30 food stalls of 2018’s Richmond Night Market!
Here in Vancouver summer and it’s accompanying better weather are marked by the opening of the Richmond’s night market. A popular weekend activity better known for giving attendees the ability to roam narrow corridors visiting food and goods vendors shoulder to shoulder with thousands of others.
Yet despite the crowds and the pushing and shoving, I continue to find myself here year after year, like many others. But this year as the bodies converge, we will be seeing an increase of attendees. This is because Richmond use to have two night markets to choose from, but this year they have just the one by “River Rock Casino” to satisfy all Chinese hawker stall cravings.
Either way, this evening myself and a group of foodies arrived early, well before the market open at 7pm, in order to avoid all the crowds and to hit up our favourite stalls first as part of a initiative ran by @ChineseBites and tourism of Richmond.
The following are a list of the 30 vendors participating in this year’s “Richmond Night Market” media tour, and the order in which we visited them. We managed to hit them all, outside of the one that closed up at 10pm. We arrived at 6:30pm on this Friday night and through our bouncing around from stall to stall, and despite having to wait to order and to pick up; we found ourselves at the market for a little under four hours. Just proving all that there is to see and do, or in this case eat.
In truth, we visited as a group and therefore shared everything between six individuals, in order to try more. Therefore, my description of each might not be as detailed as my writing is known for. But a more interactive and telling experience, check out my latest YouTube video on my channel: MaggiMei to see the highlights of this year’s one and only Richmond Night Market.
Also note, half way through our experience we began diving and conquering, each going to a different stall, to line up and gather up the serving for the rest of the team. Therefore some of my recaps do not include photos of the stand in which we ate from.
At the “Yummy Foodies” stall their roasted pork hoc was at the ready. Several pieces of meat on bones could be see rotating on their spit, that looked more like a shelf. Each hoc had so much meat that it is served between two containers with a generous helping of sauerkraut and crispy bread. These were fatty pieces of pork with crackling. You are able to sauce as you like with squeeze bottle sauces. The mustard was the classic choice.
“Chef James Foods” was a double stall featuring roasted corn on one side, and several varieties of meat skewers on the other. The former was grilled then passed on to you to season as you like. Salt, pepper, garlic powder, Parmesan, and a collection of other sprinkle ready shakers.
On the grilled meat side, Chef James himself dawned on the classic white smock and hat. His look: the utmost picture of professionalism as he worked in the hot conditions, furthered by the heat of his lengthy grill. There, he and one other stood saucing, seasoning and flipping skewers of AAA beef steak, honey garlic prawn, chicken, lamb, and lamb kidney. Each served upside down in a paper cup, and each full of zingy flavour from use of chillies and coarse salt.
Next was the “Senbei Brothers” stall offering their pressed Japanese crackers. Each as thin as cardboard and as crispy as a wafer. What makes them unique is the seafood that was pressed along with the baked dough. We marvelled at the whole squid and the shrimp that we were able to identify in this cracker mosaic.
At the “Churros in ice cream” stall we got exactly what we expected, given the name. We chose the popular rainbow one that had a scoop of vanilla ice cream as a base and out from it shot a curl of deep fried cinnamon and sugar churro, partially coated in chocolate and coloured with rainbow sprinkles. But really you are ordering this for the inflatable holder it comes it. Meant as a pool cup holder, but the perfect photo up, and more importantly sales driver. The unicorn is the most popular, but in order to get him you need to fork over an additional dollar for the luxury. A winning combination served in a winning presentation. No wonder Instagram is a flutter with images of it.
Next door is their sister venture “We Are Difference”. Here, they serve up sandwiches using deep fried Chinese doughnuts instead of traditional slices of bread. It ate like a foot long, just with a lot more dry crunch to it. The beef and cheese help to moisten things, but I preferred the two separate from one another.
At the “Mamak LA” stall they offer their trademark roti in various forms. We went for their “Mac-a-roti and cheese” with bacon and jalapeño. It is basically Mac and cheese stuffed roti.
At “Dumpling Master” they were steaming up frozen dumplings in three different colours and flavours. The green spinach one was a vegan dumpling, red has a filling of kimchi beef, and the black one is black truffle with pork. They were enjoyable to watch, bubbling in a pool of dyed water. We were able to try one of each. The serving is topped with mayo, bonito flakes, seaweed, and sesame seeds; much like how you would sauce up a takoyaki. I personally would have licked it more traditional with a dip in some light sauce.
“Sippy Tea” is that popular drink served in a plastic zip lock bag. It is much easier to carry around than any other milky tea served in a cup. Here we had the jasmine rose with coffee jelly. It was such a whimsical presentation with the crushed up rose petals floating on top.
But this wouldn’t be the most unusual vessel that any drink would come in today. That honour went to “Milk Cha” who reintroduced drinking from baby bottles to adults. Naturally it was so odd that I had to have it and had to try it. And honestly it is so soothing, I can see why babies like doing it. Yes you look ridiculous, yes you don’t get much liquid in each sip, and yes you have to work way too hard for so little; but hell if it doesn’t make a selfie a lot more interesting. This is their rose milk tea. The ingredients are kept separate, in order to have the liquid as a gradient. Therefore it is best to shake before drinking.
But for those who like a more traditional experience they have plastic cups and straws available. And if you can’t and don’t want to choose between two flavours, you can have them both with one of their split cups. It’s basically two drink flavours in the serving of one, each with its own straw. Here we had lavender milk tea and Thai milk tea. This two needed a good mixing.
