Food stalls sprawl the Wenhua Road Night Market in Chiayi (嘉义文化路夜市) over a distance of about 500 meters. It may not be big on scale compared to some of the famous ones such as Shilin Night Market or Raohe Night Market, it offers a different variety of local street food.
Some stores have been around for 50 years you’ll definitely want to explore the flavors of the time-tested food. Here are 9 things to try at the Wenhua Road Night Market :
1. Blanched Prawns in 5 Flavors (NTD 70)
These prawns are DIVINE ! Full of sweetness, the prawns are different from the usual opaque white flesh you see in cooked prawns; they are slightly translucent and the texture is quite similar to eating raw amai ebi. Quite peculiar when cooked prawns carry freshness and texture of raw prawns. And with the five flavors of ginger, wasabi, parsley, spring onions, bean sauce, it’s simply top notch !
2. Oysters in 5 Flavors & Oyster Soup (NTD 70 each). Chiayi is not too far away from Tainan, the home of oyster farms. The superb oysters can be as big as my spoon !
I’ve listed the prawns and oysters as the top two because these are my absolute favorites, served from the same stall. The stall has signboard that indicates it’s a turkey rice stall and not a seafood stall. I suppose the turkey rice should be good too.
3. Clams in Rice Wine (NTD 100 per serving).
These Clams are cooked in a small pot with just a splash of white wine. We first took the original flavor it was so good we just had to order another one with basil leaves. Other flavors include ginger and black pepper.
4. Soy Bean Milk (NTD 20) – This soy bean / breakfast place has been around since 1963. For a soy bean / breakfast place to start serving at dinner too, they must be doing something right. The stall is famous for the soy bean milk, handmade sandwiches and egg pancakes. We tried the soy bean milk – smooth and satisfying.
5. Rice Cake Soup – This is one of Chiayi’s famed local delights. The store has been around for ages. But for Malaysian taste buds, I think most might find it not too flavorful. The store also carries other cold dishes such as wine chicken and bamboo shoot salad.
6. Xinjiang Style BBQ (NTD 35 – NTD 40 per stick). These supple BBQ sticks are grilled with cumin, giving them an exotic, alluring scent. Most importantly, they are grilled with love – I know, it sounds cliche, but the uncle grilling them treats every single stick like his own baby, turning the sticks with love and basting them with care. You’ll know what I mean when you see the uncle in action.
7. Wild Boar Sausage (3 for NTD 100) – a tad more tender than the usual ones.
8. Duck Wrap (NTD 40). Succulent duck wrapped with cucumbers and pickles – a Northern Chinese favorite.
9. Lastly, dessert ! Honey Aiyu (NTD 30 per bowl). This stall is another stall that boasts of 40 years of history. You might find aiyu to be stronger in flavor when you are at the South of Taiwan compared to their Taipei counterparts because aiyu is produced in this region. We’ve also learned at the store how to distinguish aiyu made from natural components and aiyu made with additives. You’ll see water dripping from the corners of the gelatinous block if the aiyu is made from all natural components.