Thursday, August 5, 2010

[台北縣永和市] - 樂華夜市 樂華米粉湯 Lir Hua night market Mifen Tang/Lu Rou Fan/Er Rou

Lir Hua Night Market 樂華夜市 has a more down to earth neighborhood feel with  slightly more shops than there are eating places, unlike the more famous and touristy food night markets e.g. Shihlin where on weekends they bus in tourists from Hong Kong, Japan, and Korea. Thus, you are competiting with these folks just for valuable elbow space and a table at some random yet not so spectacular eatery. And suddenly you feel like a tourist yourself, even if you are just visiting.

Every night market in Taipei serve more or less the same snacks, small eats, local specialties. Some things are more common than others, with varying quality. The key to maximizing your decadently indulgent food orgy snack munching bingefest (with hopefully no purging) at such places, is to quickly identify and be familiar with what the more seemingly popular places are, what they truly specialize in, and to concentrate on those.

In the midst of food vendor stalls and sit down eateries that appear rather random and potentially ho hum is one sit down restaurant that not just dishes the variety and goods out (street food style), but does it so well that it has the full patronage of locals filling up almost all of the foldable stools at the tables. Don't be surprised if you have to wait when you get here.

Almost every rice, rice noodle, regular noodle, bean thread noodle dish you can find at any night market, you can also find here. Their menu sports over 50 items, and arguably more.

The interior is not fancy at all, just white tiled walls with various signs including some excerpts of the menu. Each table has a pad of paper with the menu printed on it in Chinese. The procedure here is simple; you mark off the item you want, quantity, then give it to your server. Disposeable chopsticks are wrapped in plastic, the wooden but circular variety that is arguably a notch better quality than the low brow bleached wood kind made in China that is everywhere. No chairs here, just foldable stools, so get used to it.

No smoking allowed in here. The only alcohol they serve here are 3 kinds of beer (including Taiwan beer which is an aquired taste they say)

Here's what we ordered:

Minced pork with rice (lu rou fan) - One of the more well known Taiwanese street food snacks. Small bowl of rice topped with marinated stewed minced pork. It wasn't the best I had, but not bad for a local rendition.

Steamed pork cheek meat (sai bang rou) - this doesn't qualify to be a nasty bit, but it's one of the best cuts of swine you'll ever have. Served with cilantro, shredded/julienne ginger to give it that extra flavor, and of course the important soy sauce paste with vinegar and garlic that is a must (and elevates this dish to fan-f**king-tastic status)

Smoked shark belly - also with julienne ginger and cilantro. It's really hard to describe this dish properly, except the smoked flavors helped take the fishiness and edge off. Beneath the skin was either fat or collagen, it was quite rich and filling. Served with a side of wasabi paste, so you can make an uber wasabi mud bath with your soy sauce, which would be the best way to enjoy this.

Pork rinds - served in a similar fashion, and with a slightly sweet and sour sauce that was very nice. This was definitely easier to stomach than the smoked shark belly. Not crunchy and not rubbery, and was disturbingly juicy...

Steamed goose - This was a mondo buff  goose on steroids! Well maybe it was also big boned. There was meat, but it was a little on the chewy side (not rubbery), but good flavor.

Stir fried vegetable - one can only have so much meat and nasty bits. A juicy, flavorful, garlic stir fried local greens dish is just what the Taiwanese doctor ordered to lessen the guilt of the bingefest (and to make you feel a little better, like ordering a Diet Coke with Three Big Macs and Supersize Fries).

I must say that it was quite a pleasurable experience to go into a neighborhood joint like this. It's not famous or touristy by any means, and while some of the stuff might not be terribly appealing, it is interesting nonetheless.

樂華夜市 - 樂華米粉湯 (Lir Hua Night Market restaurant stall)
台北縣永和市永平路151號 (Taipei County, Yongho Township, Hir Ping Road #151)


  1. I imagine shark skin to be tough since when alive the skin alone can cause gashes. Interesting dish, I won't pass it up if I ever see it on a menu.

  2. The shark belly was very slightly chewy, and smoked, so much of the fishy taste was gone, but one cannot eliminate it altogether. The soy sauce and wasabi dip certainly helped, but not something I would order again. The Fuzhou style fish balls at Danshui (made with shark meat paste, and juicy ground pork inside) however, is truly out of this world.