Blowing the Summer Night Market wide open, sorta

Otherwise known as our first visit of 2011 to the night market in Richmond.

The Summer Night Market (夏日 夜市) in Richmond opened over Victoria Day long weekend back in May but we did not get around to going until two weekends later. By then, Mijune/FollowMeFoodie had already blogged her Food Vendor Reveal which definitely guided us for what to eat on our first visit this summer. Otherwise, you know, NPY tends towards the Cantonese dim sum we know and he loves… and I’m quite bored of.

Knowing what might lay ahead from the blog preview, we walked through nearly all the stalls before coming across the Vietnamese stand serving shrimp toast. Although you get a better deal if you buy two, I bought 1 for $3 for our first nibble to share. The bread with a thin batter was fried and the shrimp was nice and crunchy, properly cooked. Hoisin sauce is drizzled over top and it lent a nice sweet dimension.

We then wandered through all the stalls again to look for the butter chicken poutine stall which turned out to be a bus/stand just outside the main food area, next to the deep-fried desserts bus. We waited about five minutes for the plate of butter chicken-topped fries. And I would say I did not appreciate the judgmental tone a girl teased her friend, the customer before us, calling this dish a “heart attack in a meal”. NPY and I shared this and then I was done for food for the evening. The fries pleasantly reminded me of spud trucks (like Bud the Spud in Halifax of past days). The poutine was generously topped with cilantro (grrr) and ample pieces of butter chicken, the plate costing $7. The butter chicken was very mild and quite creamy, delicious and adequate amount of sauce for the fries.

Finally, we hit up the new Mango Yummy stand where I tried to order the Fresh Mango Sago dessert with mango, coconut milk, grapefruit, and sago. But they had run out of grapefruit and made me what may have been the Fresh Mango Tapioca drink for $4.50, the preparation of which I observed carefully: shaved ice, tapioca, coconut milk, syrup, mango chunks, evaporated milk. I did not anticipate it but it turned out to be a perfect consistency to drink and NPY and I enjoyed it immensely. (Similarily, I think his favourite discovery in Hong Kong was the 許留山 mango dessert and drinks chain!)

Somehow, NPY was not full and he also got a lotus leaf-wrapped rice for $4.50. Next time, I want to try the Filipino congee, which would be quite the different flavour!

Since we hit the food stands directly first, we walked around with full stomachs, casting wary eyes on the stands peddling the usual wares: cell phone accessories, Korean socks (6 for $10 was the best deal, not sure about the selection), Asian DVDs, etc. DJ was fooling around with what looked like a bouquet and on closer inspection, the stand sold bouquets of mini stuffed animals. That’s so Asian and kawaii!

Image from dealextreme.com

Our last stop was at a most brightly lit stand selling plant “crystals”, gelationous spheres that arise from soaking millimeter-diameter beads in water for 8 hours, drained, then used in the place of water for plants such as bamboo. In principle, the spheres release the water (and some nutrients) in a controlled manner and the beads can be re-soaked for reuse for at least two years. The stand was selling one pack for $3 and you could choose from tens of colours, with deals on the price if you purchased more than one pack.

Although we have learned about Deal Extreme for ultra-cheap cell phone accessories, I wasn’t entirely surprised to find they also sell Color Nutrient and Moisturizing Crystal Magic Soil–Hydroponic (5-pack), as they are correctly known. Ordered in bulk, a 5-pack costs just $1.14 (or $0.23 per pack) so the vendors priced them at a 1,200% mark-up?! I think those entrepreneurs are onto something….

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