Foods From SoCal's First 626 Night Market
However, the copious amounts of enthusiasm and overflowing crowds was ultimately a positive sign for the future of the 626 Night Market.
It speaks to how great of a demand exists, and organizer Johnny Hwang and his team are quite genius for thinking to bring the night market concept to the LA area.
Wanting to show our support and witness the inaugural event, we ventured out to Pasadena this past Saturday to be part of history.
However, as we went in hungry and came out only fractionally fuller, we mostly ended up feeling like we just endured a passive-aggressive battle of the ages.
The crowds engulfed the small area already congested with booths, and there were smells of everything from strong durian funnel cake and stinky tofu to the subtler aromas of fresh-made takoyaki and curry fish balls. Sadly, we were unable to taste most of these foods in our 2 1/2 hours at the night market.
I had such high hopes for the event that I had even made a list of foods I definitely wanted to try. One such food was the popular Hong Kong street food, egg waffles. Although I was unsuccessful at that endeavor due to the waffles being sold out early on, we did manage to taste some other morsels.
After trekking out to Pasadena around 6pm, browsing the vendor booths, and taking silly pictures at the PartyLA Photobooth, we saw many people with OZERO milk teas and green tea funnel cakes, so we decided to head over to the food section and check it out. The place was already pretty densely crowded, so we stood in line for the closest booth we could reach, which happened to be Liang's Kitchen.
It seemed that every line we stood in, we eventually got word that the good stuff that was worth waiting for had run out. Thus we gave up our hopes of savory food and skipped right to a fresh-made dessert.
It was also hard to savor the food while standing in the constantly pushing and moving crowd, even if we were off to the side. We then decided it was time to go. The rest of the foods we had hoped to try were both sold out and had huge lines of unsuspecting customers who had just arrived, and thus still had some fight in them to brave the crowds.
As we tried to make our escape, we were gridlocked in from all directions, with a sea of unmoving people packed closer than sardines for as far as the eye could see. After a while, someone from the back of the crowd must have become frustrated and charged through, because we all surged forward and somehow, eventually there came the end of the sea of frustrated and hungry people.
We waved the white flag, happy to surrender and go home. We went back to Cerritos, where we had boba and popcorn chicken in the comfort and quiet of a local place, quite thankful for the breathing room. We discussed the highlights of the night, and the hopeful improvements that a subsequent 626 Night Market may bring.
The event may not have been what many expected, but it was the start of something great, so long as necessary changes are made. The organizing team looks like they genuinely tried their best considering they did not know what degree of crowds to expect, and I definitely feel that they will continue to strive for excellence the next time around.
Stay tuned for updates on possible future 626 Night Markets, and also for a special series of foodie reports from Hong Kong and other parts of Asia as I report from across the globe this summer!