A visit to the night market is always on my summer bucket list. This year, I went with Tray, Addy and Kevin. There are a couple of night markets opened every summer in Greater Vancouver, including two located in Richmond- the one I’m featuring today, the Richmond Night Market (aka Lolliduck’s Adventure) and the International Night Market (panda mascot). So far, I’ve only been to this one, but I plan on going to the International Night Market later as well. (:
The Richmond Night Market is an annual summer festival, offering entertainment, merchandise and of course, food. It’s opened at night (pft, obviously) on the weekend, from Friday to Sunday. It starts at 7pm and ends at 12am for Friday and Saturday, and closes a bit earlier at 11pm for Sunday and statutory holiday. I suggest planning to arrive right at 7 because the crowd gets pretty insane.
The Richmond Night Market is a convenient 10-minute walk away from the Canada Line Bridgeport skytrain station, so I would highly recommend taking transit rather than driving. Oh I remember those hectic times trying to find parking with my family during previous years….
This night market is probably the most popular one around, and therefore, the prices have increased throughout the years. However, they do have the most retail and food vendors, as well as awesome stage performances. Admission used to be $2 or so, but this year, it was $2.75 per person. (Children 10 & under and seniors 60 & up have free admission.) They used to also offer a deal for large groups, but that seemed to be missing this year. Instead, you could purchase a zoom pass for $20, which allows for express entrance for 7 people, along with a coupon book. If you do the math, yes it is actually more expensive, coming down to $2.86 per person.. but for 10 cents more you can cut through the huuuuuuge line (I’m not even kidding), I say it’s not bad of a deal. 😛
The thickness of the coupon book was deceiving, because you have to purchase quite a lot in order to receive discounts. Unless you want to fill up with food from just one vendor, there really isn’t much good to it haha. We ended up using only two out of the entire selection of coupons. xD
When we go to the night market, we pretty much ignore the merchandise stalls because honestly.. you can find much better deals elsewhere. I guess the same applies the food, which tend to be priced higher, but hey, food just tastes so much better in this sort of atmosphere! (;
Our strategy was just walking through the aisles and picking our “staples”, then going back to try out cool new things that we have the stomach for.. A night market favourite is the BBQ squid, which we picked up at The Squid Co.
You can select from 5 different flavours- garlic lover, signature, hot & spice, curry and satay magic– in 3 sizes. We ordered a small cup of The Signature ($7.25).
The squid was grilled perfectly, with a toothsome, chewy texture. The sauce used is reminiscent of a teriyaki sauce, which we found a bit too sweet. (3.5/5)
Passing by the Japanese Grilled Rice Ball stall, Addy was quite amused by the concept of fried onigiri. We decided to get two to try out, and we were able to use a coupon from the coupon book by doing so. I can’t remember how much we saved exactly, but it was just a dollar or two.
Onigiri is a common Japanese dish, and it’s essentially a rice ball filled with different ingredients then formed into a triangular shape. In contrast to sushi, the rice in onigiri is only lightly salted, whereas sushi rice is seasoned with salt, sugar and vinegar.
Addy chowed down a pan-fried Bacon Wrapped Onigiri ($6.50), while the rest of us shared a deep fried Pork Floss Onigiri ($5.95). These were both served with a sheet of nori (seaweed), Japanese mayonnaise, more nori on top, and a slice of American cheese for the pork floss one. At first I was just being stupid and nibbling off pieces of the seaweed, but we learned later on that it’s meant to be wrapped around the fried onigiri, like you would with the traditional onigiri.
We were disappointed with these, because there were very little substance. Without the little bit of toppings, which was mostly mayonnaise, it’s essentially a dough of rice fried. We expected some fillings corresponding to our flavours, but it was completely plain on the inside. They also seemed to be pre-made because we received our order the instance we paid. (2/5)
Next up, we went to Big G Large Fried Chicken. While they served other deep fried goodies like chicken strips, fish cake and mushrooms, the must-get from here is obviously their Large Fried Chicken ($9).
