Nowhere else in Asia have we seen night markets anywhere quite like Taiwan. Here's a bunch of photos and some bull from the crazy busy Liouhe Tourist Night Market in the southern city of Kaohsiung.
Almost by chance we booked a hostel just a block or two away from the famous Liouhe Tourist Night Market.
Liouhe Tourist Night Market is a busy bugger, one straight stretch of road a couple of blocks long and forever lively with tourists and locals alike, as far as we could figure anyway. The word 'tourist' is a food nerd turn-off, and yes, the market is more touristy than others, but it is still definitely worth a visit. Come to think of it, some of the best and busiest night markets we have come across in Asia have a mix of locals and tourists. So fear no loss of street cred here.
Like all the big destination night markets we visited in Taiwan, Liouhe Tourist Night Market is mostly about 'fun fair' style food, and the food quality varies from spectacular to average. It's fun for a walk and a peck, and there's not much else to do at night for a clothed and sober tourist.
We took photos of nearly every stall to give you an idea of what the place is like. So it's a long post...
The sign says Liouhe Tourist Night Market is open from 5pm to 5am. Man, it must be weird around here at 4am.
Loads of beers and fire water to make your night sparkle.
Oysters by the bucketful. The Taiwanese favour a small briny little oyster and stick it whatever they can.
A simple stall grilling squid.
Look at the size of the fish cutlets on the left, there were countless stalls with seafood here.
A Taiwanese hotdog stand. Don't let the word 'intestine' turn you off, these are fantastic.
Dog construction zone. The inside dog is a pork sausage, the outer 'bun' a sticky rice sausage. We've also seen these called 'big sausage little sausage' and similar.
A meaty sausage in a 'sausage' of sticky rice. The sausages are more 'sausage-y' or 'German' than most Asian sausages we've tried, they are meaty, porky and substantial. $30NT.
Squid-on-a-stick. Squid-on-a-stick. You exhibitionist.
Stuffed smallish lobsters, prawns on skewers, stuffed crabs and tiny abalone. Most of this seafood was scoffed down near to the stalls and the debris left behind in huge piles on tables.
Garlic encrusted lobster halves, ready for the grill. Could they possibly be as good as they looked? At the time we passed these off as gimmicky tourist food, now we wish we tried one.
The displays of the food were beautiful, the crabs stare at you with little beady eyes or through the fake eyes part of their decoration, their shell protection to ward off predators. Doesn't work very well.
Grilled scallops by the boxload.
This stall we have to try...
Little googies with prawnies in them.
The finished product. Six tiny quail eggs cooked with a prawn inside and garnished with lumps of pineapple. $50NT.
Disco light crab stall.
We liked this stall for the banner with the fish and the picture in the corner of the chef. We saw him later and there was some resemblance.
What do you think, a perfect likeness?
Grilled mushroom stall - we love our mushies.
A bucket of grilled mushies. Each one was deep fried and coated in plum powder and pepper. $60NT.
We're halfway down the strip now, and still hungry.
Some stalls are manned by wizened old timer hawkers and tops old uncles and aunties. Some stalls are manned by bored kids on minimum wage flogging something a bit gimmicky. Others seem to be folks with no clue giving the markets a go before giving up and trying something else. Others seem to be folks who've been talked into buying a franchise. There's a bit of everybody.
Fried stuff on sticks!
Ahaha - we spy some sought-after delights!
Coffin bread - deep fried bread filled with goo - looks like we went chicken'n'veg. The bread is a style popular in Asia, slightly sweet, which doesn't always go so well with savoury fillings. It's a flavour pairing we've seen in a number of places.
It's the kind of sandwich you want to eat with a knife and fork. So wrong but so right. The bread is deep fried first, then split open and filled with the white sauce and veg filling. It's called coffin bread because the end result mimics a coffin and its contents. Or because the calories will kill you. $60NT.
Happy squares of tofu.
So much deep fried food, sweet potato sticks, squid legs, fish balls. Remember these night markets are a lot like fun fairs, it's not about healthy eating or a square and proper meal [yes Nanna!].
Stretchy Turkish ice cream.
Pepper cakes, a kind of steamed bun filled with pork and onion.
This stall holder has the right food for what his t-shirt is selling.
Perhaps a bit of on the job food sampling goes on here?
Small wontons being made outside in a stall and served inside for a soup.
Select what you want to go into your bowl, noodles, veg, meat. Priced according to how fancy you get.
This mullet roe we see all over Taiwan but didn't get to try. It seemed expensive, and most stalls selling it had fussy and finickity buyers pouring over which ones were best. The truffle of Taiwan?
We went back for a red bean waffle the next day, it was kinda average.
Octopus legs on a stick.
Milk fudge salesman.
Pick your gizzards!
Eel was popular but we never got around to trying it, dangnabbit (we were in Taiwan for three weeks and didn't have enough time to try everything we wanted.)
Happy kissing ducks.
Goat meat stall, probably in a heavy herbed and spiced broth.
This lady is just about finished for the night and so are we.
Sweet crunchy fried taro. Mmmm. The sugar coating was hard and heavy, we snacked on this for breakfast the next day too. Better than cocoa pops.
The obsession with things on sticks was huge. Just about anything was stuck on a stick and given a go over a grill.
Huge grills for frying up chicken, ducks and more stick based morsels.
The stalls that offer more substantial feeds often have tables and chairs. There are also plenty of sit-down restaurants around the edges of most night markets we visited in Taiwan. Some folks dismiss the food quality at night markets, but good food is around if you look, often just behind or to the side.
Mmmm, this looks weird, better get one...
Mystery item under construction - we see oysters, greens and a googy going into pastry.
It's deepfried and comes out looking like a big deep fried dim, or 'dimmy' to Melbournians.
Inner dimmy. It's delicious. A good oystery flavour mixed with egg and veg.
We liked the tables set up in the middle of the market so you could sit down and eat properly. Most night market food is made to be eaten out of your hands while you stand up, but here there were some places to sit and eat and enjoy.
We just ran out of stomach room to try these salted sticky rice balls, one of many of our missed eating regrets. We ummed and arrred quite a lot about whether we could fit them in. Wish we did...
Plenty of seating, especially as the night got later.
This resto on the corner of the night market seemed to be open all day and night and always had customers. Alas we didn't get a chance to try it. Next time...
The Liouhe Tourist Night Market runs off Liouhe Street. Get off the subway at Formosa Boulevard Station and follow the signs.
We love Taiwan.