Despite their sign reading “super good popcorn chicken” and they were named “popcorn chicken”, we ordered had the popcorn shrimp from them. These were crispy and chewy balls of puffs.
“Big G” was offering deep fried chicken steaks. Dark meat flattened then breaded and fried to a crisp. Here, the novelty is how the finished product is the size of your head, but more importantly it is tasty too. Although, I remember it being a lot larger, and not not being able to finish it all; so I guess this downsize was a better size.
At the “Tsuga Fry House” we had their deep fried onion, meaning you don’t have to wait for the PNE to open late summer in order to get your fix. It was a wonderful show, watching this giant bulb get fried in bubbling oil. The core of the onion is hollowed out so that you can place a container of chipotle mayo at its centre.
“Okonomi bites” takes everything that you love about the traditional Japanese pancake and its toppings and flavours, and makes it into a poutine. Here we were given a taste of both of the options they were offering. “The seafood okonomi poutine” with battered and deep fried pieces of fish and squid. And the “fried pork okonomi poutine” features its name sake protein. Both taste as expected for the most part, I could have used more sauces to really emphasis the okonomi concept though.
“Mr Crabzy” took the popular crab ball from off dim sum tables and brought them on to the narrow isles of the Night Market. This was easiest to eat with a good grip on the claw. Although three for one serving is a little much for one person, without some sort of dipping sauce on the side.
“Asomi mochi” was offering their traditional mochi in four flavours, each filled with a whole fresh strawberry, then cut in half for serving. We were able to try one of each flavour: original, matcha, purple yam, and black sesame.
“The Phamily Table” offered pork belly over a side salad. But what sets their meat apart is how they infuse it with apple wood smoke just before serving it. The show alone is worth the try. The meat itself was nice and tender with plenty of the sweet and salty sauce that coated it.
“Whatafood” was new to this year’s market. They were making Brazilian street food more assessable to Vancouverites. Here is a cup of their cheese puffs. I liked the texture, but it’s not for everyone. Dry and chewy on the outside, a little oily and gummy at its centre. I wouldn’t have mind some filling or a sauce for dipping to change the taste in between balls.
“Waffle Tower” was offering specially shaped waffles from a custom press. They looked like slender pine trees with a skewer for easy holding and eating. Available in a plain waffle then dipping, topped, and dressed to your preference. We got the bamboo charcoal that was black through and through,. This dark colour made the gold dust that they sprinkled over it all the more visual of a treat. As for taste, it was a regular eggy waffle made sweeter with the condense milk drizzle.
This year “Cupping 8 Cafe” is the dessert stall offering cheesecake made with tofu for those how are lactose intolerant. It was silkier than regular cheesecake, but the flavour was hidden behind the dominating flavour of the sweet creamy durian purée over top. Luckily I like durian.
The “Big Beard Super BBQ” stall had grilled meat on a stick and deep fried squid, two night market staples. Both a heavily seasoned and chewy snack.
“Chicking” had “Korean style Pa Dak chicken” served in a little bowl. Tasty enough, but not enough to stand out again many of the other chicken dishes.
“Tropical Bar” serves their blended juices in the rinds of either a pineapple or baby watermelon. Good juice, but clearly you are paying more for the presentation.
“Icy Bar” served up Taiwanese style shaved ice. We had their most colourful offering, their “summer special icy” which ate like a parfait. If included fresh chunks of mango and strawberry, basil seed, tapioca, mango and strawberry purée, coconut milk, and shaved ice. It was a great dessert to both help you cool down on hotter days, and to quench your thirst.
As the only deep fried and spiralled potato on a stick stall, “Rotato” is one of the most popular at the market, with the longest, ever-going lines. If you want this one and want to minimize your wait, I suggest you come early and make this your first stop. Maybe it is just the one we got, but I remembered this being larger, the stick being longer, with more potato spiralled around it. Though it tasted exactly as I remembered it: crispy and chewy, flavoured with your choice of salty and savoury seasonings.
We got freshly squeezed sugar can juice from the stall with the same name. They also offer freshly cracked young coconut milk. Both fresh juices are served in their novelty palm tree sippers. This was so fun that I kept it for future use.
“G8 Taiwan Kitchen” had Taiwanese stinky tofu, but I was never really a fan of this dish. I don’t mind the sour fermented smell, I just don’t like how bland the tofu typically is. A nice, thick, sweet and sour sauce would have been ideal here.
“The Taiyaki” stall offers the popular fish shaped pastry stuffed with either chocolate or cream, then topped with vanilla ice cream and a biscuit. It is basically an ice cream cone done a different way.
The “Cookies N’ Cream” had so much promise. Who doesn’t love a good ice cream sandwich? But sadly none of this was homemade or exclusive to the vendors. The ice cream, cookies, and toppings were all store bought, and just assembled by them.
The “Virgin Cocktail” booth is one you visit as soon as the sun sets. They offer sweet fruit flavoured drinks in an array of colours, but their true selling feature is the blinking LED “ice cubes” included as decoration. This was enough to have their lines growing.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
Now that this is the only Asian style outdoor market in the game, there is even more to see and do at this year’s Richmond Night Market. I am sure I don’t need to force your hand into coming down and visiting. In fact, I am sure you are making plans as I write. So, don’t deny your cravings!
RICHMOND NIGHT MARKET
8351 River Road, Richmond BC