The Ultimate List of Shilin Night Market Street Food 2020
Taiwanese food is characterized by its abundant food culture at Shilin Night Market street food.
You will see carts and stalls occupying an obscene corner. The selection of food and variety is cheap and plentiful.
There is so much to try to eat that you can find some snacks to munch on any time of the day.
You can have street food for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and every hour in between.
What to expect at Shilin Night Market Street Food?
Every tourist has the largest night market, Shilin Night Market, in Taipei as the mandatory pit stop on their street food itinerary. Popular for its variety of instant gratification street food, this is the eating street in Taiwan come to LIVE!!!
Three persons thick crowds throng streets upon streets of open-air stalls hawking shoes; accessories and Taiwanese fashion wear that range from the cute, quirky to hottest fashion wear in downtown Taipei.
Hundreds upon hundreds of eating stalls sell many local popular street food to tempt or revolt, depending on your sensitivities.
If you’re a vegan, you may be shocked to find giant squid’s tentacles skewered on a stick right next to a whole roasted baby piglet or a boiled capon! A CAPON as I discovered later is a rooster the size of a turkey!
History of Shilin Night Market
Market was built as early as in 1899 and the market is famous for various snacks and eatery.
Location of Shilin Night Market
The market is centered on Yangming Theater and Cicheng Temple. The night market is formed by many prosperous shops on Wenlin Road, Dadong Road and Danan Road, etc. Among them, Shilin Market was built as early as in 1899 and the market is famous for various snacks and eatery.
How to maneuver the Shilin Night Market?
The night market encompasses two distinct sections
Food vendors and small restaurants
Shops selling nonfood items
The old Shilin Market building has 539 stalls in the food court and is a food paradise. If you are driving, you can park on the second floor. There is a parking lot for 400 cars.
The most interesting part of the night market are the side streets and alleys are lined with storefronts with plenty of cheap trendy clothes, shoes, accessories, watches, toys and souvenirs. These goods are inexpensive goods (some of questionable origin). Looks like the real thing but might not be given the low prices.
If you love bargaining and you have some skill on it, will be fun.
The bargains are enough to plan a second visit – you can never get enough!
Roadside food stalls.
The maze of alleyways is filled with a variety of local and traditional Taiwanese cuisine that attracts locals and foreigners alike.
Taipei’s street food is a very popular dinner or supper activity with tourists looking for night time activities.
For night entertainments you can find cinemas, video arcades, and karaoke bars in the vicinity.
The night market is popular with tourist in recent years due to the opening of the Taipei Metro system.
The Jiantan Stationon Tamsui–Xinyi line (Tamsui/Red Line) is 70 meters from the market and is visible from the station platform.
What are the Taiwan’s traditional foods?
The food is generally street food or fresh fruit, with plenty of bubble tea stalls and cold beer to be found.
The friendly Taiwanese are eager to let you taste the unique flavors of their traditional recipes of the delicious Taiwanese street snacks.
- Giant Fried Chicken Steak
- Bubble Tea
- Oyster Vermicelli
- Oyster Omelet
- Fried Buns
- Stinky Tofu
The most popularly recommended food in Shilin Night Market is the Oyster Omelette (é ā jiān) which I didn’t get to try. The stalls were so packed and waiting time was over an hour, so we decide to give this a miss.
So if you want to get a taste of this unique dish, get there early!
Tip: The food price is not really cheap when comparing to the restaurant which provides services and proper table for you.
How do I know if the food is good?
This market is massive and there is plenty of interesting street food. Generally, anything with a long line is most likely to be good. Another indication is to just watch other customers and watch their expressions as they bite into the food.
Here’s the list of items to try street food items at Shilin Night Market
Famous Taiwanese Fried Food
- Small sausage in a big sausage
- Taiwanese sausage on a stick
- Fried chicken
- Oyster omelet
- Taro Balls
- Fried Taro Ball
- Ba-Wan (Taiwanese Meatballs)
- Taiwanese Sticky Rice Sausage
Taiwanese Famous Snacks
- Pineapple Tart (the best are found at the airport!)
- Xiao Long Bao
- XXL Fried Chicken
- Grilled Taiwanese Sausages
Unusual Taiwanese Delicacies
- Pig Blood Cake
- Stinky Tofu
- Small bun in a big bun
- Iron Egg (Tie Dan)
- Duck Blood Stew
Delicious Taiwanese Desserts
- QQ Bubble Tea
- Shaved Ice
- Ice Cream
- Natural Aiyu Jelly Drink
- A-Zhu Peanut Ice Cream Roll
- Crispy Spring Onion Pancake
We enjoyed the food we tried, walked around and doing a bit of shopping. The touristy setting, waves of large crowds of people walking towards you can be overwhelming! What I found best is to stand still and let the crowds pass you by. That way you won’t “lose” your friends.
Notoriously Stinky Tofu at Shilin Night Market Street Food
As we weave through the massive crowds and stalls, we were bent on tickling items off our bucket list. Perhaps a little too adventurous may be judging from the No.1 item on our list! The STINKY TOFU!
