Shilin must be Taiwan's most famous night market. Apparently it lost some of it's mojo when it was redeveloped some time back, with many hawkers now in a basement food court, but it's still big and buzzy and popular with tourists and locals.
Taiwanese night markets are mostly about fun snacky food, lots of fried stuff and grilled things on sticks, but when you've had your fill of junk food you can always find somewhere to sit down and have a more substantial soup, stir fry, or even a steak.
Anyhoo, here's a bunch of mostly random photos and few videos...
Shilin Night Market is easy to get to. Catch a train to Jiantan, the stop before Shilin, and follow the exit signs, or the herd.
Right at the start of the market this fruit stall attracted a crowd.
Soursop - incredible. Sweet and creamy. Fruit is sold by the kilo, we bought half a cup for about $150 NT. We read later on Trip advisor that it's common to overpay hell tourist prices for fruit here, but we didn't care, this was the most amazing fruit we had on the whole trip.
Fresh, sweet strawberries in crunchy toffee, it tastes even better because it's on a stick. $50NT
There was a frog egg vendor with the same signage in nearly every night market we visited, we wondered if it was a frog egg franchise. We never got around to trying one but we think the frog eggs are actually basil seeds.
There's loads of clothes stalls too.
Fresh coated mochi maker.
Chicken wing spectacular.
The night markets are full of fun snacky foods but if you sniff around the edges you can find somewhere to sit down for a full meal. Like this joint.
Some of the places will call you in or lure you with piles of seafood stacked up outside. This place is one big tourist market for locals and visitors alike so don't feel like you are not getting something 'authentic' if you just want to sit down and eat. That's our excuse anyway.
Picture menu, with English - yay!
There's some killer choices for the adventure eater, what a menu! Cod chin, Interstinal Wang duck blood tofu and Happy Encounter all look good.
Kang kong stir fried with mutton. We tasted a hint of cumin in the sauce.
Our first Taiwnese oyster omelette, fantastic. The magic is in the sauce and it's different in every place we tried.
The oysters were little but provided bursts of oystery flavour in between the starchy bits.
Squid and basil stir fry. Basil mixed in with soy and oyster sauce was a real flavour kick, a bit of a revelation. We found it in more dishes as we travelled and it became a favourite.
Plum powder flavoured sweet potato chips.
Singapore style BBQ pork, flattened and crisped.
Deep fried squid chips.
More toffee fruit on sticks.
Mrs Smoothie Lady made us a killer papaya smoothie. We tried a couple more on our trip but none were as good as this place.
Fashion stalls are mixed in amongst some of the food stalls. There are endless twisting little lanes filled with more and more shops.
"Hello? Yes, we have deep fried things. Anything you want!"
Hot Star is famous for it's fried chicken. If you come through the main entrance it is the first stall you will see along with the queue.
We brave the queue, it's not a long wait and the man at the front manages it well by giving you a bag for the number of chicken bits you will order.
Waiting in the queue for chicken, a small movie to give you some sound as well as sight. Sorry there's no smell.
Hot Star is a well oiled machine, they're pumping out fried chook like crazy. Which is probably why it is so good, it's so fresh.
Here it is folks, the famous XXL Hot Star chicken. Two hands big, super crunchy with added spice, $60NT (a little under $2.50!). We shared this and had enough left over for breakfast. It was even yummier cold. You can now get Hot Star chook in Sydney, check it out here.
There's a large undercover section nearby with lots of markety souvenir stuff.
The downstairs food court is huge and it's packed with punters and stalls. And poodles.
Some Street Food TV to show you more.
Oyster omelettes under construction.
More monster sausages. Taiwan does great sausages, an unexpected hit.
Huge pots of squid and seafood soup.
There's a lot of seating downstairs, great to get out of the rain. It works like most food courts where you sit and order close to the stall you like.
Preparing the chicken butts.
Grilled chicken anus. It simply tastes like gristly fatty chicken with a little sweet pop of cinnamon, not like poo.
We pass by this stall selling various fried discs. We find out later what they are.
White gourd is a popular drink, a little bitter but super refreshing.
Seafood by the bucket is popular, as well as smaller plates of cooked and cold prawns and molluscs.
Back to the fried discs. They intrigued us, they are like nothing we have seen before. They are called dan bing bao, and we dig in.
Choose your flavour from a long list. There's a typical mix of sweet and savoury, sometimes together.
A disc is placed on a pancake and covered with your flavour of choice. We choose an original and a coconut.
Roll up the pancake and then smash the hell out of it to break up the fried goodness inside.
Street Food vision shows you how it's done.
The finished product. It tasted like a dry Weetbix with coconut wrapped in a pancake. Shawn loved it to bits. Alison didn't, perhaps because she had the plain one, these things need flavour.
Teppanyaki is huge in Taiwan, it's an everyday thing rather than a special occasion treat like it is in Australia.
Large soup pots with your choice of additions.
Lamb ribs in herbal soup (middle). We will meet again in the future.
We so wanted to try these but stomachs were full. Mr Shawn is obsessed with green food.
Strips of fish skin.
Most night markets have a funfair section.
A lot of the games are charmingly handmade and old fashioned. They look like a ye olde time pachinko.
"Call the police...". "Help me!"
We saw a shrimping stall at a few of the night markets we visited. Catch a prawn with a tiny fishing rod and they will cook it on the grill for you.
Heaping iced treats to finish off the night, but we were full.
Night night Shilin Night Market. We exit through the entry.
As we leave the markets, we find this orange scrounger out in the streets. But he's not scrounging for food, a bit of a scratch behind the ear does him nicely.
We love Taiwan (and pussycats!)