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Keelung’s Ren’Ai Market is a local treasure trove of food

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Unlike Miaokou Night Market just down the street, the Bo-Ai Ren-Ai Food & Shopping Center (aka Ren’Ai Market) is a more local spot. It’s a traditional wet market stretching a city block and divided into two floors. The first floor offers fresh produce, meat & fishes, and a variety of goods (clothes, shoes, sweets, etc). The second floor is home to a variety of local restaurants and cafes, most serving up Keelung’s best cuisine such as fresh dumplings or sushi. 

Visiting Ren’Ai Market for the first time

Ren’Ai Market is open everyday from 8 AM – 5 PM, though most of the 2nd floor restaurants are usually only open for lunch service (roughly 10 AM – 2 PM). The best time for visitors to come is around noon, when business is in full swing. 

Ren’ai Market
Ren’ai Market takes up an entire city block in downtown Keelung; visit during lunchtime for the best experience.

 

The first floor of Ren’ai Market: exploring various stalls

The first floor of Ren’ai Market wraps around the street, enticing shoppers with fresh food displayed neatly from each shopfront. As a first-time visitor, it feels enrapturing to walk around, taking in the rows of produce. There are several stalls which sell fresh fruits, pastries, and ingredients (i.e. meats, vegetables, and spices). 

Travelers should take it slow, maybe stopping to try some snacks around the market. It can be overwhelming at times, especially if you don’t speak Chinese, but the sellers are kind and willing to help you out. Try out a small Taiwanese cake or eat some fresh mango– you won’t regret it.

Restaurants in Ren’ai Market

The second floor of Ren’ai Market is akin to a food court, with dozens of small eateries setting up shop everyday. The customer base is mostly local Keelung residents, who consistently come back to Ren’ai to eat fresh seafood, local Taiwnese dishes, and at Japanese-style izakayas

Qí Xuān Sushi House (奇軒壽司屋) and Yù Sashimi (鈺刺身丼) are two example of such restaurants which reflect a long history of Japanese influence in Keelung. They serve large plates of sushi and sashimi at affordable prices– perfect for any lover of fish. 

For those looking for something besides seafood, Ā jiāo Fried Noodles (阿嬌炒麵) serves great local Keelung-style curry noodles, on top of other noodle dishes. A29 Dumplings, meanwhile, serve up Japanese gyoza, in addition to other small delicious dumplings. 

The second floor is also home to many other small restaurants serving up delicious bowls of hot soup or dumplings, as well as more relaxed coffee shops where aunties gossip over tea. Overall, it’s a great spot to find some hidden place for lunch and to try and connect with some locals.  

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Albert Chang-Yoo is currently an undergraduate student studying International Relations and Communications. He has contributed to publications such as "The Trail", "Asian Avenue Magazine", and "Nichi Bei Weekly". Since January 2024, Chang-Yoo has been traveling throughout Southeast and East Asia, researching street food culture.

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