This is the night market that foreigners mean when they say “the Zhongli night market.” Actually, there are lots of night markets in Zhongli, big and small, near and far, so better to refer to it as the Xinming Night Market to avoid any confusion.
I live riiiight next to this night market. When people hear that, they assume I go to the night market a lot for meals, but I don’t. The food is delicious in all the unhealthiest ways, and I can’t be eating grilled sausages and fried pancakes all the time.
I avoid the night markets on night when I think it will be very busy. What Chinese people call rènào, which means “lively” and “exciting”, I call “overcrowded and exhausting.” If you enjoy waddling like a penguin in the middle of a giant flock of penguins carefully picking its way over slippery ice, by all means go to the night market on the first warm Saturday in the spring. For me, I’ll hold out til it’s threatening rain and everyone is keeping their precious offspring safe and dry at home. Then you can walk through the night market like it’s a Las Vegas buffet, bags of food in each hand. If that’s what you’re into…
Night markets in Taiwan generally all have similar fare: your fried chicken breasts, your salt-and-pepper chicken bites, your fried breads and pancakes, your grilled sausages and miscellaneous meats, your fried meatballs and skewers, your grilled meatballs and skewers, your oyster omelets and beef noodles, and some such.
The Xinming Night Market also has snake soup, which I’ve never tried. The same vendor has been there since 2004, so he must be doing something right. There’s a good fried stinky tofu stand, which is easy to find because of the smell and the long line. There’s a foreigner who makes a version of shawarmas which aren’t really like shawarmas at all, but they’re good sandwiches, especially on the way to the bar. I like the dim sum stall near the entrance, down the left aisle. It’s the only place to get cheap dim sum in town and they’ve also been there since 2004. Once upon a time, I heard there were buffalo wings and chili fries somewhere in the mix, but I don’t want to know because I don’t want to know find out there are cheap chicken wings right near my house.
As far as night markets go, Xinming is not huge, although the surrounding neighborhood take advantage of the hungry crowds and there are plenty of restaurants and tea shops in the area. The Xinming night market is an interesting way to spend a few evening hours in Zhongli.