Kenting in Pingtung, Taiwan, is well-loved for its sunny beaches and mild weather. In the evenings, its main thoroughfare, Kenting Street turns into a fascinating night market that’s one of the largest in southern Taiwan. The 2km stretch of food, game and trinket stalls offer some exotic and creative foods.
The night we visited, a typhoon had just passed, so the market had less stalls than usual but there were enough interesting things to see.
For starters, seafood is a huge item here compared to the night markets in the cities up north. The coastal bounty ensures fresh supplies, and you get your food prepared on the spot.
Here you have clams flash-cooked to perfection in various ways. The natural flavours are intensified by a dash of wine and some basil.
Fancy sausages made with flying fish roe?
Piping hot fried glutinous rice cakes dusted with ground peanut and sesame are strangely called “白糖粿” (white sugar cake).
This stall probably draws more attention by having a car boot grill than its Mexican spicy chicken wings. At least the young hawkers seem quite hygiene-conscious; one of them is wearing a face mask and gloves while preparing food.
In contrast, this other stall owner just goes topless in the warm weather. But wait, deep-fried century eggs? Will the Taiwanese deep-fry everything or is this a take on Scotch eggs? Let’s see how well it goes with Sacha sauce or teriyaki sauce.
Unfortunately, the concept sounds better than the actual end result. The stall seems to have decided to smother the battered century egg with raw minced garlic, chopped scallions, bonito flakes and salty teriyaki sauce, resulting in an explosion of strong flavours that did not gel well together.
Saikoro roast beef cubes – flame grilled beef – this was pretty good. Not much seasoning required when you have decent quality beef.
”Pulled silk pumpkin” – nice cubes with a thin crackling coat of candy – are a nice treat.
And what would a Taiwan night market be without stinky tofu?
Baked cheese-egg cakes that almost taste like souffle.
These spiced shellfish are a staple in every night market, often sold at varying degrees of chili heat.
The Taiwanese love to go big when they deep-fry things. First there was XXL chicken, and now there’s giant cuttlefish or squid. These are so widely copied, they’ve been spotted at our local Ramadan bazaars.
There are restaurants peppering the whole stretch as well, most of them offering foreign cuisines (Thai, Myanmarese, Italian, etc). Amy’s Cucina is one of the popular ones.
Taiwanese nougat with local flavours like yam-almond, yam-mango, and black sesame-black sugar, and seaweed-almond.
Fresh oysters shucked and grilled on the shell. Just pull up a chair enjoy.
This is purportedly one of Kenting’s most famous “lu wei” or braised food stall.
Cheeky bananas on parade, drawing giggles for the banana pancakes.
What looks like a highly vandalised stall is actually one of their most popular black sugar pearl drinks business plastered with celebrity photos and autographs.
All your cravings for duck innards and exotic parts (head, tongue, blood) can be satisfied here. This is a chain found throughout Taiwan.
Kenting and Kaohsiung are well known for fruits, so don’t miss the chance to sample some of the sweet local produce.