Welcome to the first official FootTracker post of 2014!!!! In 2013 I was working abroad for a year in Taiwan, and the little time outside of work I found some good spots that are worth mentioning in Taiwan. I also took my mother to Japan for a weekend getaway, so yes there will be more Japan posts also. I did not have a car nor motorcycle while in Taiwan, and used public transportation or just walk, so don’t you worry about transportation!! All the places will be accessible by these methods ~
Today we will look at LuoDong Night Market at Yilan County!!
LuoDong Night Market (羅東觀光夜市) is located in LuoDong town of Yilan County, just an hour of bus ride from Taipei City Hall Station
(If you take the right bus that is ~ haha). Yilan County is known for best tea farms, green onion, surfing hotspots, onsen hot springs, great dancers, gentleman, and also many famous Taiwan artists resides here. Yes, Yilan County is the perfect weekend getaway spot for local Taipei residents because of the beautiful country scenery and great food.
Night Market is much much smaller than Taipei’s Shilin Night Market, yet LuoDong Night Market stands offers more unique cuisines than Shilin. Also due to Eastern Taiwan area’s taste preference, the food in this night market tend to have stronger aroma, everything are so flavorful that makes it unforgettable for days.
Fortunately for me, because of my work, I lived right in LuoDong during 2013. Dinner at the night market seemed like a daily routine. I had many trial and errors here in the night market, and yes I am going to share with you what I usually like to eat. Mind you I am going to break the post into two because – I like revealing secrets little by little. =D
1. 3 Star Green Onion Fried Buns
I did mention that green onions in the beginning right? Yes, Yilan county is famous for green onions, and they are name 3 star onions (三星蔥) here because they are produced in a tiny town literally called “Three Stars/三星.” The 3 star green onions here have much stronger aroma and taste than any other green onions, and can be considered as the high class green onions. The fried onion buns like in the photo above are filled literally with onions and small sakura shrimps only.
If you like onions, 3 Star Fried Onion Buns are amazingly hot, juicy, and filled with that warm onion aroma that you will feel like heaven is in your mouth. Furthermore, if you find the Fried Onion Bun stand with the people wearing green uniforms, they also offer fresh fried oyster buns, and that is hard to beat.
2. Fried Chicken Soup & Fried Meat
Fried Chicken Soup, Yilan County’s specialty cuisine, is known as GaoZa (糕渣) in Mandarin. You will see the food stands have boxes of solid white/yellow mysterious matter (like the ones on the lower left side in the photo), and when you order it, they will cut it in pieces, wrap in flours, then start frying it. It is extremely hot when I first took a bite into it, and the mysterious white matter turns into liquid and melts in the mouth. It tastes exactly like chicken soup and makes any rainy cold days warmer, so good yet so dangerous because it can burn your mouth if you do not watch out. Oh, and it was served at Taiwan President’s inauguration banquet too.
Usually the stands selling GaoZa (糕渣) also sells fried meat (卜肉) like in the middle of the photo. Some people likes it, some think the meat texture is weird. For me, fried meat ( 卜肉 ) and GaoZa ( 糕渣) are only good when they are hot/warm. So please do not let it go cold before eating it.
2. Stew Stand
If you prefer something less oily and not fried, stew stands (滷味) will always be there as your friend too. All the food ingredients will be laid out on the stand. You can take the small plastic baskets on the table, and pick out any ingredients you want to eat into the basket. The food that the stands offer range from healthy vegetables like broccoli, mushrooms, string beans, to exotic items like pig blood rice cakes, pig intestines, and pig liver.
After you pick the items you want to eat into the basket, the lady or guy will throw the items into a big heated pot with specialty stew soup to cook. You have the choice of whether you want to add instant noodles with your food items, and whether you want it spicy or none spicy. I love stew stands because that is where I get my daily serving of vegetables, and it opens later than other stands.
3. Fresh Fruit Stand
In LuoDong Night Market I like the fruit stand at the very front of the night market entrance because they offer huge variety of 5-6 fruits every night, and they even offer local dessert like tiny tomatoes with pieces of plum inside. You can order the fresh fruits and the stands will cut the fruit in pieces and handed it to you in a bag so you can eat it right as you are shopping around the night market. Oh, and the guy in the photo above, he got scouted out by an agency, so he recently became an actor, and I wish him the best for his new life
(we FB friends).
Back to our main subject. if you are in Taiwan during winter season, I highly recommend trying the Rose Apple fruit (In the photo above). Rose Apple, also known as Lian-Wu (蓮霧) in Mandarin, is rather sweet like apple and have crisp yet bread like texture. You have to try it yourself, since no matter how I describe it will sound odd.
And when at the night market, you have to try some guava!!!! Taiwan guava, known as Ba-La in Taiwanese (芭樂), are mostly white inside, and arevery very sweet. For people who love sweet and sour taste, I recommend ordering a bag of sliced guava with plum powder(梅粉).
So here are some items I ate many times while at LuoDong Night Market. Do not be fooled by this post, there are still….several items that are uniquely offered in this night market. So please wait for second part.
LuoDong Night Market starts everyday around 3pm, and stands will start closing around 11pm on weekdays, 1am on weekends. If you are going there on weekends, I highly recommend you arrive early like 4pm and start eating away ~ Because by 6pm the lines for each stand will be so long it will take an hour to get any food. It is a great one day trip destination from Taipei !!
LuoDong Night Market Directions:
1. Go to Taipei City Hall MRT Station ground level – Take “Capital Bus/首都” bound for LuoDong/羅東. Bus ticket is about $120 TWD (about $4 USD) one way. Please do not take the bus going to Yilan County, they will stop at like 5 different stops and it will take like 2 hours to get to LuoDong
2. You will arrive at LuoDong Train Station in an hour of bus ride. From LuoDong Train station, you can take a taxi ($4USD) or walk 10 -15 minutes to the night market. Map is below: