Hao Bu Hao Chi?

Illustration: Choc Hsu

Essential Chinese for the Night Market

Though isolated from the national scenic area’s main tourist corridor, and birdsong quiet, Alishan’s northern part presents many pleasant choices on where to roost at night, fill growling tummies, and hunt for gift and souvenir gems.

Visiting a night market (夜市; ye shi), and trying some of the exotic snack food dishes (小吃; xiao chi) on offer, is one of the essential activities on a typical Taiwan-visit itinerary. Bigger night markets that receive a fair number of foreign visitors, such as Taipei’s Shilin Night Market (士林夜市; shi lin ye shi), do have some English, Japanese, or even Korean signage; but in general night-market menus and food-stall signs are in Chinese only, so it comes in handy if you know some of the key words/Chinese characters for ordering food in the local language.

First, what are some of the most famous snack-food treats to be found at most night markets around Taiwan? Here’s a short list:

Grilled squid (烤魷魚; kao you yu)
Minced soy-braised pork rice (滷肉飯; lu rou fan)
Non-fried spring rolls (潤餅; run bing)
Oyster omelet (蚵仔煎; eh ah jen in Taiwanese; the Mandarin Chinese pronunciation ke zai jian is almost never used)
Oyster vermicelli (蚵仔麵線; eh ah mi sua; another dish rarely ordered in Mandarin, ke zai mian xian)
Pepper buns (胡椒餅; hu jiao bing)
Pig blood cake (豬血糕; zhu xue gao)
Small sausage in large sausage (大腸包小腸; da chang bao xiao chang)
Soy sauce-braised foods (滷味; lu wei)
Stinky tofu (臭豆腐; chou dou fu)

Now to the ordering. Usually, you can just point to the things you would like to order, because many food stalls have all their offerings laid out right in front of you. Here are some very basic, but helpful, phrases you can use when ordering:

[Talking to the vendor] Boss! (老闆; lao ban)
I want this (我要這個;wo yao zhege)
I want one (two, three) (我要一個[兩個,三個];wo yao yi ge [liang ge, san ge])
[Beverages] I want one (two, three) cups/glasses (我要一杯[兩杯,三杯];wo yao yi bei [liang bei, san bei])
[Rice or soup, etc.] I want one (two, three) bowls (我要一碗[兩碗,三碗];wo yao yi wan [liang wan, san wan])
How much is it? (多少錢; duo shao qian)
Thank you! (謝謝; xie xie)
I want it spicy (加辣; jia la)
I want it less spicy (少辣; shao la)
I am a vegetarian (我吃素; wo chi su)

Finally, if sitting down to enjoy an oyster omelet or bubble tea and you want to share your Taiwan snack-food experience with local diners at your table, here are some things you might say:

Tastes very good! ([很]好吃; hen hao chi / if someone asks: How does it taste? [好不好吃; hao bu hao chi])
Very sweet! (好甜; hao tian)
Very spicy! (好辣; hao la)
I am full (我吃飽了; wo chi bao le / if someone asks: Are you full? [你吃飽了嗎; ni chi bao le ma])
This night market is fun (夜市很好玩; ye shi hen hao wan / if someone asks: Do you like this night market? [你喜歡夜市嗎; ni xi huan ye shi ma])


Lovely Lotus Flower Fields

Little Streets and Small Alleys

Noodles, Buns, and Dumplings

Shin Kong Chao Feng Resort Ranch

Hao Bu Hao Chi?

Taitung by the sea

Sleep, Eat, and Buy Options in Alishan’s North Sector

Mt. Guanyin

A Night at the Market

Alishan North

Green and Sleepy

Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail

Taiwan and Hotpot

Jinyue Indigenous Village

Seven Stars Mountain

DaMorLee Leisure Farm

Quick Trip to Taipei

Up into the High Mountains

Romantic Evenings in Kaohsiung

Railways to Bikeways

Xiang Luo Lei Restaurant

Land Ho! Penghu – Beckoning You

The Guanshan Town Circle Bicycle Path

The Heart of Hualien

Dageeli Tribe Restaurant

Coastal Hualien

Ximending (West Gate District)

Bunun Hunters Restaurant

Hello Hualien!

