Have you ever felt hungry during the late night while every restaurant is closed hours ago? Do you miss the street food in the night market at your hometown? You definitely should check 626 Night Market in Southern California with your friends. Finding a place to eat during the mid-night is never a problem for most Asians because of Asia’s night market culture. Most overseas Chinese and other Asian students, including myself, see night markets, which normally operate until midnight, as an essential part of nightlife activities. I remembered how frustrated I was when I found that most of the restaurants and stores in the U.S close after dinnertime or earlier. However, you will never have to worry about the nightlife here since many Asian-themed night markets are successfully held in Southern California in recent years and it is getting bigger and bigger each year.
Located at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, 626 Night Market is the first and the biggest one in the area. The large-scale night market, modeled after Asian bazzars are held monthly on the weekend during the summer each year. Hours are 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Admission for adult is $3 with free parking. Children under 6 are free. The night market consists of hundreds of food stands, carft and retail vendors, games and show stages. It is totally a family-friendly activity. People can not only find foods but also watch live performances of local musicians and play games at the market.
Speaking of food, one thing I really like about 626 is the great variety of food choices. There are tons of different boba tea vendors, Chinese steamed buns, Korean grill, Hawaiian lobster rolls and many other famous street food from various places. In addition, it is always interesting to discover some new creation in the market. This summer, the buzz is around Ramen burgers from The Original, Boba lemonades with light up ice cubes from Main Squeeze and Potted Plant Ice Cream from Ice Cream Garden. The combination of ramen and burger is not as weird as I thought. The ramen-made buns are unique and chewy. However, it is a little pricey for its size. The Potted Plant Ice Cream is surely a sweet and cute dessert for girls. I am totally amazed at its taste and decoration.
For those who crave hometown food, you will find tons of vendors from Asia that you are familiar with. I personally recommend the BBQ squid, Stinky To-Fu from Green Cube Tofu and the grill from Beijing Tasty House. The food at the market is pretty authentic and original. Although it only operates through summer weekends, it is a great place for those Asian students who miss hanging out with friends at night markets.
If you want to avoid the long wait in the night market, you can go to the OC Night Market. The founders of 626 Night Market launch another night market at Orange County. The admission of the OC night market is a little higher than 626. The OC night market is not as crowded as the 626 Night Market. (At least, not yet…) For those who do not have cars or do not drive at all (like me in the first month in the states), Ktown Market might be another choice for Asian street food. Launched in 2014 April, the Ktown Night market is located in the heart of Koreatown. The Market is pretty close to the Metro Station: Wilshire/ Normandie. With thousands of attendees flushed to the market last spring, the Ktown Night Market will be sure to come back next year! Are you ready for a night market tour in Southern California? Don’t forget to bring enough cash with you!