Tonghua Night Market (臨江街觀光夜市): Da’an District, Taipei
A local favorite, Tonghua Night Market is on an ordinary street, easily missed if not for the simple lit signs. The main part of the market is only two blocks long, separated by a traffic intersection. Permanent non-food shops and sit-down eateries lined the two market sides, with mobile food stalls situated down the middle of the street. It was smaller than I expected it to be, but so lively and crowded.
For my first taste of authentic Taiwanese food, I opted for stinky tofu stew cooked in a dark flavorful broth. It was piping hot and broth filled up to the bream. Stinky tofu (臭豆腐) is essentially tofu that has been fermented. Before this trip, I’ve only had the fried pungent version. Here, the stinky tofu is less “stinky” but prepared in so many different ways! After the stinky tofu stew stall, we also stopped at a sit-down spot for simple fried stinky tofu served with soy and chili sauces.
There were stalls serving ice cream peanut wrap (花生捲冰淇淋), a local Taiwanese favorite: peanut brittle shavings, ice cream, and cilantro in a wrap. The ingredients together did not sound appealing to me, but watching it made was a spectacle. A humongous block of peanut brittle being shaved repeatedly and rhythmically. Added the brittle on the wrap; layered three scoops of pineapple, taro, peanut ice cream; sprinkled in some fresh cilantro; wrapped it all up like a burrito. I’m not a fan of cilantro, so I was pleasantly surprised by its taste. The cilantro added a cool, almost minty effect complementing the ice cream. Not bad.