The Sun Moon Lake National Scenic Area

Tianwei Highway Garden

Prowlin’ in Maolin

Strawberry Town

The Maolin National Scenic Area

Stairways to the Sky

Pedaling Along

Daluan Restaurant

Around the Northern Tip

Hats and Mats

Orange Country

Travel Taiwan, Film Taiwan!

A Place to Relax

Through the Grapevine

The Tatami of Dongshi


Lion’s Head Mountain and Beipu

Exploring the Valley of the Glowing Sky

Fruit of the Angels

Its Cake Culture

The Amazing Bamboo

Yilan’s Kumquats

Lovely Nanzhuang

The Sea of Flowers in Xinshe Festival

Healthful Eating and Delicious Flavors

The Black King Kong of Yuanchang

From Art Brush to Beauty Brush

A Strange Fruit

The Sound of Drums

Zuoying Wannian Folklore Festival

The Hot Springs of Beitou

Simakusi (Smangus)


Water Frolics

Overnighting on the Northeast Coast

Giant Buddha, Old Temples, and Glass Art

Mt. Beidawu

The Most Joyous Thing in the World is Music

Taiwan Fun on the Tropic of Cancer

FUN WITH CHINESE - Men in the Fields during Rain

NK 101 Tea @ Style

Taitung Backpack Bus Trip

The Life of Pi

Taipei’s East District Where the Art of Shopping Is Serious Business

Spring Onion Country Yilan's Sanxing Township Offers Ideal Conditions for Cultivating Scallions

Sandy Beaches, Rocky Coastline, Quiet Country A Whirlwind Tour Round Hengchun Peninsula

What Happened at Wushe

Confucius Day

Keeping It in the Family: I Wan Jan Puppet Theater

Taiwan Has a Unique Culture

Welcoming the Year of the Rabbit and the ROC's 100 Years

All the Flowers You Can Dream Of

Music from the Marshland

Pristine Scenes

Fierce Faces

Following the Tide

A Wonderful World Out There

Off to the Beach and the Rocks

Taiwan’s Easy Rider Goes Into the Wild


Taipei Int'l Flora Expo




Taiwan's Ultra Man Going Beyond Extreme

Rice by Any Other Name

Taiwan is Beautiful!


Slate Houses and Mud Rivers

From Fir Formosa

Touring Kaohsiung by KMART


Taoyuan HSR Station

Taking Taiwan's Slow Train

Bus Trip to Central Taiwan

Establishing a Beautiful Taiwan

High Mountain Ecology

Exploring High Mountain HighsTaiwan at Her Peaks

Cultural Tourism in Taiwan:What's in It for You?

Getting to Know Taiwan's Indigenous Cultures

Leaving Stress Behind

Taiwan! "Feel Good" Country

Exploring Taiwan's Rural Side

Aboriginal Tribes & Festivals

The Famous Lantern Festival in Taiwan

Night Markets in Taiwan

Great Arts, Culinary Exhibitions and Events in Taiwan's National Palace Museum and Other Places

Mountains in Taiwan

Water Fun in Taiwan

Taiwanese Arts, Arts Festivals and Interesting Artifacts

"Taiwan's Ghost Festival and Other Religious Events"

Dragon Boat Festival

City: The Tallest Building Taipei 101 & Kaohsiung's Love River

National Scenic Area (IV)-Dapeng Bay National Scenic Area, Penghu National Scenic Area, Matsu National Scenic Area

National Scenic Area (III)-East Rift Valley National Scenic Area, East Coast National Scenic Area, Maolin National Scenic Area

National Scenic Area (II)-Sun Moon Lake National Scenic Area, Alishan National Scenic Area, Southwest Coast National Scenic Area

National Scenic Area (I)-North Coast & Guanyinshan National Scenic Area, Northeast Coast National Scenic Area, Tri-Mountain National Scenic Area

Offshore Islands- Penghu、Kinmen National Park、Matzu、Green Island(Lyudao)、Orchid Island(Lanyu)

Eastern Taiwan- Taroko National Park、East Rift Valley、Rueisuei & Hongye、Jhihben

Southern Taiwan- Alishan、Tainan、Kaohsiung、Dapeng Bay & Little Liouciou、Kenting National Park

Central Taiwan- Miaoli、Taichung、Changhua、Nantou、Yushan National Park

Northern Taiwan -Taipei City、Yangmingshan & Beitou、Danshuei、Wulai、Jioufen & Jinguashih、Yilan、Taoyuan & Hsinchu