Jīngchéng Night Market 精誠夜市 is perhaps the largest open air night market in Changhua 彰化, Taiwan. Unlike some of the other big night markets in the area Jingcheng hasn’t been developed for tourism in the slightest. I doubt you’ll find it in any guidebook and there isn’t anything written about it in English that I have been able to find online. And, to be fair, there isn’t anything special about Jingcheng, particularly not if you’ve been to the fantastic open air night markets of Tainan 台南. Still, if you’re a night market connoisseur like me—or merely interested in trying something different—it might be worthwhile to check out, or you can live vicariously through my photos.
My purpose in sharing these photos is to provide a window into local night market culture here in central Taiwan. I have been living in Changhua City 彰化市 for a couple of months and have visited Jingcheng on several occasions. The photos in this post were taken on several different trips over the course of the last year.
One good thing to say about Jingcheng is that it has plenty of variety in terms of food options—if you’re able to recognize what you’re looking at, anyway. In terms of more substantial sit-down eateries you’ll find oyster omelette (Taiwanese: ô-á-chian 蚵仔煎), hot plate steak (served with a fried egg and spaghetti), various kinds of hot pot, teppanyaki (out of a truck), thick duck soup (yāròugēng 鴨肉羹), luwei and oden (Taiwanese: o-lián 烏輪), several authentic Vietnamese restaurants, and a Mongolian barbecue (which is neither Mongolian nor barbecue—more on that later), among other options.
The snacks would be too numerous to name but to mention a few: purple yam pancakes, Hong Kong-style rice noodle roll, takoyaki, blood cakes (duck or pig, I don’t know), braised sweet corn, sausages (indigenous style and otherwise), sugar-roasted chestnuts (lìzǐ 栗子, something you must try at least once), fruit (especially guava served with a kind of plum sauce), and every kind of meat and seafood imaginable grilled, fried, braised in brine, or boiled and doused in saltwater.
Desserts range from various kinds of mochi (grilled or cold) to carts serving the usual douhua staples: hot soups with various beans and taro added (one of my favourites). Drinks are similarly diverse, with all manner of tea and fresh fruit juice available in every corner of the market. I recommend the watermelon juice vendor and Gaobei Milk King at the eastern end of the market.
Mongolian barbecue deserves a bit of elaboration, particularly as it seems to have recently landed in the west as yet another in a long series of ethnic food trends. Sorry to burst anyone’s bubble but Mongolian barbecue is a homegrown Taiwanese specialty that has absolutely nothing to do with Mongolia (though restaurants in the west will go to some lengths to describe how the horde used to grill big piles of food on their shields while marauding across the steppes). The setup in Taiwan, as in the west, is simple: load up a bowl with whatever you want cooked on the big teppanyaki-style grill.
Jingcheng, being an open air night market with room to sprawl, is also home to some things you won’t see in the more or less permanent night markets of northern Taiwan. This, of course, includes a wider range of fairground games, elaborate bouncy castles, and carnival rides for kids of all ages, but also the night market equivalent of dollar stores and auctions, of which there are several. The auctions are hosted by middle-aged men who regale their audience with amusing anecdotes and little jokes while trying to pawn off cheap goods for what are likely inflated prices. It’s hard work by the looks of it. Despite there usually being a crowd of bored onlookers few of them seem to purchase anything.
Finally, some basic information: Jingcheng Night Market is open on Wednesday and Saturday nights from sundown to about midnight. It is located on the western edge of town along Línsēn Road 林森路. It’s a bit of a hike from the train station but a taxi won’t cost much and you can always hop on a Youbike if need be.