Sat, Aug 25, 2001 - Page 11 News List

Back alleys of adventure

Hygiene might not be its strongest point, but Tunghua Night Market offers some of the most authentic Taiwanese snacks and is a favorite spot among the younger crowd


The intersection of Linchiang Street and Tunghua Steet's Alley 50, Lane 39, just east of the building, is snack central.

Oyster omelets, tempura, lu-wei and other popular dishes are available. Healthier alternatives can be had at Paosutsai Vegetarian Food (寶素齋素食), a vendor whose consistently fresh and tasty offerings represent excellent value for money. Considering that everything is done by one lady working alone, service at Paosutsai is quick, and the choice surprisingly wide. There are various soups, and diners can opt for small or large portions (the latter are particularly generous).

Further back from Linchiang Street, occupying a corner of the Pohsin Commercial Building, is Lao Tan (老攤). Despite its name, which means "old vendor," this is a relatively new enterprise. The Korean-style pickled cabbage noodles (NT$70) -- a big bowl chock full of seafood, tofu and broth -- is good value. Also on offer are sticky rice dumplings and crab (NT$100) and seafood, curry and "original flavor" tang-yuan (湯圓), all served in a no-smiles, no-frills manner.

Tunghua Night Market is renowned for its sausages, and various vendors vie for the titles of original, oldest and best.

Hunghua Hungguai (紅花紅桂香腸), located a short distance from the night market, at the entrance to Lane 38, Tunghua Street, has a good claim to being all three, its signboard proudly asserting that it has been featured on local and Japanese TV. But the sausage-sellers positioned along the eastern part of Linchiang Street also do a good job. Several different condiments are available, including fillet steak sauce, black pepper sauce, chocolate, wasabe, and an even hotter brown spicy substance.

When searching for food, the nearby side alleys should not be written off -- particularly if one wishes to sit down and escape the human maelstrom for a while.

At first glance, Spicy Sister Thai-style Delicacies (泰式小吃, 51, Alley 62, Lane 39, Tunghua St., tel: 2703-7324) looks much like any other cheap Taiwanese eatery -- a middle-aged woman throws ingredients in a hot wok, while inside a TV blares. But the Thai food here is authentic and excellent, as it should be -- the place is run by a Thai family. Service is often slow, but the chicken curry and seafood with onion are especially worth the wait. Drinks, including Singha Beer and Thai-style cold tea and coffee, are available.

In recent years Tunghua Night Market has seen a proliferation of stinky tofu eateries, such vendors matching sausage-sellers in terms of prominence and popularity.

Those put off by the strong odor of conventional stinky tofu but with a love for spicy food should try Old Wild Vegetable (老野菜, 67 Linchiang St., tel: 2755-1168), whose dishes are rather mild compared to the fiery (and bowel-troubling) offerings available elsewhere. A clean, air-conditioned establishment, this is an excellent place for cautious newcomers. An individual serving of spicy stinky tofu (NT$50) makes for a good introduction. Gourmets will like the hot pot (NT$100) -- a small cauldron in which delicious, crumbly lumps of tofu and glistening chunks of ducks' blood and onion float in an oily soup. This is almost a meal in itself.

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