Summer Night Market, Richmond, B.C.The Night Market in Richmond, B.C. is a huge summer weekend event. Modelled after Asian markets where people can socialize and eat, eat, eat, this place is packed from the moment it opens at 7 p.m. til closing. It just shows there’s a big appetite for late-night destinations in North America.

The market has gotten even more popular since I last blogged about it in 2009.

Xin Jiang Man BBQ is one of the original booths and always has a huge lineup. They cook up Xinjiang-style skewers, mostly meat with a slightly spicy dry rub. I give them props for an orderly setup. The cashiers have microphone headsets to tell people where to order, and to call out numbers when the skewers are ready (3 for $6.75 or 5 for $11).

There are other, cheaper skewer booths. But there’s a loyalty that draws me back here. Just make sure you stand away from the giant fans blowing the thick smoke away from the grills.

The Taiwanese hot dog ($5) was one of our new discoveries this year. Look for the booth called Taiwaness chicken nugget. It’s a Taiwanese pork sausage (sweeter than your standard dog) on a “bun” made up of grilled sticky rice. I loved this!

We thought we’d be adventurous and stray from the usual booths with the long lineups. Which brought us to Yummy Yummy and a peculiar sign for cheese chicken leg ($3). The lady said it was fried chicken with cream cheese. It turned out to be blandly battered topped with cream cheese squeezed out of a bottle. It was far from yummy yummy. There’s a reason there was no lineup here.

Having learned our lesson, we waded back into the lines.

It was amazing to watch how efficient the assembly line was making takoyaki (6 for $5), a kind of Japanese dumpling filled with octopus, tempura bits, green onion and pickled ginger. But they worked a tad too fast as the middle of our takoyaki was undercooked.

Summer Night Market, Richmond, B.C.

Summer Night Market, Richmond, B.C.

There are a few booths that offer BBQ squid. I like the one with the green sign, on the same side as Xin Jiang Man. You get a huge portion for $6. Ask for a take-out so you get a container that has a lid so you can take leftovers home.

I always see people eating these potato spirals on a stick called hurricane potatoes. I caved to peer pressure this time and tried one. Not bad, mainly because of the drizzle of Korean spice on it. Note: don’t carry one home for your mom who is graciously babysitting. It’s soggy, cold and gross by the time you get there.

A few different booths (mostly next to each other) make hurricane potatoes. I picked the one that also makes Korean fish waffles ($1 each or 6 for $5). These are filled with red bean, custard or Nutella. It’s my kind of dessert.

A note on parking: there’s a huge lot for $5 but it fills up fast. Exiting the lot can also take a lot of patience due to gridlock. People sell spots in parking lots on the way to the market, but then you have to walk quite a ways in. If you’re going to walk, might as well consider public transit.

Summer Night Market, Richmond, B.C.

Summer Night Market, 12631 Vulcan Way (behind Home Depot on Sweden Way), Richmond, B.C.
Open June-August 2011, Friday to Saturday 7 p.m.-1 a.m., Sunday 7 p.m.-midnight. Sept. 1-18, 2011 Friday to Saturday 7 p.m.-midnight, Sunday 7-11 p.m.

Baby notes
Very family friendly but be careful with babies, young kids who can get quite squished in the thick crowd even if you have a stroller. Carrier might be best option if you’re bringing a baby.