Sunday, September 20, 2009

饒河夜市 (Rao He Night Market)... er night

I wrote this before I started crying in a corner because of school, so yeah... I'm just posting this now ha. So yeah, from my office, or rather my lab, at Academia Sinica, I can get to Rao He relatively easily by taking the 276 bus. The only two problems are that it's impossible to wait for, and there are a shitload of stops between there and here. So one night after work, I decided to make a trip to the night market (which has been advertised as one of the longest in Taiwan), just to see what set it apart from... you know... all the other night markets I've been to. After a combined hour and fifteen of waiting and bus riding, I get there. Or rather, I get lost. I got off at the stop strategically marked '饒河觀光夜市' or 'Rao He Tourist Night Market,' and given how terrible my sense of direction is, I walk the wrong way. Half a mile later, I finally give up my pride, ask someone, and realize the entrance was right behind me at the bus stop... in big honking lights. Fail. Anyhoo, the gates are certainly impressive, nice and flashy, and obvious to most people who aren't me, but that's not really that important... lights don't make things taste good.

I first ran across an okonomiyaki stand, and since I've been crazy about the whole... seafood pancake thing (whether it be Korean or Japanese or Chinese), I figured I had to try one. It was 60 NT (or about $2 for each) so it wasn't exactly cheap, but then again the portions weren't exactly small either. You get a box about 8"x8" filled with their um... actually it wasn't really the okonomiyaki I was expecting. Cabbage, egg, tuna, and dried fish flakes combine to form a messy concoction, which is then adorned with... kewpie mayo (ugggggh~), wasabi, and more bonito flakes. To be honest, I wasn't so hot on it just because it had tuna in it (I always hated the kid who brought a tuna sandwich to lunch in grade school... and no breath mints), but it was pretty filling. I wouldn't get another one, but hey, if you like tuna, knock yourself out.

I continued down the street, finding a lot of stuff I wanted to eat, but I was pretty strapped for cash, so I passed on everything unless I had to have it. The next thing that caught my attention happened to be 炸花枝, also known affectionately as fried squid legs. I think the small serving was 45 NT ($1.50) and the large was 55 NT, but I'm not 100% on that. In any case, what they do is pretty simple, as the name implies. You cut up squid legs, batter them, fry them, and voila... delicious. They have no fishy taste, or any discernible taste at all really. They're mainly loved for their characteristic snap, more like the casing of a good hotdog, than any flavor they bring to the table. The flavor comes from the breading and the spices, both of which meld together to make a ridiculously hot (both in taste and temperature) snack. To be honest, they taste like chicken nuggets in the US... you know, except they don't suck. I think these carts are all over the place (this one was at the turn near the end of the night market), but yeah, get some from any generic cart and it'll probably still be pretty win.

The last thing I ate... is from the shop (whose name I can't entirely decipher... damn you 3rd character!) near the entrance of the night market on the left hand side. I just wanted another Taiwanese hamburger, or 割包 (Gua Bao). It was 45 NT ($1.50) and rather fulfilling at the tail end of another night of eating. Not that anyone really cares, but every single time I went to one of these night markets, I'd wake up the next morning 4 or 5 kg heavier without fail.


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oh snap. I can control the text here?