Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: A Stroll Through the Night Markets of Taiwan

Shilin Night Market
Shilin Night Market is by far the most famous night market in Taiwan. This crazy, bustling market in Taipei is HUGE, spanning block after block after block. There is a large food area where street vendors, most of whom specialize in just one type of food, sell their delicacies. Another section is full of stuff: ceramics, kitchen wares, clothing, plush toys, fake hand bags, you name it.

I had the privilege of visiting Taiwan this past spring and we spent an evening at Shilin Night Market. The food at the night market alone was fascinating. We saw exotic things being sold such as duck tongues, “frog eggs” (not sure what it really is), things that looked like insects, and stinky tofu. We also saw a lot of delicious classic street snacks.

When Foodbuzz asked for proposals for 24, 24, 24, I thought it would be fun to try my hand at Taiwanese street foods. It would be like hosting a little night market in my dining room, halfway around the globe.

Of course, the first thing I did was called my mom.  My parents are Taiwanese and moved to Ohio over thirty years ago.  In the Midwest at that time, they did not have access to much Chinese (much less Taiwanese!) food.  As a result, she had to learn how to cook Taiwanese specialties herself.  Because of her (and other Taiwanese moms’) hard work, I (and now you!) can enjoy making these very authentic Taiwanese dishes at home.  Thank you Moms for translating the recipes into English!
Shilin Night Market Fruit
My meal is merely inspired by the night markets, and is no way representative of even a fraction of the foods you can find in a Taiwanese night market.  However, I tried to keep with the spirit of the night market by making simple, casual dishes you would normally not see in fancy sit-down restaurants.


Enjoy these super classic Taiwanese street dishes!

Here is the spread of dishes that I made for this dinner (which served 7 people):

Taiwanese Street Food Dinner
click on image for larger photo
From left to right: Tea eggs, Pork Mushroom and Bamboo Soup (Bah Genh/Ro Gen Mian), Meat Sauce over Rice (Lo Ba Bng/Lu Ro Fan), Taiwanese Meat Ball (Bawan/ro yuan), Asian Cucumber Salad, and Taiwanese Meat Ball again (this time garnished with cilantro and hot sauce).
Tea Eggs (“Ca Ye Dan” in Mandarin)
Tea eggs - close up
Tea Eggs with Shells

I love tea eggs. They are hard boiled eggs slowly cooked over low heat in black tea and spices for hours. The resulting egg has a wonderful salty and tea-infused flavor that’s addictive. Furthermore, the eggs take on a beautifully intricate marbled design from the tea.

Tea Eggs

You will often see tea eggs at the cashier’s counter at convenience stores.  For example, most 7-11 stores in Taiwan have a rice cooker full of tea eggs at the counter.

For a step by step tutorial plus recipe for how to make tea eggs, please click here.

Meat Sauce over Rice (Lo Ba Bng)

Taiwanese Meat Sauce Over Rice

Lo Ba Bng (“Lu Ro Fan” in Mandarin) is a very classic Taiwanese dish. It’s a dish comprised of ground pork, shallots, and spices stewed in soy sauce. The sauce is intensely fragrant and tastes delicious with rice.  This dish can be enjoy alone, or, more often than not, it is served with other side dishes as well.  One very classic Taiwanese dish includes a deep fried pork chop, meat sauce with rice, and a side of pickled vegetables. For the full recipe on how to make this dish, click here.

Pork and Bamboo Shoot Soup (Ba Genh/Ro Gen Tang)

Pork, Mushroom, & Bamboo Soup

This soup (“Ro Gen Tang” in Mandarin) is one of my husband’s favorites.  The thick, starchy soup contains “meat balls” which are made out of fish paste and pork.  These nuggets are dropped into boiling water and cooked with bamboo, mushrooms, and a host of soup flavoring agents.  The resultant soup has a deep, umami flavor and is the perfect, hearty dish to enjoy when it’s cold out.

For a tutorial and recipe, please click here.

RoGengMian (4 of 6)
Pork, Mushroom, & Bamboo Noodle Soup

Bawan (Taiwanese “Meat Ball”)
Bawan is the quintessential Taiwanese street snack. Steamed or fried, it literally means “meat ball” and is a dumpling of sorts filled with meat, bamboo shoots, and mushrooms. The semi-translucent chewy outside is made with rice flour and sweet potato flour, giving it this unique texture that’s super fun to eat.

“Bawan” – Taiwanese Meat Ball

This dish is usually topped with a bit of soy sauce, sweet rice paste, a sweet chile sauce, and chopped cilantro. I will post a tutorial on how to make these (plus recipe!) later on this week. Please check back soon!

Update!  Click here for the recipe!

“Bawan” – Taiwanese Meat Ball

Asian Cucumber Salad
This dish is not strictly a Taiwanese “street food.” In fact, it is more often served as an appetizer at a restaurant.  However, it is still popular in Taiwan, and I wanted to balance out the meal with some veggies, so I also served this light and healthy salad.  For the recipe, please click here.

Asian Cucumber Salad

Dessert: Mung Bean Soup

Mung Bean Soup
Mung Bean Soup

Unlike Westerners, Asians really like to eat various sort of sweet bean or nut soups for dessert. A favorite is mung bean soup, which consists of mung beans boiled in water and then sweetened with sugar. Mung beans are considered “cool” foods (in the yin and yang of Chinese foods) and, accordingly to Chinese medicine, restores balance if you are “hot” (e.g., canker sores, warm body temperature, ruddy complexion).

This soup can be enjoyed either hot or cold, and is refreshing and healthy.  Click here for the recipe.

In Conclusion . . .

This meal was really fun to make.  It was fun recreating some dishes I had made before and also fun experimenting with some new recipes.  Thanks so much to Foodbuzz for sponsoring this event.  Thanks also to my mom, who gave me lots of tips on how to make these dishes.  Finally, thanks to my husband (who endured a crazy messy kitchen for the entire afternoon), and to my guests, who generously showered me with praises about how delicious the food was.

Please enjoy these recipes and stay tuned for the Taiwanese Meat Ball (Bawan) one.  It will come soon! 

Tea Egg and Cucumber Salad
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  1. says

    i’m impressed that you made bawan!

    it’s been a while since i’ve made “bah geh,” the fish paste pork soup, but i haven’t found the fish paste. where did you buy it? i checked super 88 (and now HK supermarket) but they don’t have any :(


  2. says

    Thanks everyone for your kind and encouraging comments.

    christina lee – yes, I can show you how to make bawan! You can check out the new post too. :)

    Cindy – I got them at HK Market in Allston at the frozen section in the back.

  3. says

    Wow, those tea eggs are gorgeous. I’ve had them before, but I’m always amazed at their beauty. This looks like a Tastespotting-worthy post — they would be insane not to post these pics!!

  4. says

    wow!! that looks awesome. it’s hard to find good Taiwanese recipes in English! you guys should publish a cookbook!

    btw- I’m pretty sure the frog’s eggs are boba/tapioca balls?

  5. says

    So I know this comment is a little late, but amazing post. Nice pictures, too.

    I love Shilin night market! I’m going back to Taiwan again this summer, and I am definitely going to Shilin for those “things that looked like insects”, which are actually a type of sea snail, I think…? I don’t really know, but it’s good, so I don’t care. Haha!

  6. says

    i *love* lo ba bng! i can usually have bowls of rice with it…yumm! thanks for sharing those awesome recipes…i love eating those night market dishes when im in tw but ive never thought about making them at home!


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