Shilin Night Market

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Prior to going to Taipei, I read a lot of things defining night markets as places to get traditional Taiwanese snacks.  For me, the term “snack” conjures images of chips or granola bars, not this nightly lollapalooza of steaming vats and sizzling grills that appear all over the city in predetermined spots around 4PM each evening.  In a whole culture of “small eats”, it’s easy to make a meal of a few items eaten with chopsticks or sharp bamboo skewers.

Shilin Night Market, near where my father grew up, is one of the largest night markets in Taipei and it was particularly crammed this Saturday, being the first warm day and last weekend night of a rainy Lunar New Year holiday.

Oysters (Oa, pronounced oh-ah, in Taiwanese) are plentiful.  This night market classic is Oa Misua, lots of oysters and some slices of pig intestine with fine rice noodles in a vinegary and garlicky broth with an extra dollop of minced garlic added right before serving.

This is Oa Jian, sometimes described as an oyster pancake or omelette, smothered in a salty, tangy sauce.

One of the few bad things about night markets is that it’s sometimes hard to find seating.  Fortunately, it seems to be acceptable to eat “outside food” as long as you purchase something at the establishment where you’re seated.  Also, if you want a dish from a nearby stand, the proprietors will gladly yell out your order to the neighbors and fetch it so that you don’t have to leave your hard-won seat.

Another problem is the trash.  Taiwan is pretty good about recycling and waste management, but the skewers and chopstick wrappers, plastic spoons, bowls, and bags have got to add up, night after night.  I don’t know what the solution might be.  Corn or soy-based biodegradable containers?  A concept dear to my Illinois heart, but maybe not as feasible for a small island whose main crops seem to be betel nuts and sugarcane.  Bringing your own containers would probably be against health codes, but bringing your own chopsticks and forks might be a start.

The last thing I ate at the Shilin Night Market was a sausage wrapped in sticky rice.  Usually, it’s wrapped in a wax paper bag for eating out of hand, but we had ours sliced for sharing.  I’m starting to see that “wrapped in sticky rice” is quickly becoming a theme for my eating in Taiwan.

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4 Responses to “Shilin Night Market”

  1. Don Cuevas Says:

    The Oa Misua is beautiful. I would love to have some.
    So, far, let’s see: I have the fine noodles.

    Saludos,
    Don Cuevas

  2. siemin Says:

    Hi, thank you for your sharing…
    I’m a student and research about of the Taiwan’s Shilin Night Market, can you please help me to do a survey regarding on your view of Shilin Night Market, and the website as below as:
    http://www.my3q.com/home2/327/ximoon/72104.phtml
    Thank you for your helping, and wish you have a nice day. ^^

  3. Lauren Gursky Says:

    I am really thankful to this topic because it really gives great information `;;

  4. mamabatesmotel Says:

    Reblogged this on mamabatesmotel.

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