milk tea and yuanyang, a Hong Kong specialty consisting of milk tea mixed with coffee.
The pulled tea technique is common in India and former British colonies in Southeast Asia, especially Malaysia and Singapore. As the name implies, the concoction of condensed milk and brewed tea is “pulled” back and forth to cool and mix the drink. After the server was done, he filled a plastic bag up with the stuff, which I happily lapped the rest of the night. COME TO AMERICA ALREADY.
№ 4: oyster omelette 蚵仔煎 (ô-á-chian)
While inside the market, we paid a visit to a packed stall, Tua Thau Long Oyster Omelette (大頭龍蚵仔煎), which serves up a number of seafood dishes.
Without blinking, I gravitated toward their NTD 50 oyster omelette (oh-a-chian), which consists of oysters fried in an egg and potato starch batter, and then served in a savory brown sauce. #idie A must-try for oyster lovers!
№ 5: shrimp roll 蝦捲
Last but not least, we made our final pit stop at Zhong Cheng Hao (忠誠號) to sample their rendition of the shrimp roll (蝦卷). Poor chef, he nearly burned himself trying to fry some stinky tofu. Those woks are no joke.
Shrimp rolls are as you would imagine, similar to egg rolls, except filled with shrimp, except that it’s fried in a casing of bean curd. This particular rendition was served with pickled cucumber slices. The shrimp roll was fried to a perfect golden crisp. My only gripe: the portions.
Shilin Night Market 士林夜市
Jihe, Wenlin, Danan and Dadong Roads, Shilin District, Taipei, Taiwan