In my last post, I shared about my gastronomical journey at one of the most popular traditional street food night markets in Taipei – Ningxia Night Market [read more about the foodie adventure in this article: Taipei Ningxia Night Market: Cheap & Good Nostalgic Eats (I)]. Now, in this long overdue final instalment of my March Taiwan trip, let’s head out to Nanjichang Night Market (which means South Airport Night Market in Chinese), a traditional night market off the beaten tourist path but well-loved by the locals to hunt for more cheap & good local delights! 🙂
How To Get There 交通指南
Located in old Taipei City’s Wanhua District, Nanjichang Night Market is not near any MRT station, thus making access to the night market for foreign travellers a bit more difficult. However, there are many buses that will bring you to Nanjichang Apartment bus stop, which is just in front of the compact night market: #12, 204, 205, 212, 212 (express), 223, 249, 250, 253, 670, 671, 673 & Blue 29. I downloaded the Taipei Bus Information & Transit System app on my mobile when I was there & could find the most convenient bus to bring me to Nanjichang quickly from Hotel Relax 2 [read my review of the hotel stay here: Another Relaxing Stay @Hotel Relax 2 near Taipei Main Station] where I stayed for 2 nights.
You may refer to the Taipei Bus official website to plan your route too: http://www.taipeibus.gov.taipei/Dybus.aspx?Lang=En. It is less than 20 min / 10-stop ride from vicinity of Taipei Main Station, on buses such as 223, 249, 607.
The Gastronomical Journey 美食之旅
As mentioned earlier, Nanjichang Night Market is not very big, but it is home to many palatable food popular with locals. Strictly speaking, it is not really a night market because shops are open in the day too, just that it will liven up as the night approaches. One of the highly recommended shops was the chicken rice shop pictured above, located at the entrance of the night market. Indeed, as I alighted the bus & approached the conspicuous night market signage, I could already see the shop packed with customers, with many queuing outside for a seat. It was always crowded whenever I passed by the shop throughout my time there. However, I didn’t join the queue as I was alone & thought I should leave my stomach for other foods instead of filling it full with one bowl of rice. 😛
As I arrived at the night market just slightly after 6 pm, it wasn’t that crowded yet & I had the chance to slowly check out all the stalls before deciding what I wanted to try. After 1 round of window shopping, I decided to purchase a roasted long pancake (15 TWD, ~S$0.65) from this no-name stall at a corner of the night market. The charcoal-grilled pancake was so fragrant & delicious that I decided to come back for a second round to try its red bean pancake (12 TWD, ~S$0.55). The second try didn’t disappoint too, although I had to join a queue this time, probably because more people had knocked off from work & could come to grab a slice of this traditional goodness! See below for a short video clip I took of the pancakes being prepared fresh on the spot. 😉
After the yummy snack, my stomach started to growl so I decided to find a place to sit down & enjoy a local dinner at Keelung Tempura Combination. This was another highly recommended stall that I found online which I thought was worth trying as I could choose the amount & variety I desired to eat. Moreover, it was similar to one of my favourite Singapore dishes – yong tau foo (Hakka Chinese cuisine consisting primarily of tofu filled with ground meat mixture or fish paste). So I selected 3 items: vegetable roll, fish tempura & glutinous rice roll (80 TWD, ~S$3.60) at the counter & sat down at the empty table in front of the stall for my dinner to be served.
This was a really satisfying sit-down dinner, despite a no-frills setting by the roadside. Nonetheless it was filled with nostalgic goodness at a really wallet-friendly price. If you are game for spicy food, don’t forget to dip your food in the special chilli, which will definitely give the kick! 😉 I was caught unaware of its spiciness & coughed so badly after tasting some chilli. But thanks to a lady sitting at the same table as me, I regained my composure after she passed me some tissue & soup to stop the cough. I felt grateful to the lady who was not related to me yet offered a helping hand. 🙂
After 2 stalls of good food, I was thirsty & wanted to gulp a cup of icy cold beverage asap. When in Taiwan, pearl milk tea is often seen as the must-try beverage, & yes, there were plenty of such beverage stalls in the night market. However, it was night time & I didn’t want to risk losing my beauty sleep after drinking the caffeine. Hence, I opted for an iced cup of fresh milk with pearls instead from the above stall, at just 35 TWD (~S$1.60). While it was nothing elaborate, it was one of my last few opportunities for a traditional cup of Taiwanese goodness before I returned to Singapore the next day! 😂
I only consumed food & beverage from 3 stalls as above & already felt so full it was impossible to stuff 1 more pan-fried pork bun into my stomach. What a pity! Otherwise I would gladly try the above Master Yu Shanghai Pan-fried Pork Bun as I could see the stall consistently lined with customers waiting to sink their teeth into the fragrant buns. Noticed that each bun only cost 15 TWD (~S$0.65), & you could get 1 free for every 5 pieces purchased, really cheap! Must try it next time! 😉
As the night was still young (before 9 pm), I walked around the night market a few times, just to make sure I didn’t miss out any tantalising cheap & good eats before leaving. Finally, I settled on a small pack of popcorn chicken snack (40 TWD, ~S$1.80) pictured above to pack as supper in the hotel as I realised it’s been a while since I laid hands on Taiwanese fried chicken. 😛 The snack tasted like something we could prepare at home, prepared in an unassuming stall that you might even miss if you were in a hurry. 😂 I wouldn’t say it was a wonderful choice but it was nonetheless comfort food packed generously for the amount I paid.
由于时间还早，我虽然很饱，但还是继续在夜市游荡好几回，以免错过任何隐藏的古早平价美食。离开前，终于决定买上图可见的一小份碳烤盐酥鸡（40台币）回旅店当宵夜，因为好像好久没尝台湾炸鸡了。😜 盐酥鸡的味道就像是自己家里烹煮的一样，而这号称”台湾第一家碳烤盐酥鸡“的摊贩也朴实无华。如果没仔细留意，应该就会错过了。😂 纵使盐酥鸡的味道还好而已，但只付40台币，分量却如此多，也算是平价解馋小吃吧。
Post-trip thoughts 南機場夜市游后记
While the scale of Nanjichang Night Market was nowhere near other touristy night markets such as Shilin, Raohe or even Ningxia, it was a great foodie trip I didn’t regret making. Everything in Taipei, including food, is comparatively more expensive than in other parts of the island, but over at Nanjichang, I could still find many cheap & good traditional street food to sink my teeth into. Total damage was only 182 TWD (~S$8.20) from 4 stalls, similar to my expenditure at Ningxia Night Market.
So stop lamenting that it’s hard to find cheap & good food in Taipei at night & make your way to Nanjichang Night Market soon! 😉