Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Taichung Street Food Part 2: Markets Day and Night

"The Sixth Market" in Taichung is a farmer's market/food hall located inside an upscale shopping mall in the city center - so named because the other public food markets in Taichung was named by the number system from first to fifth.

I always love browsing through food stalls or local markets while I am travelling, and I particularly enjoyed spending my time at The Sixth Market with its clean environment, well organized stalls selling all kinds of items from fresh food to local cooked dishes to crafts, and convenient location. Taiwan is known for the many fine farm produce especially in the area near to Taichung in the middle of this island-state, so there were no lack of choices of the freshest ingredients.

Recently I became interested in tasting more Taiwanese rice, so I dropped by Jin's Rice Stall (金仔米店). They carried a fine selection of traditional jasmine rice (milled or unmilled) and glutinous rice, sourced directly from small farmers and available for sale by weight and for tasting. This time I picked up a packet of Yichuan Rice (益全香米), a new type developed using a hybrid of Japanese and indigenous Taiwanese rice, said to have a rich flavor with a hint of sweet yam taste, to replenish my rice stock at home.

It's around lunch time when I visited the market so I stayed for a quick meal as well. The stall of Don Gui 1962 (當歸鄉) caught my attention because of the cute piggie sculpture by their counter, plus the rich aroma coming out of their open kitchen. The restaurant was famous for their pork hock, slow-cooked in marinate infused with Chinese angelica (當歸) which gave that unmistakable aroma. It's served in bowl with soup and the fine shreds of noodles. I love that warm, homey feel of every sip of that soup and the tender meat from the chunks of pork hock in generous portion taking from various part.

I went on a mini food crawl at Feng Chia Night Market on my last evening in Taichung. The market is considered one of the more famous and biggest in Taiwan in a college town of sort next to a local university campus. It’s kinda far away and took me almost an hour to reach by bus from the city center, but the market was amazing. There must be literally hundreds of food stalls selling all kinds of street food from the classic Taiwanese street food to some with heavy Japanese or Western influence like shaved ice, crepes or burger, in addition to numerous retail stalls on the street, frequented by students and other locals and tourists.

One of the more well-known food stall was Ming Lun Pancake, with two branches on either end of a street block at the entrance of the market. Their pancake was similar to Brittany galette, with the soft batter pancake topped with egg and chopped green onions. That’s the only item on the menu, except one could pick the choice of four different seasonings – their signature sweet and spicy sauce, soy sauce, ground pepper or chili powder.

I was there early so for me it’s a quick 10 minute wait, but it could get worse as the evening progresses. I almost burnt myself when I had a bite of the pancake. The pancake was soft and slightly bouncy with rich flavor coming from the green onions and the sauce. And it came with generous portion – one could easily call it a meal with a couple of those. But of course for me, it’s just a light appetizer for what it was a long evening at the market, stopping by around half a dozen other stalls with way too many dishes and drinks, just to wrap up my quick Taichung food trip by stuffing my face.

The entire Taichung travel series:

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