The 626 Night Market is this grand mecca of various Asian food stands and a few food trucks who bring almost every imaginable street food from Myanmar, Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Hong Kong, and Taiwan like Hainan Chicken, noodles, dim sum, meat skewers, teriyaki, and boba drinks. Pictured above are Taipei-style steamed pan-fried buns from food vendor Shilin Pan-Fried Buns.
Then there are those crazy unimaginable exotic foods like grilled jumbo squid, Lap Chong (Chinese or Taiwanese Sausage), grilled chicken liver and beef hearts, Spicy Lamb skewers, and the infamous…Stinky Tofu. Literally, all this good stuff to eat under one roof for just a few dollars admission plus free parking. Going to this event made me a happy Foodie. Picture above are grilled Taiwanese Sausage from food vendor Lotus Circle.
My first experience in June was the biggest eye opener, because there was no way to escape the stinky tofu smell. There had to have been 10 food stalls frying stinky tofu and the “stink” was inescapable especially inside the Grand Stand area of the Santa Anita Race Track and the restrooms. At first, I found the whole experience laughable until I arrived home and had to take two baths to cleanse myself from stink. I also had to isolate my clothes in a plastic bag until laundry day. Despite the weirdness of the stink, I had an enjoyable time. I ate Stinky Tofu for the first time and learned that it was delicious.
I never had food from Burmese food either until I went to The 626 Night Market and discovered Daw Yee Myanmar Cafe. Their Kima Platha, a beef stuffed flatbread, was so tasty that I struggled to share my order with my friends.
I also enjoyed watching Chef Alex Goh make Dragon Whiskers Candy, which he says is an ancient recipe of making candy by hand from a handful of honey. I actually taped a video of the demo, because it was quite fascinating to watch. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXkHknZ0zNg
Besides all the eating, drinking and people watching, going to The 626 Night Market also gave me and my friends an excuse to watch the entertainment and browse through the many tables of vendors who sold trinkets, clothes, arts and crafts, and jewelry. It truly turned out to be a fun experience.
My 2nd experience at The 626 Night Market a few weeks ago was just an enjoyable as the first one. I had arrived with only two purposes, which is to have a good time and to eat more of the best Asian food around. The cool part was knowing which vendor to visit, because I figured they’d still be at the same location like last time. I skipped the Stinky Tofu this time and headed straight to Tan San Skewers for the Spicy Lamb Skewers (3 for $5). They had the longest line last time and I wanted to be one of the first in line to get my favorite street food. As it turned out, my friend and I were the among the first in line. It didn’t take them that long to barbecue the Lamb Skewers either. Tan San Skewers do not have a restaurant in the Los Angeles area, but you’ll find them as a fixture at many local outdoor Asian community events and at The 626 Night Market.
I also found the food stand for Yiran & Grill who grilled those lovely jumbo squid skewers (3 for $10). The guys are experts at grilling barbecue, but it looks like they have lots of other delectable menu items at their restaurant in Monterey Park. The order of squid was very delicious and it took quite the skill to eat it without getting my shirt stained with chili and cumin.
While waiting for another friend to arrive, I had to get my POG Hawaiian Ice fix at the Hale’iwa Shaved Ice stand. I love Hawaiian Shaved Ice and it was a delight to see this vendor at The 626 NIght Market. With my POG (Passion Fruit, Orange, and Guava) Hawaiian Ice, I also added vanilla ice cream inside. Oh, it was so good to eat especially when it was hot outside.
Later in the afternoon, the search was for the Fluff Ice Truck, but they were no where to be found. We finally found them setting up a tent. The owner told me that the truck literally broke down at the freeway exit so it was a mad scramble to get alternate transportation. I was so glad they made it though and thrilled that my friend and I were the first in line. Having a Taro Shaved Ice dessert treat was the perfect end for a wonderful evening at The 626 Night Market.
With just two visits, I had a wonderful experience connecting with all the delicious foods that the Asian American community had to offer at The 626 Night Market.
As mentioned early in this blog post, the admission is only a few dollars and parking is free. My suggestion in attending The 626 Night Market is to make it a family and friend excursion. Bring plenty of cash since it is cash only and also bring a picnic blanket to sit on. Since this is a one weekend only event, your best bet is to not to eat everything on site in one day, but return on the 2nd day to visit food vendors that you missed. Note that the final summer event is scheduled for the first weekend in August. So plan accordingly and don’t let the Stinky Tofu smell bother you or simply bring a surgical mask if you have one.