Tonghua Street Night Market (通化街夜市), also known as Linjiang Street Night Market (臨江街觀光夜市), is considered one of the top night markets in Taipei city (along with Shilin, Raohe, Ningxia, Huaxi, and Nanjichang).
This ones stands out for being the closest night market to Taipei 101 (see my Taipei 101 guide and best views on Taipei 101). But despite its proximity to the ultra-modern, ritzy shopping area around the iconic skyscraper, Tonghua Night Market retrains its reputation for traditional and classic street food items. It’s also not as crowded as Shilin, Ningxia, or Raohe.
Tonghua Night Market has four stalls that have in the past been awarded Michelin Bib Gourmand status, although none of them retained their status in the most recent edition. In this article, I’ll introduce those and several more, in the perfect walking route for tackling this great night market.
Getting to Tonghua Night Market
As the market’s two names suggest, its main entrance is here at the intersection of Tonghua (通化街) and Linjiang (臨江街) streets.
The easiest way to get to Tonghua Night Market is to take Exit 4 of Xinyi Anhe MRT Station (one stop west of Taipei 101/World Trade Center station). When you come out of Exit 4, do a 180-degree turn and walk east down Xinyi Road to Tonghua Street (通化街).
Turn right and walk 300 meters down Tonghua Street to find the night market’s main entrance. You can’t miss the large night market gate on the left.
If you happen to be walking over from Taipei 101 or Elephant Mountain (about 30 minutes on foot from either), it would be faster to enter the night market from the eastern end, in which case you’d have to read this article in reverse.
Temptations on the Way to the Night Market
My Tonghua Night Market food tour will come in the order you’d encounter things if walking from Xinyi Anhe MRT station.
When walking down Tonghua Street, and before you even reach the main entrance to Linjiang Night Market, you’ll pass a few worthwhile food and drink options, though I do recommend holding out for the night market.
Consider to whet your appetite for the feasting to come with an authentic Thai iced tea at Thai Like Tea (泰讚了通化店). If you prefer to keep it Taiwanese, grab an iced tea at the flagship branch of the popular Wootea (五桐號通化旗艦店) chain across the street.
You could also nibble on a grilled skewer or two from Caramel Maple Skewers (焦糖楓串燒連鎖第一品牌通化店). And yes, they are sweet, with meat and veggie options available.
Just before the night market entrance, Dreamy Aiyu and Wheat Grass (愛玉之夢遊仙草) specializes at variations of these two jelly desserts. Aiyu is the yellow lemony one, while wheat grass (仙草 or xiancao) is the herbal black one
Consider saving this cool and refreshing dessert for your walk back to the MRT at the end of your night market visit (if you still have room in your tummy – but you probably won’t!)
Night Market Entrance and First Street
Once you turn left onto Linjiang Street and cross under the big night market entrance gate, you’re officially in the night market.
The smell of various deep fried foods at Taiwan Crispy Chicken Tonghua (台灣塩酥雞 通化直營店) will greet you on the right.
Further in and also on the right, Jinri Sushi (今日壽司店) is one of the night market’s oldest stalls, and it retains its classic look. Expect Taiwanese versions of sushi rather than authentic Japanese here.
Besides sushi and sashimi, other dishes include shrimp handrolls (蝦手卷), octopus with vinegar (章魚醋), and oden (廣東著).
Further down and again on the right, another long-running vendor is Shijia Baobao (石家割包). Their signature dish is Taiwanese hamburgers (割包 or guabao).
Get your classic guabao fill here – if you aren’t familiar with these already, they are slices of fatty pork belly inside a steamed bun, topped with pickled mustard greens, cilantro, and peanut powder.
Vegetarians rejoice – they’ve even got a vegetarian guabao (素食割包)! This is rare to find in Taiwan, so take your chance! It comes with veggie ham. Just heads up that it’s not vegan.
Alley 50: Foodie Heaven
When you reach the first alley intersecting Linjiang Street (the alley is here and is called Tonghua Street Lane 39 Alley 50 or 通化街39巷50弄), you can turn left (north) up the alley to find a cluster of the most famous food stalls in the whole night market.
