Shilin Night Market (士林夜市) has long been heralded as Taipei’s (and Taiwan’s) largest and most famous night market (see my list of the best night markets in Taiwan).
Because this is considered the most “touristy” night market in Taipei, many serious foodies now skip it in favor of Raohe, Ningxia, Tonghua, or Nanjichang – most of which are now busier on any given night than Shilin. I would even say that Raohe has surpasses Shilin as Taipei’s most popular night market.
I recently revisited Shilin Night Market for the umpteenth time to decide for myself – is Shilin Night Market still worth visiting these days?
My personal opinion is that it still deserves its spot as one of the best night markets in Taipei. The 3D Tiger, Taiwan’s only remaining Modern Toilet restaurant, the best children’s games areas, several Michelin-rated food stalls, and a huge variety of other great Taiwanese street foods can be enjoyed there.
In this article, I’ll help you to tackle this immense night market. I’ll introduce an easy walking route that hits all the main sections, and for each one, I’ll recommend the famous things to eat and my personal favorites. For vegetarians, see my vegetarian guide to Shilin and other night markets across Taiwan.
Shilin Night Market Introduction
Shilin Night Market in Shilin district of Taipei is one of the city’s oldest markets. The original daytime market goes all the way back to 1909, during the Japanese colonial period.
The market first started in the square in front of Shilin Cixian Temple (士林慈諴宮). In 1913, two long, covered, brick and timber market buildings called Shilin Market (士林市場) were built across from the temple. Here are some historic photos of the original market.
Once the market buildings were filled, the food vendors gradually spread out beyond them to occupy the entire neighborhood, which is shaped like an upside-down spear.
By the 1990s, Shilin Night Market had grown to be one of the largest and most famous night markets in Taiwan. Before it became such a tourist magnet, it was more popular among locals youths. At its peak, the night market had over 500 food stalls!
In 2002, the Shilin Market building was closed because it was falling apart. Many vendors were moved for almost a decade to a temporary building near Jiantan MRT station.
In 2011, they were moved back to the newly built Shilin Underground Food court, below a new covered arcade (now the children’s games area).
Because it was so popular among foreign tourists, Shilin Night Market was severely impacted by COVID. Many stalls closed and just never reopened. More recently, the underground food court has been closed for a lengthy renovation until mid-2024, another blow to the night market.
Cixian Temple remains the heart of the night market – the street in front of it is by far the busiest section. However, the outer parts of the night market still just aren’t as bustling as they used to be.
In the last few years, the unveiling of a super cute 3D tiger inside the night market and the opening the landmark Taipei Performing Arts Center (which Taiwanese compare to the shape of a century egg & block of tofu) have been drawing serious market crowds back once again
Shilin may never return to its glory days of the 1990s and early 2000s, but who knows? With full tourist numbers finally back as of late-2023, the market is busier now than it has been since 2019.
The night market is open every day of the year from around 5 PM to midnight (if you’re up even later, here are the best 24-hour restaurants in Taipei). The main street around Cixian Temple gets particularly packed around 7 to 10 PM, so try to come before or after that.
You’ll only see garbage bins around the main entrances. There are a few bathrooms, including one around here in the children’s games area – watch for restroom signs.
Market Walking Tour & What to Eat
I’m going to break this up into sections to make it easier to tackle. We’ll be starting at the southern tip of the night market, which is just across the road from Jiantan MRT station.
We’ll first visit the covered arcade and underground food court (red line), follow Dadong Street to Anping Lover’s Lane and 3D Tiger (yellow line), do a small loop to Modern Toilet at the market’s northeast (green line), then finish on the busiest and most popular street in front of Cixian Temple (blue line).
Southern Tip of the Night Market
From Jiantan MRT station exit 1, cross the intersection of Jihe road (基河路) and Wenlin road (文林路), or use the underground crosswalks, to reach the southern tip of Shilin night market.
Just to the left of the tip, there are half a dozen food stalls, of which Prince Cheese Potato (王子起司馬鈴薯) is the most famous. This place does whole baked potatoes doused in bright orange fake cheese sauce and your choice of toppings.
There are several vegetarian, seafood, and meat options. The most famous one is the Club & Cheese (王子綜合起司), which is fully loaded with all the toppings.
This is a pretty filling snack to start your night market tour, so I suggest skipping it unless it really appeals to you! The menu has English, Chinese, and Japanese, and there’s a small seating area downstairs. One of the few trash bins in the night market is in front of the shop.
Keep walking up Jihe Road (follow the red line on my map), even though there isn’t much on it, to reach the official entrance to Shilin Night Market.
Official Entrance and Covered Children Games Area
You can’t miss the official entrance (here), with its large Shilin Market sign. This is where the original Shilin Market once stood (see the red line loop on my map).
