OVER A HUNDRED YEARS OLD AND STILL POPPING
Taiwan is full of traditional markets. Every neighborhood has its own local market, but there are a few that are worth going out of your way to check out. Nanmen Market is one of them. First established in 1906, the historic market has served generations of Taiwanese households. Today, it is one of the most famous ones in Taipei, and one of the most luxurious, given that it’s indoors, with air conditioning and all. Even if you don’t need groceries from the wet market, it’s still worth a visit for the specialty foods section. Taste your way through the stalls: from dried fruits to buffets of cooked foods; and stock up on Taiwanese pantry staples like dried mushrooms and spices. Don’t leave without trying fresh grilled Taiwanese pork "jerky," which ranges from thin and crispy (like chips) to sweet glazed and chewy (more like beef jerky).
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
|Address||No. 8, Section 1, Roosevelt Rd, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan 100|
|Getting there||Take the red or green MRT line to CKS Memorial Hall Station, then use exit 2 which drops you off right at the entrance|
|Price||$$, pricier than other traditional markets|
|Hours||7am to 6pm, closed on Mondays and public / religious holidays|
|Tourist friendliness||Compared to other markets, it’s definitely more tourist friendly. Food is more likely to be clearly labeled (though probably only few in English)|
BREAKING IT DOWN
The market is divided into three sections. At the street level, there are dozens of food stalls that sell dried goods, cooking staples, packaged foods, snacks, fresh goods and ready to eat cooked dishes. As a rule of thumb, always gravitate toward the most popular stalls: they might look like they all sell similar stuff, but some have been around for a lot longer than others. This is a great place to grab some traditional side dishes. My mom claims YiChang YuFang 億長御坊 (stall #187) is better than home cooked meals (and saves the hassle of course). Curate your own Taiwanese family meal with a few dishes, cook a pot of rice (or grab some steamed mantou buns) and you’re good to go.
Downstairs is the “wet” market. This is where you’ll find the fresh produce, meat, and seafoods. If you’re just visiting, you probably won’t need to buy anything here. And if you’re sticking around longer, it’s probably better to shop at a different market (like ChengZhong) since prices here are significantly higher than other local markets.
Upstairs, past some clothing stores that feel straight out of a past era, is the food court area for some quick eats.
The market is particularly fun during the holidays. Around Chinese New Year, they have seasonal foods like 年糕 NianGao (new year sticky rice cake) and 湯圓 TangYuan (sweet rice balls). In the early summer for the Dragon Boat Festival, there’s extra bustle around the 粽子 ZongZi (bamboo leaf wrapped rice - like a Chinese tamale) stands. There are six ZongZi stores in the market, which offer a variety of options from regional styles to new healthy versions (with quinoa?). The most popular (by a small margin) seems to be Li Jia 立家, but it seems to be a matter of preference.
When to go: Any day but Monday (when all traditional markets are closed), and better to go earlier in the day. Especially worth visiting around Chinese New Year
Who to go with: Anyone who appreciates a traditional market
Worth multiple visits? Yes! Go for the food (or takeout), and then again for traditional snacks
Great for: Getting small portions of a bunch of authentic cooked foods and side dishes
Don't miss: freshly made Taiwanese style pork “jerky” from Kuai Che 快車
ALSO CHECK OUT:
- SEE | CKS Memorial Hall (about an 8 min walk)
- EAT | JinFeng Braised Pork Rice (right next door)
- CAFFEINATE | Gakuden (about a 2 minute walk around the corner)
Last visited: July 2016 | Last updated: September 2017 | First posted: September 2017
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