This is the traditional heart of Tonghua Night Market. Here you’ll find 3 of the market’s 4 Michelin stalls, only few steps away from one another.
On the left, just before you turn down the alley, Bao Su Zhai Vegetarian Snack Bar (寶素齋素食小吃店) is the only dedicated vegetarian food stall in Tonghua Night Market.
This traditional food stall is in fact all-vegan. You can’t really miss it, with the large character for vegetarian (素) and Buddhist swastika (卍) on the sign. Learn more about these signs in my Taiwan vegetarian food guide.
You could easily enjoy a full meal here, with options including several types of noodles, veggie meats on rice, soups, and small side dishes. Use a translation app if necessary – there’s no English menu or pictures of the foods here.
Turn left down Alley 50. Immediately on the right side, Chen Four Herbs Soup (鄭記四神湯) is one of the night market’s most traditional food stalls, and super NOT vegetarian.
The main speciality is four herbs soup (四神湯 or si shen tang), an old-time meaty soup containing offal. The four herbs (shen actually translates as “gods” or “spirits”) are barley, lotus seeds, yam, and poria mushrooms. The stall has been going since 1967!
Opposite Chen Four Herbs, on the left side of the alley, Liang Chi Lu Wei (梁記滷味) is another long-running stall (1965). It does braised foods (滷味 or luwei) and is Michelin-rated.
The reviews are really mixed on this one. Some complain about the unnecessarily long wait, but reluctantly admit that the food is delicious. Others say it’s not worth it, exactly the same as the thousand other luwei stalls, or that the stall even cheated them.
Maybe you can be the judge?
Back to the right side of the alley, just next to Chen Four Herbs Soup, One Bite Crispy Stinky Tofu (一口金酥臭豆腐) serves some of the best crispy type of stinky tofu (臭豆腐 or choudoufu) that I’ve ever had.
This is the kind that consists of deep fried cubes in tofu and served with pickled cabbage (as opposed the spicy stewed kind, called mala chou doufu).
As far as stink levels go, this one’s on the lower side. If you haven’t tried stinky tofu yet and you’re still on the fence, make this your first time! But keep in mind there will be one more very good (and Michelin-rated) stinky tofu option towards the end of the night market (we’ll get to that below!)
Now to the left side of Alley 50 again, Zhongzi Tonghua Squid Stew (鍾記通化魷魚羹) is just past Liang Chi Lu Wei. This long-running squid stew stall is considered one of the most famous vendors in Tonghua Night Market.
Honestly, I’ve never had a squid stew in Taiwan that I didn’t love, and this one’s no exception. Here you get the choice of squid stew (魷魚焿), Korean stew (韓國焿), fish puff stew (魚酥焿), or all three mixed (三種焿).
Then you choose your noodles: regular (麵), thin rice noodles (米粉), vermicelli (冬粉), or wide noodles (半條).
A little further down and on the right, Yu Pin Yuan Fire & Ice Tangyuan (御品元冰火湯圓) is probably the most famous food stall in Tonghua Night Market, and one of the few with a dedicated, roped off queueing area.
Here’s another spot that achieved fame after the Michelin reviewers decided it was worthy of a Bib Gourmand designation. This is a glutinous rice dumping (湯圓 or tangyuan) shop whose main specialty is hot, gooey tangyuan served atop cold shaved (hence the “fire & ice”).
The most famous item, as simple as it is, is the sesame tangyuan and peanut tangyuan with sweet osmanthus syrup (桂花綜合湯圓, #7 on above menu). You get the option for hot or shaved ice. A more adventurous choice is the tangyuan (same stuffing choices) in fermented wine and egg soup (酒釀加蛋湯圓).
Again the reviews are very mixed here. Some appreciate the visuals (steam coming off the ice), subtlety of the sweet osmanthus flavor, and refreshing quality of the dessert. Others find it too plain or don’t see what the hype is all about. Whatever you decide, just get one bowl for two people.
