Wandering around the food stalls of the Richmond Night Market (8351 River Road) just after opening, you can sense the palpable excitement. Vendors have fired up the grills and deep fryers, and the colliding smells of hundreds of different items are starting to drift in the air.
Over the course of the next few months (from now until October 14, 2019), over a million people are expected to stream past the Market gates in search of the ultimate outdoor eating experience. Compared by The New York Times to “the Temple Street Market in Kowloon, Hong Kong, or one of Singapore’s open-air hawker centers,” the Richmond Night Market has become an internationally-known destination.
However, the Market is also uniquely west coast, showcasing the culinary strengths of its Asian population, as well as the food diversity of Canada. This year boasts 120 vendors with menus drawing from a wide variety of food cultures, including those of Germany, Brazil, China, and the Philippines. New must-try items are bold, fun, and bursting with flavour. Here are ten to get you started on your first of many visits this season.
Rainbow Cheese Toast
Without a doubt, the most Instagram-worthy item this year is the rainbow cheese toast from Say! Cheeeese. Through the magic of mozzarella cheese and food colouring, you and your friends can perform a rainbow cheese pull and then snap away with your cameras. Just don’t rip the sandwich halves apart too quickly, or you may end up with a broken multi-coloured band. Other flavours on the menu are the original, sweet cinnamon, “Nutella Popping Choco”, and “Volcano Tuna Melt”.
Cold Noodle Salad in a Bag
While there are noodles galore at the Richmond Night Market, there’s only one served in a clear bag for easy carrying and slurping. The Noodle Hub specializes in cold egg noodles, with four combos to choose from, including one with escargot, naruto (fish cake with a spiral pattern), ham, and imitation crab. The chilled noodles have plenty of garlicky flavour, making them a refreshing and zippy treat.
Culinary mash-ups are part of the spirit of the Night Market experience, and are especially enjoyable when they’re pulled off well. The Taco Tigre has a trio of Vietnamese-inspired street tacos that make for easy, one-handed eating as you roam around looking for more food. While the chicken banh mi and 5-spice pork belly are both excellent, the pho taco is knock out good, with its tender braised beef and pho flavours and ingredients (think hoisin and bean sprouts).
For another take on Asian tacos, head to La Meza Grill, an eatery in North Delta that is debuting their Filipino tacos this year at the Market. These two-bite tacos come in a variety of flavours like lechon, pork sisig, tofu sisig, pork bbq, and chicken bbq. The proteins arrive in crisp wonton shells and are topped with ingredients like fresh mango salsa, smoked chipotle mayo, and special house made sauces (sarsa).
Korean Braised Chicken
For a break from deep fried goodies, consider visiting Zzim Drumsticks where you’ll find Korean braised chicken with tons of flavour and tenderness. Choose between sweet soy garlic and hot spicy pepper, depending on how much of a heat kick you’re craving. The addition of rice cakes, green onions, and sesame seeds makes for a satisfying meal in a bowl.
For a different dumpling beyond the ubiquitous siu mai at the stalls, visit Afghan Yum Mantu & Bolani. Their mantu feature a delicate wrapper filled with spiced ground beef and onion, and are topped with lentils, pomegranate seeds, green onion, and yogurt sauce. The peanut sauce version is also well worth a try, as are their bolani (potato-filled flatbread).
One bite of the lobster roll at Salty’s Lobster Shack is worth a trip to the Richmond Night Market. Their rendition is generously filled with East Coast lobster and some fresh dill. The toasted brioche bun is the perfect buttery, sweet accompaniment. Salty’s also does a silky lobster bisque that is intensely flavourful.
Thai Tea Panna Cotta
The Thai desserts at Tuk Tuk are aesthetically flawless and taste delicious as well. While the coconut and jasmine green tea options are lovely, a crowd favourite is the Thai tea panna cotta. The sweetened thickened cream is infused with Thai tea, giving it a wonderfully aromatic taste. Topping each dessert are dok jok—crisp lotus blossom cookies that add textural contrast. Tuk Tuk uses squid ink in the striking black version of these cookies.
Matcha Fluffy Pancakes
Owned by the same people behind the popular Mr. Crabzy, Fluffy Soufflé offers Japanese-style pancakes. They have an ethereal lightness to them and hit just the right amount of sweetness. Flavours available are matcha, cheese, milk foam, grapefruit, strawberry, and chocolate, with extra toppings like mini mochi, red beans, mini Oreos, and sliced almonds. Watching the batter of whipped egg whites take shape on the griddle is half the fun.
Angel Ducky Pudding
New to this year’s Market is the Angel Duck Café (look for the oversized duck). This spot serves whimsical sweet treats, such as fruity popsicle donuts that involve selecting donut flavours (such as mango) and chocolate dips (such as dark). Especially cute are the mango coconut angel ducky puddings that beg for a photo before you dig into them.
These ten items are just the beginning of your eating adventures at this year’s Richmond Night Market. Don’t forget to have fun—and bring a massive appetite!