The 626 Night Market expands its reach Downtown, but does it work? Umm, yes.
You know what a sourpuss I can be. I like my 626 Night Markets, and I like ’em a certain way.
So I was way prepared to come into the Downtown Night Market, and come down on it hard.
Imagine my surprise.
First, let me tell you that the Night Market people are 100% about using the Metro to get to the Downtown Night Market.
Can’t remember where I read it, but somewhere on the Downtown Night Market website, they really, really, really stressed that people take the Metro to the event.
Okay, granted, it was my first time using the L.A. Metro like…ever. And that will be the subject of a future piece. But the idea of parking for free over at Universal City, and spending a whopping $5 bucks (I just bought a day pass to make it easier on myself) to get to and from the Night Market was pretty damn good, all things considered.
You are literally dropped across the street from event, in Lot 7 of the Staples Center. Now, where they drop you off is perfect if you’re going to see a Clippers Game. But the event is a bit of a hike from the Blue Line stop. You walk down about a block and a half, and then round the corner to…to…
Well, let’s get to that next part…
For a minute there, the notion of buying tickets in advance seemed…nonsensical. For a moment.
So, the Downtown Night Market Website said that the only people who were guaranteed of entry to the Night Market were people who bought tickets in advance.
So, like a whole lot of other people, I went to the Downtown Market’s Eventbrite site and bought me an advance ticket.
Well, imagine my surprise when I arrive at the venue, and there’s a big, snaking, long-ass line around the block and the people who are buying tickets right then and there have a non-existent line.
Needless to say, the people who had bought their tickets early were not pleased.
Couple things to remember. One, this is a Downtown Food Festival…like the K-Town Night Market, and Downtown Food Festivals have to have a measure of Security to them because, well…Lord knows who can walk in off the street. So like the K-Town Food Festival, we all got wanded, and our personal belongings, like my Camera Bag, got searched.
All makes sense.
I got to the Venue at around 6:30 and made it inside by around 7:00, as in past Security, free and clear to eat. By the time I left, the situation had changed dramatically. The By Your Tickets Line then and there line was the long one, and the Advance Ticket purchasers line was short. It all worked out in the end.
Despite it’s small size, the Downtown Night Market was incredibly well laid out and easy to navigate.
This shocked me the most. Even though I was early, the site…though smaller than any Night Market in the past, was incredibly well laid out. Even when the crowds came, I could tell there was going to be a lot of space between the food tents, so lines could form reasonably well. I could actually move around the Venue with a bowl of my Ramen (description in a second) without much fear.
There wasn’t a lot of seating, but you know…since there was space to move, I ain’t complaining. Very well done, guys/gals who run the Night Market. Well done indeed.
Hey, the Kiyoshi Kurihara, the guy behind Mattou Semien Ramen is back!
I don’t know how they managed this, but the guy who cooked up/came up with up my last bowl of Black Mapo Ramen, Kiyoshi Kurihara, who was last seen at the 2014 Ramen Yokocho Festival was back in town, serving up bowls of his luscious, delicious…
Okay, that’s a whole ‘nother story. Let’s just say I was glad to see him back, and starting to wonder if he’s sizing up L.A. for a possible expansion of his Restaurant empire.
Please, please, baby baby please?!?!?
There was a lot more Art at this Night Market than at previous incarnations.
Another welcome sight, there was a lot more Art going on at this version of the Night Market.
Art’s always there. A couple of artists show off their wares every year, but they always seem to stay at the margins. This time, they had their own corner, and a lot of them were even making Art, live on the premises. What I saw, was not bad.
So if the Night Market people are reading this, lemme say, that was a hit with me. I loved it.
And this time, they had a Beer Garden.
Mixed blessings to say the least, but I’m assuming it had something more to do with local ordinances, since Santa Anita doesn’t have this restriction…and the fact that it’s a Race Track on most days and sells beer anyway.
The Beer flowed free and easy…but only in one part of the Night Market, the Beer Garden off to the corner, near the Main Stage. You basically showed up, presented ID, and got a White wrist tag so you could drink your suds. The only problems were that A) only Asahi was available…and that’s not much of a problem, and B) Food Options were…a bit limited. If you wanted some of the Hardcore Chinese Food that was being served out in the Venue, then…well…I guess you had to bring it here?
Yeah, I was so thirsty coming off the train and standing in line, I went right for a beer…which was $8 (ouch). After I was through with it (quickly), then I went hunting for Spicy Lamb Swekers, Black Ramen and most importantly Taiwanese Sausage.
But dammit, I didn’t get my Beer and Taiwanese Sausage together.
Well, that’s what Arcadia is for.
And of course, because Downtown Night Market is being held in a Parking Lot, the Bathrooms are port-a-potties.
Yeah, no getting around this one. A parking lot isn’t going to have the permanent facilities that the Santa Anita Racetrack does. So in come the Porta Johns. They were well away from the Food Stalls and Trucks, did not smell bad (at least in the early part of the evening when I visited), and they even had a way wash your hands in with a foot-pump action sink and faucet. It worked…but I’m still missing Santa Anita.
Overall, I was shocked at how well it worked out. I left quite full and happy. I think this venue will work splendidly in the future for other Downtown Night Markets, and when they’re back, I’ll happily do the whole thing all over again!
But I still miss Arcadia and can’t wait for July!
Downtown Night Market (2014)
1111 S. Figueroa St., Ste 3100
Los Angeles, CA 90015
Tel: (213) 742-7100