Just a little walk down from 龙山寺 will bring you to the oldest night market of Taiwan, the Huaxi Street Night Market! (华西街夜市). With its long history, it was also the first to undergo government revamp and was then rebranded as a tourist night market. By the way, many scenes of the hit Taiwan gangster movie, Monga (艋舺), is shot onsite here and around 万华 district.
But before you think that I'm going to talk about all the foodie goodies in the street, I have to say that actually I ate nothing here. Well you see, the general appeal of the street is lacking. Overpriced tourist souvenirs, awkward fashion apparels and the most attractive meat on the menu: Snake.
Huaxi Street is also known as Snake Street due to large numbers of restaurants dedicated to the wild delicacy. Live snakes that are thicker and longer than three of me are displayed in tanks (No photography allowed) and any parts that you can (or can't)imagined to be eaten are soaked in yellowish-liquid jars. Well, I will pass that.
But does that mean the area isn't worth a visit at all? No way! You see, adjacent to and at the entrance of Huaxi Street is Guangzhou Street (广州街), a stretch of open-air night market that I am more comfortable with. With push carts in the middle and shops at the side, there's quite a fair bit of things to eat and see here!
For this Taiwan trip, our habit was to find a sit-down place for abit of staple food, before moving on to portable street snacks. And when I see the 鲁肉饭 specialty store beaming at me, I was drawn like a fly to a light!
鲁肉饭 (Large, NT35 ~ SGD 1.60), 鲁肉板条 (NT 35)
If you still don't know what is this, you should read more of my Taiwan entries already! They added fish floss for an extra fluffy dimension, and the meat here is even more melt-in-your-mouth with minimal lean bits, though I'm sure not everyone welcomes that.
The 板条 noodle was much like a thick kway teow with its smooth and chewy texture. Another nice carbo alternative!
炸黑轮 (NT10 ~ SGD 0.45)
With a heavy Japanese influence, Taiwanese really liked their street snacks on wooden skewers, regardless of meat, fishcake-like stuffs or vegetables. The one here is basically fish paste that is rolled with hard-boiled eggs slices, coated in a thick batter and then deep-fried. A real crispy hot snack!
There were also seafood vendors with tables on the side walk, reminding me of old-styled 大牌档 in Hong Kong. Prawns, fishes, or oysters, steamed, fried or baked. Take your pick!
One of my favourite street dessert is a make-to-order ice cream roll that is topped with freshly-grounded peanut bits. That huge block of candied peanuts looked good enough to gnaw on its own, releasing mouth-watering peanut fragrance as the shaver goes over it.
花生卷 (NT30 ~ SGD 1.40)
Using a thin popiah-like skin, scoops of yam, pineapple and peanut ice cream are added alongside the toppings. Rolling it up and biting off a huge chunk, the delicate skin works wonder with the ice cream (much like our traditional bread and ice cream), while the sweet crunchy peanut bits are surprisingly well balanced by refreshing doses of coriander leaves (I don't usually like this on its own). Perfect!
Maybe I'm wrong about Huaxi Street as I didn't complete walking it (lost interest halfway), but its old world charm and the bustling Guangzhou Street is still worth a night of visit!
华西街夜市 Huaxi Street Night Market Directions: Same as Longshan temple. With your back facing the temple, turn right and walk down Guangzhou street for about 2 minutes, you will see the pedestrian-only stretch pretty soon. Another 5 - 10 minutes walk will bring you to the entrance of Huaxi Street on your right.