Raohe Street, Songshan District, Taipei
Visited 24th October 2009
A public holiday in honour of the Chung Yeung Festival means a sneaky trip across to Taipei for the long weekend. After arriving late Friday, Saturday was all about sightseeing: Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, the Wanhua District, Sun Yat-sen Hall and Taipei 101. Later in the evening, somewhat under duress I found myself at the massive Wufenpu Clothing Market. While originally a wholesale operation this massive market now does a roaring retail trade for the fashion conscious looking for a bargain. As I obviously don't fit that category I adopted my usual shopping strategy and grabbed a couple of cold beers from a convenience store and found a perch to watch the world spin past. After the bargains had been shot, bagged and hung it was only as short stroll to Raohe Street Night Market.
When ever I mention Taipei to my work colleagues they begin to rant about snacks, street food and night markets; while it may be a bit of a stereotype, it seems to me that Hong Kongers main interest in Taipei is their obsession with Taiwanese snack food. On my last trip I visited the vibrant Shilin Nightmarket and grotty Huaxi Street Tourist Night Market, so this was my first trip to Raohe Street. The market was smaller than I expected and the close sided street was jammed with stalls and a pulsating mass of punters. Though it was crowded the market had a vibrant and lively feel with plenty going on.
We arrived just planning to have a 'snack' but ended up having several. First off it was a couple of big, juicy pan-fried buns purchased from a bloke frying them up right in the middle of the road. Beautifully textured with soft, light dough and crispy bums, these were some tasty buns. We stepped into a little restaurant for some noodles and had a serve of la mian with beef and chilli, along with a really interesting plate of seaweed and tofu; a dish I'd never had before. The spicy noodles were good, though really rich with all the fat from the meat. The seaweed was an interesting dish that offered a good contrast to the heat and oily richness of the noodles. Apart from the always popular food stalls there were plenty of places selling a variety of clothes, handcraft, household stuff and crappy souvenirs. And yes somehow we managed to do more shopping on the way out. Too be honest I wasn't expecting much when I arrived at Raohe Street Night Market, but I loved it. Packing a surprisingly good punch for its size it is one of the better options amongst Taipei's parade of nightmarkets.
Visit market website.