Friday, February 18, 2011

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Xingnan Night Market, Zhonghe

2/18/2011 Taiwan Explorer
The biggest night market in Zhonghe


Taiwan Night Market List
For our second night market visit this year, we went down to Zhonghe 中和, one of the most densely populated districts in the world. The Xingnan Night Market 興南夜市 is found at Nanshijiao, Zhonghe's heavily populated area. The name "Xingnan" could be translated as "Prosperous South", but I think the name is a little flattering. Compared to the Lehua Night Market in Yonghe, this one doesn't look as fancy and as clean, but it has a certain indefinable charm. It's meant for locals, but I think as a tourist you could enjoy some good food there, too.

MY IMPRESSION: The night market is very close to the MRT station, which is a big plus, it's impossible to miss it (unlike Lehua). The market covers a big area of two parallel streets and some other small ones, that are connecting them. Aside from that, there's a busy road nearby, which is also full of shops and restaurants. So if you decide to visit, you will need some time to explore the area. The market is not so clean and the scooters are pretty common here, so you need to watch out how you walk. Aside from food, there are many shops selling clothes, shoes and other things, probably cheap Made in China stuff.

WHAT KIND OF FOOD IS COMMON: Same as in the Lehua market nearby, the Xingnan is full of steak shops 牛排 (niúpái). Not sure, why the steak is so popular in the southern part of Greater Taipei, but if you're a steak lover, this is the place to be for you. Aside from the usual night market food (oyster omelette, tofu, salty chicken), you will also find a lot of foreign food, such as Korean and Vietnamese dishes and the famous snack from Osaka takoyaki 章魚燒 (zhāngyúshāo), which are filled with cheese. There's also a Mongolian barbecue 蒙古烤肉 (ménggǔ kǎoròu) restaurant, which we went to. I also spotted the fried sandwich 營養三明治 (yíngyǎng sānmíngzhì, also called "salad submarine") and a Taiwanese styled chicken döner kebab 沙威瑪 (shāwēimǎ).

MUST-TRY FOOD AT XINGNAN NIGHT MARKET: I highly recommend the cheese takoyaki and the roasted chicken parts. The dry tofu together with pig's blood cake are very yummy, too. And the main dish we had was Mongolian barbecue, I highly recommend it, especially if you like vegetables. I think I will have to return and try some other snacks, there's a lot of good food available.

This is the entrance to the Xingan Night Market.

The entrance of the market. We're already inside.

The main promenade is just like a normal road.

Some impressions from the market: Shoes and jeans in abundance.

POPULAR SNACK: MARINADE 滷味

滷味 means marinade and these stalls sell dry tofu, pig's blood, chicken feet and more...

All the food is marinaded in soy sauce (hence the name). It's very common food here.

The dry tofu and pig's blood come in a bag, you eat it with sticks. Very yummy.

This is a side lane, which is also part of the market.

Fried sandwich, famous snack from Keelung. On the right: Chicken Döner kebab.

A steak shop like many similar ones in the area. Steak lovers would like it here.

And that's the end of one market. We went back to look for food.

On the way back we saw this Korean restaurant, nearby was a Vietnamese.

POPULAR DISH: MONGOLIAN BARBECUE 蒙古烤肉

This restaurant is interesting. You pay 100 NTD per person and then you can scoop as much as you can on one plate. You can choose from various veggies, tofu and meats. See, my girlfriend grabbed a lot of salad.

Rice, soup and tea are included in the price. If 2 people eat from 1 bowl, you pay 150.

The dish was very yummy and fulling. And it's very healthy. Thumbs up! My 1st time.

POPULAR SNACK: TAKOYAKI 章魚燒

And then it was time for some yummy Japanese balls: takoyaki!

These are very hot at first, so be careful. But the cheese is top, so tasty.

POPULAR SNACK: BARBECUED CHICKEN

This aunty had all kinds of barbecued parts of chicken. Very yummy, must try.

The stall is at the entrance of the market, you can't miss it.

HOW TO FIND XINGNAN NIGHT MARKET:

Take the MRT from Taipei Main Station to the Nanshijiao Station (Orange line, last stop, see a detailed map here). Go out at Exit 4, the night market is right there.

IN CONCLUSION: I have to say this night market may not be famous for being famous or for being clean, but it's certainly a decent night market. There's a lot of good food to discover and the accessibility is a big plus (Lehua lacks behind in this regard). I think, if you're pleased with tasty and affordable food and don't mind scooters and general noise, you will like Xingnan very much. If you want a famous touristy night market, I recommend you Shilin or Lehua. The choice is of course yours.