Pictures and words by Gong Fan
Translated by Cara Steenstra
Night markets are often places where crowds of people gather. Dong Hai's Night Market has been developing rapidly in the last couple of years and has also become the new focus of the lives of people in Dong Hai.
Students gather and a night market is formed
Head towards WuQi from Taichung Harbor Road, pass Tung Hai University and you will see a bridge, turn right and you will find the famous International Street (Guo Ji Street), turn left and you will find Dong Yuan Lane and Xin Xing Road, where the new "Dong Hai Night Market" can be found.
International Street is filled with shops that have unique characteristics, and is famous for having an atmosphere similar to that of Taipei's Tien Mu. Dong Hai Night Market is quite a different scene altogether. In the beginning there were only a few snack vendors catering for teachers and students living in the area. Later on, as the community began to develop, with more and more teachers and students taking up residency there, and with its proximity to the industrial park zone, snack stalls have been springing up all over the area.
Famous Snack Heaven for Gourmands
When you mention Dong Hai, most people will associate it with all the famous snacks on offer there. Walk into Xin Xing 1st Lane and you will see "Shang He Yuan Stewed Food", famous for their "Lotus Heart Ice" and "Chicken's Feet Jelly". Apart from their house specials, the tofu, chicken wings, beans and chicken kidneys are also very popular. Walk a little further and you will see the sign for "Dong Hai Long Men Ke Zhan Cuisine". This place is famous for their "Long Men Glutinous Jelly"; they have over ten branches all over northern and central Taiwan. The "Corner Fortune Telling Restaurant" is a place that offers coffee, tea, food and fortune telling in one place. Whether you are interested in fortune telling through name analysis, numerology, palm reading or Tarot cards, you can find it all in here.
Another popular street is Dong Yuan Lane, it is also a favorite amongst students. There are popular fashion clothing stores, as well as restaurants offering Japanese ramen noodles, Italian risottos and pasta, hamburgers and much more. You will also be able to find the uniquely flavored "Brown Sugar Glutinous Jelly". Just off this lane, at the corner of Dong Yuan Lane and Xin Xing Road is a place where dozens of street side vendors gather. Here you can find Fuzhou Buns, Dong Shan Ducks' Heads, barbequed foods, cooked Oden stews, stir fries, deep fried chicken and much more. Many people spend a lot of money on these delicious treats. Although there are plenty of street side vendors here selling very similar types of food, local residents like to remind everyone to ask around and find out which one is the "real McCoy" first, so as to avoid any disappointment should you spend your money at the wrong stalls.
Old Businesses and Chain Stores are Established
Residents in the area have always been regular customers of the businesses along Xin Xing Road. Since the growth of the night market, business in the area has been improving steadily at the same time.
"Grape Tree" (Pu Tao Shu) Bakery is over a decade old and has many branches. There is a great variety of bread, cakes and snacks available here. Their freshly baked croissants are one of the most popular items.
In the early days, before there was proper planning, the area around Dong Yuan Lane and Xin Xing Road was rather chaotic. In the last couple of years, neatly organized shop signs have been established and a parking lot has been built along Xin Xing Road. This not only significantly improved the surrounding environment; it also attracted more visitors who come by car. It is also the reason why many old established businesses and chain stores such as "Duo Fu Tofu Pudding" and others have opened branches here.
With the rich night market culture, old established businesses that have entered the market, fashion boutiques, accessories shops, shoes stores, fruit mongers, household shops, clinics, crams schools and many other businesses have all helped make this area a self sufficient living area. And aside from Dong Hai's International Street, the "Dong Hai Night Market" has also become an attraction that offers everyone something different.