After breakfast as usual at the Grand Hyatt, we ventured out to the Lungshan Temple. After visiting the temple, we walked to the northeast to Ximending, having lunch and some snacks on the way. Later, in the evening, we had dinner at the Raohe Night Market.
We had our usual buffet breakfast at the 台北君悅酒店 Grand Hyatt Taipei. Most of the buffet is the same every day with minor differences. The biggest day to day changes that we notice are dim sum options. There are other smaller differences like the specific bread options as well as fruit options.
After breakfast, we headed out fairly late in the morning to the 艋舺龍山寺 Bangka Lungshan Temple. There are a few ways to get there using the MRT, all of which require at least one transfer when departing from the Taipei 101 station. The easiest is just to take the MRT to 台北車站 Taipei Main Station and transfer to the blue Bannan Line.
We exited the 龍山寺 Longshan Temple MRT station at the 艋舺公園 Bangka Park. There are supposed to be fountains here, though it was dry at the time. We could see the gate at the southern end of the temple to the north, beyond the dry fountains.
This long metal sculpture resembles a boat, or is it a dragon?
We decided to get a quick snack, a luobuo si bing (shredded radish pancake), from a nearby food stand before continuing on to the temple.
We passed under this large gate to enter the temple.
We walked onto a plaza area just beyond the gate. It was somewhat busy here with many people taking pictures.
The temple used had quite a variety of colors. There were many small sculptures on the building roofs.
There was a waterfall to the east, at the southeastern edge of the temple. It was quite large and looked very natural.
We picked up an informational pamphlet which was very detailed.
We walked into the temple’s courtyard via an entrance on the east side. It was very busy here with many people praying, others taking photos, and many just resting.
We did a quick loop around the temple.
We ended up on the west side of the courtyard area. From here, we exited via a passageway on the west side.
A pond with dragon and fish fountains was at the southwest corner of the temple, opposite the waterfall we saw earlier.
We took a path that led along the western edge of the temple, outside of the main building but still within the temple grounds, and exited via a small gate.
We walked to the northwest to have lunch nearby. We passed by a gate for the 華西街觀光夜市 Huaxi Street Night Market. We walked in the opposite direction, to the north.
We queued up to eat at 小王煮瓜 Wang’s Broth. Their specialties are Taiwanese braised pork rice and 清湯瓜仔肉湯. The menu translates this to English as Steamed Minced Pork with Pickles in Broth. We don’t quite understand the Chinese name of this dish.
The way it works here is that you order while in the queue by indicating what you want on an order sheet. Then, when you are seated, your meal comes out right away. We got the braised pork rice and stewed pork rice. Both were very good. We probably should have also tried their soup since it is one of the things they are known for and is in their name.
After lunch, we walked to the north until the street ended. From there, we turned to the east and walked under a canopy of paper lanterns.
We passed by the 艋舺青山宮 Bangka Qingshan Temple. We walked for a while to the east, and then started heading north. We stopped at 茶水格格 Tea Water for milk and fruit teas before continuing on.
Our next stop was 牛店 Niu Dian, a beef noodle soup restaurant. We got a ticket to enter the queue. The queue advanced extremely slowly. A sign on the outside indicated that due to staffing issues service would be slower than usual. We ended up waiting quite a long time. It turns out that many people left the queue as they started calling many numbers in sequence without any guests entering until it was finally our turn!
Unlike our previous meal, at Niu Dan, you order at the table. There are quite a few options on the menu. Unfortunately, the menu is blurry at the top because we photographed it at an angle due to the lighting. Modern image enhancement technology is unfortunately pretty terrible at fixing blurry written language.
We got one order of the standard beef noodle soup. It came with thick noodles and tasted richer than the one we had yesterday. The beef was very tender, as it should be.
We also got the spicy pepper beef noodles with minced beef. This is a dry noodle dish. It does not come with soup but has sauce.
It needs to be mixed to expose the noodles and to coat everything with the sauce. It was also very good.
After second lunch, our next stop was COMEBUYTEA. They had an interesting gimmick, the tea is brewed using a pressure based system which more or less works just like an espresso machine. Definitely not something we’ve seen before!
The tea was good, though we can’t really say if the brewing method makes any difference in taste.
We ended up going to 侍茶匠 Tea Sommelier across the street next. We rarely get fruit or milk tea at home in the US. Here in Taiwan, it is very good and very cheap! We got a milk tea with soy milk cap.
An interesting billboard. Not really sure what they sell!
It got very busy once we entered the 西門町 Ximending shopping area!
We got one more tea here, a sugarcane tea from Oolong Tea Project.
We ended up walking through the area for a little bit before heading to the 西門 Ximen MRT station.
Raohe Night Market
We took the MRT over to the 松山 Songshan station, adjacent to the 饒河街觀光夜市 Raohe Night Market. We were a bit early but figured we’d walk around the area a bit, perhaps check out the area next to the Keeling River which is just one block from the market.
