Night Market

 

 

 

As a fan of markets, street food and Things I've Never Eaten Before, the Richmond Night Market looked set to be my perfect night out. From downtown Vancouver, take the Canada Line to Bridgehouse,  then followed the crowds past the Casino, across the gravel trail and car park to the market entrance. I was a little miffed you have to pay to get in - OK, it was only a couple of dollars - but still, it's a market, you shouldn't have to pay to get in. However, once inside, I lost my pout;  exotic food stands, intoxicating smells, crowds of chewing, slurping, licking and chomping happy people everywhere - I was in heaven.

 

With around 80 stands to choose from, you probably need to pace yourself. Or, do as I did and take a limited amount of cash as it's a card-free zone. First stop, the 'Rotato' Hurricane Fries stand where a queue was already forming. It's a potato sliced in a spiral and fried - crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside - choose your powdered flavouring and you're good to go. I went with tangy garlic and black pepper.

 

Curried fish balls that tasted like super-hot spherical scallops were next, washed down with Almond milky bubble tea with tapioca pearls and chewy coconut jelly floating inside. Meat on sticks at the Le Tigre stall, whose beef skewers went down a treat. Then something sweet, at Dragon's Beard Candy, a stall which makes pulled-sugar strand sweets as you wait. It's a fascinating process to watch, rock sugar is heated by a lamp and pulled into wisps; kind of like an Asian take on candy floss. Peanuts and coconut are tossed inside the sugary nest and then it's all folded neatly into a square. You get six in a box and and it's like a candy flossed Pad Thai. Sweet tofu pudding followed (like a hot, gloopy custard) and then back to savoury with popcorn chicken and huge steamed pork buns.

 

By now the sun had long set; fairy lights twinkled and the bright lights over the stalls' burners cast long shadows on the rough ground. Planes flew low overhead coming in to land at the nearby Vancouver airport and fragrant steam and smoke billowed from woks. And then it happened;  I was trying to decide whether it was anatomically possible to cram any more food in**, when the novelty hit of the summer cranked up on the PA system; Gangnam Style. There was a brief and beautifully-absurd cinematic moment, all around people beamed sheepishly at each other and then got busy with the crazy lasso/pony riding move anyway. An audible chorus of "Ehhh, sexy lady" swept the market. I loved it! Just 10 minutes away from a major North American city and I could have been in downtown Seoul. That's the magic of a good night market. And, yes, possibly the result of far too much salt, sugar and MSG.

 

** Er no, it wasn't.