Just to the left of the official entrance, Hot Star (士林豪大大雞排) is a classic Shilin Night Market stall. Many claim this is one of the best deep fried chicken cutlets (雞排 or jipai) vendors you can find in the city.
The market entrance leads to a long, covered arcade which today is mostly filled with children’s games (but some are for adults, too!)
This is the best games area of any night market in Taipei, with dozens of stalls. It’s never too crowded. Restrooms (take a chance while you can!) are on the right side.
A few steps inside the covered arcade and to the street on the right, Zhong Cheng Hao (忠誠號蚵仔煎) is a popular sit-down restaurant where you can try several classic Taiwanese dishes in one spot.
Here you can try manuy famous Shilin Night Market foods like oyster omelets, stinky tofu, Keelung-style tempura, braised pork rice, pork liver soup, and, if you dare, whole pig’s brain soup (豬腦湯).
If you want try it all without having to navigate the crowds deeper inside the night market, this spot is for you. This would also be an option for visitors with young kids, elderly, or anyone who feels claustrophobic in crowds.
Further into the arcade, besides all the games, you’ll find some shops selling typical Taiwanese souvenirs, plus a stall selling the infamous Penis-shaped cakes, chocolates, and soaps right about here. Note – you can also find these in Ximending.
Underground Food Court
Around here in the covered arcade, you’ll find a set of escalators going down to the Shilin Night market Underground Food Court.
This is where the original food vendors from Shilin Market (closed in 2002) were moved after being placed in a temporary building until 2011. This means many of the stalls have been running for decades!
This area unfortunately has been closed for renovations since late 2022. A sign at the entrance indicates that it is slated to reopen in June of 2024.
Although not everyone loves it, the Underground Food Court is a great escape on super hot or rainy days. You’ll see a lot of repeat dishes at the stalls down there, especially oyster omelets, noodle soups, and seafood stews.
A few special things to watch for are coffin bread (棺材板 or guancaiban, a Tainan specialty but rare to see in Taipei) and small cake wrapped in large cake (大餅包小餅) – small deep fried cakes with a flavor of your choice (curry, mung bean, taro, spicy, peanut, black pepper, and more), which are squished into a soft wrap.
Dadong Road and Lover’s Alley
After visiting the covered area of Shilin Night Market (and the underground food court when open), find your way to Dadong Road (大東路) via this small connecting alley (see where the red and yellow lines meet on my map).
It’s also possible to walk up Dadong Road from the southern tip of the night market. Instead of going left from the tip, as I described above, you’d go right and walk 70 meters to the entrance of Dadong Road here.
Consider doing this if you don’t care about the covered arcade/underground food court, and want to get straight to the heart of the night market.
There aren’t too many must-eats on Dadong Road, but it does have a lot of clothing shops, claw machine and gashapon shops, and it leads to the famous 3D Tiger and most popular area of Shilin Night Market.
If you’ve got kids, they might appreciate the cute cakes shaped like various things here (see pic below) – something to tide them over until you reach the more famous food stalls yet to come.
This shop is great for buying famous Taiwanese snack souvenirs, like boxes of mochi, nougat, pineapple cake, custard filled taro pastry, jelly, and so on.
This one closer to the street’s southern entrance specializes more at imported snacks from Japan and other countries. On my map, this is the first yellow branch going off to the right.
Consider hitting these two shops for souvenirs on the way OUT of the night market so you don’t have to carry them around.
I recommend turning right on Wenlin Rd Lane 101 (文林路101巷) to find Daxi Shacha Luwei (大溪名產沙茶滷味, here). This is an insanely delicious and high value Daxi-style dried tofu (豆乾 or dougan) stall. It has been operated by a friendly Taiwanese auntie ever since 1974.
Around a dozen types of dried tofu are marinated in different flavors and spices. They may not be the prettiest, but they sure are delicious.
I got a massive bag (flavor mixing is allowed) for TWD 100. She’s eager to give samples before you buy.
Back at Dadong Street and one block further north into the night market, you’ll want to turn right again here on Anping Street (安平街), also called Lover’s Alley (情人巷). Note the heart symbol on my map.
The lane is decorated with heart-shaped lights (they’ll come on when it’s dark enough) and love-themed murals.
The story goes that this narrow alley used to be a vegetable garden, then later a street of brothels. Later still, the lane became known for its shaved ice dessert shops catering to young crowds from the movie theater which used to be at the end of it.
Xin Fa Ting Shaved Ice (辛發亭冰品名店, here) is one such shop that is still running. Its specialty is snowflake ice (雪花冰 or xuehuabing) is a kind of shaved ice in which blocks or pre-flavored and sweetened ice are shaved into thin, fluffy layers that melt in your mouth.
