Following an extensive relocation, Taipei’s Shilin Night Market reopened yesterday at a renovated location, with visitors crammed into the underground area to taste traditional street foods in a food-court environment.
The 94 food vendors, who moved from a temporary market across from the MRT’s Jiantan Station to the original site following renovation, busied themselves getting ready for the opening since early morning, while visitors poured into the iconic night market in the evening, crowding the narrow hallways in the basement.
To show their appreciation for visitors braving the cold weather, vendors offered free rice dumplings. They said the market would prepare 500 bowls of free rice dumplings to welcome visitors throughout this week.
Well-known stalls selling oyster omelets, squid soup and deep-fried chicken steaks attracted long lines of visitors.
“The new night market is clean and comfortable. It’s a little bit too small, but most of the famous food vendors are still here. I will certainly come again,” a local resident surnamed Hung (洪) said.
However, the air-conditioned indoor location did not appeal to some visitors. Chang Yun-ting (張雲婷), a Taiwanese-American who returned to Taipei for the New Year holidays, said she came to Shilin to experience the hustle and bustle, and was disappointed to find the renovated market in a basement.
“People visit night markets to have the unique experience of walking around the streets and eating outdoors. Putting vendors in a basement is absurd, and it’s like eating in a food court. There’s nothing unique about this,” she said.
The renovation of Shilin market, a historical building built in 1913, began in 2002 to improve the environment, and all the vendors were moved to a temporary site across from the MRT station.
The renovated building on Jihe Road has a ground floor and three underground floors. The first basement level houses the 94 food vendors, and basement levels two and three serve as parking lots, while the ground floor houses vendors that sell vegetables and fruit.
The 500 vendors selling food on Dadong Road and nearby streets have not been affected by the relocation. The location housing the temporary market will be dismantled next year to make way for construction of the Taipei Arts Center.
In addition to overcrowding, the basement also suffered from poor ventilation because of a lack of smoke extractors.
Taipei City Market Administration Office Director Ting Ruo-ting (丁若庭) said the office would continue to monitor and improve the market.
Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) yesterday visited the night market to thank vendors for their cooperation, expressing confidence the market would maintain its status as a top tourist attraction.
“Shilin Night Market is an iconic tourist attraction in Taipei, and the crowd today confirmed our confidence that the renovated market will retain its popularity,” he said.