Few things are more welcoming than the smell of fried chicken.
A bag of freshly fried chicken bits greets you at the entrance to the Taiwan Night Market in Eastwood, a collection of street food vendors who have been vastly improving a once vacant lot on Rowe Street since 2016.
Inside you'll find 18 stalls selling Chinese, Filipino and Taiwanese snacks. Most of the stalls are Taiwanese, including the fried chicken welcome mat, better known as Just Crazy Taiwanese Fried Chicken.
An abundance of average fried chicken (which, let's be honest, is still pretty damn good) on Sydney menus has made the dish seem a little less special, but fried chicken aficionados will be very satisfied with Just Crazy.
The place lives up to its name, offering crisp bits of bird filled with gooey melted cheese or topped with cheese and pizza sauce, but you'll want to start with a $5.50 paper bag of crispy chicken with pepper salt.
The hot pieces of chicken tossed with holy basil leaves are the perfect snack to munch as you try to work out which stall to eat at next.
Can I suggest a Taiwanese hot dog, an utterly magic concoction that involves grilling a sweet Taiwanese pork sausage AND a sausage of sticky rice, the former stuffed inside the latter and topped with herbs and sauce?
You'll find exactly that at Master Chicken, and to my knowledge, nowhere else in Sydney.
Speaking of rarities, it makes me very happy to see a handful of Filipino food stores at the Night Market, a cuisine that is quite hard to come by in Sydney, despite our large Filipino population.
There's some incredible barbecue to be found at Wow Filipino Food, where juicy pork belly and chicken skewers smoke the middle of the market up, alongside more traditional dishes such as sisig, a sizzling plate of the best parts of the pigs head (it's delicious).
On the other side of the market you'll find enormous and colourful desserts at Halo Halo, named after the wildest dessert in the Philippines, which brings together sweet beans, candied fruits, jelly, shaved ice and bright purple ube (yam) ice-cream for an insane rainbow that you have to try to leave room for.
Manager Sunny tells me the night market has many Taiwanese and Filipino fans.
"We feel honoured that we have not only brought the authentic taste of Asian street food to Sydney but also have given our customers the feeling of home," Sunny says.
"We were inspired by the cosy and relaxing atmosphere from the night market in Taiwan, where the culture has lasted numerous decades."
I think they've succeeded in recreating an authentic experience, one that feels devoid of the shopping mall samey-ness prevalent in the many new outdoor malls in Sydney's CBD.
There's nothing flashy about the setup, just genuine vibes from vendors and customers alike (and of course, there's the chicken). It's open for breakfast too. If one of the vendors ever moves out, I'd consider moving in.
Taiwan Night Market
Address 178-182 Rowe Street, Eastwood
Open Daily noon-10pm; Chinese breakfast Tue-Sun 7am-noon
Bottom line Small bites $4-10, mains $12-$15
Must-order dish Taiwanese sausage with sticky rice sausage (from Master Chicken), $10
Try classic Taiwanese dishes at these beloved institutions
Mother Chu's Taiwanese Gourmet
Shop 1-5, 84-88 Dixon Street, Chinatown
Sit down to a bowl of noodles or pop in for some takeaway Taiwanese pastries to eat on the go.
Baodao Taiwanese Kitchen
211-213 Rowe Street, Eastwood
The chilled noodles with spicy and sour sauce are a knockout. There's a Baodao in Chatswood too!
Taste of Cho
9-13 Hay Street, Haymarket
One of the most popular spots in the Market City food court with a killer lineup of inexpensive Taiwanese favourites.