Introducing 5 original Taiwanese “xiaio-chi” that I tried while visiting Taiwan night market.
While we spent 2 months in Japan this past summer, we took a quick side trip with Mr. JOC to his hometown, Kaohsiung, Taiwan to visit his family. During our short stay, we tried to eat as many Taiwanese foods as we can. We also visited the local Liuhe Night Market (六合夜市) where we got to taste unique Taiwanese street foods known as xiao-chi (小吃).
Before heading there, I asked JOC fans on Facebook what foods I should eat at a Taiwan night market and I picked the top 5 choices.
Watch Taiwan Night Market Vlog (台湾の夜市で食べたもの）
Street Foods You Must Eat at Taiwan Night Market
If you visit Taiwan, one of the activities I highly recommend is to stroll around the local night market. It opens late at night so even if you had planned a full day of sightseeing and fun plans, you can still enjoy a late night snack before going to bed. 😉
Compared to Japanese street festivals with food stalls that occur mostly during the summer time, Taiwanese night markets are available every night! For a foreign visitor like me, night market food stalls have the most unique and rare foods you only see in Taiwan.
I’ve been to night markets in both Kaohsiung and Taipei, and it’s always fun to eat and find something interesting and new! As we had limited time this trip, we focused on five foods recommended and requested by JOC fans on Facebook. Let’s get started!
1. 3 Cup Snake
Have you had snake meat before? I never tried it and didn’t know what to expect. I just assumed it would taste like chicken…. just like the time I tried deep fried frog legs in Taiwan night market.
Well, the snake was prepared and seasoned with the sauce that tastes exactly like the popular Taiwanese 3 Cup Chicken dish. So if I close my eyes and eat, I wouldn’t know I was eating the snake meat. In fact, I barely had the proper amount of “meat” when I was eating 3 Cup snake because there were way too many bones. I had trouble getting the pieces out of my mouth as the bones don’t fall off easily.
Taste wise, it’s pretty good! As I imagined, it tasted just like chicken. 😉
2. Eel Noodles
This Taiwanese noodle dish consists of chewy thick noodles with stir fried eels and cabbage poured on top. The wok char eels and cabbage give great flavors to the dsh and the sauce coats well with the noodles. Eels in Japan are more fatty and tender when you eat Unagi Donburi, but these Taiwanese eels have crunchy texture to them. It’s a great dish to fill up if you’re craving for a substantial meal at the night market. I’ve had this before and it’s one of my go-to night market foods.
3. Oyster Omelette
If I have to list one food that I had real trouble eating while growing up, that would be oyster. My mom would make oyster fries (it’s panko coated and deep fried, and it sounds delicious but that doesn’t disguise the oyster texture and taste), and she would make me eat at least one piece when she prepares it. After a few decades, I still hate it. So the oyster omelet was not something I’d pick if I get to choose a dish at the night market.
Well, this time I didn’t have a choice! I actually had this dish before, but every time I would skip the oyster part and enjoy the rest of eggs, glutinous rice flour, and scallions mixture with the sweet savory sauce. It’s really good and I especially love the chewy glutinous rice texture (after all I’m a big mochi fan). You’ll see my full review on this dish in the video.
4. Duck Tongue & Duck Blood Cake
I’ve eaten duck tongues at dim sum before, but it’s still “strange” for me to look at it before I eat. If I close my eyes and someone put it in my mouth, I think I would have no problem with the taste or texture and it’s pretty tasty. Just the look is a bit intimidating for me. I just assume this kind of feeling is similar to someone who never had sushi and thought of eating raw fish scares them.
The duck blood cake though is brand new for me. First of all, I am still not used to the word “blood” in the food. I can’t think of any Japanese food that has blood in the name. However, I think both the flavor and the texture of the blood cake were “acceptable”. It’s sticky and reminds me of Asian mochi texture (not quite Japanese mochi) but somewhat hard like Yokan (Japanese red bean jelly). It’s very hard to describe. It’s probably not something that I would say “oh it’s so delicious! I want more!!!” but I could eat it. It’s still new food to me that I need some time to get used to it.
5. Stinky Tofu
Stinky tofu is probably the very first Taiwanese street food that Mr. JOC introduced to me. I eat Natto (Japanese fermented soybeans) and I don’t consider natto that stinky (you might disagree with me haha!).
But stinky tofu is a whole another level of stinkiness. I could usually smell it in the air even if the vendor is quite far away. How stinky? I always describe it politely as “farm smell”. You know when you go to a farm and there are barn animals… exactly that kind of smell. So it’s like eating deep fried firm tofu in the middle of farm with lots of farm animals. Now after being married 10 plus years and eating stinky tofu on my trips to Taiwan, I actually enjoy the dish.
There are many variations for stinky tofu but I would only eat it served with good pickled cabbages. My favorite stinky tofu shop in Kaohsiung is called 江豪记臭豆腐 (KING OF STINKY TOFU) and if you want to try it for the first time, try this place before eating at night market because it’s more “refined”. 😉
Do you like fermented and stinky foods like cheese, tofu, soybeans?
Bonus: Papaya Milk!
This local Kaohsiung drink shop is so popular, serving many different kinds of fruity milk drinks and they are all refreshing and delicious. It’s something I look forward to at Taiwan night market. The papaya milk has just the perfect sweetness and I love it. In our daily life, we don’t often get to eat sweet papaya in San Francisco, so we definitely take advantage of the abundance of fruits when we’re in Taiwan. It’s just all the different types of delicious fruits Taiwan has to offer. So don’t miss it!
I hope you enjoyed reading a quick glance at what Taiwan Night Market has to offer. If you want to jump on and read more of my travel posts, click here.