Get in Line at Shilin

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After eight hours of walking around Taipei today, our feet were screaming for a sit down. We arrived at Shilin night market, ready to find a relaxing spot to grab a bite, but instead were immediately overwhelmed by the hoards of people.
We shuffled in crammed streets and alleys, pausing to crane our necks over the crowds to see why people were standing in excessively long lines. Is that fried chicken? Am I willing to queue for 30 minutes to try that delicious looking morsel?
We weaved or way through the market, looking longingly at fried squid (too many highschoolers buying up stock), seaweed coated chicken tenders (I can’t even see the front of the line) and endless places to eat frozen ices and red bean desserts (I haven’t even had dinner yet)!
On the verge of becoming teary and hangry (I admit, I’m one of those), we finally decided to just buck up and stand in line. And miracle of miracles, the restaurant we chose began to clear out and the long line moved quickly. In a matter of minutes, with the help of a friendly family sitting next to us, we placed our ordered.
This particular restaurant caught our eye because there were giant cauldrons of bones  stewing away in rich stock on the sidewalk. And a sweaty man was transferring meaty bones into bowls. How could that not be appealing?
We ordered a bowl of lamb bones, a bowl of pork ribs and some fine vermicelli noodles. It’s not particularly beautiful food that screams Instagram me! But instead, you have to imagine steamy broth, silky with fat and spices, and meat that nearly peals away from the bone with as little effort as a stripper undressing for her last shift ever.

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The meat was, as expected, fall off the bone tender. The lamb was particularly delicious, headily gamey. We crunched through cartilage and left a path of boney destruction on our table.
It was the noodles though that really took me by surprise. Chewy, of course, but with a rich, silky sauce that nearly stole the show from the bone soup.
We added the noodles to our leftover broth and all our cares melted away.
I couldn’t begin to tell you how to find this gem, buy if you see giant pots bubbling on the sidewalk and a long, long line of customers, bite the bullet and get in line for these bones and noodles.

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(and maybe try not to come to Shilin night market on a weekend. It’s a true $h*t show). Unless you like that sort of thing.

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