Monday, December 14, 2015

Trip To Taiwan 台湾: Yilan 宜兰 - Nanfangao Nanning Fish Market 南方澳南宁鱼市场

Photo By: Elin Chow 
Address: No. 195, Nanning Lineipi Road, Yilan, Taiwan 宜兰县南宁里内埤路195号

Leaving Nanfangao Observation Deck 南方澳观景台, we continued our drive along Suhua Highway 苏花公路, stopping at Nanfangao Fishing Port 南方澳渔港 for lunch.

Nanfangao Nanning Fish Market 南方澳南宁鱼市场

Nanfangao Fishing Port is a small and quaint coastal fishing town in Suao Township 苏澳镇, Yilan Country 宜兰县. It is one of the major fishing ports in Taiwan due to its abundant of fish catches every year. There are three fishing port and markets at Nanfangao, each with its unique character.

We arrived at Nanning Fish Market 南方澳南宁鱼市场 located at the end of Nanning Street 南宁路. The market is both a wholesale outlet, trading in daily catches that freshly arrive from the ocean, and also a retail market, where visitors can purchase seafood at a lower price.

The best part about visiting Nanning Fish Market was that we get to select and buy whatever fresh seafood we want from any of the fishmongers and then take them to the restaurant next door for cooking and serving. The restaurant will prepare and cook the seafood for you according to your liking at a very minimal fee.

Nanning Fish Market offers not only all of the usual seafood that you would expect to find in Taiwan, but also many other seasonal treats that you might not have seen before. As you walked down the fish market, you can find all sorts of live seafood, fresh from the ocean, available in abundance.

We were amazed by the sheer assortment of fresh seafood available at the market, some of which we could not even recognize. This place is absolutely a paradise for seafood lovers!

Please note that the concrete floor are usually very fishy and wet. So make sure you wear proper covered shoes with non-slip soles when you are visiting the market. Slippers, sandals and high heels are highly not recommended.

Famously known as the "Homeland Of Mackerel 鲭鱼的故", Nanfangao is a major Mackerel fishing port. The total catch of Mackerel in Nanfangao alone exceeds 50,000 tons every year, which accounts for more than 90% of the total catch volume in the entire Taiwan.

Mackerel is a local seafood specialty of Nanfangao. The Mackerel season occurs from September to around February every year. During this time, the annual Mackerel Festival is held to celebrate the Mackerel harvest, which also helped to promote tourism in Nanfangao. About 100,000 visitors flock to the small fishing town for the festival every year.

Most fishermen in Nanfangao are over 60 years old. Most young people nowadays do not want to work in the fishing sector as there was little potential for career development. Young people are leaving the small town for bigger cities to look better opportunities. Nanfangao's fishing industry might die in a few years time when all the old captains have retired.

Bustling fishmongers calling out the day's catch, trying to attract the attention of seafood lovers. You will see rows of stalls selling more or less the same products. So, be prepared to haggle and negotiate for a lower price. After all. the market is a great place for a bargain.

The fish market is actually smaller than what I have expected. Even so, the interesting selection of seafood offered here would not disappoint.

Prices were inexpensive and affordable. This is undoubtedly one of the best place in Taiwan where you can get fresh seafood at a competitive price.

Most of the seafood lovers would be excited at the thought of picking out their own seafood and would be eager to try everything on display!

Surrounded by lush green mountains on three sides, Nanfangao Fishing Port is a beautiful harbor lined with shipyards, warehouses, net lofts and other facilities necessary to support the fishing industry.

Hundred of fishing vessels lined the docks in the fishing ports, which is said to have the ability to accommodate more than 1,000 fishing vessels.

Occasionally, you will see fishing vessels coming in with fresh catches of the day and fishermen unloading them at the dock.

After unloading, the catches are lined up on the dock and covered in ice to keep them fresh for the rest of the day.

The bustling Nanning Fish Market is however, not a tourist attraction, It is the real Taiwan. The fish market is frequented mostly by local people and most likely, you will not see many other foreign tourists around. Thus, this is a great place where you can get the chance to experience the real Taiwanese culture and way of life.

