Summer in Vancouver means a couple of things to me: 1. Fantastic displays of fireworks in English bay during the Celebration of Lights; 2. Plenty of festivals and markets to attend all summer long; and 3. The start of night market season.
This past weekend, I headed to the Richmond Night Market to take in the sights and sounds – plus a whole lot of food. There are 3 night markets in Vancouver this year: the Vancouver Chinatown Night Market, the International Summer Night Market and Richmond Night Market. All three run every weekend, Friday to Sunday, during the summer months with varying hours. If there is a long weekend, they are open that night as well.
They also had game throughout the market. You complete activities and get rewarded with stamps in order to spin a wheel to get prizes. I’m not sure how effective it is. We used it a bit, but it didn’t dictate where we went that night.
For a market, the stalls weren’t very diverse which is something I have come to expect with night market. They were all variations of the same thing. There were the electronic stores selling accessories for various electronics. There were the clothing shops selling too tiny dresses, plenty of cute socks (anyone want socks with Psy on them?), and scarves.
My favorite stalls during my high school and university years were the stationary stall which are stocked full of cute pens and folders for all my stationary needs. There is just a different feeling when using a Korean pen and I just can’t explain it. For the most part, much of this part of the market was empty.
There were also some amusement park games which is new.
And a stage where local cultural groups are invited to perform.
But going to the night market is all about the food. It’s where you’ll find the most people from the time the market opens to when it closes. There are a variety of stalls – mostly selling Asian foods. In previous night markets that I had been to, they had a lot of similar food stalls selling essentially the same stuff, but I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that there weren’t many repeat stalls this year.
One of my favorite things to eat at the night market is Takoyaki which is a Japanese rounded snack with various filling inside. We opted for the squid ones which were $5 for 6 pieces.
The wait for these are usually pretty long, but you can watch them make it. Its quite an interesting process with all the different fillings and the dough.
Another favorite are the spicy fish balls. A small was $3.50 for 7 fish balls.
My brother loves California roll, and one stall was making them deep fried.
My mother loves these classic Chinese “candy” (if you know anything about traditional Chinese candy, then you know they’re nothing like the western definition of them) called Dragon’s Beard (literally translated) and you can almost never find it anywhere. But for some reason, they keep popping up at the night market. So every year I go, I buy a box for my mom.
You can watch them make it too. They expanded their flavors this year. I don’t remember them having strawberry and sesame flavors before. Typically it is a peanut filling inside.
I was too excited and forgot to take a photo of the finished product. But a quick Google image search gives you a good idea of what they look like.
I love Korean Jap Chae and I haven’t had any since I’ve been back. When I saw this stall, I made a beeline for it and got my hands on some yummy Korean sweet potato noodles.
And finally, we got some Taiwanese popcorn chicken. This stuff puts KFC to shame and make you wonder why you ever ate inferior popcorn chicken. It’s the best! These were freshly fried (re: long wait) with basil leaves making them piping hot (thus delicious) and very fragrant when we got them from the stall.
One thing that was really popular and I didn’t want to stand in line for, were the Rotato Potatoes. It’s a potato on a stick with various toppings. I don’t quite understand the hype. I had one years ago and wasn’t all that impressed. Why the crazy line?
But they did have a cute infographic on things to do with your rotato.
It was a great evening spent eating and meandering around the market. I recognize that this experienceis probably very different from the night markets in Asia. I look forward to one day being able to go to the night markets in Hong Kong, but until then, visits to this summer tradition will have to suffice.
Have you been to a night market? Where and how did you like it?
Richmond Night Market
8351 River Rd
Richmond, BC V6X 1Y4
Getting there: If you’re considering driving, don’t. Unless you want to sit in traffic for a really long time. We arrived in the vicinity slightly after it opened and there was already a wait. We probably waiting about 15 minutes to get in. By the time we left (just after 9PM), the line up to get in was ridiculous. It’s best if you take the Canada Line skytrain to Bridgeport station and walk over.
Open May 17, 2013 – October 14, 2013
Friday & Saturday: 7PM – 12AM
Sunday & Stat Holidays: 6PM – 11PM
Admission: $2 per person or with a Zoom pass: $10 for 7 entrances, $20 for 15 entrances.