Translated to Chinese by Teresa Lee.
Enter the Shida neighborhood, and you’ll find a labyrinth of well-organized alleys of white brick residential buildings overgrown with verdant vines and shrubs. Carefully tucked in between the lightly-stained age-old white walls are eclectic sun-lit vintage boutiques and cafes, at once urban and artistic. The vibe is distinctive hipster; these streets belong to the college students dressed in their homey cardigans and converse high tops hoping to curate a lifestyle that is at once aesthetic and meaningful.
Centered on Longquan Street, the compact night market has no rides or games but is instead filled with the hippest of shops, cafes and restaurants that appeal to the college and young adult population living within close proximity of the night market’s namesake National Taiwan Normal University and the nearby National Taiwan University. Although many have said that the night market is only a shadow of its former self—it was downsized a few years back due to noise complaints from residents—what Shida Night Market lacks in size, it makes up for with quality. Clothing boutiques are trendy but affordable, along with plenty of delicious street food stands, restaurants and cozy cafes, making for a nice alternative from the other tourist-filled night markets in the city.
Since its founding by KK, the bassist of post-rock band Aphasia, White Wabbit Records has become a—if not the—key player in the island’s independent music scene as not only a huge supporter of local indie and alternative talent but also an importer of lesser mainstream international music that may appeal to niche audiences. Doubling as a record label and vendor with a sole store tucked in an alley near Shida Night Market, White Wabbit Records also organizes concerts and performances usually in collaboration with The Wall Live House. If you can’t seem to find a record or vinyl anywhere, chances are it’ll be in White Wabbit’s extensive collection.
image via White Wabbit Records
Stroll past the Shida Night Market and into its back alleys, and you will find yourself in a tree-lined block of narrow streets with a similar distinctive retro vibe. Warmly-lit boutiques with creaky wooden floorboards and large windowpanes stand in the century-old brick buildings on Yongkang Street and its surrounding area. With the indie music coming from the urban contemporary designer stores and the secondhand bookstores, art galleries and antique street, Yongkang—complete with a selection of delectable local cuisine—is a haven for anyone seeking an alternative shopping experience.
image via Henry PAI
This small, not particularly eye-catching of a Japanese restaurant boasts a sashimi selection that is unparalleled in its freshness. This is because its owner, who is particularly fond of fishing and seafood, wanted to impart his philosophy for how to eat seafood—fresh—with customers. The portions of sashimi at Yu are incredibly generous to say the least; the pieces are thick, and we mean really thick, and literally melts in the mouth.
image via jimmraz
If you can only line up for one dish at Shida Night Market, make it Hsu-ji’s shengjianbao, small, pan-fried baozi (steam buns) that are filled with pork and gelatin that melts into soup when cooked. Diced cabbage is mixed in with finely-minced pork inside the thin outer layer of these bite-sized steamed buns, making for an easy-to-carry snack while shopping. The shengjianbao are best enjoyed with sauce.
image via Hsu-ji
Libero Coffee & Bar oozes nostalgia with its wooden floors and vintage mahongony furniture. Elegantly housed in a 40-something year mansion with a veranda, the cafe serves specialty coffees and tea that are also available mixed with alcohol. From its wooden-framed French windows down to the delicately engraved dark wooden doors, the retro decor and ambiance makes for a perfect afternoon or evening wasted.
image via Libero Coffee & Bar
Close to many attractions, Dandy Hotel offers simple and affordable rooms to stay the night.
The Taipei Park 271 Hostel offers a very comfortable stay for a much more affordable price and is located in the heart of Taipei, a few minutes walk away from Shida.
The Sonnien Hotel Taipei offers great service and all the essentials needed for a good night’s stay near Shida.
images via Agoda
feature image via xuite