Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Ningxia Night Market (寧夏夜市)

While my old college friend A. is in town to visit, she and her fiancé S. took us to Ningxia Night Market (寧夏夜市). Being only 2 rows up and down a short strip of road, it is a tiny night market in comparison to my local Shida Night Market, but I was told the locals go here to eat and else where to shop.

And indeed, the Ningxia Night Market was food, food, and more food. It was literally one food stall after another and we all walked up and down the whole place twice before we could make our decision on what to snack on. There were so many choices and everything looked equally delicious!

To my pleasant surprise, we found not 1, 2, or even 3, but 4 different stalls selling sugar cane juice - pure sugar water - my most favorite snack of all time ^.^ Of course I bought a little something from each stall, because they all advertise a different type of sugar cane. Base on how the juice look in the bottle, they seem different indeed. They tasted different too, with one more fragrant than the other, and still another that was perhaps sweeter. However, I must concede the best sugar cane juice I've had so far is from the one stall we found on Tamsui Old Street (淡水老街) as it was fragrant and sweet, and pretty hard to beat combo :P

Of course we had to try the popular oyster omelet that is é-a-zhen (蚵仔煎). The name of the dish is read in Taiwanese (I spelled it out using Mandarin pinyin for the sake of pronunciation), and if you were to read those characters in Mandarin, they will look at you like you're from Mars xD There were many stalls for é-a-zhen, but we saw this long line outside this restaurant and decided we just join them. Ahh...crowd wisdom. 

We ordered é-a-zhen and oyster soup, which was filled with oysters and by the end, we were all oyster-ed out. No. More. Oysters. Please...

And then we were peer-pressured into trying stinky tofu. Funny enough, even S. hadn't tried stinky tofu before, much to his fiancee's surprise, and so he too was lowbrowed into trying LOL!!! Good lord that shi*t stank! My sensitive nose can usually detect its lingering stench from quite a distance away, and so going into a stinky tofu dine-in shop nearly suffocated me. I will now officially revise my earlier statement that stinky tofu smells like a mixture of vomit and parmesan cheese. Up close and personal, it smells like rotting teeth. Make that horribly rotting teeth. Don't ask me how I know what horribly rotting teeth smells like. No, I'm not a dentist. Just trust me on this one. 

So for us stinky tofu novice, A. started us out easy with a plate of deep fried stinky tofu. Apparently, least stinky of them all is the grilled-on-a-stick kind slathered with a deep brown sauce so thick and fragrant it masks even the crazy stench of the tofu. But we weren't that lucky, and there was no grilled on a stick stinky tofu, just the deep fried ones served on a plate with pickled vegetables. Still better than the soft, falling apart ones that will out-stink the stinkiest of all your stinky socks. It tasted like - drum rolls please - good ol' deep fried "regular" tofu, with a whiff of rotting teeth every now and then. There you have it, I tried stinky tofu. And I will never put that in my mouth ever again. Worse, for the rest of the night, all of us smelled like stinky tofu as the odor had latched onto our hands, clothing, and even our hair. Yuck. Ick. Bleargh.

As a reward for our bravery, A. then took us to a fruit stall where she knew would have one of my favorite fruits of all - wax apples (蓮霧)! I happily bagged 4 huge ones and brought them to enjoy the next day ^.^ These are like the super spongy, juicy, and sweet cousin of the apple-pear lovechild that is nashi. They taste like a combination of nashi and apple with a dash of grapes, very fragrant and light but super sweet. I love love love 蓮霧 and I just can't have enough of it! Luckily for me, it's 蓮霧 season xD

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