Huaxi Street Night Market, also known as “Snake Alley” was the first tourism night market in Taiwan, it’s in Wanhua, the oldest district in Taipei, Huaxi street was one of the busiest and commercialized areas in Taipei due to its proximity to the pier, attracting many food vendors to the area, forming the precursor to the eventual night market.
The night market is located near Longshan Temple, built specifically for tourists, it began operations in 1951 with signs in both English and Japanese.
How do you get to Huaxi Street Night Market?
It is within walking distance of Taipei’s Metro Station Longshan Temple Station (BL10) via Bannan line (Blue Line), although slightly further, it is also accessible via Wanhua train station on Taiwan Railways.
Why is it called “Snake Alley”?
One of the main attractions at Huaxi Street Night Market were snakes, besides just serving snake dishes, many shops would put on live shows where they slaughtered and skinned live snakes, attracting many tourists, thus, Huaxi Night Market became “Snake Alley”.
The last such snake shop closed its doors in 2018 due to animal protection laws and a general lack of interest in such events. A local Taiwan comedian even put on a fake show to commemorate the history. There are still a few shops that do sell cooked snake meat or soup which we will detail below.
Now that we have the history lesson out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff, the food! Wanhua is the oldest district in Taipei, it is home to many traditional restaurants and stalls that have been around for a long time.
What is there to eat?
1. Jin Dai Snake Soup (金代山産藥膳坊)
Like we mentioned earlier, although the live shows have stopped, snake dishes are still being served in restaurants such as this one, they serve terrapin, alligator and a variety of other exotic and normal dishes as well.
If you are feeling adventurous, you can order the snake soup set, which is served with a variety of alcoholic shots made from snake blood, snake bile, snake whip, seahorse and seal, and the 2 snake oil capsules.
2.Hsiao Wang Steamed Minced Pork with Pickles in Broth (小玉清湯瓜仔肉)
The Stall first opened in 1975, has been in business for more than 40 years, and it was just recommended by Michelin Bib Gourmand in 2019. Many of their dishes have the “old school” taste, the braised pork rice is flavorful with the vintage soy sauce and Chinese mushroom, pairing the rice with the slightly sweet and refreshing broth brings a balance to your tastebuds. The braised Chinese cabbage and the braised egg are also quite flavorful, full of the soy sauce taste!
3. Yuan Fun Gua bao (源芳刈包)
Gua bao is one of the most popular street foods in Taiwan, introduced by early Fuzhounese immigrants to the island. Yuan Fun Gua bao’s bun is light and fluffy with a subtle hint of sweetness, paired with the buttery pork belly which just melts in your mouth, the parsley and the peanut powder only accentuates the flavor and takes it to another level, the only negative is that one is just not enough!
4. Beigang Sweet Soup (北港甜湯)
Another stall full of history, Beigang Sweet Soup opened in 1953, over 60 years ago, they sell all kinds of traditional desserts such as green bean soup, red bean soup, and tofu pudding that you can expect to find at a traditional dessert stall.
Their signature dessert is the “Boiled Mochi”, as the name suggests, the Taiwanese style Mochi is boiled first, covered with peanut butter powder, the mochi is chewy and the overall taste is not overly sweet.
5. Dingtop1 Tempura (頂級甜不辣)
The Taiwanese style Tempura is a must-try when you’re in Taiwan, Dingtop1 Tempura is one of the most popular stalls in Huaxi Street Night Market, usually attracts a big crowd, especially on the weekends, it has been featured on many media outlets.
The scuttlebutt is that all the ingredients used are handmade. A typical serving consists of tempura, daikon, sticky rice pudding, pork meatballs, oil tofu, and pyramid dumpings, topped with their special homemade sweet sauce, yum~ Don’t forget to ask for the daikon soup once you finish the tempura!
6. Huainian Aiyu Jelly (懷念愛玉冰)
Another local favorite, Huainian Aiyu Jelly (roughly translates to fond memories) has been around for more than 30 years, made from the gel from the seeds of the awkeotsang creeping fig, Aiyu Jelly is great for cooling you down. Unlike most other Aiyu Jelly stalls, Huainian does it old school and serves it to you in a plastic bag if you wanna takeout!
7. Wanhua Fun Yuan Crispy Spareribs Noodle (萬華豐原排骨酥麵)
This is another local favorite, it’s frequently packed due to the crowd from the nearby Lungshan Temple. Their specialty is the Crispy spareribs noodle, however, you can also order the spareribs with either rice noodles, cellophane noodles or flat noodles.
The noodle is full of aroma which you can smell immediately when served, the soup looks vibrant and rich, but surprisingly refreshing and sweet, the spareribs breaks apart easily as you bite into it and extremely succulent.
Now that you have had either your lunch or dinner at the spareribs store, you can take a few steps along the road to this traditional Taiwanese ice shop, in fact, that’s exactly what many people do.
8. ICE JUICE (龍都冰菓專業家)
ICE JUICE is actually almost a century old! First opened in 1920, it’s possibly the oldest ice shop in the Taipei area. Their most popular and signature dish is the ‘Eight Treasure Shaved Ice’, which is served with 8 toppings: red beans, green beans, peanuts, kidney beans, tangyuan, taro, longan and Job’s tears, their shaved ice is a bit finer than the typical ice shop, and the overall taste is not overly sweet, very refreshing after the spareribs!
The list will be maintained and updated, bringing you more recommendations as we find them; please let us know if you have tried any of our recommendations, and if you like them? Also, feel free to recommend other vendors that you liked that aren’t on the list.
Feel free to check out our article about Shilin Night Market too!