[Taipei] Taiwan is famous for its night markets and the Shi Da Night Market 師大夜市 is a good introduction to this eating and shopping experience.
First-time tourists can warm up here before venturing to bigger night markets like Shi-Lin, Raohe, and Ximending.
I like Shi Da because it feels young, laid back and not as touristy.
Located in one of the trendiest neighbourhoods in Taipei, Shi-Da Night Market is in a university area near National Taiwan Normal University. The main market street is Longquan Street (龍泉街), running parallel to Shi-Da Road (師大路).
It is an area well known for its alternative style, with rock bars, cafes and restaurants dotting the area and its neighbour Gongguan.
It primarily caters to young locals and residents from nearby university looking for cheap fashion finds and night market food.
Shi Da Night Market is popular for its trendy retail shops for millennials (especially for ladies) more than its selection of eateries.
Along Longquan Street, you will find apparel, bags, and accessories designed by young entrepreneurs with start-up businesses. Shop here if you want to support the local fashion community.
Since most of the market-goers are students, including foreign students, the food sellers price their items very reasonably. Those who reside nearby grab meals here on a regular basis.
Generally well-lit except for some dark alleys, it is not as busy as other bigger night markets. Shi-Da has its own fair share of activity though. With the popularity of online shopping, you are likely to see scooters riding along the roads, basically deliveries and couriers.
As a smaller, compact night market, you can tour the entire place easily in a shorter time. It is spread around several small alleyways clustered together.
Because of the recent rezoning of the area, many of the unlicensed food sellers may have relocated to other markets in the city, and I noticed that it wasn’t as bustling as before.
Here are some must-try stalls from Shi Da Night Market:
Shi Yun 师园盐酥鸡
This is deep fried food wonderland. Shi Yun is famous for its deep-fried chicken, juicy and flavoured with garlic and herbs.
It has been around since 1984.
What you do is to pick your ingredients (they also have bean curd, vegetables, etc.), place them in a basket, and they will deep fry them for you in an open kitchen.
Otherwise, you can also get their signature big serving of chicken, priced at NTD65 (SGD2.90).
Hsu Ji Sheng Jian Bao 許記生煎包
One of my favourite stalls, and the waiting time was about 10 to 15 minutes. Hsu Ji is another long-time seller is which sells only one product: Sheng Jian Baos.
These are minced pork-stuffed dumplings which are steamed, yet with a pan-fried bottom layer. They have been attracting long queues of buyers since 1984.
Each is priced at NT$10 (SGD0.45), 5 for NT$40 (SGD1.80), while 12 in a box is at NT$90 (SGD$4.00).
The skin was thin, packed with moisture, though some people might have already been broken. Be careful when you bite into one, as the juice could just burst out and spill on your shirt (like what happened to me.
Li Ayi Shui Jian Bao 李阿姨水煎包
Similarly, there is Aunt Lee’s Sheng Jian Bao 李阿姨水煎包 that sells these steamed pork or cabbage buns at NT$13 (SGD$0.58) each.
Deng Long Lu Wei 燈籠滷味
You shouldn’t miss the stall called Deng Long Lu Wei 燈籠滷味 – directly translated as “Lantern Braised Food”, identified by non-Mandarin readers by its hanging red lanterns.
What you do is to grab a tong and basket aka how you would pick Yong Tau Hu. Then pick out food items that you enjoy.
There are a least more than 50 picks, from the usual fish ball, tau pok, sausages, enoki mushroom to pig intestines, duck parts and some unidentified objects. The MUST PICK for me was the pack of 王子面 (Taiwan’s version of Mamee) for a salty carbo-load.
The items are cooked in a savoury braised sauce, so items like tau pok will absorb the delicious gravy. After that, the stall helper would pour in a variety other special sauces and topped up with salted vegetable and spring onions.
If you tapao (takeaway), you get the entire combination in one big plastic clear bag.
Niu Lao Da 牛老大
If you are looking for noodles, check out Niu Lao Da, literally means Beef Boss. Its speciality is beef noodle soup with knife-cut noodles. You can take a photo with their noodle-slicing robot!
Bei Gang Dou Hua 北港豆花
Taiwanese style beancurd dessert shop, added with toppings such as red bean, green bean and peanuts cooked till soft. The shop uses brown sugar, so you get that caramelized sweetness with the dessert soups.
Lan Jia Gua Bao 藍家割包
Consider these Taiwanese Pork Bun Sandwiches. A Taiwanese friend told me this is a must-have.
Over at Lan Jia, it is best to choose half and half of two types of fillings — pork fat or pork meat. Each is priced at NT$50 (SGD2.25).
The soft bun would then be further filled with pickled greens and peanuts, handled to you in a plastic bag. Eating can be messy, and it is best to consume this in big bites.
Zhen Pin Wei Charcoal-Grilled Thai Cuisine 珍品味泰式炭烤
Specialising in Thai-style grilled meats and rice sets, such as Charcoal Chicken Leg Rice, Charcoal Grilled Pork Rice, Deep Grilled Pork Chop Rice and Yellow Curry Rice. Priced at NT$100 to NT$110 (SGD4.50 – SGD4.95).
Arnor Crepes 阿诺可丽饼
Cooked-upon-order golden brown crepes with different filling and sauces.
There are more than 90 different flavours and combinations available. However, do not worry as they will put up a ranking of the top-selling flavours.
I Love Bow
好好味港式小吃 Ho Ho Mei
This stall serving Hong Kong-style pineapple buns and tea drinks enjoys constant queues. The signature Polo Bun with Cheese (NT$40, SGD1.80) was as good as those in Hong Kong, with that crispy outer layer and buttery fragrance.
Shi Da is quite different from traditional night markets as it is a place of diverse features. There is an open-air theatre at the Normal University Park next to Shugu Road. It is a venue for performance and creativity of the young locals of Taipei.
Take the Green Line 3 to Taipower Building Station (台電大樓). Take Exit 3, then make a right turn. Make another quick right to reach Shi-Da Road (師大路). You’ll find the market along both Shi-Da road and in the alleys off both sides. The night market is located at lane 39 and 49.
Taking the MRT, you’ll walk around 10-30 minutes to reach it. Take the taxi if you want to be taken closer to the market itself.
Opening hours are generally from noon onwards until around midnight or slightly after. Closes beyond midnight on weekends and holidays.
Shida Night Market 師大夜市
Lane 39, Shida Road, Da’an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106 (Near MRT Taipower Building Station)
Tel: +886 2 2720 8889
Opening Hours: 5:00pm – 12:00mn Daily
Google Maps – Shida Night Market
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Ningxia Night Market 寧夏夜市 (Taipei)
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Ay Chung Rice Noodles 阿宗麵線 (Ximending, Taipei)
Fu Hang Dou Jiang 阜杭豆漿 (Zhongxiao East Road, Taipei)
Tian Jin Flaky Scallion Pancake 天津蔥抓餅 (Yong Kang St, Taipei)