Friday, May 28, 2010

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Miaokou Night Market, Keelung

5/28/2010 Taiwan Explorer

The Miaokou Night Market 廟口夜市, is a very famous and popular night market in Taiwan, to be precise in Keelung, which is the biggest city on the northern coast of the island. The name "miaokou" means "temple's entrance". That's because the market is located near the famous Dianji temple (奠濟宮). Personally this is really one of the best night markets I've seen in Taiwan so far and I'd not hesitate to visit it again. Most of the food there is from the nearby sea, because Keelung has a big harbor. Besides the famous seafood, the market offers a plenty of other dishes, some of them are very unique and amazingly tasty.

MY IMPRESSION: This market is unique and you see that already from afar, when those famous lanterns appear and you know you're at the place to be. The crowds are drawn to this market and the closer you are, the bigger they get. What I like is the main alley, which is nicely decorated with yellow glowing lanterns and has a unique to mark the food stalls. Above each is a signboard with information in multiple languages (Chinese, Japanese and English), so you can easily read what kind of food awaits you there. Same as at other popular tourist night markets (such as the one in Shilin), there are masses of people everywhere, which means you have to push your way forward from stall to stall. Although they call the customers to eat at their stall, they're happy if you finish fast and leave, so that more and more people can eat, too. Maybe that's the reason, that the chairs are small and uncomfortable. Well, some stalls don't even offer chairs, you just buy your snack and eat it standing. Don't expect too much comfort, this is not Côte d'Azur.

WHAT KIND OF FOOD IS COMMON: The food mostly comes from the nearby sea and is very fresh and delicious. For those, who love this kind of food, Miaokou is food paradise. You have all kinds of fish, crabs and other inhabitants of the sea offered in cooked and fried versions. But there are also many other kinds of foods, such as glutinous rice 油飯 (yóufàn), salty crispy chicken 鹽酥雞 (yánsūijī), fried sandwich 營養三明治 (yíngyǎng sānmíngzhì), one bite sausage 一口香腸 (yīkǒu xiāngcháng), pao pao ice 泡泡冰 (pàopàobīng), Taiwanese tempura 天婦羅 (tiānfùluō), non-fried spring rolls 潤餅卷 (rùnbǐngjuàn) and many more. Let me show you some of these foods and the atmosphere in this famous night market.

MUST-TRY FOOD AT MIAOKOU NIGHT MARKET: You need to try the fried sandwich, a dish invented in Keelung and one of my favorite little eats. I also recommend you the one-bite sausage and the pao pao ice. These three dishes represent the quintessential Miaokou experience.

The intersection next to the night market is very crowded.

This is the main street of the night market with the famous yellow lanterns.

The famous Dianji temple (Chinese 奠濟宮), that gave the night market its name.

View on the main street from the temple. Crowds are really huge, be ready for that.

Common are these metal tables with small chairs. Don't expect too much comfort.

POPULAR SNACK: GLUTINOUS RICE 油飯


The first dish we tried was glutinous rice 油飯 together with a soup 綜合羹湯 (zònghé gēngtāng). The rice was not bad, but not so special. The soup was very delicious, I loved it.

We had the rice and soup at this stall.

POPULAR SNACK: SALTY CRISPY CHICKEN 鹽酥雞


This stall sells all kinds of fried food, from meat (usually chicken) to vegetables. The fried food is called 鹽酥雞 in Chinese, which actually means salty crispy chicken, but it became a common name for all fried foods with the same way of cooking and similar flavor.


POPULAR SNACK: FRIED SANDWICH 營養三明治


This is a famous stall that sells fried sandwiches called 營養三明治 in Chinese. They first fry the bread, then cut it open and put tomatoes, pickled cucumbers, ham, stewed eggs and lots of mayonnaise inside. You'd be amazed how fast they do it.


My girlfriend is getting our sandwich. Excited!

This is the famous fried sandwich from Miaokou night market. I tell you, it's delicious!

POPULAR SNACK: ONE BITE SAUSAGE 一口香腸


This small sausage is called 一口香腸 in Chinese, which means one bite sausage. It reminded me of the yummy sausage I had in Wulai, the taste is similar, but the size is smaller.

The Taiwanese sausage is eaten with fresh garlic, which covers the oily taste. Although I love this sausage (and the one in Wulai), I'd say best sausages are made in Europe.

POPULAR DESSERT: PAO PAO ICE 泡泡冰


This stall sells a famous Taiwanese ice cream called 泡泡冰 in Chinese ("pao pao ice" or bubble ice). They put ingredients in a big bowl, add the flavor you want and then use a spoon to mix everything until the ice is full of tiny bubbles. I tell you, they mix so fast, it looks as if they're in a factory.



We ordered kiwi flavored pao pao ice and it was really soooooo delicious. If you ever go to Miaokou, you need to try this ice cream. Read more about it here>>


VARIOUS SEAFOOD DELIGHTS:

This hawker sells big octopuses with tentacles. I haven't tried this one.

The same hawker again.

One of the famous dishes in Miaokou night market is the butter crab. I haven't tried it.

The butter crab again with pincers and spiral shells in soy sauce.

Because Keelung is a seaport, you can get all kinds of fresh sea foods, even the sea urchin.


If you are brave enough, you can try a blowfish. Somehow it reminds me of the famous Porky the Pig from Wulai, don't you think? I shall name it "Blowy the Fish".

These are so called butter crabs.

POPULAR SNACK: OYSTER OMELETTE 蚵仔煎

Oyster omelette, when they splash the egg on the hot plate. Very yummy.

POPULAR SNACK: RABBIT SOUP

This hawker sells rabbit meat. Haven't tried. Would you?

POPULAR SNACK: TAIWANESE SPRING ROLLS 潤餅卷

This is a kind of a spring roll, but it's not fried. Taiwanese call it 潤餅卷 (rùnbǐngjuàn), which means a moist rice cake roll. It can be filled with meat and vegetables. It's similar to the Malaysian popiah.

POPULAR SNACK: CHICKEN FEET 雞腳

Those chicken feet were very yummy. We ordered some for home. Goes well with beer.

HOW TO FIND MIAOKOU NIGHT MARKET? CHECK MY MAP:

Miaokou Night Market
Go to from the Keelung Main station and walk along the water, then turn right to the wide Aiyi Road and then left to the Rensan road 仁三路 and walk a little more and you're there. You'll need about 15-20min to reach the market (Click on photo for Google Map).


IN CONCLUSION: This is definitely one of the finest tourist night markets in Taiwan. There's so much I haven't tried, but from what I've seen, there are many tasty dishes waiting for me, I have a lot to explore. But from what I've tried, I highly recommend the fried sandwich, which is my favorite dish there, the one bite sausage, the spring rolls and the pao pao ice. I think trying the seafood is a must and I heard the Taiwanese tempura is really delicious there. Buy a portion of chicken feet for home, they're a great snack for an easygoing evening. This night market is probably the best thing in Keelung, so don't miss it, if you find yourself at Taiwan's northern coast.