Today I was back at the Richmond Night Market, here to help @misseileensoo count down the 2021 Top 10 food picks, as decided by the show runners of the Night Market itself.
As her assistant, I got access to all their favourites food items, in order to be able to count them down here. So as recapped in the order they appeared on the Richmond Night Market Instagram feed here is the list of what to try at this year’s 2021 Richmond Night Market, abbreviate Covid edition.
Sushi tacos at Booth F97, Taco Nori. Available with assorted protein and seafood fillings, the most popular are the spicy salmon, crab meat, and spicy tuna. They are not new to the night market, but are definitely ones I like to recommend myself. Crisp seaweed given an additional crunch with a quick tempura fry, then moulded into a taco shape to be with sushi rice, cucumber, green onion, and your chosen topping. It is a fun and easy way to enjoy sushi, but a lot more portable.
Booth F63 belongs to newcomer Yogurtology. They are serving up a cooling dessert drink that is thick and tangy from the fresh yogurt they feature. Each drink is given sweetness and flavour based on your chosen fruit. The most popular flavours are mango and strawberry, but there is also coconut, blueberry, and kiwi available. Each comes with a gimmicky straw topper that offers night market goers a unique photo op.
Food and drink item Number 3 belongs to Booth F81: Dango House. Another new one to the market. Here, they are hand rolling and dipping Japanese sticky rice balls in an assortment of flavours like matcha, red bean, sweet soy sauce, black sesame and brown sugar. Cute chewy balls to pull from sticks between teeth and lips, they are just as fun to eat as they are to photograph. It is just a shame that they don’t have the pink, white, and green ones that are often pictured as an emoji; that one would have sold extremely well for novelty alone.
Number 4 on the top food and drink list is Taiwanese dessert chain: BlackBall’s first foray into the Night Market scene. They have partnered up with Asian specific food delivery company Fantuan for some exclusive fruity ice drinks. Two of which are only available to the attendees at this year’s market season.
Fantuan pride is a shaved ice dessert with a surprise centre, finished off with a milky topping and rainbow mini marshmallows. The best way to describe this is, think of an Hawaiian ice sno cone, but with coconut jelly and fresh blueberries at the core of this ice mound. Not to sweet and enjoyable to dig into, this one is great for the hotter weather ahead.
Not officially on the list, but worth your consideration is their very floral Fuji Lavender Twist. A delicate twist of the soft serve and soda combo: screamers, but heavy on the lavender. Lavender ice cream, lavender flavoured soda, and edible fresh lavender buds to decorate. Truth be told, this one got old quick. It would have been nice to have another sweet or tangy flavour to balance out all the floral.
Therefore, I preferred the Fruit Blast icy drink, flavoured in dragonfruit and passion fruit instead. Refreshing without an overwhelming flavour, presented in a pretty colour that reminds you of sunsets in summer.
The new Happy Chicken Shop at Booth F40 has a 24k gold wing that made it on to the list at Number 5. More for show than taste, each order is six pieces of deep fried chicken wings, coated in a gold sparkle sauce and finished off with two pieces of gold leaf topping the mound of meat. There is something so bougie and fun about eating gold, let alone eating it on something that you normally wouldn’t have it on. Although as nice as they looked, they lacked flavour. Seasoned in a mild mustard, there wasn’t much else I was able to make out. It would have been nice to get a dip on the side to inject some of this missing flavour. Or maybe have the sauce a salted egg yolk one instead, which would have kept within the golden colour scheme.\
Not on the list, but also intriguing is their fried chicken bolo Sando. Riding on the wave of this popular food trend, they too have taken the classic plain, sweetly topped pineapple bun and made it into a burger to be filled with fried chicken, slaw, and American cheese. I liked where their head was at with this one, it just lacked flavour. I could have used a more peppery seasoned piece of chicken to better contrast the sweet bun, and much more crunchy and creamy slaw for moisture and freshness. The cheese was a nice choice here, but I would have liked to seen a provolone or a Swiss for an elevated flavour profile to match the concept.
Also a first timer to the market and Number 6 is the grilled goat shoulder over rice from Booth F41: Junoon by Karakoram Restaurant, a Pakistani Restaurant on Victoria Drive. What doesn’t look like much or all that impressive as a street food option is in fact my favourite savoury dish of the night. Best enjoyed warm, the goat is a little tough from sitting in wait to be ordered. However, the flavours were all there. A nice grill over fragrant rice. It only made me want to visit their actual restaurant for a better representation of their food.
Richmond Night Market’s Number 7 Food and Drink item to try for 2021 is the grilled garlic shrimp pineapple boat from another new booth: Aloha Boys at F31. In my opinion, the presentation for this is the best by far when compared to all the other offerings available this year. Although it was a pain to eat, especially trying to gouge pineapple flesh from the halved fruit with wooden disposable cutlery. Taste wise the shrimp was plenty garlicky and delicious. So well wok fried that you ate it crispy skin and all. The side scoop of steamed rice, undressed slaw, and creamy macaroni salad were a wonderfully paired accompaniment. And they let loose a few pieces of pineapple as a sweetness elevator. In truth, I would like to sit down at a restaurant to best enjoy this, definitely not an easy one to walk and eat with.
Specializing in Hawaiian fare they also have spam musubi and spam fries. We had the latter. It was most photogenically served in empty spam cans, which I am sure they have been collecting for months, and honesty it wouldn’t be the same without them, nor would you order them without it. I just wished the fries lived up to the presentation. Ashy and dull, they needed a coating or a breading to add some crunch and flavour, just so you aren’t just eating plain spam. And I don’t know how they did it, but they were able to take much of the saltiness out of the spam itself, therefore the spicy garlic aioli dip was essential for taste. Overall, I would recommend the musubi instead.
Number 8 is the Fish-Katsu Sando from the Tokyo Katsu food truck. This one comes with a ticking clock. Filled with lightly breaded flakey white fish and plenty of saucy tartar-like mayo and tangy katsu sauce, it gets soggy and messy fast. But the flavour is all there and the sandwich is a satisfying one.
Number 9 is a classic Canadian and outdoor event treat, but not typical of the Richmond Night Market. They are beaver tails from the event truck with the same name. Deep fried cinnamon and sugar coated dough topped like a pizza, open faced. Available in a wide assortment of flavours. The most popular are the strawberry cheese cake and chocolate banana options. These delivery on their flavour promise, with a touch of childhood nostalgia.
And Number 10, which I didn’t get to try are pulled pork fries from the Truckin’ BBQ food truck. Without tasting them I won’t be able to give a review.
Not on the list, but a great drink option to help wash down all of the eclectic flavours above are the flavoured lemonades available in original, watermelon, passion fruit, and mango at the Thirsty Pony booth F32.
I also couldn’t leave without at least having one of my Night Market staples: grilled squid. Chewy and enjoyable to slurp up I could eat a whole serving of tentacles myself.
Naturally, there are many more food options available at the market and your top 10 list might be vastly different, but this is a good place to start your food journey at the 2021 Covid adjusted Richmond Night Market.
Richmond Night Market
8351 River Rd, Richmond, BC V6X 1Y4