An actual Taiwanese Style Night Market, right here in the middle of Pasadena, California.
Okay, suppose…just suppose…you came across an explosion of Pan-Asian foodie goodness right in your own back yard. Suppose you came across a genuine (or at least near-genuine) Hong Kong style Street Market right in your own backyard in the good ol’ U.S.A.
Needless to say, you don’t have to suppose any longer, because of the 626 Night Market in
Pasadena Arcadia, CA.
From what I can tell, once a year, the various purveyors of Asian goodness gather together in the shadow of the
Pasadena City Hall (itself a lovely sight to behold), Santa Anita Race Track and open up food-stand after food-stand after food-stand. Your only job? Pick and eat. The only danger? Frankly, the fact that you only have one stomach, and there’s a lot to choose from.
My first evening, I had quite the Porktastic Evening. Stopping off first to have Minced Pork on Dry Noodle from Liang’s Kitchen. I like what had, all I can say is…Dude, you said that dish was gonna be hot (he was hinting “Spicy”, figuring the Gwai Lo couldn’t handle it), and it wasn’t. Hey, I’m C.C. Tu’s Godson, dangit, I can roll with (most) of what you can throw at me.
Next, was a vendor with no name, and a handwritten cardboard sign advertising Taiwanese Sausages, $2 dollars each or 3 for $5.
Handwritten sign? Poor handwriting? Lack of any sort of affectation? Marks of quality.
Of course, I get in line and the other customers are “warning” me, “Uhh, you know these Sausages are sweet right?”
What the heck is going on here?
Dude, if I could, I’d live off Chinese Claypot Rice, which has the rice, the Duck and the Chinese Sausage baked in? Yeah. So Chinese Sausage, not a problem.
Apparently, the guy didn’t get the memo about me being C.C. Tu’s Godson.
Two sausages on a stick later and I’m contemplating seconds. I shared one with a pal…who was surprised at how sweet it was, and well…she didn’t respond well. If that guy’s there again, he’s got a confirmed sale in me.
Anyway, variety is the spice of the Night Market, so I went with the Filipino style Pork Belly Tacos at Zarlito’s Family Restaurant of San Diego, CA. Clearly a rip off what Roy Choi has done (so much that Chain Restaurants are copying him). They didn’t do a bad job. I enjoyed what I had. I’d even have it again, but it’s not going to make me forget Kogi BBQ and the Alibi Room.
(Editor’s Note: This review was written back in early 2012, but for the most part is still valid…at least as far as my affection for it goes. What you should really be reading is our Safety Tips for the 626 Night Market.)
From what I could tell, the 2012 Night Market’s Vendors were overwhelmingly Chinese.
What? You think that’s a problem for me?
There were some Vietnamese, Japanese and Filipino vendors scattered throughout, but a majority of this evening seems to be about China, China and China…with a lot of Boba scattered throughout.
Oh, yes. You will not lack for Boba options as you cruise the Night Market.
Anyway, this is great affair, a great event. I wish the Night Market was a Weekly affair, though I admit it might take some of the specialness away from it. Anyway, if you’re in town, or even near town, GO!
WHAT SHOULD I GET?: Every-frickin’-thing. Seriously.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: Just skip to the Parking. It’s all about the Parking.
PARKING: Well, this is where there’s a downside to the ol’ Nightmarket. Apparently, the first one was poorly organized, and it scared people from coming in. This year (my first at the Night Market) I came in while it was still daylight, and was able to get my grub on, then leave.
There is plenty of parking close in to the venue, but getting out may be tricky. I thought about parking at Paseo Colorado, and hoofing it in, but I wound up parking at the Public Lot behind Vroman’s Books and walking four blocks over to the site. It was a longer walk, but I tell you what. Leaving was a far, far easier experience. It cost five bucks, but the lack of a hassle was worth it.
626 Night Market
285 W Huntington Dr.
Arcadia, CA 91007
Hours will vary by Event, but for the Arcadia version, they run from 4pm-1am.