Night markets in Taipei are said to be some of the must see places for any visitor to Taiwan. Time being a constraint, we had to pick only one to go to. After taking into account location, variety of stalls and a balance of being vibrant yet not too crowded, we decided on the Raohe Night Market (饒河街觀光夜市). Another reason was the famous stall – Fu Zhou Shi Zu Hujiao Bing (福州世祖胡椒饼) that sells Black Pepper Buns 胡椒餅.
Raohe Night Market (饒河街觀光夜市)
Raohe Night Market is located at the north-eastern part of central Taipei. We were there at about 5.30pm, just when the sun was about to set. The early stalls were already up and running. Those stalls who choose to open later were only starting to come to life. There were enough food varieties to please almost anyone. Deep-fried or roasted seafood and meats, soups and traditional Taiwanese food and even beauty treatments like threading facial hair. There is of course the smelly tofu seller which we could sense several stalls away. There is enough to keep us interested in Raohe Night Market. The market takes up the whole of Raohe Street which is about 150m from one end to another. There are shops on two sides and two rows of stalls back-to-back in the centre. Just browsing the stalls in both directions will take one hour.
Raohe Night Market Black Pepper Bun 胡椒餅
The star attraction at Raohe Night Market is the famous stall Fu Zhou Shi Zu Hu Jiao Bing (福州世祖胡椒饼) that sells Black Pepper Buns 胡椒餅. It is the first stall on the end of the street which has a Chinese temple. It is easy to find as it is the stall with the longest queue. There were about 50 people in the queue by the time we got there. But the queue moves fast and we got our black pepper bun in around 15 minutes.
The Black Pepper Buns 胡椒餅 are essentially baked buns containing balls of pork mixed with their secret seasoning formula and coated with a generous amount of spring onions. The bun is then stuck to the sides of cylindrical brick ovens for around ten minutes (similar to how naan is stuck to the insides of a tandoor oven). The bun is then pried away from the oven and is ready to eat. The ovens are charcoal-fired, which may explain the smokey dry flavour of the buns. Here are some pictures of how the Raohe Street Market Black Pepper Buns are made.
This is what the final product Raohe Street Market Black Pepper Bun looks like. Each one costs NT$50 (about S$2) It is dense and heavy. They have to be eaten fresh. Once cooled down the dough becomes tough, which may explain the fast moving queue. People are unlikely to buy many in one go for takeaway. The taste was very good. Even though there was so much pork in the bun it did not feel meaty or have a ‘porky’ taste. The seasoning and spring onions gave it a fresh appealing taste. It was worth queuing up 15 minutes for this.
福州世祖胡椒饼 “Fuzhou Ancestor” Black Pepper Buns
Address: Raohe Street Night Market at 249 Raohe Street, Taipei
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