Richmond Night Market
We first visited on the opening weekend and traffic to Richmond Night Market was long. I would suggest, just stick with it and follow the signs. You'll be led to the gravel dirt parking lot and there are plenty of spots. The line to enter the market was also super long and considering we were only here for the night, we didn't want to waste time in line so we bought the $25 pass that allows up to 7 different entries. So if you had seven people in your group, you can buy this and you can all enter together at the same time. Just split the cost of $25 and you basically save $1.25 and a lot of waiting! The faster you get in, the more food you'll eat! DUH! We've gone twice more since then and our pass has paid itself off and more because once you complete one, they give you a coupon book. It had deals like buy 6 get one free skewer from It's All About Grill!
We already had a few things we definitely wanted to try so our plan of action was to start walking. When we see the first stall we want to try, we line up immediately! Walk around while eating and then hit up the next one on our list. It kind of worked except we got full pretty fast or we'd eat too slow to start on the next stall. Eventually, you learn to just walk around the whole thing first, go back to the first stand you want and go from there.
1. Sweet & Spicy Japanese Fried Chicken: The line to order was short but the line to wait was very long. We were given numbers for our orders and we waited for maybe 5 minutes. We ordered the Regular size which was 7 pcs, big mistake as the pieces were huge! They were still piping hot when we took our first bite so needless to say, we burned the roof of our mouths. Fried Chicken was battered, not crispy at all. Maybe some of the pieces untouched the sauce still had some crunch left to eat but the sweet and spicy sauce made them feel soft. The chicken itself was tender and juicy and it also tasted like it was marinated in something. I'd eat this with rice but I probably wouldn't line up for it again.
2. Korean Fusion Style Flame Seared Pork Belly: The line to order was super short but the waiting game was long. The lucky part was that the numbers before us weren't showing up when called so they'd skip them and we were able to get our order before them since we were waiting. We maybe only waited 5 minutes for our order. We got the Garlic sauce Pork Belly but the sauce tasted more like garlic miso. The sauce was good and the pork belly was tender. It was like eating charsiu pork but not as saucy. All of them came with kimchi so it was a nice way to cut through the fatiness. This was basically Korean bbq pork belly on a tray with kimchi. I'd eat it with some lettuce leaves and more kimchi. Lining up for this one would be depending on the wait and I'd try the spicy sauce next time!
3. Portobello Mushroom: Russel's love for all things mushroom led him to this stall. There was no line or wait at all but cooking the mushroom took a while. He ordered the Meat Sauce Flavor and it was basically a grilled Portobello Mushroom Cap, topped with ground meat cooked like Filipino spaghetti sauce, and then covered in melting American Cheese. I only had a taste of the ground meat and mushroom and it was good but according to Russel, he probably won't line up for this one again as he was expecting better cheese used!
4. Michelin Bubble Waffles: This was one of the Top Ten Visitor's choices so it had to be good. The line to order and the wait wasn't too bad since I was still eating our Pork Belly anyway. I ordered the Seaweed and Pork Wool because a savory Egg Waffle intrigued me! I really liked the flavor combination and the size was pretty good. It was hefty and heavy in the paper bag. I'm a little disappointed that it was still super soft but I'm not gonna not line up again because of that. I'd probably get the exact same order next time because I appreciated the savory aspect of it and I just love eating an Egg Waffle piece by piece! Careful though because it's pretty hot when they give it to you!
5. Lobster Ball Skewers: The line to order and wait for this was very minimal. The grill had a lot of squid grilling on it so most of the orders were waiting for that. Russel asked for the Lobster Balls and they basically grilled them too while brushing some kind of sauce. It was very smoky there and I think that helped attract visitors to order from their stand. It smelled pretty good. I didn't try this one at all but according to Russel, he said they were good. The taste was good but the texture wasn't what he hoped them to be. The vegetables in-between helped add flavor to the skewer and he felt like he was in an Asian night market while eating. He said he'd go back to order it again.
6. Dragon's Beard Candy: There was easily no line or wait for this stall since most of the candy are pre-packaged already. You can walk up to watch them make it though and it really looked like they shaved off a long white beard from this dude, separated and fluffed up in that container, and then wrapped it around a pile of peanuts. I bought one package out of curiosity but saved it for much, much later to eat. After eating it though, I don't care to buy it again. It was super dry and the only taste is the peanuts. This dragon's beard needs some flavor!
7. Rotato: Everyone knows a rotato by now and this stand has been in the same spot for as long as we've been visiting the night market. Ordering didn't take that long but long enough for me to take a picture of their famous poster. I ordered the Ketchup flavor while Russel had the Curry flavor. We ordered the combo since we needed something to drink with all the eating we've been doing and got our number: #177. We walked up to the other side of the stall and there was this huge crowd of people just waiting for their number to be called. There was a poster that pointed with arrows to pick up their order. This time though, the rotato felt like they were cut a little thicker. It was still good and the crispy bits in-between the slices on the stick were the best parts.
