Dongmen Night Market 宜蘭東門觀光夜市 (actually Yilan Dongmen Tourist Nightmarket or Ilan East Gate Night Market) is a small night market in Ilan City located close to the former East Gate 東門 (or Dongmen). The old gate from the Qing dynasty doesn't exist anymore, but there is an road overpass under which the night market found its space. Before the night market was called Sanjiao Park Night Market (source). I haven't seen a night market near such an unusual location before, but I have to say, that I've tried some of the best snacks here, which was definitely surprising to me.
MY IMPRESSION: The night market is small, but clean. And although it was Saturday evening, it wasn't so crowded, which I like. I guess most people in Ilan City go to Luodong, because of the famous and huge night market there. I have to say that the market was pretty clean and there were tables available, so you can seat down and enjoy your food. That's definitely a plus. And since they're placed under a road overpass, you won't need an umbrella in case it rains. What did disturb me were the curious locals. Some stared, some said hello, one older uncle even tapped me on the back and asked where I was from. I know people were just trying to be friendly, but it was a lot of attention. So if you're a blonde Caucasian like me, be ready for that. If you don't mind the extra attention, then this won't be anything for you.
WHAT KIND OF FOOD IS COMMON: There's a plenty of delicious "small eats" at the Dongmen Night Market. First, I have to point out my favorite snack here, which are small fried taro cakes 嘟好燒 (dūhǎo shāo). Another small and cheap snack is called fried chicken strings 炸雞串 (zhà jīchuàn). There are also stalls with a lot of tradition. One is called Overpass stinky tofu 天橋下臭豆腐 (tiānqiáo xià chòudòufu) and Peng's green onion cake 蔥油餅 (cōng yóubǐng) and I've seen that both attracted a lot of customers. As for drinks, we tried the ice shake 搖搖冰 (yáoyáo bīng) and it was very nice. If you want desserts, you can try the Old shop's tofu pudding 老店豆花 (lǎodiàn dòuhuā). I haven't tried, but I heard it's famous.
MUST-TRY FOOD AT DONGMEN NIGHT MARKET: As I've only tried few snacks, I can only recommend these to you: fried taro cakes, fried chicken strings and the ice shake. All of these snacks and drinks were really yummy, especially the taro cakes. They were the best I've ever tried in Taiwan, I kid you not. But you can also try some food from the traditional shops mentioned above.
Let me show you my photos of the Dongmen Night Market in Ilan (March 2011):
POPULAR SNACK: FRIED CHICKEN STRINGS 炸雞串
POPULAR SNACK: GREEN ONION CAKE 蔥油餅
POPULAR SNACK: FRIED TARO CAKES 嘟好燒
POPULAR DRINK: ICE SHAKE 搖搖冰
HOW TO FIND DONGMEN NIGHT MARKET IN YILAN?
Check out Google Maps here.
IN CONCLUSION: This is definitely a night market I will visit again, if I find myself in Ilan City. There's not a lot to do in the city itself, but this night market is surely one of the few spots you don't want to miss. It's definitely one of my favorite night market in northern Taiwan, even though the location is very particular.