Taiwan is a country whose reputation precedes itself. If you research the country you’ll find all manner of articles and posts on its quirkiness – themed cafes, geopark’s that look like something out of Dr Seuss’ mind, and Hello Kitty retrofitted planes are the norm! But it also has traits akin to many other Asian cities, which means that there are plenty of markets with quirky and tasty delights.
As a first-time visitor to Taipei, I was told to check out the Shilin Night Market (士林夜市), the largest markets in the city. While most locals and tourists visit the market for hearty street food, knickknacks and the latest fashions at a pretty decent price; Sara from Belly Rumbles and I were both on the hunt for something… shall we say a little more ‘phallic’ shaped?
Shilin Night Market doesn’t appear big at first glance, the narrow lane ways branch off to make way for more food stalls, game arcades, shops, karaoke bars and reflexology massage stores. There’s even an underground food court, perfect for nights when the weather is a little damp, or you need to take a minute to sit after eating your weight in food!
Unlike Beijing’s famous Donghuamen Night Market, which seemed to offer stall after stall of shocking eats, Shilin Night Markets foods were exciting and tasty… even if the stinky tofu had me holding my breath while I walked past! I immediately regretted eating dinner at a restaurant before visiting the market.
There is one, rather curious thing, you should know about Taiwan: they classify the humble tomato as a fruit. I’m aware that it’s technically a fruit because of its seeds, but to see tomatoes in fruit salads, atop birthday cakes (seriously), and covered in toffee, next to toffee strawberries and apples, is kind of bizarre!
For those too full to eat, there is also plenty of clothing stores and a game section complete with skill testers, carnival shooting games, mahjong tables, and a LOT of claw machines filled with Frozen‘s Olaf toys and Baymax from Big Hero 6.
There was still one stall I hadn’t seen. The bright yellow stall had to be here somewhere – my friend Micaela had found and created a short video of it just a week ago – and I was determined to find the quirkiest (and most controversial) food item of all at the Shilin Night Market.
Just over half way through the market, I finally spotted it. A Piece of Gayke.
Lining the top of the bright yellow stall is a colourful bounty of coloured penis-shaped waffles, which the store holder eagerly suggested we hold and take photos of. Yes, that’s right – A Piece of Gayke is a stall all about penis-shaped foods!
From penis shaped eclairs to phallic shaped hot dogs (with the sausage cooked into the middle), to the shaped and flavoured waffles dripping with sauce. I felt like these foods were better suited at a bachelorette party than in the middle of a marketplace.
Most of the other people would stop, look and take photos but didn’t buy; so when Sara and I did buy something and as we walked through the market with it, we had many stares, giggles and fingers pointed at us. The things you do in order for a good story!
Sara and I chose to try the cock popsicles (or as I prefer to call it, the cock-block!) to cool us in the humid summer temperatures. Made of fresh fruit like passion fruit, berry, or even… peanut, the popsicles cost NT$75 (around AU$3.15).
Sara chose a lemon flavoured cock-block which had pieces of lemon zest through it, while I chose the cranberry flavoured which had frozen cranberry pieces throughout. They were delicious!
While we were at the market we also bought a box of two penis shaped waffle eclairs with a sesame and peanut filling to take back home (They are boxed and packaged so there was no problem bringing them back into Australia.) I haven’t tasted these yet, but when I do I’ll let you know how they go.
If you don’t make it to Shilin but want to try one of the phallic shaped treats, the boxed penis waffles can be found at other markets; but the original stall, cock-block’s and penis shaped hot dogs can only be found at Shilin Night Market. Now I can really say I’ve tasted food porn!
Shilin Night Market (士林夜市)
Opening Hours: Stalls begin opening around 4pm, with peak periods during 8pm and 11pm. Many stalls operate past midnight until around 1-2am.
How to get to Shilin Night Market:
The night market is closest to Jiantan Station on the Tamsui Line (Red Line).
From the platform of Jiantan (劍潭) Station, riders can see the enclosed food court located across the street from the MRT station. You can stop at Shilin (士林站) Station but the walk is longer.
You can also take bus routes 216, 217, 218, 203, 224, 266, 269, 277, 280, 308, or 310.
My trip to Taiwan was arranged by Taiwan Tourism.
All thoughts and opinions are, as always, my own.