Welcome to Your Night Market

Smoke rising from grills of the most inviting aromas, stark spotlights strategically placed on various signs advertising both familiar and novel items, and crowds gathering around their favorite stand, skewers and paper trays of food in hand.

“Welcome to your night market.”

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This past weekend, 626 Night Market held their 2nd flagship event at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia. 626 is a weekend affair that revolves around empowering local businesses, nurturing local talents, and celebrating Asian culture through food. The largest of its kind, the night market showcased over 200 vendors, featured live entertainment and art from local artists, and even held a cosplay contest on the last night.

Admission into the market is $3 with children six and under getting in for free. Free parking is also provided. The real price, however, comes later with the overwhelming assortment of food and merchandise. Walking around 626 feels like being in a lively nighttime bazaar with music and energy pulsating throughout.

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Some of the longer lines at 626 were for Keizo Shimamoto’s ramen burgers and Lucky Ball’s rice bowls and BBQ pork, beef, and chicken skewers. In some cases, lines would block the walkway and it can become difficult to navigate your way past. It is recommended to come earlier to avoid long lines and crowds.

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Other than this, the night market was very well-organized in terms of separating the food from the retail and craft vendors. The night market is organized into six zones: A-C for retail and craft vendors, the art walk, and the main entertainment stage and D-F for food vendors. Food trucks, like The Great Food Truck Race winners The Middle Feast, are interspersed throughout the market. The event’s website offers a helpful directory of the vendors and where they are located exactly. Although there is an excellent variety of options, prior research into the vendors may help you avoid mindlessly wandering around the market on an empty stomach.

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As a certified lover of all things crab and garlic, I tried Rakken’s garlic crab fries ($10) while my friend had her heart set on a pair of filet mignon tacos ($8). The crab was finely chopped and the fries came with an excellent tartar-like sauce. My friend, who eats tacos habitually, described the tacos as “unlike anything she’s ever tasted before.”

After quickly scarfing down our main course, we decided on Quenelle’s funnel cake ice cream sandwich ($6). Ice cream (strawberries and cream or cookie butter oreo) is sandwiched between two freshly-fried funnel cake buns. To avoid maximum meltage, consume quickly. I ended the night with a refreshing watermelon slush ($4; $7 with mason jar) from the Watermelon Slush Stand, while my friend ordered a Lychee Butterfly Pea Tea ($5) from Popdup, the Urban Sweet Bar.

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Whether you go for your established favorites like milk tea boba or venture something new like Oko Cafe’s bamboo charcoal KURO burger, 626 Night Market is guaranteed to provide your next culinary adventure. See you there, Labor Day Weekend, September 4-6, 4pm-1am.

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