The first 626 Night Market was a victim of its own, unanticipated success. Taiwanese-American organizers Jonny and Janet Hwang struggled to get enough vendors to commit even after lowering fees to the point that they expected to lose money. The Facebook page had about 2,000 fans a couple of weeks before its debut but FB fans are a notoriously flaky bunch – or is that just when I’m hosting something?
By some estimates, when the night market actually took place, some 10,000 people descended on a single, long block of North Oakland in Old Town. It was honestly a bit scary being swept along by the crowd without any control and a little amazing. My roommate’s phone disappeared and we weren’t even able to approach most of the food vendors to even see what was available — forced to accept the sugary toast sold nearest to the entrance. Several friends I expected to meet gave up — several opting to go to Arcadia to satisfy their Taiwanese jones. My roommate and I barely escaped and went to Lucky Baldwin’s. They, along with other businesses in the vicinity, were probably among the few who enjoyed the windfall that resulted from what was quickly nicknamed the “626 Nightmare Market” — or maybe that was just me.
The night market in Yilan — notice breathing room and smiles
For those unfamiliar with night markets (I overheard someone at a neighboring table explaining that there was “some kind of Asian fest” taking place) are nighttime bazaars where people do a little shopping as they aimlessly ramble and eat street food. They’re especially popular in China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Macau, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand. I’ve been to them in Haulien, Taipei, Taitung, Yilan and Pasadena and in my experience eating and strolling are the primary focus except the first Pasadena, where not getting trampled or crushed was.
Empty lounge in Monterey Park — everyone’s eating
suffocating at the first 626 Night Market — no smiles
Although a writer for the LA Weekly described the first 626 Night Market as “Southern California’s first Asian night market,” there have been at least two earlier examples. Monterey Park hosted a small night market back in 2004 that occurred on Saturdays in the summer for a couple of years before disappearing. Santa Monica apparently had a one-off Malaysian night market in 2010. (Update: As of 2014 there’s also the KTown Night Market in Koreatown, the Little Saigon Night Market in Little Saigon, the OC Night Market in Costa Mesa.)
For the returning 626 Night Market, the location has been moved to Centennial Square, in Pasadena’s Civic Center District (100 N. Garfield Ave, Pasadena). Thankfully, it will this time be allotted more than 4 ½ acres (18,580 square meters) — about six blocks. It will take place from 4:00 pm – 11:30 pm and for all you people who hate looking for parking, the Gold Line’s Memorial Park Station is located within the area covered by the night market.
Unable to get any closer to the food
And for those that complained that there weren’t enough vendors at the last 626 Night Market (how do they even know? I couldn’t even get to most of them), this one has the following (including three times as many food vendors as last time): 626 Movemeant, 8 Ate 8’s K BBQ, AFC Soy Foods, AK Lashes, ANP Design, AU79, Addicted to Phones, Akbar Cuisine of India, Alltronics, A-sha Dry Noodle, Asians for Miracle Marrow Matches, Astro’s Donuts, Aunty Merry, Bao Style, Beatnixx, Beyond the Olice, Black Persimmon, Bling Bling Dumpling, Boba Avenue, Bowls LA, Bowtique Envy, Crepe ‘N Around, Cafe 18, Cal Fresh Vikon, California Museum of Art, Cannan Restaurant, Cha Cafe, Chala Handbags, Chare’s Import, Charmy Charmy, Chines & Korean BBQ, Christina Liu, Comien Silk, Covina Tasty, Creative Twist, Creme Carmel LA, Dr. Cellular, Dragon Whiskers Candy, Evike, EWC Group, Eddie B Games, Fighting Fish, Flour + Tea, Fluff Ice, Fresh Roast, Fruit King Juice, GG_Infinite, Ginger Bread Man’s Asian Roots, Gippentarp, Green Cube Gourmet, Green Cube Tofu, Grilled Cheese Truck, Haven Gastropub, Heo Cuisine, Hollywood Fodder, House of Bonz, Indonesia Satay, It’s a Snap!, J Noodle House, JHL Style, Java Cafe, Jessica, Juba, Kawaii Foods, Kebab Brothers, Komodo Food Truck, Korean Contacts, Las 3 Hermanas, Leapfrog, Lee’s BBQ, Liang’s Kitchen, Little Rain, Lobsta Truck, Lotus Circles, Lucky Bamboo Garden, Mama Go’s Fil-Cuisine, Mama Masubi, Mandoline, Michelle Lee, Mighty Boba Truck, Miniemall, Momochai, Molla Space, Moni Moni, Ninja Sox, OMG Blings, Offal Laffo, Optic Remix, Oscar Enterprise Company, Overseas Commercial Group, Ozero, Papa Lee, Pasta Joe, Patricia Huang, Peppers Thai, Pet Lover Cafe, Phuonghang, Pie n Burger, Q-Zone, R2 – Ray Rays, Raw Cane Super Juice, Ready Artwork, Rock n’ Roll, Rocxten, Roll Up, Savana Electronics, Sculpster, Seoul Sausage, Shaosi Ye Valdez, Shinano, Silver Panda, Slammin’ Sliders, Solpoint Services, Soyumi, Spices n’ Rice, Store13, Supreme Vege Cuisine, T-Square International, Takken, Takoyaki Tanota, Tan San, Tangy Choices, Tarami Patisserie, Taxco, Tea Bar Starry, Tealicious, Ten Ren’s Tea Time, The Boat Restaurant, The Candy Chef, Ton Ten Ko, Unfindings, Underestimate, V & R Thai-Chinese Food, Wok Master, Yiming Ou, Yirin Grill, Yogurtland, Zummy Road, Zarlito’s Family Kitchen, and Zeta Epsilon Tau.
See you there and bring your appetite!
Eric Brightwell is an adventurer, writer, rambler, explorer, cartographer, and guerrilla gardener who is always seeking writing, speaking, traveling, and art opportunities — or salaried work. He is not interested in writing advertorials, clickbait, listicles, or other 21st century variations of spam. Brightwell’s written work has appeared in Amoeblog, diaCRITICS, and KCET Departures. His work has been featured by the American Institute of Architects, the Architecture & Design Museum, the Craft & Folk Art Museum, Form Follows Function, Los Angeles County Store, Skid Row Housing Trust, and 1650 Gallery. Brightwell has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, Los Angeles Magazine, LAist, Eastsider LA, Boing Boing, Los Angeles, I’m Yours, and on Notebook on Cities and Culture. He has been a guest speaker on KCRW‘s Which Way, LA? and at Emerson College. Art prints of his maps are available from 1650 Gallery and on other products from Cal31. He is currently writing a book about Los Angeles and you can follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
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