How to Eat Your Way through Shilin Night Market, Taipei’s Largest

Crowds of people in Shilin Night Market, Taipei's most famous night market

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, bizarre 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

Some lady fruit vendors tending to their fruits
Fruit vendor in today’s version of the original Shilin Market building

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.

A super crowded street in Shilin Night Market just after sun went down
Peak crowds in Shilin Night Market before COVID

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).

A crowd of people walking through a night market towards the camera, with a couple girls at front snacking as they look at camera
Strolling and snacking in Shilin Night Market

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.

Crowds of people walking through Shilin Night Market
The core of the market, busy even before the sun goes down

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.

About a dozen red lanterns with the words Shilin and 士林夜市 written on them, one letter or character on each one
Lanterns at the main entrance

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

Map of Shilin Night Market
My recommended walking route through Shilin Night Market

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

A hand holding a plastic take-away container with baked potato in it, and other hand holding a ladle and pouring melted cheese sauce onto the potato
Prince Cheese Potato

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.

Close up of a baked potato in a plastic dish filled to the rim with melted cheese sauce
Pineapple & cheese potato

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

A covered market arcade with words "Shilin Market" at the top and stalls below
Main entrance to Shilin Night Market

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.

A chicken cutlet food stall in a night market with blue and white sign above and people lining up
Hot Star has the best fried chicken cutlets

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.

Some kids games inside a night market
Children’s game area
A young woman kneeling down and catching little orange fish in a large bin
Catching fish

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.

Exterior of a Taiwanese restaurant in Shilin Night Market, with red neon lights on sign
Zhong Cheng Hao

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.

A round metal grill with some oyster omelets frying on it
Oyster omelets at Zhong Cheng Hao

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.

A row of boxes and cakes on display, all shaped like penises
Shilin Night Market’s famous penis cakes.
A display wall with hundreds of hanging Taiwan-themed keychains
Taiwan souvenirs

Underground Food Court

A large food stall with several Taiwanese cooks in pink shirts working behind it and large menu board above
The famous Shilin 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.

A round grill filled with oyster omelets with leafy greens on top of them and hand with purple glove holding utensil to cook them
Oyster omelets are a hot item in the Undergrounf Food Court

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

Looking up a night market road with vendors on the right and a few pedestrians
Entrance to Dadong Road at the start of a night

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.

Looking up at several signs in a night market, including restroom sign and some Mandarin sign pointing the way to an underground food court
Sign on Dadong Road pointing the way to the restrooms and Underground Food Court (the “connecting alley” I mention)

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.

An enormous gray and white stuffed cat on a pedestal with rows of claw machines on either side of it
The king of the claw machines

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.

A display of cakes shaped like a bird, motorcycle, gun, and so on
Cute cakes

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.

Looking straight down at half a dozen metal vats, each filled with dried tofu chunks in sauce
I loved this dried tofu jerky!

I recommend turning right on Wenlin Rd Lane 101 (文林路101巷) to find Wu Family Dried Tofu (吳家豆干, sign says “士林素食辣豆干專賣鋪”, 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.

Looking up a narrow alley at night, with love-themed murals painted on the walls, neon heart lights hanging above, and  one person in silhouette down the alley lifting her arms to take a picture upwards
Anping Lovers Alley

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.

Exterior of a Taiwanese shaved ice shop at night
Xing Fa Ting, a shaved ice shop once popular among theater crowds

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

Looking up at a large digital screen with a cute baby tiger attacking a corn on the cob
The super cute 3D baby tiger

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.

Looking straight down at a bowl of vermicelli noodles with squid piled on top and a glass of draft beer
Famous vermicelli noodles at A Hui’s

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).

An old wooden school desk with a large bowl of noodles, glass of draft beer, and a Japanese-style painting behind
Squid vermicelli noodles and beer on an old Taiwanese school desk

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.

Close up of a paper take-away box with noodles inside doused with brown sesame sauce and cucumber slices
Michelin-rated cold noodles with sesame sauce

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.

Close up of a pile of pan fried buns
Famous pan fried buns

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.

Two kids in a toilet-themed restaurant, both pointing at a pile of chocolate soft serve ice cream that looks like poo and served in a pink dish that looks like a toilet
My kids years ago at Modern Toilet restaurant

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 one of two remaining branches of Taiwan’s infamous toilet and poo-themed restaurant (the other is in Ximending).

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…

A small wooden rack with pegs sticking up, holding up two fish-shaped cakes
Korean bungeoppang (image from 234’s Facebook)

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.

A shopfront with bright yellow signs, Mandarin words, and pictures of famous people eating there
Famous pork ribs soup shop

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

A narrow lane in a night market packed with people, food vendors on either side, and a FamilyMart convenience store down the street on right side
The busiest section of Shilin Night Market

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.

A night market stall with green and white sign above indicating its been open for 50 years, and some people buying plastic cups of iced herbal tea
Wangji Herbal Teas

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.

A round deep frier with cubes of tofu deep frying in it on the right, and rack on the left side with some cubes cooling off
Jiaxiang Stinky Tofu

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.

A night market stall with lots of lit up signs and Chinese words and crowd of people going by in the foreground
Popular small sausage in big sausage stall

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 food stall with two people preparing food behind it, one of them opening a red brick clay oven
Raohe’s famous black pepper buns at Shilin Night Market

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!

Looking into the top of a red brick charcoal oven, with around a dozen buns stuck to the inside wall of the oven.
Fuzhou Black Pepper Buns roasting in a traditional oven

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.

Looking up at a canopy of red lanterns
Lantenrs in CIxian Temple

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.  

A night market stall with white sign, red Chinese characters, and woman preparing papaya milk behind it
Papaya Milk vendor

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.

Uncle Shilin (士林伯豆花) here serves traditional tofu pudding (豆花 or douhua) and shaved ice desserts. Then watch for this Fried Milk stall (炸鮮奶), which also does deep fried Oreos.

A pile of dozens of skewered cubes of solid milk
Cubes of fried milk
Three battered and deep fried oreos, one of them half eaten so you can see the oreo inside, inside a white paper bag
Deep fried Oreas

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.

A row of lanterns, some with mushroom designs on them
Cute lights at crazy popular grilled mushroom stall
A barbecue lined with huge mushrooms doused in sauce
Grilled king trumpet mushrooms

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!

The front display of a cocktail bar, with an antique couch and record player in window and bar name in Chinese neon characters in window
Retro bar in Shilin Night Market

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.

A row of cube-shaped grilled marshmallows on display on a night market stall
Not even sure what these are…marshmallows?
A grill with rows of crab meat slices
King crab meat
A metal vat full of oil and Taiwanese meatballs, with drying rack on top
Bawan or “Taiwanese meatballs”
Dozens of dog outfits hanging on a shop wall
Pet clothing at Shilin Night Market

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