Asia’s changing street food scene: Taiwan

While there’s a certain romanticism to a one-dish vendor and a dish passed down and perfected over the centuries, for many families, it simply just isn’t realistic.

Dr. Shuenn-Der Yu, a faculty member at the Academia Sinica Institute of Ethnology, whose thesis focused on Taiwanese night markets, said, “In the 80s and 90s, night market stalls made a lot of money. The result is that their kids got a good education. Many of them don’t want to take over the family business.”

According to Yu’s research, at Shilin Night Market in the 1990s, a successful vendor could sell their stall for 175,000 dollars, with some going for as high as 525,000 dollars.

Noting that the new buyer would be able to retain the branding and market it as the exact same restaurant, he shared, “It’s a high price, so a lot of vendors had an incentive to just sell it.”

But it seems the absence of tourists due to the pandemic might be the final death knell for many vendors.


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