As you may have already realized based on a lot of the Street Food Spotlights I’ve been posting about, the Shilin Night Market in Taipei is one of the coolest places in the world to eat food. And yet, like some sort of off-balance iceberg, there’s a little more to share below the surface. There, you can find tanks of seafood and additional food options, plus get out of the heat for a little while. Down there is a place called Zhong Cheng Hao, which is all about the seafood.
I generally try to avoid seafood, but apparently the oyster omelette is pretty special to the night market and I just couldn’t not have it. But, we ordered ours with a little twist by adding shrimp. It came topped with some red sauce, which is really what added flavor to the thing and made it stand out from just a regular oyster and shrimp omelette. The sauce was sweet and spicy and almost made me forget that the texture of oysters creeps me way out.
But on top of that, we also ordered Keelung Tempura. “What is this?” you ask. Well, I asked the same questions to my Taiwanese friends and it was kind of hard to answer because Keelung is a city in Taiwan and not a type of fish. Yet, after some time on the internet we figured out the best English translation is “fish paste.” As far as calling it tempura, well it wasn’t like the kind of tempura batter you expect with Japanese food, but it was fried just as well. It had its own sauce, which coupled perfectly with the fish paste, because why wouldn’t it?
As far as the Shilin Night Market’s strange seafood goes, Zhong Cheng Hao sure seemed to do a good job of making it work. And while I probably will never clamor for oyster omelettes or Keelung tempura, Zhong Cheng Hao was a hell of an experience that I would recommend to anyone.