I’ve visited Taiwan and enjoyed its after-dusk fun, particularly the good eats (the crazy blaring carnival games, not so much). I was really excited to learn about the 626 Night Market last year. When we went, my family was a big fan of the fusion items, like bulgogi fries (BOMB dot COM). I prefer the more straight-up Asian fare, so if you’re looking to indulge your inner foodie, here’s a list of my five favorite traditional snacks:
Can’t decide between an appetizer or a beverage? Boba’s the answer. It’s the only food that you can eat and drink at the same time. There’s something really refreshing about the earthy tang of tea mixed with creamy milk sweetness. Besides, tapioca pearls are the epitome of balanced texture, an equal combination of chewy and tender.
What’s better than an average cup of pearl tea? A giant one! Check out the world’s largest cup of boba milk tea unveiling this weekend at 626 Night Market!
2. Grilled squid
Looking for something healthy? A great choice is grilled squid, like the giant ones offered by Yiran & Grill. The subtle charred flavor matches nicely with the tender meat. Also, seafood-on-a-stick serves as a handy snack while you’re tromping around investigating all the other food stalls. (And if you’re up for the pungent, Kebab Brothers offers skewered stinky tofu.)
The best dessert. It features a glutinous rice exterior that’s both tender and firm. Inside is a variety of fillings to delight your taste buds: peanut butter (my fave), red bean, black sesame, taro, etc. I’m also a big fan of fresh fruit inside mochi. Don’t know which flavor to try? Try multiple ones by getting mini mochis from flour + tea.
4. Taiwanese sausage
Taiwanese sausage cooks up plump and tender. It’s also known as “fragrant” sausage and yields a sweet flavor. Taiwanese night markets also make the double version (“small sausage wrapped in a big sausage”), which delivers the meat inside a sticky rice bun. Eating them with a fresh piece of garlic enhances the flavor and also increases your appetite as you try to counter the spicy kick.
5. Yam Balls
These deep-fried treats are little spheres of happiness. Although they’re fried, the exterior is dry and not oily. Inside, the yam offers a tinge of subtle sweetness. Make sure you use the toothpicks, though, because the best ones are piping hot, with temperatures at the brink of burning your tongue.
Jennifer J. Chow, is the author of the The 228 Legacy, a novel inspired by a real event in Taiwan’s history. She has traveled to the sweet potato-shaped country multiple times with her family.