This is Fengjia aka Feng Chia night market at Taichung, a night market made popular by the many food/drink stands and Feng Chia University.
If you look carefully at the center of the photo you will find the university’s monument. Students here are a lucky bunch to have a big night market at their university’s doorstep easily reachable on foot. Because the night market is frequented by so many people from students to visitors and tourists, competition is fierce. Already famous and established food stalls are facing a problem. Not only their recipes are being copied, their authenticity is being challenged as well.
An example would be these two stalls selling 大腸包小腸 – ‘big sausage wrap small sausage’. They are located directly opposite each other along the main entrance to the night market. The stall on the left is called 官芝霖 (Guan Zhi Lin) and the right one is 百膳工房 (Bai Shan Gong Fang).
Guan Zhi Lin (the good guy) claims itself to be the originator of the famous sausage snack and they used to setup their stall across the road, for what reasons I don’t know. After moving to the current location, a peer took over the old spot and started to claim themselves as the founders/originators instead. You should know by now the peer is none other than Bai Shan (the bad guy, supposingly).
Worse still, Bai Shan tried to attract the customers by misleading them to their own stall, saying that they are owned by the same owner. When that didn’t work, they placed large signboards to cover Guan Zhi Lin’s stall so it couldn’t be seen from the road. Then they used another signboard to ‘cut’ through Guan Zhi Lin’s long queue of customers and redirect them to their stall forcefully. All this was shown in a video recorded secretly by customers, which was played repeatedly on a large LCD TV in front of Guan Zhi Lin.
Besides blocking customers, Bai Shan is also said to have bribed a famous local food related TV show to delete the segment in which Guan Zhi Lin was featured. This resulted in Bai Shan being interviewed instead and featured nationwide, ultimately making them as famous. To spread this awareness to the customers, Guan Zhi Lin placed a signboard above their stall expressing their strong objection towards the competitor’s tactics. If you cannot read Chinese, this is the translation of the first paragraph (roughly):
Famous XX Food and Lifestyle Show is not fair, not righteous, not trustworthy, accepted Bai Shan XX’s NT$80,000 bribe, to remove Guan Zhi Lin’s interview dated R.O.C.93.06.10, replacing it with Bai Shan XX bought interview, which disappointed the entire nation’s consumer who have been loyal to the show all these years. Besides, there are many more peers employing similar dirty business tactics, to know more about this please read Guan Zhi Lin’s blog at Yahoo!Kimo.
Sausage in Taiwan, serious business indeed.
Because the queue is painfully long, Guan Zhi Lin has setup a second stall not too far away to reduce the waiting time. The signboard I mentioned earlier that was used to ‘block’ customers looked exactly like this in the photo (on the right) Big right, lol.
At first we were queuing at Bai Shan. But while waiting we saw the video being played on the TV at Guan Zhi Lin. Only at that time we realized that we were in the wrong queue lol. We decided to join the queue for Guan Zhi Lin’s sausage instead, since they are the originator. See how Bai Shan labeled themselves as the 创始店 (founding stall) Really lol material.
After a painful 30 minutes’ wait it was our turn. That was also the longest time we spent waiting for food in Taiwan’s night market.
The ingredients sandwiched between the big and small sausage were pickled ginger slices and cucumber.
Then the appropriate sauces would be applied on the sausage according to the flavor you requested. Some flavors available were original, black pepper, spicy, wasabi and garlic. The way they packaged the sausage is pretty interesting.. the bottom part of the paper wrapping is tightened by twisting them up.
So this is the much awaited ‘big sausage wrap small sausage’ @ NT$40, with the big sausage actually being glutinous rice shaped in a bun to contain the small sausage. Whenever you have finished the top part of the sausage, just twist the wrapping at the bottom and the remaining sausage would be ‘pushed’ up further. No mess at all.
But taste wise I would say it was nothing spectacular to me.. I was pretty disappointed actually considering all the hoo haa and competition surrounding it. Why fight over a food that is sooooo normal tasting? I dunno lol. It’s quite funny actually.
And this prompted me to wonder if there’s any competition between restaurants/stalls so fierce like this happening in Malaysia…