Many countries have traditions of local markets, indeed. But I don’t think there are many countries that celebrate local life like the markets in Taiwan. They are a large part of life here, and there are many different markets.
Typical markets, though, are the morning markets which sell staple items: food, clothes, etc. and are typically open in the morning until lunchtime (occasionally, some markets are daytime markets and close at six pm); and the night markets that come alive after 6pm, and play to host to a different kind of client – selling all kinds of edibles, clothes, goods, etc..
Night Market ‘Grilled’ Goods Vendor
The picture in this story is taken from a night market in Tamsui and was taken about three months ago. I decided to feature a stall that sells simple but delicious take away ‘baked’ or ‘grilled’ goods because I tried the products, the products are inexpensive, but most of all the quality of product attracts a lot of business!
My favorite item here is the beef patty cake: it’s a beef (or pork) bun that is filled with a light sauce and covered in a light pastry, then it is cooked on a hot griddle on both sides, until the center is done, but the outsides are golden.
When you eat it, you have to be very careful that you don’t burn yourself and that you don’t spill the boiling liquid on your nice new shirt! It’s quite an art. Naturally, I was too hungry to take a picture of the item!
The ‘Patty’ Menu
This store sells about six different items, each of which is priced from about NT$25-35. Pork and Beef Patties, as well as a Vegetable Pancake (these terms are approximations of the appearance and the Chinese, but in fact they are not strictly accurate).
That’s about 60c to $1. The night that we were there was a Sunday evening, and the market was quite busy. In fact, we had to wait 10 minutes for ours, and there was other people queuing up after us. Business was brisk, but people were willing to wait.
The ‘Store’ Itself!
Actually, it’s an interesting ‘store’ in a number of ways. As a form of fast food, the food is still prepared to order in as short a time as possible. The ‘store’ itself isn’t what we would normally define as a store, it’s more a stall outside in a covered market.
There are no doors, walls, chairs or tables. The servery is right on the edge of the street. Queues line up along the street, and sometimes even into the middle of the street. While this is not a classy joint, such business are typical in the business environment here in Taiwan.
Can he make much money?
The key question, though, is can he make much money selling like this in night markets? It’s difficult to know the exact costs the proprietor has, but a rough estimate will show that to rent such a prime location, even though it is not a formal building as such, would still be quite expensive. Naturally, this would represent the single biggest cost in this otherwise family business. I would expect such a rental to be about US$300~400 per month or even more. Ingredients are basic and simple.
Given that a ratio of earnings to rental of about 6:1, (that’s an estimate), he would need to sell about 12 to 15 patties a day to cover his rental. From the brief time I stood there, I would guess he sold about that many in 15 minutes! I will have to investigate his costs a little further. I would also like to provide photographs of his edibles to share with you! That’s great, I get to have a trip up town! Yeah!