8. Hand Made Senbei: This stall took us by surprise as we didn't see it on the Top Charts or saw a lot of people eating it until we started walking towards it. There was no wait for this one at all and looking at the display of the cracker, I was very curious about what it tasted like. I ordered the Deluxe since it contained all of the seafood and nori but I didn't realize it was going to be huge. The lady kept referring to my order when people asked what it was and now know why because mine was HUMONGOUS! It was about 11x14 inches, and thickness of a cardboard paper. They pressed that fresh squid and shrimp into it real good but you could still see the pieces clearly. At first bite, my first thought was this was very dry. Then I started chewing into the saltiness of the seafood, tasted a bit of the nori, and then it was good! I walked around the market with this and people passing by would ask if it was food. I stood still at some point while waiting for Russel to order something else and multiple people would walk up to me, stand next to me, and ask what I was eating, if I liked it, would I order it again, and where did I get it? I was like a walking advertisement. Like I said, I barely saw anyone eating this thing so I can relate to these folks who saw me eating a piece of cardboard!!! I honestly would order this again but only smaller because that giant piece was too hard to walk around with!
9. Fish Sticks: While eating my giant Senbei, Russel ordered Fish on a Stick. It was basically Fish and Chips on a stick without the chips. The batter wasn't even crispy though and the fish wasn't too flavorful. I wouldn't order this. Russel finished it but said he wouldn't order it again! Clearly, I was still amazed at the sight of my own food. It was like an artwork!!!
10. Suspended Coffee: As the night was starting to die down, we decided to get some caffeine to help us with the trek back home. Russel got an iced mocha from this place and for some reason, I expected iced mocha cubes but it's just your typical cup of iced mocha. Nothing new here but if you need a nice cold caffeinated drink to last you through the night, by all means it's a good option.
11. Sippy Tea: We passed by this stall earlier and I knew I wanted to try it. When Russel got his coffee, I walked here and there was no line or wait. I asked for the hot Black Tea with no dairy and they had it ready before I even got my change. I liked it a lot and probably would have liked it even more if it was cold! I even like the little reusable "Capri-Sun" baggies they serve them in so it's more compact. I'd like to order this again but with ice!!!
12. Rain Drop Cake: The photo from their stall banner looked like a dome-shaped candy. I though that it would be one of those hard sugar candies but I went up-close, it was completely different. It's basically jello! Interestingly enough, they pair it with these crumbled cookies and sometimes, they molded it around an edible flower. The gelatin cake itself didn't taste much. The promised flavors were very subtle but the cookie addition added texture that I suppose would represent the "cake" part of this Rain Drop. It's pretty cool because it lived up to its name looking like a rain drop but it's definitely not cake. I could eat a bunch of these because it wasn't too sweet and I love anything with agar-agar!
13. It's All About Grill. We like their steak skewers here because its seasoned simply with just salt and pepper. It's straight to the point grilled steak meat on sticks. They also happened to have a coupon from the market's coupon book and so we took it over immediately and the wait wasn't long enough for us to check out other stalls.
14. Roasted Pork Hocks. My new favorite eats at the market has to be this one. I've been hesitant to eat it afraid it's too much food and I wouldn't be able to eat more of my way through the market but you can order half. It was the perfect size and the bone still had some crunchy meats left on it that you can gnaw on as you wait in line at the next stall. The sauerkraut was made right there also so it's nice and warm when served. The only thing I would do different next time is ask for extra sauerkraut even if I have to pay more.
15. iTofu: I was surprised to like this a lot because I didn't know what to expect. I was guessing it's like a soft frozen yogurt drink or a soy milk smoothie/shake. I asked for the cold one because of the fresh vegetables in-between the tofu layers. They asked me to put my own syrup to customize the sweetness and I only put a little since I'm cutting down on sugar. When I took my first bite, it took me back to my childhood streets in Philippines when around breakfast time, a street vendor would yell out "Taho!" and now I wish I tried it warm because that's exactly what it would have been like. With the additional fresh fruits combined with the tapioca and syrup, this was a really good taho!
Wow! I ate a lot and that's not even including all the other ones that everyone else with us ate. I never leave the market feeling hungry but I always think of the food I wish I had room in my belly to eat like the grilled whole squid, the mini donuts, or the pavlova! I think this is what motivates me to visit the market every year, to eat what I couldn't before and to also see what's new. Most of the stalls offer varieties that you can easily find outside of the market but there's some who just think outside of the box and make it different. It seems they use the market to see how popular it gets and goes from there so it's the best place to also check out what's trending in food. The one thing I wish the market would change is to provide more compostable items, compost and recycling bins, and to use more sustainable materials. This is probably more of a city thing but I guess that should say something that maybe the city of Richmond needs to start a better eco program especially when they want more people to enjoy the outdoors like the Night Market.