When my sister Yuntiha was in Taiwan in January of this year, she went to several night markets and came home telling me all about the amazing food she was eating in Taiwan. Which made me quite jealous and ready to plan my next trip to Taiwan just to go to a night market. But V reminded me that we actually do have night markets in Southern California. Check out YunTi’s trip to Taiwan and all of the food she was eating!
I drove up with to the 626 Night Market with Yuntiha, best friend V, friend BH, and my cousin Justin. It’s a 2 hour drive from San Diego (as long as traffic isn’t bad) and we arrived at almost exactly 4pm (the time the 626 Night Market is opened at).
We pretty much decided that we were all going to share food so that we can try as many things as we can and with that we were able to try and with that strategy we ended up eating: takoyaki, curry fish balls, sticky rice sausage wrapped pork sausage, Indonesian chicken and pork satay, calamari, “kuao bao” / “gua bao” and green onion pancake, “cong zhua bing”, POPDUP drinks, lemonades at Main Squeeze, juice at Fruitology, and free Kirin beer.
Takoyaki at Miniyaki Fusion Grill
We walked straight into the food area and stopped at the very very first stall and just ordered some Takoyaki. It is basically a doughy doughnut kind of thing filled with “tako” (octopus) and then topped with some sauce and bonito.
We actually got a little worried right after ordering because the people preparing the takoyaki didn’t look like they knew what they were doing. I think this was mainly because the pans were not quite hot enough yet so they ended up having to waist a batch (or two).
We felt like we were waiting for a long time before finally getting our food. I guess it just didn’t help that it was pretty hot out in the sun and we were ready to eat. I know some of us were getting a little impatient, but personally I didn’t mind the wait knowing that their first batch did’t come out very well (I would appreciate a good batch).
In the end our Takoyaki actually came out quite nice. 6 pieces for $6 to start our evening.
Have you had Takoyaki without “tako” (octopus) in it? I remember getting that in Singapore all the time, I think my favorite was always ham and cheese or bacon? Where can I find some?
Curry Fish Balls 拿督府魚蛋
We found some Hong Kong street food: Curry Fishballs and Fake Shark Fin Soup. But why is it called 拿督府魚蛋 (Fishballs from Datuk House). And is Datuk someone from Malaysia or Indonesia? I’m a bit confused.
It was too hot to get the soup, but we got some curry fish balls. The curry sauce was actually decent and the fish balls had a decent flavor to it. But the texture was only ok. It was a good quick snack before continuing on for more food.
POPDUP Urban Sweet Bar (website)
After eating Takoyaki and Curry Fish Balls, we really needed something to drink. The salty foods were getting to us. When we were waiting for our Takoyaki earlier, Justin had already eyed what he wanted, so we headed over to POPDUP Urban Sweet Bar for some fancy soda served in a jar.
They mixed the drinks right there, so it was a bit of a wait for our drinks and for $8 a jar it was the most expensive drink we had that evening. We got the Hibuscus Soda and the Lychee Butterfly Pea. Both drinks were fun. Basiclly fancy custom flavored soda.
Sticky Rice Sausage Wrapped Pork Sausage
By now, we were getting hungry and needed something to fill us up. I pretty much made a bee line to to this Taiwanese street food stand for the Sticky Rice Sausage Wrapped Pork Sausage because Yuntiha kept talking about this dish when she got back from Taiwan and I really wanted to try it. It’s basically a sticky rice sausage (I like mushy sticky rice) cut open like a hotdog bun then topped with a pork sausage some greens and sauce.
Here they cut the sausage in half making it a little easier to eat. I remember seeing pictures from BH in Taiwan and they didn’t cut the sausage in half for him (yes, BH went to Taiwan too! I’m jealous…)
This was a little harder eat and share. I though it was pretty good, but Yunti and BH who were both in Taiwan this year said it was not as good as what they had in Taiwan. I guess really do need to make a trip to Taiwan.
Cali Calamari (Facebook page)
We eyed the giant grilled squid on a stick and the grilled calamari legs all evening but ended up with the fried calamari rings instead. We figured it would be easier to share (V was sick) and because V and I remembered we how difficult it could be to bite the squid. I remember seeing a stall that has a “scissors station’ for you to cut the squid…smart!.
This was V, BH, and Justin’s favorite food item of the evening. and apparently the fried calamari is already topped with their ‘secret seasoning’ but you can also get another sauce on the side. You can actually buy the ‘secret seasoning’ for $5.
Main Squeeze Lemonades (Facebook)
This place had the longest line for us of the evening for us. The line wrapped around their little stall and employees needed go back there to kind of organized the line. I also remember seeing an Instagram post saying they sold out the previous night. It’s basically flavored lemonade in a jar, and they really do put fresh fruits in the lemonade.