We spent about an hour walking around, browsing through the wide variety of food selections at the market.

However, we have difficulty deciding what to buy. There were just too much choices for us to choose from and we wish we could try everything.

Under the recommendation of Mr Tsai and a fishmonger, we bought a little of everything from one of the stall. To buy, simply choose the seafood you want and the fishmonger will weight them and inform you of the price. Once you agree on the price, he will then pack the items into individual plastic bags.

However, the only disappointment was that they do not sell lobsters.

The streets in Nanfangfao are lined with dozen of seafood restaurants and stores selling special seafood products of the area. Stepping out of the market, Mr Tsai led us to a seafood restaurant located just opposite of the road. This was where we had our seafood feast prepared and served.

We passed all our purchases to the owner of the restaurant where we were asked how we would like to have each of the item cooked. The restaurant has agreed to cook our seafood purchase for a fee of TWD 100 per item.

We left it to the restaurant to decide how they will prepare and cook the seafood, and luckily, most of the dishes turned out to be delicious. Do note that you will have to pay for the seafood twice - Once to fishmongers for the materials (fish, prawns or whatever seafood) that you have purchase from the fish market and then another to the restaurant for the preparation and cooking of the food for your consumption.


Apart from our seafood purchase, we also ordered a vegetable dish (which I forgot the name) from the restaurant. I did not try this dish, so I could not comment much about it. However, according to my husband and his family, this was really tasty.

Gong Gong

I am never a fan of Gong Gong (also known as Dog Conch). For those who do not know, Gong Gong is a kind of edible sea snails native to the coastal waters of Indo-Pacific regions. The taste was very flesh, but a little bland. However, the texture was very chewy and springy. They were very nice to bite on.

To eat this, simply use a toothpick to slowly remove the flesh from the shell.

Grilled Oysters

Fresh oysters were placed on a hot grill and were left to cook in their own juices for a few minutes until the heat popped the shells open.

The grilled oysters were extremely juicy and fresh. It was one of my husband's favorite dishes.

Stir Fry Prawns with Garlic

Perfectly cooked, the prawns were very tasty with a bouncy and chewy bite. The prawns were incredibly fresh, tender and sweet. They were a delight to eat!

Steamed Squids

The squids are steamed without having its ink sac removed. Apparently, Taiwanese believe that squid ink is high in antioxidant and iron, which provides a number of potential health benefits. Therefore, squids should be eaten together with its ink sacs because it is good for our health.

Unfortunately, we do not know how to appreciate squid ink. This was actually the only dish that we did not managed to finish that day.

Squid ink is definitely not visually and tastefully appetizing.  We actually find the taste a little too overwhelming for our liking. It has a fishy and bitter taste, making it extremely unappealing.

Besides that, you will make a real mess everywhere. However, most Taiwanese seem to love the taste of the black ink very much. In fact, Mr Tsai was the one who finished half of the dish. Furthermore, he was telling us how delicious it was while stuffing more into his mouth.

We bought two different types of fish from the fish market. But unfortunately, I could not remember the names of the fish.

Both the fish are prepared and cooked by two different methods - steamed and fried. Personally, I prefer the fried one more than the steamed one. But this does not mean the steamed fish does not taste good. They were both very fresh, sweet and delicious. We truly enjoyed the fish dishes.

Overall, the fish market experience was very interesting. The seafood we bought were very fresh and delicious. Most importantly, the prices were affordable. We spent a total of RM 200 + to enjoy such an amazing feast.

Nanning Fish Market is definitely worth to visit. It is a great chance for one to experience and learn more about the local culture and way of life. Do not miss this place if you are a seafood lover. There are many excellent options that will satisfy your appetite for great seafood without breaking the budget. No trip to Nanfangao is complete without sampling some of its local catch.  So, make sure you come with an empty stomach so that you can try some of the freshly caught seafood.

If you are interested to know more about our trip, you may want to check out our 11D10N round island tour itinerary for the list of attractions that we had visited during our 11 days in Taiwan. Be sure to follow me on Facebook or Twitter  for the latest updates on my 11 days adventures in Taiwan! You might also want to check My Wanderlust page for some of my other travel adventures.

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