Tuesday, August 8, 2017

[TRAVEL] Taipei Eats: Ningxia Night Market & Ximending

Hello! Welcome back to another episode of my Taiwan travelogue! 
I guess I have spent enough time to go into details on my 9D8N Taiwan trip :D 

You can view the detailed posts here:

9D8N Itinerary in Taiwan
Day 1: KL - Taoyuan - Taichung
Day 2: Taichung - Sun Moon Lake (Blog)
Day 3: Sun Moon Lake - Qingjing - Taipei City (Blog)
Day 4: Ximending, Taipei
Day 5: Jiufen - Shifen - Pingxi - Ruifang, Taipei (Blog)
Day 6: Jiufen - Danshui, Taipei (Blog)
Day 7: Danshui - Daan District, Taipei (Blog)
Day 8: Yang Ming Shan National Park - Shilin, Taipei (Blog)
Day 9: Taipei 101 - KL

And for this post, I am excited to share about my night market experience in Taiwan. Almost everyone on earth knows about the famous Shilin Night Market (士林夜市) in the hub of Taipei, but to be honest, I get bored within 30 minutes when visiting this night market. 

Here are some of the reasons why:
▻ Overrated – they have the same kind of street food that I am already bored of.
▻ Overly crowded – the massive crowd and the queue. Just too much to handle.
▻ Pricey – due to the popularity, everything here is slightly more expensive than other local markets we’ve been.
▻ Repetitive – they have at least 10 stalls selling bubble milk tea, fried chicken, and yes…it repeats.


So..... Which is my favourite night market in Taiwan?  Definitely Feng Jia Night Market in Taichung! But if your trip only focuses on Taipei, be sure to visit this old charm – Ning Xia Night Market (宁夏夜市) in Datong District.

Ning Xia Night Market (宁夏夜市)
Ningxia Rd, Datong District, Taipei City, 103 (台北市大同區宁夏路)
Night Market Opening Hours: 4pm – 12am daily

How To Get There:
❤ Take MRT (Red Line) to Shuang Lian Station (雙連) and walk for about 10 minutes to the night market.
  
This area is considered the “older” side of New Taipei City, as we can see many old shops lining the narrow lanes, and also it is less crowded as compared to the tourist spots such as Ximending and Shilin.

Approaching evening, the crowd (especially young school students) starts flocking at this area while the street vendors fill the space with colorful parasols, preparing their goods for the evening.

Ning Xia Night Market is all about food, food and fooooood! Seriously I don’t think there are much other stuff there apart from some game stalls and a Family Mart nearby. 95% of the vendors there are food stalls.

Although it is relatively smaller in scale, the varieties of over 30 food stands are sufficient for us to spend 2 consecutive evenings there, as we really love those over 50-year-old delicious snacks and savouries.

I saw Malaysian Roti Telur here too!!


Common Taiwanese snacks such as stinky tofu, sausage, fried chicken, taro cake, tofu pudding and many other traditional dishes can be found here. But the No.1 must-try item here is the Oyster Omelette (蚵仔煎).

The oyster omelette shop is located in a shoplot adjacent to the night market, right below a red-and-white C U Hotel building. Sorry I forgot to take picture of the shopfront. But you’d probably notice the long queue at this small shop, and be attracted to the aroma of “wok hei” it exudes.

The texture? Very different from the usual omelette we have! This is extra starchy, “gluey” and rich in oyster flavour. Highly recommended!

Some of the other good food that we manage to try include the classic Braised Pork Rice (滷肉飯), Glutinous Rice Ball Desserts, Ah Zhu Peanut Ice Cream Roll (Original one is in Jiufen), Grilled Mushrooms with Assorted Spices/Sauces and lots more.

The Mochi Dessert stall is highly recommended too, be it the hot or cold mochi balls coated with thick shaved peanuts!

Recommended? YES!
If you LOVE food hunting, you gotta visit Ning Xia Night Market! 


A replicate of Original Cheesecake from Danshui is found here too - Don't buy,
if you have a chance to visit Danshui because the quality here is far below my expection.

Xi Men Ding Hipster District (西门町)
Another common place to visit in Taipei is Xi Men Ding (西门町). If Tokyo has its Harajuku, Korea has its Myeongdong, then Taipei has the infamous Ximending hipster district where we are bombarded with hundreds of food stalls, fashion stores and neon lit buildings surrounding us wherever we go. We can easily spend 4-5 hours here shopping, eating and enjoying the vibes here.

Now let the pictures do the talking!

How To Get There:
❤ Take MRT (Blue/Green Line) to Ximen (西門) and take Exit 1. 
❤ Or take the Taipei city bus - a lot of them will pass by this popular area. Frequency: Every 5-10 minutes.

#FiShOOTD in Ximending

Weather Check
 ❤ 18 degree Celcius and windy during the day
 ❤ 14 degree Celcius and heavy rain during evening

Street performers - be it magician, singer wannabe, or basketball pro - are everywhere in Ximending.

I love the lively vibes here especially during evening where every nook and corner here is filled with small vendors offering different fashion pieces, snacks, delicacies, etc.

Hot Star Large Fried Chicken is the No.1 fried chicken shop in Ximending. Definitely a must-try 
but do expect a long queue especially during peak hours (after 5pm onwards)

Sophisca Specialty Candy - Best place to get handcrafted chocolates as souvenirs!

Don't forget to try the super tall ice cream here (although the weather is quite cold during my visit)!

And Taiwanese Fruity Beers from 7-Eleven / Family Mart too!

Finally...the main highlight in Ximending is of course the famous Ay-Chung Flour-Rice Noodle (阿宗麵線) that garners the most crowd in the shopfront. The queue early in the evening can go as long as a 20-minute wait!

There is no table / seating space here - Just place your order, and you'll get your bowl of noodles, immediately. Then add your own condiments from the self-service toppings station (such as vinegar, pureed garlic, and chili sauce) and start slurping at the street! 

The taste? An excellent hearty bowl of silky smooth noodles with thick salty gravy that tastes like a combination of smoked fish and beef jerky. Truly satisfying and a big bowl only costs NTD65 (=RM9)!

Also during my visit to Taipei, coincidentally Gracegift is having a pop-up store at Ximending and I get super duper excited over all the Disney ballerinas, heels and sneakers! This series has the complete Disney characters for you to choose from...

My Snow White heels? I would love to get a pair but it costs a whopping NTD1,680 (=RM240).
Anyway I bought another pair of Dale Dale sneakers instead :D

Art and craft stuff is also quite common here. Trust me, you'd be amazed by the varieties they have!

If you are feeling lucky, try the vending machine -- Insert NTD100 (=RM15) and get a mysterious gift from the machine :P
Alright, the prize is nothing great, but this is quite fun okay!

In the evening, Ximending looks like a whole different place -- more vibrant and busier than daytime.
We have our last sip of Starbucks and head back to the hotel after spending a whole day here.

Now that we have come to an end of my Taiwan travelogue series! 

Perhaps I am not really a city person when it comes to vacation, I don’t really enjoy Taipei city as much as I do in Sun Moon Lake, Jiufen or Yangmingshan National Park. But overall it is a great experience to discover more about the most hyped part of Taipei :)

Hopefully during my next visit to Taiwan, it would be a whole new adventure in Kaohsiung (高雄) – probably lounging under a palm tree by the beach and basking in the soft cool breeze as the sun goes down!

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