I was told that there are up to eleven levels of stinky tofu in Taiwan. Level 11 is the top grade that only elderly connoisseurs will appreciate.
A form of fermented tofu, you could sniff out these soya cubes from quite a distance!
I was once trapped in a private room in a Taiwanese restaurant with a huge platter of the stinky tofu served steamed being passed from one table to another. Generous Taiwanese friends who had a great time laughing when the Malaysians gag on it hosted the dinner.
Street pushcarts are selling these notoriously stinky but popular deep-fried cubes in the night markets.
Oh yes, the smell.
If you follow your nose, you’ll probably be assaulted about 6meters away by a smell that has been described as a cross of all the nasty bad smells.
You could buy a bag of these for a few dollars, deep-fried to crunchy cubes, served with lashings of some chili, vinegar and soy sauce with a sprinkling of spring onions. They look deceptive tame just like any fried tofu.
Pinch your nose and breathe through your mouth.
Here’s how to TRY eating Stinky Tofu…
Pinch your nose and breathe through your mouth as you use one of the bamboo skewers to pick up hot a fried cube and pop it in.
The texture is smooth and creamy inside after you bite through the hard crunchy skin. Taste wise; little bland just like any ordinary tofu.
Presumably, you’re still holding your breath up to this point. You swallow. Then you breathe in through your nostrils. That’s when it hits you HARD! Like an open sewer.
Conclusion: No one in my group could stomach any. I chowed down on 3 cubes of the Level 2 Tofu and survived!
Xiao Long Bao
There was a busy stall at the Shilin Night Market Street Food. We just couldn’t wait in the queue and we skipped it.
We wanted to experience the no. 1 delicacy bestowed with 1 Michelin Star in Taiwan.
Din Tai Fung’s famous branch at Taipei 101 Towers was the ultimate for a taste in artistry and a feast for the eyes in the pleating of the tiny folds of these delicious little Xiao Long Bao dumplings.
They are served in small bamboo trays lined with a white cabbage leave.
Steamed upon ordering, these little pockets of minced pork can be addictive.
It requires some chopstick skills to lift these plump bags filled with meaty hot soup supported by your porcelain spoon.
Dip the Xiao Long Bao in the young julienne ginger in black vinegar and nip a little of the skin to sip the soup. Then peel it back to eat.
And watch the empty bamboo trays stack up like conveyor belt sushi plates!
Taiwanese Pineapple Tart
Maybe it’s the mahjong tile shape that’s so arresting. Or love for all things rectangular.
Sponge bob square pants come to mind easily when I’m hankering after Taiwanese Pineapple Pastry Tarts which taste like shortcakes with jam infill!
Taiwan probably has the art of making pineapple tarts down pat. Arguably one of the best.
Whether some bakers have substituted pineapple with winter melon to make the jam less tart or acidic as well giving a less fibrous texture to the filling; I can’t tell although we tasted the many brands available.
Whatever it is, it’s the taste of the Taiwanese Pineapple Pastry Tarts that makes these so darn good with the varying level of sweetness and buttery taste to the pastry.
I guess the truth is out there somewhere.
So Which Pineapple Tart to Buy at Shilin Night Market Street Food?
What to buy, which to buy and the price to pay. Well, that’s up to your taste and budget. As always, these boxes of premium Taiwanese Pineapple Pastry Tarts (found at the airport) is a great souvenir to bring back home.
As usual, the choice between grilled or deep-fried meats is the hardest for fast food addicts, having to choose between sinking our teeth into juicy, crunchy fried chicken or meaty grilled sweet sausages.
Here we’re being taunted by Taiwanese sausages and XXL fried chicken the size of steaks. Well, make those plates!
Eating fat is not an excuse for being fat, right? The best way to enjoy a pineapple tart is with hot Chinese tea.
XXL Fried Chicken
These are breaded and deep-fried in hot oil and sprinkled with white pepper, chili, and fried basil powder. The chicken is crunchy on the outside and still slightly sweet and moist inside.
So be warned.
It’s addictive if you’re not counting calories.
Grilled Taiwanese Sausages
The faint smell of grilling red pork sausages is appetizing. One pleasantry of life.
Up close, the obsession is primal. It goes down to the chant of man, meat, fire.
They make the sausages from a proper ratio of shoulder meat and fatty pork. Sausages may be barbecued, pan-fried or steamed. But in the night markets, they are grilled over hot coals.
The sweetness of Taiwanese cooked sausages is robust, chewy and juicy. Once cut up into small pieces they serve these with raw garlic.
The perfect beer food.
Makes that limp Malaysian version of vacuum-packed chicken sausages fried with onions and birds eye chilis pale in comparison.
The kids would not share with eating an enormous bowl of shaved ice with their chosen toppings.
The treat was an amazing marriage of technology and wizardry as the ice had a cotton candy texture that just melts in your mouth like cool air.
I kid you not.
