Shilin Night Market – Taipei

The food adventures continued on Saturday night when, after a day wandering around the malls adjacent to Taipei 101, we rode the subway to the north end of Taipei to visit the Shilin Night Market.  This is the largest night market in Taipei.

Foods we enjoyed at the official food section of the market (as opposed to the endless rows of street vendors scattered throughout the rest of the market) included these dishes:

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What did we eat?  I’m afraid I didn’t take careful notes, especially while we were inside the food portion of the market.  But from the upper left, clockwise, we have fried noodles with a ground pork mixture, a fried “pancake” that seems to be mostly made from corn starch with pickled cucumbers on top, an omelet with shrimp and greens with a thick sweet sauce, and steamed rice with another ground pork mixture.

The food in the indoor portion of the market was, honestly, a bit bland and a lot oily.  Corn starch and oil were two of the main ingredients.  The food was certainly interesting but the blandness, combined with the overwhelming smell of stinky tofu (a fermented tofu the smell of which some compare to death boiled over) from adjacent stalls, drove us back outside where we continued our hunt for food from the street vendors.  Full story in the video.

Focusing my energies on video, I ended up not shooting pictures of the wide variety of interesting food available at the food court in Taipei 101’s shopping mall.  See Andy’s entry to enjoy those pictures.


Trip to the land of honey part 2

After some political interruptions, let’s return to the second part of my trip to the land of honey – the literal translation of Bangnamphung, the location of the nearby weekend floating market.

P1060879 The floating market isn’t really a “floating” market.  Instead, it is a weekend market built alongside the khlong (canal) that may have at one point years ago had some vendors in boats but which eventually was developed by well-meaning local officials into a destination for local tourists. 

It is still a fun place to visit, but isn’t the quaint local market that you might envision.  Still, there aren’t too many foreigners there.  I did see one other but I pushed him into the water so there wouldn’t be any competition.

Some areas of the market sell crafts and products, others sell fresh fruits and vegetables, but most of the market space is dedicated to prepared foods.  This is because, as any Thai will tell you, there is absolutely nothing more fun to do than eat!  Eat in a group and you’re in an even higher plane of heaven.

Below, Khun Tawn borrows my straw hat as he prepares to chow down.


Here’s a guide to our culinary explorations.  First, we enjoyed that tasty snack that thrills your tongue, pak pbed.  Literally translated, “duck mouth” or grilled duck beak.  Let’s get a closeup of that beauty:


Here’s one of several vendors grilling the delicacy, proof that you can eat pretty much every last part of a duck except the quack.


And did Paul try one?  Despite the pose, I wouldn’t count on it!  Aori, however, thinks they are the best thing in the world, or pretty darn close to it.  They taste smoky and the beak is edible albeit crunchy.  The tongue (still intact) is supposed to be the best part.  As my paternal grandmother used to say, to each his own.


Moving on to other delights, we have hoy tod or fried mussels.  Normally fried in a batch with scrambled eggs, this vendor did a little play on tradition by frying an individual mussel in a half-moon shaped khanom khrug pan with a little egg to make versions of the original dish.  Tawn didn’t feel like it was an improvement.


We also had some khao klug gapii, friend rice with shrimp paste served with a variety of condiments including lime, cucumbers, shallots, green beans, chili, scrambled eggs, green mango, dried shirmp, and sweet and sour pork sauce.


Turning to some more traditional Thai foods, here is som tam, the ubiquitous green papaya salad that is crunchy, sweet, vinegary, salty and spicy all at once.  A fixture of northeastern Thailand, it has been adopted by Bangkokians as a de facto official dish in part because so many people who live in the Big Mango are from the northeast of Thailand.


Something you can find in nearly every culture, fried chicken wings.  I don’t know what they use to season them, but these were incredible.


Our little culinary tour included some flavors of Muslim Thai food, predominately from the south of the Kingdom but brought into the local culinary lexicon by the many small pockets of Muslims who live in and around Khrungthep.  Here is gai satay, chicken skewers served with a peanut sauce.  The onions and cucumbers, pickled in rice wine vinegar, provide a clean contrast to the sweet richness of the dipping sauce.


Below, the satay vendor prepares an endless supply of satay served with toasted white bread.  Note the way the fans are rigged to blow the smoke and smell away from the tables but towards potential customers.


P1060825 The tables were tightly nested together and this young man behind us almost had to climb over us to get out to buy some ice cream. 

This homemade ice cream is made from fresh young coconuts that are locally grown with the scoops served in pieces of the shell that still have shreds of the coconut flesh attached.

Chatting with his family, they encouraged him to try speaking whatever English he has learned in school, but I couldn’t get so much as a “hello” out of him.

Below: Yes, there is actually something floating at the floating market.  Here a vendor grills khao niyaw ping, literally “grilled sticky rice” wrapped in a banana leaf and filled either with baked taro root or baked banana. 

Actually, the guy doing the grilling is the husband of one of the ladies sitting at the stall onshore and conducting transactions.  How he got stuck in the boat, I don’t know, but at least he was in the shade and there was a little breeze along the water.


One final food item was kai nokgrata nam siiyuu, grilled quail eggs (they are boiled first otherwise they would take forever to cook on the grill) served with soy sauce.


After eating our fill and far beyond it, we wandered around the market to see what else was interesting.  We saw these seed pods called teen bet naam, which look like something out of a sci-fi movie.


Here I am standing on one of the concrete pathways built above the marshy ground.


The market also included a park area with public karaoke.  Anyone was invited to sing and, judging from Tawn’s reaction below, greater discretion should be used before people go on stage and inflict their voices on others.


Despite the lush local atmosphere, the latest security systems are installed to help the police keep an eye on all corners of the market.


Walking back along the khlong to the main road where we would catch motorbikes back to the pier, we saw a group of local children playing in the water and diving from the bridge and the water pipe.  Once I started taking pictures and they saw they had an audience, all sorts of derringdo ensued.


On the ferry ride back across the Chao Phraya River, I took these shots of two youngsters:

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Lovely helmet, huh?  I can’t imagine what good it would do him on the back of a motorcycle but it is the thought that counts, right?  Whoops!  That was very “naive farang” of me.  I should let Thailand be Thai.

That concludes our trip to the land of honey.  And, I’ll have you know, I did return home with two bottles of unpasteurized local honey to add to my morning oatmeal.