International Summer Night Market

I don’t know about you, but for me, Summer doesn’t begin in June. It begins when the night market opens its doors for another year! Richmond is blessed to be home to two night markets so when the International Summer Night Market (ISNM) was the first of the two to open its doors on May 9th, I was there!

Now before going any further, it’s probably best to differentiate from the two Richmond markets. I get the sense they get mistaken often because it’s easy to just say the “Night Market” and not really be clear which one you’re referring to. The International Summer Night Market is the original one that can be found on 12631 Vulcan Way near the Home Depot. The Richmond Night Market is the one near River Rock Casino that has become synonymous with the ducks, whereas the ISNM is going the Panda theme this year. We’ll be back giving the 411 on the Richmond Night Market in a few weeks, but with the ISNM starting earlier, it was time to get out there and sample the goods!

Now that we have covered the fine print, let’s get on with it! In its 7th year, the ISNM welcomes over 25,000 visitors every weekend from May right through till September. With 61 food vendors to choose from with food from across the world, the market has definitely earned its international reputation.

Potato Madness

Feeling a little nostalgia from my recent trip to SE Asia, I had certain cravings to fulfill and this was the place to make it happen! No trip to the market is complete without a potato on a stick. You can’t walk very far without someone eating the equivalent of a potato lollipop. It is advertised under a variety of names, including Rotato and Twist Potato. It’s essentially a potato that has been cut into one crazy long spiral and deep fried with a stick. You then have the choice of sauces such as wasabi mayo, salt & ketchup, Korean spicy and a few others AND then a powder option of cheese, BBQ or Sour Cream & Onion. I opted for no powder and just straight wasabi mayo sauce. I’ve had them in the past and always thought it could and would be crispier, but this particular one was very crispy which is what you want in a deep fried potato on a stick!
You can find these types of potatoes at a few different kiosks around the market, but I would definitely be on the lookout for the Twist Potato/Korean Waffle sign (tent #W43). The line-up for these potatoes gets longer as the night goes on, so make this one of your first stops of the evening. They’re typically one for $4 or two for $7.
potato toss-web

All About the Dumplings

A dim sum staple is Har Gow, which are shrimp dumplings. If you put 50 in front of me, I’d eat those 50 and probably ask for another 20. They can be found at various dim sum kiosks around the market and they typically cost $1 each. Grab some Sriracha sauce and just enjoy!

Shrimp Dumplings

Meat, Meat, Meat

If there is one thing that brought me back to my time in SE Asia, it was the smoke wafting from the vendors cooking up all different types of meat on a stick. Chicken, lamb, rib-eye steak, bacon sausage are all up for grabs at the market! I opted for the aptly named Meat on a Grill vendor and my favourite was the steak.
Meat on a stick-webonly
Just across from Meat on a Grill is the Halal BBQ vendor which I’ve had in the past and their lamb skewers are a must-have. The line-up was long, so I was more than happy to try another place, but not before I took a photo of the most adorable woman making naan bread on a very cool device. She saw me taking a photo and made sure her apron was neatly in place. I’ll definitely be back to try that naan bread!

Naan Lady - web

Singapore Jerky

Singapore Jerky-web

There is something new at the market every year and one of those kiosks belongs to Soo Jerky. It’s a Singapore style jerky and they’ve been around since the mid 1980’s! They were handing samples out and that got me hooked. This isn’t like the hard break-your-teeth jerky you find at the gas station, rather it’s sweet (and spicy) with a really great texture to it. It’s a family run business that sells its products through stores across Vancouver. I opted for a piece of the sweet and spicy beef and it was by far one of the highlights of the evening! One large piece sells for $5, but they also have packages to take home, I was very tempted!

Street jerky-web

Japanese Pancake

This next item, I’ve never had at the market before, but I’ve had it at Japanese restaurants. Okonomiyaki is a Japanese savoury pancake that typically comes with seafood, but it really can be served in any number of variations. This makes sense as the word can be broken down in two parts. “Okonomi” means “what you like” and yaki means “grilled.” This particular one was made up of seafood and topped with shavings of katsuobushi which is the perfect topping. The pancake is $6 and is perfect for sharing and actually quite filling.

Japanese Pancake-web

Sweet Stuff

With it being time for something sweet, the transition to dessert at the ISNM needed to happen. Which brings us to the most unique kiosk of the evening. The Ice Cane has arrived in Canada. As it turns out, it was a huge hit in Korea last year so it has made its way to us now. It’s a U-Shaped cone filled with vanilla ice cream and it does illicit a giggle or two. While the ice cream was refreshing, my cone was a little too thick and possibly a bit on the stale side. Now, I’m not sure if that’s how it is and maybe I’m just unaware, but I’ll certainly give it another try. For $3.75, it a lot of ice cream and you get a cone to boot! It can easily be broken in half and is great for sharing.

I came across a showstopper in the form of Taiwanese Wheel Cakes and they were wonderful! First off, this contraption was so cool and would be perfect for a summer BBQ! Wheel cakes are essentially two mini pancakes with either Nutella, red bean, peanut butter or an Oreo cookie stuffed between them! The Nutella was the clear-cut winner but the Oreo was a close second, it just needed to be a wee bit warmer so there was an extra little melting action going on! The cakes are $1 each and was good value for what you were getting.

Taiwanese Wheel Cakes-web

Definitely be on the look-out for the kiosk that reads “TW Traditional Snacks” for the Wheel Cakes!

And Much More…

Of course, like any market, it’s not just about the food. All your phone accessory, socks, funky clothing and other unique things are available at a fraction of what you’d pay elsewhere.
As I said, this year, the theme is Panda Nation and that will be on full display beginning in June! In the past, the ISNM has offered free admission, but like the Richmond Night Market, this year, they’re charging $2/adult with part of the proceeds going to the Canadian Cancer Society, as well as the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada.
International Summer Night Market
May 9 to September 14
Friday and Saturday – 7pm-12am
Sunday and Holidays – 7pm-11pm
12631 Vulcan Way, Richmond, BC, V6V 1J7
About Our Guest Writer: Ethan Adeland is a freelance food and travel writer and the voice behind Feeding Ethan. He shares his honest adventures in the kitchen, behind the camera or iPhone and wherever his travels may take him. He has never turned down an opportunity to Instagram a sunset or his next meal.