1. Stewed Lamb (藥燉羊肉)
This stall is one of the most popular in the Raohe Night Market - it serves several dishes but the main attraction is Lamb stewed in Chinese Herbal Medicine. When you order a serving you get a steaming hot, overflowing bowl that smells incredible. The server generally gives you a set of chopsticks, a spoon, a straw and a small dish with chili sauce. You might ask why you get a straw. It's a simple answer - To suck out the marrow in the lamb bones. It's up to you whether you partake of the marrow (no one will judge) The soup is a Chinese herbal stock and it smells amazing. It's not weird at all, so don't be afraid. This is one of my favourite dishes in Taiwan and it comes highly recommended - especially if you're feeling under the weather.
2. Fresh Tea (台灣好茶)
Taiwan is famous throughout the world for its high mountains and their various teas. If you take any trips into the mountains, you will be sure to notice tea fields lining the sides of the mountain along the road. You can buy tea at shops throughout the country, but since night markets are an attraction for tourists, it's only natural to have some stalls selling Taiwan's various kinds of tea. This particular vendor is selling several kinds of traditional Taiwanese teas including Winter Melon Tea (冬瓜茶), Ginger Tea (薑母茶) and Longan Tea (桂圓露) The large bricks you see in the middle of the frame are Winter Melon Tea which is a tea mixed with the giant winter melon. It's a very sweet tea but it is extremely refreshing on a hot summer day.
This vendor is a busy lady when tour buses of Chinese tourists come through the night market. If you're in the market for tea, the night market may be an excellent place to find some.
3. Taiwanese Burritos (潤餅老闆)
I find the translation "Taiwanese Burrito" an inadequate term for these bundles of goodness, but for the sake of keeping things easy to understand, I'll go with it. Taiwanese Burritos use a really cool homemade kind of steamed "tortilla" and then quite a few ingredients are added including steamed cabbage, some char siu (叉燒), pickled vegetables and ground up peanut powder, etc. The ingredients are then bundled up like a burrito and wrapped in a plastic bag for you to enjoy. These burritos are about a dollar US and having one is almost an entire meal. This particular vendor was quite popular with a line formed around his stall so I snuck in to the side of his stall and got a quick shot before moving on.
4. BBQ Abalone Mushrooms (烤杏鮑菇)
Abalone Mushrooms seem to be one of the most popular of Taiwan's 'shrooms. They're big, delicious and healthy. This vendor specializes in grilling them over a barbecue and then cutting them up and serving them in a small box. The mushrooms are usually glazed with a sauce and when finished they are sprinkled with pepper or chili. These mushrooms are a great option for vegetarians and are quite cheap at only a dollar or two a box.
5. Braised Everything (滷味)
This stall sells almost everything you could possibly want from a braised food vendor. You've got almost every part of a chicken, duck and goose as well as several kinds of tofu and vegetables. To get some of this deliciousness you just grab a bowl and load up the things you want in your mixture and they will take care of the rest. Each piece has a certain price though, you may be pleasantly surprised by the price, or you might want to run away if you load up on too much. I prefer my mixture to have some duck intestines, some dried tofu, string beans and pigs blood cake. How about you? (No, I'm not joking)
6. Taiwanese Sausage (香腸老闆)
Taiwanese sausage is amazing. The sausages available here are much different and if you ask me, much more tasty than the variety you will find in China, Hong Kong and in the west. The most popular sausages here are made with wild boar and are often dried using sugar or Kaoliang rice wine (高粱酒) giving them a sweet taste. The sausages are barbecued and usually served on a stick with some fresh cut garlic. This vendor has several sauces to brush over the sausage. The green sauce is a wasabi sauce which when added to the sausage gives just the right kick. Sausage is sold throughout the country, but the best are always the ones freshly made by Taiwan's aboriginal tribes. Whenever I see the words "Aboriginal" (原住民) and "sausage" (香腸) I usually stop dead in my tracks and order one.
7. Tea and Teapots (茶品老闆)
This vendor is a handsome older man that almost seemed out of place in the night market. He sells various kinds of Taiwan's High Mountan Oolong tea (高山茶) and his prices are quite a bit more expensive than others you would normally see in the night market. He also sells tea pots and various tea-making products. Taiwan does a great job of mixing of Chinese and Japanese culture and when it comes to tea, the appreciation level you see and the way it is served is an artform with a fusion between two great cultures. These little tea pots would be an excellent gift for your friends in Taiwan and they would also be a great souvenir to bring home.
8. "Blue Cordon Cheese Shrimp Ball" (法式藍帶蝦球)
This shot was over-exposed, but I still like it because of the English on the sign. Cordon Bleu is best known as a French school to teach cooking, but the actual dish where it gets its name is meat wrapped in cheese and then breaded and deep fried. They've more or less got the right idea at this stalk because what they're selling is shrimp covered in cheese and then deep fried in little balls. They sound delicious, but I had a bad experience with deep fried cheese in a night market dish (burning my mouth) so I'm a little apprehensive to try them.
I guess I prefer Pineapple Shrimp balls which are another night market staple.
That will wrap it up for Raohe Nightmarket - I know, I know, you're probably going to ask "Where are the Black Pepper Buns?" (胡椒餅) My only answer to that is that I wanted to share some of the love. There are a million shots on the internet of that stall and while they are incredibly delicious, I thought some of the other stalls needed some attention.
I'm going to make a few other non-night market blog posts over the next week and then I'll start posting again from Taipei's Ningxia Night Market (寧夏夜市) - Taiwan's oyster omelet paradise and some shots that I'm pretty happy with.
Below is a collection of all the shots that I've posted through the Raohe series as well as some that didn't make the cut. I hope you've enjoyed the series thus far.