A couple of weeks ago, we were celebrating the arrival of summer with a trip to one of the two night markets in Richmond. The International Summer Night Market was the first to open its doors on May 9th. But not far behind was the Richmond Night Market and judging by the crowds this past weekend, summer is definitely in full swing! The Richmond Night Market is within walking distance from the Bridgeport Skytrain station and was known for its duck theme last year! While the ducks are still prevalent, the theme this year is the Magical Candyland. They claim to be the largest night market in North America and I would wager that’s a very distinct possibility!
With a night market as big as this, I entrusted the help of two fellow bloggers (Melissa of Eyes Bigger Than My Stomach and Sean of Adventure’s In Flavour Town) in order to scout out as many food stalls as possible. Joining forces with friends and bloggers will always make life easier and tastier especially when tables and decent spots to photograph food are at a premium.
Karaage from Mogu
Now on to the food! Our first stop was Mogu for some karaage. If you don’t know karaage, you’re missing out. It’s Japanese fried chicken with hints of soy sauce, garlic, ginger and very crispy. If karaage is done properly, it can be fantastic and Mogu does it exceptionally well! They actually have a food truck that can usually be found on the corner of Howe and Dunsmuir in Vancouver. Sean visits them regularly, so it was with his blessing that we began them to kick off our evening.
The karaage was absolutely delicious! It was made to order and was served piping hot, so although we had to wait patiently for it to cool down, it was worth the wait. The chicken was tender, the sweet chili sauce was spot on and the serving size was plentiful. At 5 pieces for $7 or 10 pieces for $12, they offer tremendous value!
Gotta have Dumplings
Dumplings are a must-have at the market and with the name Dumpling King, we definitely had to check them out. We had the choice of veggie, kimchi (with beef) and leek. The veggie one didn’t scream out to us, so we went with two kimchi and one leek dumpling. They were giant and we found that the dumplings themselves were thicker than traditional dumplings and were almost like perogies. It wasn’t a complaint but rather an observation. The kimchi dumplings were good, but being a kimchi fan, I was hoping it would have had an extra little kick to it. The hit was the leek dumpling. It was a burst of flavour and reminded me that I should cook with leeks more often! At $7 for 3 giant dumplings, it was good value, perfect for sharing and they’ll even cut it for you!
Noodles and a Show
Hand-pulled noodles are fantastic to eat in addition to being a work of art. In a proper restaurant setting, you’d watch someone who has dedicated their life to the craft of hand-pulled noodles. I’m not about to suggest that’s the case at the market, but the guy doing his thing at the market still made for a pretty good show! A bowl of noodles and entertainment, can’t go wrong with that combo.
We opted for the hand-pulled noodles topped with pork, green onions and chilies. We asked for “medium” in terms of spiciness and it was that and then some! The noodles were cooked perfectly and our request for “medium” heat was definitely on the spicier side of things which was fine by me!
Well, if you guessed that “Brezel” is the German word for “Pretzel,” you deserve a BrezelTwist! The claim was “Hot German Pretzels with a Twist” and I would say it certainly lived up to its billing. For my first bretzel experience, I went simple with parmesan, but I think next time, I’ll go the bacon & mozzarella route. I waited about 10 minutes as they were busy (always a good sign) while they made up a fresh new batch. The brezel came right off the grill and had a nice firm texture on the outside while still being the right amount of chewy goodness on the inside. The “Original,”, parmesan and honey glazed pumpkin seed were all $3 while the bacon/mozzarella and ham/cheddar were $4 each.
I used to think Dim Sum stalls were the most popular in terms of line-ups and number of kiosks, but now I’m not too sure. There were a ton of places selling grilled squid, the line-ups were all huge and everywhere I looked, people were happily eating squid! Confession, I’m not a huge fan of squid unless it’s deep-fried, so Melissa was pretty much on her own on this one. We found the shortest of the longest lines which was still a decent wait. They had a few options to choose from and Melissa went with their “Signature” sauce. Her take on the squid was that they were nice and chewy and she likened the flavouring to a sweet Thai chili sauce. It’s perfect for sharing and at $6.50, there’s a lot to share, you just need to find someone to share with!
Speaking of Dim Sum, shumai (or siu mai) and har gow are two other must-haves at the market. There’s not too much to say about these pork and shrimp dumplings other than whether it’s Sunday morning or Friday night, it’s never a bad time to enjoy these one (or two) bite treasures! They’re usually about $1 a piece and usually come in servings of four.
Since tables were hard to come by, Melissa, Sean and I split up for the brezel, squid and dim sum. Melissa and Sean happened to find a table first, so they did the honours with the photos of the squid and dim sum while I waited for the brezel.
Pastry rolled in sugar and cinnamon then baked and eventually stuffed with your choice of goodness. If it sounds decadent, well, you’re right! This Eastern European dessert are all made from scratch and if the sweet smells don’t entice you, the smiles from inside the booth likely will. Raphael, the owner of Slavic Rolls was smiling even before I took his photo and certainly looked the part of a man who loves what he does. I saw homemade Bavarian cream and Nutella so I had to get both of them into the roll! And as a bonus, they were more than happy to oblige me with a Nutella photo op! It was sweet, messy and oh-so-good! Be prepared to wash your hands after enjoying a Slavic Roll!
Mango Yummy Indeed
It was nice to see the folks from Mango Yummy return for another year at the market. If there is a downfall at Mango Yummy, it’s the long line that gets continuously longer as the evening progresses. But it just goes to show that it’s one of the hits of the entire market! The fresh mango with coconut milk, tapioca pearls and jellies is totally worth the wait but if I were to do it over again, I’d probably just start my evening with it and save myself the hassle of waiting in line.
Served with a spoon and a wide straw, you have the choice of sipping or spooning your pearls and jellies. It goes for $5 but there’s a ton of mango and after eating all sorts of salty food, it’s a perfect way to wrap up the evening. There is also an ice cream sundae option with mounds of fruit for $6 which looks like it could feed a family of 4!
One more bite (or three)
What’s a visit to the market without a deep-fried dessert? In this case, we decided to put a bow on the evening in the form of deep-fried cheesecake topped with chocolate sauce, peanut butter cups and whipped cream. Working out of a very cool converted bus, the topping options were plentiful, caramel, chocolate cherry, Oreo, but we opted for Reese’s Peanut Butter cups. At this point, it was starting to get really dark and I knew my best chance was to ask to go inside the bus to take a picture (plus, I wanted to see the inside of the bus). They were more than happy to oblige so I was able to get the assembly line photo of the deep-fried cheesecake artist in action!
This dessert is definitely meant to be shared. Having experimented with many deep-fried items of my own (including cheesecake, burgers and gummy bears), I was hoping for more of a deep-fried batter around the cheesecake itself. Nevertheless, it was still very good, the filling had a cream cheese/ricotta consistency and the bed of graham cracker crumbs was perfect with the whipped cream and chocolate sauce.
If you’re not a fan of crowds, this isn’t the place for you but showing up early will allow you to move around freely. We went on a beautiful Friday evening which seemed to coincide with the plans of thousands of others! Although driving there is possible, I highly recommend taking the Skytrain. It’s a quick 5 minute walk from the Bridgeport station (River Rock Casino) and you don’t have to fuss with the hassle of trying to drive out of the parking lot amidst the pedestrians. In 2013, it cost $2, this year it’s $2.25 and they’ve added a whole carnival game element complete with ring toss, popping balloons with darts and lots of other games to choose from.
Richmond Night Market
May 16 to October 13
8351 River Road
Friday and Saturday – 7pm-12am
Sunday and Holidays – 7pm-11pm
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.