Sunday, September 28, 2014

Travel: Zhiqiang Night Market (Hualien, Taiwan)

After a "short" nap in the afternoon (through quite a rainstorm, apparently!), we felt refreshed enough to head out to the local night market to get some eats. It was Mid-Autumn Festival our first day in Taiwan, so we weren't sure if the night market would be busy or empty.

Turns out, it was more on the empty side! About 30-40% of the stalls were closed, but there was still enough to see and eat.

I referenced the following three blog posts when planning what stalls I wanted to try:,, These should be more helpful than my post, if you're more interested in the local snacks.

Here's the shortlist I went in with based on those blogposts:
  • Chiang's Family Coffin Boards (蔣記花蓮式棺材板) 
  • Bei Gang Spring Roll (北港春捲)
  • "Too Wonderful for Words" Fruit Juice Shop ("妙不可言"果汁店) 
  • Exploding Chicken Roll (爆浆鸡肉卷)
  • Taro balls 芋蝦

This night market is actually pretty small, but has a nice vibe. I'd say there's 2.5 aisles with stalls on either side, but you can walk, look at everything, and take pictures in about 15 minutes. 

There was a pretty big line-up at the Coffin Boards toast stall, but we decided against it. The fillings looked too "saucy", and it looked messy as hell to eat! 
Tried to convince myself I wanted to try it each time we passed by the stall; failed every time.

The #1 BBQ Stall wasn't originally on my short-list, but we decided to give it a try anyway.
The #1 BBQ Stall was the most popular stall at the night market; you can tell by its huge, obnoxious sign

You pick your skewers and hand them to the cashier (who tells you how long the wait is), and then he hands you a dongle with your order number. The stall has a sign showing what number they are currently on.
Dear god!
Behind the scenes action at #1 BBQ! GRILL FASTER, YOU BASTAGES!
This is about an hour later. Our number, DING DING DING!
Too hungry to find better lighting to take a decent picture. Sorry. 
Doesn't look like much, but the sauce they brush on after grilling is pretty good. 

Fresh fruit juice stands were also pretty popular; here are a couple:
This one is near the entrance of the night market
This one seemed to have longer lines, so obviously I decided to queue at this one.
I felt pretty bad about my (lack of) Chinese reading skills. I could mostly only gather the price for large/small, and that there was Milk Tea

I wasn't sure what to order, so I asked the guy in front of me what was good here. Not going to lie, he seemed really surprised by my question. He suggested two drinks to try, and since I tend to only remember the 1/2 half of anything someone says to me in Chinese, I ordered the 1st one he said. I did not know what it was going to be. I also ordered a watermelon milk because that's something I knew how to say.
The mystery drink ended up being Avocado Milk Tea. Not a huge fan. 

There were quite a few arcade games, with kids killing time.
This basketball game was always busy
This appealed to Cory, obviously.
Unfortunately, wasn't able to get a great action shot of the drum game, but trust me, this couple was INTO it.
I like this shot we got of an empty stall. 
I look seriously greasy here O_O
And to make matters worse, I only got this awful picture of the moon to show for it. 

Guerrilla Photo of the Day

There's a super popular grilled corn store here; the girl definitely NEEDED a picture of her chomping down on it. 

I couldn't find the other things I wanted to try (they must have been closed), but I wasn't super hungry given the jetlag. After we ate our BBQ skewers (and discreetly used a closed stall's sink to wash our sticky hands), we hopped into a cab and went back to our minsu/B&B for nap part 2.

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