Friday, 13 October 2017

Chaiyi Night Market

Almost 2 weeks ago I embarked on my travels around Taiwan. For the majority of my stay I lived, explored and ate in either Taipei or Hsinchu and Taoyuan, Miaoli and Taichung on the weekends. Basically, the north/ west coast. So come the 2nd October it was time to see the rest. First stop, Chaiyi.
Night markets are an incredibly budget friendly and tasty way of trying lots of treats that are on offer. With each night market offering different things to the other there is a wealth of foods on offer. Typically the larger night markets are to be found in Taipei. I wanted to buck the trend and let you know what I enjoyed about the not so familiar ones. 
Honey Aiyu
First up let's start with dessert. This quick refresher was one of my favourites. I could have easily knocked back a few more bowls given the chance. A delicious aiyu, finely crushed ice, fresh local honey (was to die for), and a gentle squeeze of lemon. Perfectly light and cold with subtle flavours. 
Above is the aiyu. It's made from the seeds of a specific type of fig, which happen to be found mainly in Taiwan. The best way to tell if you have a good natural aiyu is that water from the jelly will seep out slowly over the course of a few days, as in the picture you can see that happening.   
If you get the chance to come to Taiwan be sure to give this a try. Costing just 30NTD/ £0.75 it's a no-brainer. 
Duck Wraps
Wherever you go duck wraps are likely to be popular. Chaiyi night market it is no different. Delicious duck, cucumber, pickles, sauce, crispy skin all bound together in a light wrap, it's hard to go wrong with these. Using a wrap skin similar in style to a gua bao, it gave the whole affair a much lighter and softer feel. 
Once again only setting you back 50NTD / £1.25 they are an absolute steal. If only night markets were open during the day I could devour some for lunch as well.  
Sweet Potato Cake - Cheese or Pepper
Time for something related to a vegetable. In an effort to try and eat a balanced diet... Who am I kidding? That's not what this trip is about! These sweet potato cakes are wonderful. Light, seasoned crushed potato, with either cheese or pepper, encased in crisp bread shell before being topped with sesame seeds. 
I can't vouch for the pepper cake as by this point I was getting rather full, bearing in mind these are not in the order of eating. The key to these I think is to order the most golden one you can, the flavour was so much somewhat increased from the bread. Costing 45NTD / £1.10 I just had to go for 2.
Oreo Imagawayaki
These aren't exactly a traditional night market food in the sense, more an up to date cutsie version. Who can resist an Oreo filled cats paw? Imagawayaki is a delicious Japanese treat I've covered before and a general favourite of mine. 
Being an Oreo lover, Imagawayaki fan and having a collection of the "sweet tooth", I thought these would be right up my street. Sadly, not so much. Personally, I think these need a wet filling or at least some moisture. They were a little on the dry side, not in a completely overcooked way, more a sense of the cakeyness draws all the moisture from your mouth kinda way. Like a marketing ploy to get you to buy a drink as well. 
Luckily my partner was quick to swoop in and take them for herself. Not to be disheartened they sell lots of other flavours as well and for 4 cutsie cats paws the price of 50NTD / £1.25 it's something sure worth trying out.
Chicken Kebab Bun
Last on the food agenda was these scrummy buns. Walking back to where we were staying you'd get wafts of meats and sweet treats. This one happened to cut through the rest. It would have almost felt like a crime not to try one.  Juicy chicken, crisp cabbage, ketchup- of a kind, a heavy sprinkle of curry powder, a couple of slices of "fake cheese", crammed into a toasted bun. 
Full of flavour and perfect for the short walk back to the hotel. The joys of choosing your hotel based on being close to the night market. Truth be told I can't remember how much it cost, I was more interested in chowing down on it. All I know is I paid in change. Probably around the 50-60 NTD mark. / £1.25 - £1.50. Rarely does anything exceed that.
In need of a drink? Like the majority of Taiwan, Chiayi is littered with tea shops, whether it be chain or independent. There are various stalls amongst the food selling papaya milk, soy milk drinks or even star fruit juice. All of which are sublime! My partner's favourite shop - Dayung's. Fresh fruit juices, teas, blends almost any combination you can think of. If you find one give it a try.
Here are some extra pictures I didn't delete or not, not use.

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