We ordered two types. How to resist Taiwan’s Ai Wen Mangoes best known for their sweet juiciness and summer flavors.
The topping had all kinds of jelly, custard, and mushy red beans. The entire bowl is doused repeatedly with syrup and extra-condensed milk.
Now you know my secret sin. It’s called sugar addiction!
QQ Bubble Tea
Non-alcoholic and non-carbonated, this milky tea is hard to push on to the uninitiated. QQ bubble tea fans will extoll the virtues of the giant black tapioca balls “bubbles”. Most enjoy the freshly brewed milk tea with ice.
The giant black QQ tapioca pearls are the main ingredient that transforms a plain insipid milky tea drink to a drink worth lining up for; even if it means being 10th in line!
But which stall?
The length of the QQs or queues (pun intended) seems to rival each other.
The “QQ” texture translated as the chewiness or springiness.
The tapioca balls are quite addictive to bite on.
Many this is a lifestyle rather than merely drinking tea, it’s worth a try in its birthplace even though it’s now available almost worldwide in cities since its invention in Taichung, Taiwan in the 1980s.
What about drinks?
Favourite drink is the brown sugar bubble milk drink. Look out for the stalls where you see the creative Boba Tea Flambé.
Natural Aiyu Jelly
Aiyu Jelly is an authentic Taiwan dessert. This is a natural jelly and not made from seaweed or gelatin (derived from bones of animals).
They make this jelly from the seeds a climbing plant of the figs. This plant grows in the high mountainous areas of Taiwan. Mostly found in the Alishan area.
A popular refreshing summer dessert. The Aiyu Jelly is served cold with lemon juice or honey.
What to wear to Shilin Night Market?
As you will be walking around, eating and shopping, do wear cool clothing (depending on the weather) and comfortable walking shoes.
How long do I need to spend here?
If you are not interested in doing any shopping, and only want to browse and try the street food, you will spend two hours here.
When the market is packed, it takes a longer time to walk around and you will need to wait for your food.
Is Shilin Night Market overpriced?
There have been many allegations of vendors at the night market overcharging foreign visitors, overpriced fruit. The city of Taipei is very concerned about the impact on the reputation of the night market, which is one of the city’s top tourist attractions.
Steps are in place for
- Vendors must clearly label prices,
- Inform consumers of their unit price and weight, and
- Confirm with buyers before slicing and packing fruit.
In 2012, several fruit vendors to sign a pledge to use price tags and electronic scales to ensure that pricing are more transparent.
Tip: If you don’t see clearly label prices, you can choose not to buy.
What’s the area like around Shilin Night Market?
Shilin Night Market is located in culturally rich area of Taipei near major shopping areas and hot springs.
If you are looking for a place to stay there are many hotels and other accommodations you’ll find within a mile.
Hotels near Shilin Night Market:
(0.62 km) UiNN Business Hotel
(0.74 km) Renaissance Taipei Shihlin Hotel
(0.21 km) Grandee Taipei Resort
(0.49 km) Papersun Hotel
(0.57 km) Tango INN Taipei JiHe
Review of Shilin Night Market
For visitors to Taipei, Shilin Night Market Street Food is the biggest and busiest night market not to miss.
The night market has hundreds of food stalls both indoors and outdoors. If you want to try the street food, you will need to walk and wait in line for your food to be cooked.
We didn’t get to explore the entire market as we only had a few hours after dinner. Even when we started in a group we split up to explore due to its massive size.
This can be challenging as the selection is wide and varied. It is almost impossible to eat a meal without waiting for quite a long time for your food.
We circle back to meet several times. Each one of us bought packets of street food to try. We didn’t even come close to trying all the food available.
In the end, we just left the tables to walk around to order food. It was hard to eat and walk.
If you like a carnival atmosphere with all kinds of games, you will love this night market. It is not really for tourists who want to shop for souvenirs.
We only found the underground food court with cheap food restaurants with actual chairs and table’s one could sit at.
Shilin Night Market is well worth a visit if you love food!
Shilin Night Market Street Food | Near Dadong Road, Danan Road, Wenlin Road and Jihua Road, Taipei, Taiwan | Jiantan MRT station
Shilin Night Market Opening hours: 5 pm – 2 am daily
How to get there by MRT
Take the Red Line 2 to Jiantan Station (劍潭), not Shilin Station. After leaving Exit 1, diagonally cross the street to the left to enter the night market.
Don’t worry it’s marked out from when you exit the metro. You will reach the market after a short 2 minutes walk away from the station.
Other Night Markets to Check Out
Raohe Night Market
North end of Kee Lung Road, Taipei, Taiwan
Song Shan station Exit 5
Gongguan Night Market
Between Roosevelt Rd and Tingzhou Rd Section 3
Gongguan MRT station exit 4
If you have other favorites on top of the 8 Best Street Food At Shilin Night Market Taipei, Taiwan, leave us a comment. We would love to try that on our next trip to Taiwan!
There are lots to eat if you get hungry in the middle of the night.