Ahh! There is nothing that can compare to the air of smelly tofu on a hot summer day.

wei smelly tofu night it up

signature booth at this event, can’t walk past without smelling the ever so pungent scent of smelly tofu

If you want to experience the cultural immersion of an Asian Night Market, look no further than the festival held in Markham called Night It Up. Just having celebrated it’s 13th year, Night It Up is going strong with showcasing some of the most interesting Asian street food around town.

There, you’ll easily find popular local food vendors featuring some of the Asian classics or some start-up food booths garnering attention for their innovative culinary creations. Either way, your taste buds will be on a ride after attending the Night Market.

night it up markham

night it up 2014

I won’t be doing a full review on the food that I tried, just a comment here and there about some of the different things I tried this year and some tips on how to navigate and make the most of your time during this festival. [Warning: Don’t read or view the pictures if hungry]


 

Skewers, hand-sized serving plates, and plastic cutlery are very common throughout this event as you’re probably going to have to eat everything while standing. The food at the festival can easily be broken down into two categories, the sweet snacks and the savoury ones.

Sweet Snacks at Night It Up

pineapple smoothie night it up

pineapple smoothie, served in the fruit

If fresh fruit juice is what you’re craving, some stands offer fruit smoothies served in the fruit itself giving you this nice refreshing drink in an eco-friendly container. The other version comes in a watermelon :3

watermelon juice night it up

watermelon juice, served in a watermelon

green tea ice cream spring roll

matcha ice cream spring roll, bing bing roll

Something new I’ve seen this year is this one food booth making spring rolls with ice cream. The interesting twist is that they add coriander as well as freshly ground sweetened peanuts in it. Personally, I don’t see a spot for the coriander in this dish, but experimentation is what this event is all about.

sweetened peanuts night it up

freshly grinding the sweetened peanut block to put into the spring roll

ice cream spring roll

the assembly of an ice cream spring roll

shaved ice with red bean and condensed milk

shaved ice with red bean and condensed milk

Another favourite at this summer event is a cold serving of shaved ice with red bean and condensed milk. A simple yet refreshing dish, it really hits the spot after waiting in the heat all evening for your food.

Savoury Food at Night It Up

Now onto my personal favourite, the savoury food. Night It Up has a few classics that every one must try at least once; the grilled teppanyaki squid, the smelly tofu, curried fish and beef balls, lamb skewers and takoyaki.

wei smelly tofu

smelly tofu getting fried up for the huge lineup of customers

smelly tofu night market

smelly tofu served with pickled vegetables and hot sauce

grilled squid

fresh whole grilled squid

grilled squid

grilled squid in all of its splendour

osaka takoyaki night market

fresh osaka takoyaki

takoyaki night market

takoyaki

beef balls night market

curried beef balls at night it up

lamb skewers night market

grillin’ some lamb skewers

lamb skewers night market

lamb skewers with whole cumin seeds

Aside from the classics, there are some less than conventional food booths to definitely try out. Here are some of my top picks and features.

oden fish cake night marke

odeng, fish cakes

Korean style fish cakes. They come in different shapes and flavours but they all have a very signature bouncy texture to it that is a crowd favourite. You definitely need to try it either with a soy sauce or a sweet chili sauce.

grilled lobster night market

grilled lobsters, tasty

Seafood on the grill takes the already fantastic flavour of the meat to a whole new level.

fried rice croquettes

cantonese style fried rice croquettes

fried rice croquettes night market

cantonese style fried rice croquettes

This is an interesting blend of Chinese cuisine with a more western style of cooking. I personally didn’t try it, but it definitely looks good.

korean chicken waffle night market rofl waffle

rofl waffle, korean chicken waffle

A friend of mine actually runs this booth and decided to do the classic Southern dish of Chicken and Waffles and do an Asian twist to it. A fascinating concept of which I will keep an eye on as he’ll develop the brand and recipes more. I’m not sure about you, but I can definitely see this being a food truck theme in the near future.

Tips for the Night Market

For the inexperienced, this event is a tough one to navigate let alone spending your time wisely to get all the food you want to eat.

So here are my basic tips for any night market/food festival.

1. Bring friends along

The strategy is to divide and conquer. Choose your food booths and get somebody from your group to stand in line and wait for the food. Otherwise, each lineup can easily take you about half an hour to get your food during the peak times of the festival.

2. Wear comfortable clothing

This event will have you standing for hours and in the heat as well. Make sure that whatever you end up wearing is comfortable and appropriate for the weather.

4. Try different things

This event is the perfect setting to expand your culinary experiences and try a bunch of new things all in one night. Most of the dishes available are $5 or less so it’s quite affordable to hit a number of new vendors.

3. Keep your belongings close to you

My last tip and probably the most important. Your personal bubble will basically be non-existent during this event and this can easily mean that pick-pocketing can happen. This is a reality of most cramped events and it is something that you should be aware of when you have bags or purses on you.

Anyway, I hope you will check out Night It Up next year or a close relative to it, the Waterfront Night Market that is coming up on July 25-27th.

Until we dine again,

-The Piquey Eater

P.S. These are super cute. Found them at a stand at Night It Up!

octopus keychain night market

super cute awkward octopi keychains