Raohe night market (饒河夜市): a concentrated chaos of Taiwanese street food, young folk, middle-aged tourists and sellers hawking cheap knockoffs

No visit to Taiwan is complete without a visit to a night market. Despite my exhaustion from jet lag and walking around Taipei in sweltering summer heat, last night I made it to the Raohe night market (饒河夜市) next to the Songshan MRT and local train station and was pumped enough by all the activity to stay 2 hours getting swept up by the herd-blob of people along the alley between vendors and shops, contemplating the stinky tofu (which is indeed stinky, and I pride myself in liking its funky fermented taste -it’s made with fermented milk, like cheese is – but it’s not that enjoyable to eat with stomach already full from dinner banquet with family), stopping to watch a woman make scallion pancakes the way they should be: super flakey, paper-thin, with lots of scallions and not too much oil on a super-hot griddle: 

They are still good – flakey, crunchy on the edges and soft on the inside – the day after when I reached Hanoi. Three snack-meals out of a US dollar purchase is a pretty good deal:

I realized an hour into herd-blob walking that I was crazy thirsty, and the lady making agar (寒天 algae) fruit jellies appeared before my very eyes. And a steal at only 10 NTD (about 30 US cents). The passionfruit one was so good that I went back for the litchi one:

I was tempted to indulge my rekindled childhood craving for these super-cute character-shaped egg tarts (the little girl below could have easily been me staring longingly at the Tarepanda one), but I resisted the urge to expend my stomach space on it:

I ended up getting the more adult treat of shaved ice with peanuts and tofu custard (豆腐花) for about a US buck:

And then of course there were many interesting things that as a pescaterian-vegetarian I didn’t partake of (such as “pork paper” and “offal buns” and an endless array of sausages stuffed with who-knows-what), and things like “foaming regimen brown sugar” that was extra suspect because the guys selling it seemed too snake-oily while toting its magical properties: 

A magical night was had without consuming it. Whew!