Keelung City's Miaokou Night Market (廟口夜市) emerged as the biggest winner in a national competition for the best night market, garnering top prizes in both the “most delicious food” and the “most tourist-friendly” categories.
Miaokou tied with Taichung City's Fongjia (逢甲) night market with the most delicious food, and with Yilan County’s Luodong (羅東) as the most tourist-friendly night market. The night markets in Taipei City’s Shilin (士林) and in Kaohsiung City's Liouhe (六合) were both rated as the “most charismatic,” while the one in Taipei City’s Huaxi Street (華西街) was rated as the most organized.
None of the 10 night markets on the shortlist, however, won the award for the most “eco-friendly” night market.
The rest of the night markets — Taipei City's Ningxia (寧夏), Chiayi City’s Wunhua Road (文化路), Tainan City's Huayuan (花園) and Kaohsiung County's Jhonghua Street (中華街) — were given consolation awards called “special recommendation from the judges.”
Organized by the Tourism Bureau, the first round of the competition involved city and county governments recommending 30 night markets. A group of independent judges reviewed the recommendations and selected 10 for the final round of competition.
The scores gained at this stage accounted for 20 percent of the total. Another 20 percent of the score came from the results of an online survey, in which netizens were asked to vote in each category.
The remaining 60 percent came from another group of judges who visited each of the night markets like regular tourists.
They included Tourism Bureau Deputy Director General Wayne Liu (劉喜臨), food writer Lucille Han (韓良露), Japanese travel writer Yuka Aoki, JTB Taiwan chairman Shinobu Kakuchi, China Times leisure news editor Wang Rui-yao (王瑞瑤), Formosa TV news producer Paul Tsai (蔡滄波) and a blogger who went by the name “Via.”
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) presented the awards at a ceremony yesterday.
Commenting on the winner, the Tourism Bureau said Miaokou garnered points for having stalls showing the names of food in Chinese, English and Japanese, as well as the prices, creating a friendly environment for foreign tourists. It was also recommended for its variety of special dishes, including tempura(甜不辣), paopaobing (泡泡冰) and dingbiancuo (鼎邊銼).
The judges for the final round of competition said their opinions differed greatly in terms of the night market that served the most delicious food. The debate centered on whether they should focus on traditional night market food or creative night market dishes.
Han said this was the first time that Taiwan had held such a competition, with each night market allowed to apply to compete in two categories only.
She said she was satisfied with the outcome, but recommended that the bureau hold a separate review for smaller and less crowded night markets.
As an example, Han mentioned Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai’s (王家衛) use of the Liaoning Street (遼寧街) night market as a setting in his movie Happy Together (春光乍洩).
Noting that none of the night markets won the most eco-friendly award, Han said it would be a “joke” if any market actually won this award.
“Being clean does not equal being eco-friendly,” Han said. “There must be objective indicators, such as the use of the disposable utensils and the separation of recyclable and non-recyclable waste.”