They don’t put enough sweet osmanthus syrup, but you scoop more on yourself from the metal tin at the counter. You can find more branches of the same shop at Raohe Night Market and Feng Chia Night Market in Taichung.
Next up, there’s another Michelin-rated place just past Yupinyuan, also on the right. It’s called Lo Chi Hsiao Chao (駱記小炒 or “Luo Ji’s Stirfry”).
This is a hole-in-the-wall restaurant doing a fairly limited spread of pan fried dishes, like fried beef (炒牛肉), fried clams (炒蛤蜊), and fried conch meat with basil (炒螺肉).
To be totally honest, I’m not quite sure how this shop impressed the Michelin reviewers enough to be included, as there are so many others like it in Taipei, and the dishes here are a little small.
At this point, turn back and return to Linjiang Street.
The Second and Third Streets
Back on Linjiang Street, turn left and continue walking east. There are still a few more notable food stalls as well as shops selling various products on the second and third blocks of the night market.
On the second block, you’ll find several dessert options. A few steps down and on the left, Ice World (冰世界) has the full spread of typical Taiwanese shaved ice desserts.
They’ve got everything from traditional shaved ice with your choice of toppings (挫冰) and mango shaved ice (芒果牛奶) to various flavors of snow ice (雪花冰) and hot tangyuan on ice (冰火湯圓).
The picture menus will help you decide. There’s another similar shop directly opposite called Chen Q (陳Q古早味黑砂糖剉冰).
At Chen Q, the snow ice with balls of chilled watermelon (西瓜球球雪花冰) and strawberry snow ice using strawberries from strawberry farms in Dahu, Miaoli (大湖草莓雪花冰) are especially attractive.
Just past Chen Q, there’s yet another dessert spot that I dare say is unmissable. Taiwanese Handmade Fruit Ice Cream (台灣手作水果冰淇淋) is little more than a guy standing behind a freezer full of cups of ice cream. But wow, are these ever good!
These are traditional Taiwanese ice cream, which tastes lighter and less creamy that normal ice cream. It’s more like sorbet.
Some of the more interesting flavors on offer include custard apple (釋迦), dragon fruit (火龍果), butterfly pea (蝴蝶豌豆), longan (龍眼), and melon (哈密瓜). Some are dairy-free but most have a little bit of milk – vegans should ask first.
Next, you’ll pass several clothing stores. Watch for shop #50 on the right (蝦皮賣場實體攤位) which sells various instant noodles from Southeast Asia and snacks from Korea and Japan.
Further down on the left, Bánh Tráng Cô Mây Đài Bắc (雲姊越南街頭小吃) serves some rather unique Vietnamese pizza, grilled spicy bread, and rice paper rolls. I haven’t tried it yet, but it’s on my list for next time!
While you may feel the urge to turn back as the food stalls taper off, it’s worth continuing to the end for one shop in particular. Heavenly Scent Tofu (天香豆腐, Tian Xiang or Tien Hsiang Tofu) is another extremely good stinky tofu spot. This one has even nabbed a Michelin Bib Gourmand award in the past.
The stinky tofu here consists of larger than usual rectangular hunks. These are deep fried until perfectly crispy on the outside and soft and moist on the inside. The cooks break open tops with their fingers before dousing them in sauce and cilantro, with pickled vegetables on the side.
If I could try only one item in all of Linjiang Street Night Market, it would probably be this.
There’s a long list of other items in the same restaurant, which has a large seating area, including steak, mala stinky tofu, and more. You’ll have to navigate the Mandarin paper menu to order.
For their classic tofu I’ve described above, look for (炸)天香臭豆腐 on the menu (top of the second section on the left side). Put a horizontal line (一) in the first column beside it for regular or second column for spicy. You can add more spicy sauce or other sauces yourself from the condiment stand.
For a vegetarian version of the same item (yes, stinky tofu in Taiwan is often not vegetarian), then choose the item just below it (炸)素食臭豆腐. The character 素 means vegetarian.