The name Anping (peaceful) is meant to help us forget about the street’s shadier past, and “Lover’s Lane” is because it is so narrow, you’ll have to get close to your partner as you stroll down it.
Continue north for two more blocks to reach the 3D Tiger and Danan Road.
3D Tiger and Danan Road Loop
When you see the 3D Tiger, you’ve reached Danan Road (大南路), the busiest road in Shilin Night Market and home to several of the most famous food stalls. Now we’re finally going to get down to some serious eating!
We’re going to first explore Danan Road to the right, do a small loop back to the 3D Tiger (see the green line on my map), then explore Danan Road’s left section (the busiest part).
The Shilin Night Market 3D Tiger (here, see tiger symbol on my map) is a super cute baby tiger which chases a butterfly, nibbles on grilled corn on the cob (a classic local snack), and tosses his turds at masses of onlookers.
This may feel like the most touristy intersection in the whole night market, but it’s still something you shouldn’t miss. If you don’t mind a spoiler, you can see lots of videos of the tiger on YouTube.
After watching the tiger, turn right down Danan Road. Not far in, here on the left side, you’ll find the newer and better location of the Michelin-awarded A Hui Vermicelli Noodles – Shilin 2nd Location (阿輝麵線–士林二店).
While local reviewers are pretty critical of it, I loved this spot! The specialty is vermicelli noodles (麵線 or mianxian, also called meesua in Taiwanese langauge).
These are thin noodles in a thick soup, served plain (清麵線), with intestine (大腸麵線), squid (花枝麵線), oyster (蚵仔麵線), or all three (綜合麵線, also called 三宝 or “three treasures”).
I went for squid and it came with tons of it! The mianxian itself was not the best I’ve ever had, but it was good. The black spicy sauce (help yourself) is especially tasty.
The seating in this hole-in-the-wall joint is on antique wooden Taiwanese school desks, which I thought was really cool. And the icing on the cake – they serve draft beer! This spot is surely preferable to the original location, which we’ll get to below.
Across the street and a few steps over, Good Friend Cold Noodles (好朋友涼麵) here is another Michelin spot, with Bib Gourmand status in 2023. They do classic Taiwanese cold noodles with sesame sauce (涼麵), which come in small or large size.
The noodles go down perfectly with their miso soup (味增湯) or miso egg drop soup (味增湯+蛋). There’s indoor seating, but if it looks packed, take-away is usually faster.
While I love sesame cold noodles, I don’t find a major difference between them, no matter which shop you go. I’m not saying they weren’t delish, but I don’t quite see how they clinched a Michelin award.
Continuing down Danan street, turn left at the next lane, Xiaodong Street (小東街). The main reason to come here is for yet another Michelin spot, Chung Chia Sheng Jian Bao (鍾家原上海生煎包), here.
The stall only does two kinds of pan fried buns (生煎包): pork (鮮肉包) or cabbage (高麗菜包). Neither are vegetarian. The buns are perfectly crispy on the bottom and soft on the top. The shop is take-away only and usually has a long line, but it moves quickly.
Keep walking north to end, then turn right on Dabei Road (大北路) to find Modern Toilet Theme Restaurant (歡樂便所主題餐廳) here. This is the only remaining branch of Taiwan’s infamous toilet and poo-themed restaurant.
The restaurant is on the second floor and it’s a sit-down place with full meals and large shaved ice desserts which come in toilet-like dishes. You can save a little money with this Klook voucher.
The food isn’t great to be honest – come for the experience. Consider visiting another day when you aren’t doing the night market, otherwise you’ll be too full. For some people, just seeing it from the outside is enough…
Turn back the way you came and keep walking until you reach 234 Korean Cuisine (二三四韓式料理) here, past Xiaodong Road, on the right side.
Don’t expect a range of Korean dishes like the name suggests. This stall only does Bungeoppang, Korean version of Japanese taiyaki or fish-shaped cakes.
They are better than the usual Taiwanese version – crispier on the outside and soft on the inside. Besides the usual flavors like red bean, there are some more interesting flavors like pizza, chocolate & cream cheese, peanut butter & banana, and sweet potato. The friendly owner can speak Korean, Chinese, and English.
Reaching Dadong Road, turn left to return to the 3D Tiger intersection. On the way, you may be tempted by the herbal-scented steam wafting out from Hai You Pork Ribs (海友十全排骨, here). This is yet another Michelin Bib Gourmand spot.
This brick-and-mortar shop (yay, they have a bathroom!) has been going strong for 50+ years. Their signature pork rib soup (十全藥燉肋排) is light but super fragrant, with over 15 herbs used.
