Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Night Markets: Tonghua
Late night munchies.
Taiwanese night markets are an integral part of the food culture here, where late night food in large variety is always a welcome sight. Tonghua Night Market is not the largest or most spectacular one, but it is a relic of the east side of town. The market runs along Linjiang Street in between Anhe Road and Keelung Road. In years past, apparently the market actually followed Tonghua Street (which intersects Linjiang Street), and even though technically it's new name is Linjiang Night Market, everyone, especially the locals, still call it by the old name.
The main appeal of Tonghua, is that you can find most of the good night market snacks on one easily-accessible street. It's busy and flashy enough to make it feel like a real night market, but not to the point that you have to wait 30 minutes for a packet of fried goodies. Most importantly, the food is delicious. At the Keelung end of the market are two of the best finds: the Shanghai dumpling stand and the variety frier stand. The Shanghai dumpling stand often has a line, but they are pretty efficient about handling their customers. One of my very good Taiwanese friends says that these are among the best dumplings in Taipei, and she might be right: fluffy dough wrapped around tender ground pork prepared in a shallow iron steamer. The variety frier stand basically has a wide selection of foods from broccoli to fish cakes ready to season and flash fry.
Other things to look out for: battered and deep fried mushrooms, various types of hot or cold veggie wraps (sometimes with bits of meat), oyster omlets, sashimi, cut fruit, teppanyaki, Thai papaya salad, sausages with your choice of topping, meat on a stick, mochi, italian ice cream, and stinky tofu.
Of course, like all night markets in Taiwan, you will find a wide selection of pop-fashion vendors selling belts, t-shirts, bizarre plaid pants, underwear, and hair accessories. If you are bringing young ones, their eyes will be delighted to see all kinds of noise-making toys. You get all of this on a short stretch that can be covered in a mere 15 minutes. Even though the massive Shilin Night Market is an experience that should not be missed, sometimes it's nice not to have to wind your way through the hoards of people and wait in the long lines forming at each stand.
Tonghua Night Market (Linjiang Night Market)
臨江街 Linjiang Street (the whole length of Linjiang Street, which extends from Keelung Road to Anhe Road), 大安區 Da'an District
Metro: It's not really close to any metro stop, but you can walk about 15-20 minutes from either Zhongxiao Dunhua or Liuzhangli stations.