Hey, the Summer Night Market in Richmond was ranked by Travel+Leisure as one of the world’s top night markets!
After our initial visit to the Summer Night Market on June 4, we returned two more times on July 17 and 31. Each time I endeavoured to try different stalls since none of them would be all that bad. I just wanted to avoid the really standard fried noodles, dim sum dumplings, satay skewers, takoyaki balls, and curry fish balls, you know… So here is what we have tried this year.
I noticed that the stall selling Filipino congee had a new sign overlaying their old one by our third visit, selling more BBQ-based Filipino fare. So I’m glad I got to try their congee on our second visit while others might think that it was a lost cause, an unsuccessful dish. Night market food stalls have the luxury to turn around and change their menu within a week so long as they get a new sign, or modify the existing one.
The congee looked really savoury with a lot of ingredients floating around. But I found it quite salty and there was a lot of black pepper and thick slices of ginger. The chicken came on the bone which would be fine but they were all ugly rib cuts with sharp bones. Two rubbery quail eggs were also in the bowl. Considering we were eating a lot of fried and greasy treats, congee–even salty–was a nice reprieve and not toooo bad for $4.
At our first visit, Bert visited his friend at the mushroom stand. After a pretty long delay, he brought back white mushroom caps stuffed with some creamy filling. I did not try any but vowed to try the stand’s deep-fried enoki our next visit.
It was the longest wait ever and for very little meaning. I felt really bad for the operation. A friend of theirs walked up and lamented that the mushroom caps were no longer offered and one of the proprietors explained that it wasn’t working out, taking too long, profit margin too small. Meanwhile, I was observing their attempt to prepare portobello caps as they are ordered. I waited for over ten minutes before the proprietor could take his attention away from a handful of portobellos (one of which he screwed up, pouring in the wrong sauce). Their ordering system was just by mouth and they had to devote too much attention per dish which divides the labour and slows down turnover. Although the enoki was the only menu item they fried, it took an aggravatingly long time to make my order in their pathetic little deep-fryer. Fortunately, I may have ended up with a full order instead of the half one I asked for.
It was a little unwieldy to eat, having to tug at the base that was fused together to rip it apart with your fingers. The batter and frying completely overshadowed the enoki which, I can’t tell which, is either a flaw in the ingredients or the entire idea.
Oh, I do dream of that crepe I had once at Aberdeen Centre–it had strawberry, ice cream, whipped cream, and chocolate sauce. But sometimes when I’m down there, it is after some big meal and as much as I want a taste of it again, I haven’t.
So it seems negligible to get a crepe from the night market from one of several Japanese crepe stands. Except when we received the product, it was didn’t really seem worth it ($5). I watched the preparation where the crepe was laid out on a flat surface and a paltry 1/5 was thinly covered with Nutella, vanilla ice cream, a layer of sliced strawberries, whipped cream, and a drizzle of chocolate sauce. As a result, the ratio of crepe-to-ingredients was a little off, too much crepe.
I did not notice the stand named Who’s Your Daddy until our third visit so I’m tending to believe that it started up in between visits and not that I had missed it the last time. Their banner did not quite indicate what they sold but did advertise their flavours. Flavours of what? Mini cream puffs!
It was the durian flavour cream puff that drew me in. NPY was not along for the ride knowing already how it smelled and having an idea of how it would taste. I convinced him I would get an assortment of flavours. I didn’t want a half dozen of durian cream puffs!
It turns out they don’t have “normal” flavours like vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry but the other flavours–mango, matcha, black sesame, and coconut–were fairly attractive to us. At the time I ordered, they were offering an “Early Closing” special, just $0.75 each cream puff but you had to order at least four. Later, they had a closing special for just $0.50 each but you had to order minimum six! Coconut was sold out so I got one each of durian, mango, matcha, and black sesame.
I watched the “chef” in a starch white uniform pull a bag of puffs from a portable freezer and pop them into a toaster oven to warm up. He sliced them open with a paring knife and piped in the flavoured custard filling from icing bags that sat on ice.
This marked pretty much my first taste of durian (that I can remember) and it was not that vile. It was a touch stinky and just reminds me of the weirdness of Chinese/Asian food! NPY popped the whole mango puff in his mouth to chase away the bite of durian custard he had. I thought the matcha flavour was way too strong, to the point of tasting bitter. Finally, the black sesame was just okay, not quite sweetened enough.
Shaved ice is another one of those Chinese (more accurately, Taiwanese) treats that I marvel at. It’s ice! But shaved, it miraculously has this dessert-appropriate texture. I have not always appreciated it and it only really started this summer when we started to visit the new Mango Yummy stand every time!
This time, NPY spied a treat served in a bowl with a scoop of ice cream in the middle and we sought it out. Mango Yummy offered this dessert but so did a nearby dessert stand with the same stock photo and we went to the other stand (both were charging the same).
The dish is prepared with a bed of shaved ice topped with a ring of mango chunks, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, mango syrup and condensed milk. The syrup seeps into the ice flavouring it so bites of ice were tasty. We had been getting a mango drink so far with the same ingredients (less the ice cream) and, provided with a straw, it disappeared too fast. In the case of this dish, we had to spend time to savour it.