They also have a chicken version, braised pork rice, vermicelli noodles served “dry” (not in soup), and a few other side dishes.
Danan Road Main Section and Cixian Temple
Having returned to the 3D Tiger, we’re now finally going to enter the most famous section of Shilin Night Market (see the blue line on my map).
The 125-meter section of Danan Road from Dadong Road (the 3D Tiger intersection) to Daxi Road was totally packed when I last visited, despite the decline of Shilin Night Market since COVID.
This is and always has been the heart of Shilin Night Market.
Starting from 3D Tiger, walk west on Danan Road. A few steps in and on the right side here is Wangji Green Herbal Tea (王記青草茶).
This 50+ year-old shop does cups of slightly bitter herbal tea (青草茶 or qingcao cha). The tea is made from grass jelly, mint, and various other Chinese herbs, with no chemicals added. They also have regular green tea, milk tea, and bitter tea (苦茶).
If the reviews seem bad, it’s because some people just don’t know what qingcao cha is and expect it to be like normal green or oolong tea (see my guide to Taiwanese teas). I thought the tea was tasty and refreshing – but I love herbal flavors and not a big fan of sweet or bubble teas.
Just past the tea shop and also on the right, Jiaxiang Stinky Tofu & Cold Noodles (家湘涼麵, here) is a stinky tofu and cold sesame noodles shop.
Vegetarians and vegans can rejoice, as the miso soup and stinky tofu here are all vegan (note that both miso soup and stinky tofu are not always vegetarian). For the noodles, vegetarians should order the vegetarian cold noodles (素食涼麵).
This is a popular and busy spot, so ordering can feel a little chaotic. There’s usually one line for staying and one to go.
Directly opposite the last the spot, Guan Zheng-zong’s Original Small Sausage Wrapped in Big Sausage (冠正宗創始店大腸包小腸, here) is another very popular vendor. This common dish consists of a Taiwanese sausage served inside a sticky rice sausage instead of bun.
For sauce, you can choose garlic, spicy, satay, honey, soy sauce, and more. There’s always a line.
A few steps past the above, here on the same side of the street, Raohe Street Fuzhou Black Pepper Buns (饒河街福州世祖胡椒餅) is a Shilin Night Market branch of the most famous food stall at Raohe Night Market.
These peppery pork buns are roasted to perfection inside a clay oven, just like and the famous original location. If you never made it to Raohe, here’s your chance!
Due to the popularity of the above three stalls, and the lines for them, this street is always packed.
Continuing to the next street, immediately on the right here is A Hui Vermicelli (士林廟口阿輝麵線).
This is the original, Michelin-awarded stall. Unlike the newer second location that I described above (which I prefer), this one is only a street stall, so there’s no indoor seating, no Taiwanese school desks, and no draft beer.
Another downside of this spot is that it’s on the night market’s most packed street and usually has a long line. Once you get the soup, you have to find somewhere to eat it.
Having said that, it’s something of a classic Shilin Night Market experience to slurp on A Hui noodles while sitting on the stairs of Cixian Temple, which is right next to the stall.
Because so many people do this, sitting is only allowed on the sides, but not on the main stairs going into the temple. And don’t expect to find a garbage can anywhere!
Do take a moment to peer into Shilin Cixian Temple (士林慈諴宮, more info here), with its lantern-filled courtyard. The temple is dedicated to Matsu, goddess of fishermen and the sea.
The temple’s history goes all the way back to 1796, and it was moved to this location in 1864. Without the temple, we wouldn’t have Shilin Night Market.
Just past the temple, on the same side of the street, is this famous and long running Papaya Milk stall (簡記木瓜牛奶).
Once you pass the temple, the crowds will taper off a bit. If you somehow still have any space left in your tummy, there are still a few more treats to be enjoyed.
A newer stall that seemed to be insanely popular when I last visited is this Grilled King Oyster Mushroom stall (燒烤杏鮑菇).
I don’t know if it’s the long barbecues lining the road, whose fumes tempt people as you stroll by, the cute mushroom signs and lanterns, or the choices of sauces you get, but people were lined up down the street and well around the corner for this one.
Speaking of that corner, you can walk a few steps up it to find Dreamcatcher Disco (追夢人迪斯可, here), a retro-style bar with 80s vibes. Congratulate yourself for making it this far with a fruity cocktail!
Another small bar not too far away, Quench Bar (here), may be worth visiting, if anything, to see the neon sign outside that says “AVOID HANGOVERS – STAY DRUNK”.
For the easiest way back to Jiantan MRT station, exit the market to Jihe Street on the left (west side) and follow it back to the MRT station. Taipei Performing Arts Center on the way looks especially cool at night.