Ahh! There is nothing that can compare to the air of smelly tofu on a hot summer day.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Seafood on the grill takes the already fantastic flavour of the meat to a whole new level.
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.
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!