Behold, LolliDuck. This year the Richmond Night Market goes pirate (3063-8700 McKim Way).
Who can’t help coming back again and again for the crazy Richmond Night Market experience? Personally, I adore the energy from the busy crowds, the random knickknacks that I inevitably end up buying, and of course, the food I feast upon until I hold my belly in surrender. Here are the top 10 new and must-have items at this year’s market (on now until Oct. 12).
1. Spicy Crawfish
After posing with an image of the market mascot, LolliDuck (see above), stop by the new Duang Duang Spicy Crawfish for an order of the tasty crustacean (small $9.99). Get your hands messy as you eat the meat (almost like a hybrid of lobster and prawn), and suck the juice from the head.
2. Van-City’s Taco
Also new to this year’s market is Phat Buddha Tacos, whose menu features a variety of inventive Asian-style tacos. The “Van-City’s Taco” ($7), with seared soy salmon, spinach, kale, bacon and bonito flakes, is a refreshing pick for a balmy spring or summer’s night.
3. The Rotato
The Rotato has become such a popular night market institution that you pretty much have to order it (that is, if you’re willing to brave the crazily long lineup). The dish ($6) consists of a spiral of potato skewered on a stick, and then deep-fried and sprinkled with your choice of seasoning (eg. salt and vinegar). Pose on the Throne of Rotato (a new addition this year), to claim your potato supremacy.
4. Fish Sticks
For more skewer fun, head to the Fish Sticks’ stand that takes its food inspiration from fried fish cakes in Taiwan. Fish cake is threaded onto a skewer, lightly battered, deep-fried, and then drizzled with a topping, such as teri-mayo ($5.50). The result is a crisp outer layer with tender fish inside.
5. Pan-fried Bork Buns
A night market visit isn’t complete without an order of dumplings. Treasure Cafe serves up the usual Siu Mai and Har Gow, as well as lovely Pork Buns (4 for $4.25), pan-fried until golden. The filling is wonderfully juicy.
6. Deep-Fried Squid
I have a terrible weakness for Deep-Fried Squid, and I suspect you probably do too. Squid Feast offers generous portions (small $8) of tender squid with a crunchy salt and pepper cornstarch coating. Grab a tentacle and start chomping.
Another addictive night market staple is Takoyaki (6 for $5.75) found at Daikichi. The jumbo Bakudanyaki (1 for $5.75) is the ultimate snack, but not quite as good for sharing. The mini balls come with diced octopus in wheat flour batter, and are topped with Japanese mayo, as well as seaweed and bonito flakes. You can also find scallop and shrimp varieties at the night market if those are more your preference.
8. Chinese Beef Roll
Besides a delicious Chinese Beef Burger ($6), Miandao Chinese Food does a mean version of a northern Chinese Beef Roll ($7), a pan-fried flour pancake wrapped around hoisin-heightened sliced beef, cucumber and green onion. It makes for easy carrying and munching as you browse the rows of retail vendors selling cell phone cases and colourful socks.
9. Korean Seafood Pancake
A taste of Korea can be found at Seoulful that serves veggie dumplings (5 for $5) as well as a seafood pancake (1 slice for $3). Batter chockfull of shrimp, squid and crabmeat, is pan-fried until slightly crisp and then topped with sweet sauce, mayo and bonito flakes.
10. Taiyaki (It’s time for dessert!)
For your last course, you can never go wrong with Taiyaki ($3.50). Place your order at The Taiyaki and then watch the cooks fill fish-shaped molds with sweet batter and red bean paste, custard, or Oreo filling. Make sure not to burn your tongue in your haste to wolf it down.
Admission: $2.75 regular admission. Free admission for kids 10 and under, and free admission for seniors 60 and up.
Hours of operation: Friday and Saturday 7 p.m. to 12 a.m., Sunday and holidays 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Dates: May 15 to Oct. 12
Getting to the Richmond Night Market:
The best way is public transit. The Richmond Night Market (3063-8700 McKim Way) is mercifully close to the Canada Line’s Bridgeport Station and night market organizers have made it very easy to find on foot from here. As soon as you depart the stairs at the bottom of the station, there’s a sign with directions to both the International Summer Night Market and the Richmond Night Market. To make things even easier, there are additional signs zap-strapped to the bus loop, every four feet or so, pointing to the Richmond Night Market about a six to 10 minute walk away. When in doubt, follow the ant-like trail of people (you’re going to the same place), or follow the giant inflatable yellow duck, which you can see as soon as you leave the bus loop at Bridgeport Station.
Driving? The RNM has directions here.
*Note: Thanks to our reader for correcting #5, the pan-fried pork buns are from Treasure Cafe, not Treasure Island!