This thing was surely gigantic! Probably the size of my face. Although we discovered that the bottom half were all bones, the four of us still couldn’t finish this. This came out piping hot and straight from the deep fryer, so it was golden and crispy. The chicken was well-done too, very succulent. The downside is that the outside was overly salty, which took away from how juicy and delicious the meat was as we got so thirsty and desperate for water. Towards the end, we just skinned off the fried batter and ate the chicken. (3.5/5)
The Rotato is probably the most iconic item in the night market, with the line trailing on and on.. There were 8 flavours to choose from- salt & vinegar, roast garlic & pepper, cheddar cheese, BBQ, sour cream & onion, honey mustard, hot & spicy and ketchup– and we chose 3 to share among the 4 of us. This year, they also offer a chance to sit on the “Rotato throne” and take a picture if you purchase 2 or more skewers. We took one but I think I’ll be serious trouble if I were to post that. 😛
Rotatos are also known as hurricane potatoes, and I like to think of them as a skewer of spiralized potato, interconnected “chips”. (Okay, that probably made zero sense.) With all the flavours, we noticed that most of the seasoning fell to the bottom, making the the top very plain and the rest increasingly and overwhelmingly flavourful.
BBQ (right)- If we could only use one adjective to describe this. It would be salty. Very, very, intolerably salty, from the top to bottom. Now, I eat a lot of wholesome foods and you may not trust my taste buds, but my comrades are typical Canadian teenagers and they too, thought this was too salty. (2/5)
Ketchup (center)- This was the least flavourful out of the 3.. the first half was totally plain, but the ketchup seasoning began to kick in towards the middle. It tasted slightly sweet and tangy, as you would expect in a bag of ketchup chips. Strangely, the pieces here were thicker than the other 2 skewers, and it felt like we were eating plain potatoes for a while. (3/5)
Cheddar (left)- I’m a huge hater of fake cheese, but this was surprisingly my favourite out of the three. The cheese flavour was present, but not overpowering, and it was the also the crispiest! (4/5)
After all the deep fried salty food, we were parched. While Tray and I were totally prepared with the bottle of water we brought, the guys searched for something to drink. Our choices were limited to bubble tea, icy, and really cool colourful drinks with lights and dry ice. Of course we went for the third option. (;
Virgin Cocktail got a lot of attention with their unique drinks. Check out this one smoking with dry ice. There is an additional cost for dry ice/ light though, so in the end, we just went for the drink itself.
We ordered Blue Hawaii, which is a pineapple and orange “cocktail”. As pretty as the drink looks with the green to blue gradient, the taste was mediocre. It honestly tasted like diluted orange juice, with very little hint of pineapple.. (2/5)
By then, we were feeling kinda full, but I insisted we get some dessert because we all have a second stomach for desserts right? It was starting to get chilly, so I had a craving for something warm and cozy. I didn’t see any place selling “sweet soups” (糖水) though, in fact,it was mostly shaved ice and ice cream.
The Taiyaki caught my eye, when I had the strange sudden realization that I never actually tried one before. O_O Not that I remember of.. Here, you can get taiyakis of different fillings- red beans, custard, chocolate and nutella.
Taiyakis are Japanese fish-shaped cakes cooked in a waffle iron, and they are traditionally stuffed with a red bean paste.
We picked the red bean taiyaki ($3.50), which was made right in front of our eyes. This was absolutely scrumptious! Crispy on the outside, but pillowy, soft and fluffy on the inside, with bits of melty, sweet, red bean goodness. Definitely satisfied my sweet tooth. (4.5/5)
The night market was a lot of fun, and we finished off the trip enjoying some awesome songs and dances on the stage. We browsed around the game section too, but felt incompetent to risk using up our dollars ahaha.. Anyways, I’d recommend you to go to the night market at least once in the summer, especially if you’ve never been! Tons of yummy, Asian street food are waiting for you there.
As always, thanks for reading this post! Hope you’re all having a fabulous summer vacay~