The Hsing-Ren Garden Night Market (興仁花園夜市) is a newly-opened night market located in Bade City (八德) in Taoyuan County. The night market is over 6000 square meters making it possibly the largest in northern Taiwan. While shooting this night market, I have to say that it has quickly become one of my favourite night markets to visit out of all of them.
It has almost everything I could want! Not only does this night market have all the typical night market fare you would expect, but it also has vendors selling fresh oysters and fresh Thai shrimp. There's San Francisco style pizza by the slice, American grilled steaks, Hong Kong Dim Sum, Ramen, Mongolian BBQ and Taiwanese Aboriginal BBQ. There are places to sit down to drink some fresh draft beer with friends and places to buy cocktails mixed with fresh juice! What else could you want in a night market? You can eat, drink, and have fun all night long.
The Hsing-Ren Night Market is a "garden" or "flower" (花園) night market which is the "new" thing here in Taiwan popularized by the Tainan Garden Night Market (台南花園夜市) and the Fu Da Garden Night Market (輔大花園夜市) in New Taipei City.
These kind of night markets are quite popular among younger crowds and a lot of the food that has swept the nation over the past few years have been products of these style night markets as they attract younger people who are more willing to try new and more exotic foods.
I will make four posts in this series with over thirty shots and I hope that you will like what I have for you!
This post will be all about drinks that you can get at the night market!
1. Watermelon Juice (西瓜汁)
Some guys have this awesome ability to drink an entire beer in seconds. Truthfully I can drink a beer pretty quickly, but when it comes to watermelon juice there is no comparison. If you give me a 500cc cup of watermelon juice, it will be gone in seconds. I don't know what it is about watermelon juice, but it is amazing. Watermelon was always crazy expensive back home in Canada, so we never thought to make juice out of it. Here in Taiwan though watermelons are everywhere in summer and they are really cheap. So cheap that a 500cc cup of freshly blended juice is less than a dollar. I really liked this shot because the stall was cool looking and the young girl running it noticed me taking the shot and looked directly into the camera.
2. Starfruit Juice (楊桃汁)
While I was still in university back in Canada, an international fruit store opened up near where I live. For most people this probably doesn't seem like a big thing, but I'm from the east coast of Canada where that kind of thing isn't really common. When the store opened up I fell in love with starfruit. I bought them often and enjoyed the taste. When I arrived in Taiwan and had my first night market experience, one of the first things I noticed was a starfruit juice vendor at the entrance of the night market. After buying a cup I quickly found out that not all fruit juices taste like the fruit that they're made of. I wasn't a fan of starfruit juice at all and up to this day almost ten years later I still haven't tried it again. This vendor however was quite popular and when I took the shot one of the people working there looked into the camera making the shot much better.
3. Fruit Juice and Papaya Milk (新鮮果汁/木瓜牛奶)
This fruit juice vendor originated at the Zhongli Night Market and is so popular that they have expanded to several locations around Taoyuan county. They are most famous for their papaya milk, but they sell a wide range of fresh fruit juices and blended drinks as well. Whenever I go to the Zhongli Night Market I always make sure to buy a grapefruit juice from this stall but the stall at Hsing-Ren was so busy every time I went that I wouldn't even bother.
I took this shot on a rainy day when the night market wasn't so busy. I was happy to get a wide angle shot of the stall and even happier to have one of the workers look directly into the camera as I took the shot. If you are ever in Taoyuan at a night market and you see a stall that looks like this be sure to try some of their awesome drinks - especially the papaya milk which is a must-try for people visiting Taiwan!
4. Watermelon Juice/Milk (西瓜汁/西瓜牛奶)
Summer is coming, so there is no lack of places selling watermelon juice and other summer treats. This stall is selling mango smoothies, watermelon juice and watermelon milk. I can't drink milk, so I can't really explain how a watermelon juice tastes, but the people here in Taiwan like to mix their fruit with milk, so it is quite normal to see stuff like this. If you go to 7-11s around the country it is normal to find banana-milk, apple-milk, strawberry-milk, etc.
Mango season is just starting here and fruit markets are starting to fill up with the awesome fruit. I'll be back to this night market for sure to have a mango smoothie (芒果爽) which is a thick blended drink with mango and ice and is sure to cause a bit of brain freeze.
5. Pearl Milk Tea (珍珠奶茶)
It wouldn't be Taiwan without some pearl milk tea right? One of the most popular drinks around the country is pearl milk tea, or bubble tea. I love having some of these tasty tapioca balls in my drink, but unfortunately I can't have milk, so I really have no idea how awesome a pearl milk tea is (sad face) I will often add bubbles to my fruit teas or green teas though so I'm not that deprived. This stall sells pearl milk tea, green tea, black tea, oolong tea, etc. The most popular thing that they sell is pearl milk tea or black tea with freshly made brown sugar (黑糖) When I took the shot, the girls working at the vendor seemed quite interested that a foreign guy was taking their picture, so they looked curiously into the camera.
As a bit of an anecdote into the differences in language: Black Tea is 「紅茶」or "red tea" in Chinese and Brown Sugar is 「黑糖」or "black sugar." I find that quite interesting.
6. Starfruit Juice (蜜桃湯)
Here we have another starfruit juice stall. This one is a bit more traditional than the previous one (which probably means that the juice is even more terrible) and it seems like most people, buy large bottles and take them home. Starfruit juice isn't particularly expensive and is much cheaper than most other juices. It comes in sweet or salty flavours and you can buy it cold, warm or hot.
Health is probably the reason the majority of people drink starfruit juice as it is great for sore throats and coughing. It is also great on hot days when you've sweat too much and need to quench your thirst. If memory serves me correctly it tasted a little bit like cough syrup, so maybe that's why it is good for a cough!
7. Korean Ice Cream (拐杖冰)
This is the newest fad sweeping the nation and I have almost absolutely no idea what it is. What I do know is that they are popular in Korea and likely became popular here because of the influence of a Korean drama. I know that it is ice cream and it looks like the ice cream is somehow pumped into that "churro" looking thing. Every thing Korea is popular in Taiwan now. The fashion, culture, music, food, etc. have all recently become readily available around the country. This is just another example of Korean influence on Taiwanese people and it is fashionable to eat this kind of thing. The good news is though that Korean interest in Taiwan is reciprocal and Korean tourism here is booming like never before.
If anyone knows anything more about this ice cream, let me know in the comments below and I'd be glad to add some information!