Visiting Ningxia night market (寧夏夜市; off Minsheng Rd. west of Chengde Rd.) used to be like a trip back to Táng dynasty China.
Considering that a steady stream of motorbikes and occasional car attempted to navigate this semi-blocked-off street, this is hard to explain, but really, that was my impression.
Then the vendors, or their rent-taking district council, got greedy, and seeing the hoardes of evening diners making their way to the more famous nigh markets of Shilin to the north, Raohe to the east and Shida to the south, Ningxia rebranded itself as the Ningxia Environmental Protection Toursit Night Market, repositioning itself firmly in the 21st century. Oh well, such is the price of progress.
The choice of foods is typical of these other night markets, and similarly narrow for vegetarians, but at least some meat-free fare is on offer while all around are gorging on pigs’ feet, ducks’ necks, ox entrails and goodness knows what else. The baked potato stall has some vegetarian but not vegan toppings, but at Stall No.86 there is an entirely vegetarian outlet.
That both the “dry noodles” and “boiled leafy greens” ordered by NOMM contained fake meat suggest it too is targeting a traditional taste.
The noodles were fresh (light and chewy), which implies a good turnover, and indeed there did seem a steady stream of visitors to the dozen or so seats crammed in behind the cooking wagon.
At night markets such as this it is typical for groups of diners to each buy their favoured dishes at divergent stalls and then congregate at an agreed location. Since it is best not to take meat dishes into a vegetarian area, many, like NOMM, buy to go”, which means eating out of plastic bags.
Open ca. 6pm till late.
Text and photos © Jiyue Publications 2012