Over 200 vendors will be in attendance offering a variety of food, merchandise, crafts, arts, games, music and entertainment to all market goers venturing out to the last 626 Night Market event over Labor Day weekend.
Their mission looks to promote Asian and local culture through many of the businesses and artists in attendance. In addition to the flagship event, these summer night markets occurring in Southern California also include the DTLA Night Market and the OC Night Market.
Created by Jonny Hwang, a Taiwanese businessman from Southern California, he was inspired by the night markets of Asia, specifically those in Taiwan. They are littered with food vendors that are famous for their “xiaochi,” or small bites, very similar to Spanish tapas.
This weekend’s 626 Night Market event runs from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. each day and parking is free. Children ages 6 years and younger are free, while adults will have to pay $3 for entrance.
As you walk into the food bazaar area you will notice one important factor, the lines, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing! Go on a food adventure and follow the lines. Some of the longest lines at the night market will guarantee you a delicious outcome.
Ramen Burger, the brain child of traditional ramen specialist Keizo Shimamoto, had the longest lines of the night and one of the most unique and delicious dishes to boot. It’s no surprise that this specific burger was awarded 12th place by Time Magazine in their list of “The 17 Most Influential Burgers of All Time.” The burger uses ramen noodles, which are ingeniously crafted into buns after being seared on the grill with sesame oil to a crispy golden brown. Add in certified high quality USDA Prime ground chuck beef patties, peppery arugula, sliced green onions, a dollop of a tangy soy based special sauce and you have one of the tastiest burgers at the market. The original burger goes for $10 with additions such as bacon or a fried egg at $2 extra.
Another honorable mention with an equally long queue was Tanota Takoyaki, offering traditional Osaka-style Takoyaki at $6 for a full set. Takoyaki is a famous Japanese street food made from chunks of fresh octopus, green onions, ginger and tempura, grilled into a ball and topped with your choice of sauce, mayo, seaweed, green onions and shaved bonito flakes.
Monique Juarez of Monterey Park, a veteran of the 626 Night Market, enjoys coming back each year for the large variety of food.
“The first 626 Night Market events were packed and crazy. I’m glad they expanded to Santa Anita Park,” said Juarez. She suggests anything with pork belly as well as the lobster croquette from OK-Korokkay.
You can’t forget dessert, and Dolcissimo Bakeshop offers French macaron ice cream sandwiches that are certainly worth the wait! Choose from a variety of flavors that include Fruity Pebbles, Nutella, Circus Animal Cookies and many more. These sandwich treats sell for $6 each.
Beyond the food, market goers can catch jam-packed live performances with a great lineup each night. Peppered around the live performance stage, attendees will have the opportunity to play a variety of games that you might find at any state fair as well as shop the merchants selling clothing apparel, accessories, cellphones, weekend getaways and of course, selfie sticks.
The organizers of the 626 Night Market have some key tips for attending one of their events:
- Arrive early! The dinner rush occurs between 6-9pm and with the rush comes exorbitantly long lines. Eat while you wait in line for your next food item.
- Bring cash! Most of the vendors will only accept cash. ATMs are located throughout the park and are labeled within the event map.
- Be prepared to spend $20 to $30 per person for roughly 3-5 food items. Add $20 if you are planning to consume alcohol.
Pro tip: Download the 626 Night Market app available for both iPhone and Android users to find your favorite vendors and attractions.
Their final event of the season is being held at the Santa Anita Park in Arcadia from September 4-6. More information can be found at www.626nightmarket.com.