The Dong Gang Seafood Market(Huaqiao Shichang/華橋市場) is a 40 minute drive from Kaohsiung City and offers the freshest seafood in Taiwan.
If you have the time and means to make it to Dong Gang, it is well worth the visit. Come with an empty stomach and prepare to try fresh caught seafood just loaded of the boats.
If you are interested in the actually unloading and selling of the fish, you need to get there early in the morning......very early!
Pictured above and below, fishing boats dock after bringing in their catch. Fresh swordfish is packaged to be shipped out.
The Dong Gang Seafood Market is known as the Hua Qiao Shi Chang. It is an enclosed market full of stalls selling fresh fish, dried seafood, vegetables, sashimi that rivals Japan , as well as many deep fried seafood snacks.
Dried shrimp and cuttlefish are a speciality in southern Taiwan. Visitors can buy them in bulk or in pre-packaged bags. The market sells everything from dried tiny shrimps for cooking and dried sardines, to dried squid and cuttlefish.
There are also many kinds of fresh fish to choose from. The fish are laid out in front of vendor stalls usually in its full body form. The vendor will weigh and gut and descale the fish for you if you like. Don't be alarmed by the giant swordfish heads. Taiwanese know there is good meat in the head and they will also use the head to make fish stock for soups.
The sashimi is fresh and many stalls will let you have a taste. You can choose the sashimi you want to take home, or eat at the market.
Visitors can choose the type of sashimi they would like. There are different sized portions. A small portion, pictured below, was only about 100NT or $3.00 usd. Delicious and inexpensive!! Vendors usually have large chunks of fresh fish in their cases. They will cut off and weigh any amount for you. If you would like to cut it into pieces to take out, they will oblige. The sashimi is incredibly fresh as it was probably unloaded off the boat that morning and put up for sale in the stalls.
Tuna, Amberjack, Halibut, and Swordfish are the most popular types of sashimi sold at the Huaqiao Market.
One of the great things about the Dong Gang Fish Market is that visitors can eat a great seafood meal there overlooking the river basin that flows into the Taiwan Straits.
There are several stalls that have seating inside the market or out on the large balcony. The waitresses can be quite aggressive in grabbing customers to eat at their area. It's very competitive. The menus are all about the same as is the taste of the food. Prices can be a little higher, but the fact that you know the seafood is very fresh makes it worth it.
Below, diners enjoy a seafood lunch overlooking the river on a nice day in Dong Gang.
One unique service about the Dong Gang Market is, you can buy the fresh seafood from one stall, and then bring it to a restaurant where they will cook it for you. If you find the exact kind and size of fish you like, or the freshest crab you've ever seen, you can buy it at a stall and take it to a restaurant counter where they will cook it for you anyway you like for a small price.
In Chinese, this is called 代煮 pronounced "Dai Zhu". This service has always been very unique for the Dong Gong Market dating back to the 1980's. Although the seafood is fresh everywhere there, sometimes it's nice to have your own personal cook to make it for you.
Pictured below, some areas and stalls that will cook up seafood you bring to them. Just look for the 代煮 Chinese characters.
Fresh crabs, oysters, and clams are lined up below.
Dong Gang offers a ferry service to Xiao Liu Qiu Island which is a small island off the coast of Kaohsiung City. (It can be seen during the summer months on clear days from the coast. The Ferry terminal is about 200 meters on the road before you arrive at the fishmarket.
The Dong-Liu Ferry Line runs all through the day. Tickets are around 410 NT round trip and 240 NT round trip for children. The journey takes about 20 minutes. Add 100 NT for a motorcycle (each way) and 50NT for a bicycle (each way).
For a ferry schedule and updated fares, click HERE.
Pictured below, closer views of the Dong Gang Hua Qiao Seafood Market
Every April-June, Dong Gang sponsors the Bluefin Tuna Festival. At this time, the large catch of Bluefin Tuna is brought in during the tuna Pacific Ocean mating season.
The Bluefin Tuna (Toro in Japanese/黑鮪魚：hei wei yu in Mandarin) is famous for its very red meat. It can be very expensive, (1 piece of sashimi can be $3 usd). The meat is tender and almost melts in your mouth.
For locals, however, the bluefin season means more than sashimi. Restaurants near the fishmarket will serve up set bluefin tuna meals. The meals include all parts of the fish from head to tail. The meat of the tail is actually a black color! These meals are good for larger groups of people.
In the past, the Taiwan bluefin tuna catch was mostly exported to Japan. However, Dong Gang and Taiwan have seen a decline of the tuna catch in the 2000's. The bluefin has been overfished world wide and in some seasons the catch has been so low that it's hardly prevalent.
Flying Fish are prevalent in Taiwan waters. The island tribes often catch and eat them as a staple of their diet. In Dong Gang, the fish meat is made into a sausage with some of the fish roe. They are a specialty in Dong Gang and visitors should be on the look out to try one.
If you are not in a tour, the best way to get to Dong Gang is by car. There is plenty off parking at the market for hourly fees of about 30 NT.
From Kaohsiung City by car:
From Kaohsiung City by car or scooter or bicycle:
An additional non-freeway route to Dong Gang is along the Route 17 Coastal Road. It's a bit slower and uglier at times, but can be fun as a scooter or long bike ride from Kaoshiung City.
There is a government tourist website for the Dong Gang area.