We ended up exiting the MRT from a non-optimal exit so walked a bit to the east and then to the north to head to the market’s east entrance. We passed by this interesting little clock tower. The text in English on the right refers to the Dogo Onsen in Matsuyama, Japan. This clock seems to be modeled after the Botchan Karakuri Clock in Matsuyama at the onsen.
The 松山慈祐宮 Songshan Ciyou Temple is right by the eastern entrance to the night market. It seems to be even more colorful than the Bangka Lungshan Temple, though its paint also seems to be in better condition overall.
We turned to the left to enter the night market. There was already quite a bit of activity so we headed in.
Our first stop, 福州世祖胡椒餅 Fuzhou Ancestor Pepper Pie, was right by the entrance. They sell hujiao bing (black pepper bing, sometimes also translated as pie or cake). There was a long queue, though it moved quickly as they’re constantly making the product and sell them as fast as they possibly can.
These are the uncooked product.
They are pressed onto the wall of a cylindrical oven where they bake.
They are removed once they’re ready.
Once they’re taken out, they’re placed in a small paper sleeve to be given to the eagerly awaiting customer!
We got two. They were very good, well baked on the outside and tasty on the inside. The queue was much longer after we finished eating our two bing but it was still moving quickly.
We continued on into the night market and bought a papaya milk from one of the vendors. There was plenty that looked delicious but there is only so much we can eat in an evening so we needed to be selective.
Our next stop ended up being this stand that sells crispy pork belly. They had just started for the evening so we had to wait a bit before we could get ours.
The pork is cut into small pieces and placed into a paper container. They were very good, so crispy! Maybe the best comparison would be like chicharrones from Colombia, just as crispy but way more tender.
This particular business actually has multiple stands throughout the night market. We saw them later on while walking through.
The market basically runs east to west and has two aisles. We walked through on the north side and reached the west end.
These devices are for kids, kind of like the coin operated rocking horses in the US. Not sure if those are still a thing though. These operate kind of like a tiny Ferris wheel. The circular part rotates causing the chair to rotate with it. The kid can rock the chair from side to side as it goes around. It looks like it was fun for the kids who were riding it.
The one on the right has a duck hunting theme. The hunter is shooting at two Mallards, both adult males given their green heads, while a duckling is sadly looking on. In the 80s, Nintendo had the Duck Hunt game with a light gun where you pointed the gun at the screen to shoot The one on the left is more appropriately Pokemon themed!
These two owls are also at the western end of the night market. A plaque below reads:
The More Beautiful As Night Comes Artist: Lin, Chao-Ching Material: Copper Dimension: 168x160x240 cm Year: 2006 Raohe Street Night Market is a modern urban style of tourist market. Since 1987, it has established for 19 years. Under current president, Kuo Hung-Chin-Feng, and committee members' efforts, Raohe Street Night Market has become an international scenic spot and a model of night market representative. The mascot "Spotted Scops Owl" in Raohe Street Night Market is designed by Mr Lin Chao-Ching. The icon of the owl is a symbol of good luck and deliver owl's interesting image. "Spotted Scops Owl" is one of plain-raising birds with a peaceful nature to get along with human beings. Because symbolized of the luckiness for Raohe Street Night Market, we built an owl image as a landmark at the corner of the intersection of Bade Road and Raohe Street. The night scenes of Taipei would become more beautiful when the sky getting darker whereas at Raohe Street Night Market would become more energetic. Taipei City Raohe St. Tourist Night Market Regulatory Comission President: Kuo Hung-Ching-Feng
This shop, 蔥海手工蔥油餅 on Google Maps, on the south side of the night market had a long queue. We walked past it but decided to go back and give it a try. They sell 葱油饼 scallion pancakes, literally scallion oil bing, with the bing in this case being apparently equivalent to a western flatbread according to Wikipedia.
They had an interesting device that we haven’t seen before. The raw dough already has the scallions mixed in and is out on the table already portioned out. They take one and put it into the machine on the right. It is a pneumatic press which squishes the dough into the thin circular shape that is required. Some heat is also applied by the machine. It is then cooked on the grill.
The finished product! We got it with egg and pork from Taiwan. It was good, but like the pressure based tea brewing machine we saw earlier at COMEBUYTEA, its not clear if the pneumatic press makes any difference in terms of taste, but certainly it should for efficiency.
Our final item from the night market. Not sure what this should be called in English but it is basically a sweet rice based dessert with black sesame.
After, we walked back to the Songshan MRT station to return to the Grand Hyatt via the Taipei 101 MRT station. We were only a little bit more than a mile away but there is no direct route back via train. We decided to go the long way so that we would only have to transfer once. We took the green Songshan-Xindian Line to the 中山 Zhongshan station and then transferred to the red Tamsui-Xinyi Line to get to Taipei 101. That’s probably about 6 miles. The most direct route available requires two transfers, including to the brown Wenhu Line. The brown line is elevated so that requires going from below ground to above street level and back down again.
Once we returned to Taipei 101, we went to visit Tao Tao Tea for one more evening snack before finally walking over to the Grand Hyatt to end the day.