We got the Chili Mango Lemonade and the Watermelon Lemonade. The Watermelon Lemonade was literally a lemonade with watermelon in it. Though you can taste the watermelon, it was very light. I think the lemonade was just very overpowering and strong compared to the lighter summery watermelon.
The Chili Mango Lemonade looked like the most popular flavor. Compared to the watermelon, the Chili Mango was much stronger in flavor. It also reminded us of the plum powder / Yi Hing Powder we put over pineapple. The Chili was also not spicy at all.
After getting your drink, there is a cute little photo booth too!
Gua Bao and Green Pancake
And my favorite was the Gua Bao (Kuah Bao). Another Taiwanese night market kind of place!
Someone once told me Gua Bao (Koah Bao) is a Taiwanese hamburger. In a way, I guess it is since it’s got a bun (love the white somewhat sweet bun), pork belly as the patty, pickled vegetables, and hoisin sauce (at lease I think it’s hoisin sauce). This one hit the spot for me and I think i should have gotten 2 cause I didn’t really want to share.
And the Green Onion Pancake was actually kind of a surprise. I usually don’t have very high expectations but this one was actually nice and thin, not too oily, and then topped with a house sauce. The auntie that was serving us, told me I could come back for extra sauce which I should have be we had already walked away and had finished eating most of it.
Free Kirin Ichiban Beer
Well before you get your free beer, they give you a quick intro on Kirin Ichiban beer and told us it is the first kind of beer that is pressed? (I’m not sure what that means? Is it like cold press coffee?) The free they beer they served is actually topped with frozen beer to keep the beer cold longer and not dilute the beer. I agree, it kept the beer cold but the frozen beer still seemed a diluted.
By now we had already collected 2 mason jars (from POPDUP and Main Squeeze) but V had seen someone walking around with a really cute bottle and we were on a mission to find it. We were looking for the place that had a bottle with a cork and braved the crowds. By now, it was not easy maneuvering through all the people and the lines. V was pretty happy when she finally got her juice.
Fruitology is actually a local juice shop in San Gabriel, CA but I don’t remember ever seeing a glass bottle like this. I guess it’s a 626 Night Market special? (Most stalls were actually serving drinks in a jar.) As we walked around the 626 Night Market we got quite a few people asking us where we got our drinks from.
We got a Mango Peach Juice and a Pineapple Passion Fruit Juice each topped with half a teaspoon of chia seeds. Both tasted a bit watered down, or were my taste buds already skewed from all of the food we’ve had?
Simpang Asia Indonesian Chicken and Pork Satay / Skewers (Website)
By now it has gotten quite crowded, and walking around with a group of friends turned into slowly walking through an ocean of people. There were some pretty long lines at most of the food stalls so we decided to split up to head to two different stalls for more food.
This was actually our second time stopping at this stall because we actually wanted more. There are several stalls that sell skewers but I mainly wanted the peanut sauce and that was why I chose this place. This was Yuntiha’s favorite for the night. I’m pretty proud to have picked her favorite place. haha.
We got the Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce, Sweet Pork Satay, and Spicy Chicken Satay (not pictured). The meat was nice and juicy and the sauce was good.
Foodies Cong Zhua Bing 蔥抓餅
Cong Zhua Bing 蔥抓餅 literally means Green Onion Grab Pancake and is usually stuffed with an egg, meat, veggies, and their special sauce. Yuntiha told me about this dish after she got back from Taiwan as well. I remember it sounding really good.
We met up with Yunti and Justin who were waiting for our Cong Zhua Bing after getting our satay. Justin actually sent me a few snapchat videos as they were making our Cong Zhua Bing (too bad it’s snapchat, can’t share it here). I think that’s the fun part about the food market; being able to see them make the food in front of us. And I guess that’s how we know what is made right in front of us.
Yes, it was actually really good! Yuntiha got pork inside, which was actually ham (I was expecting real chunks of pork or something). The ham actually made it a little too salty for me. And that was the last thing we got at the 626 Night Market before finally decided to head out. We were there for 3.5 hours, ate a lot, drank a lot, and actually did a little bit of shopping as well.
More Food Then We Can Eat
And here are a few more pictures of things I didn’t actually eat, but looked so good!
We then headed to Din Tai Fung just a few minutes away for more food. I was ready to sit down properly somewhere and eat. The eat as you go thing at the 626 Night Market was fun but I wanted a proper meal. The 626 Night Market is going to be September 4-6, 2015 (Labor Day Weekend). I would go again if I could, but I’ll be in the air flying out for my next vacation.
626 Night Market
Santa Anita Park
285 W. Huntington Drive
Arcadia, CA 91007