The 626 Night Market, known for hosting events in the San Gabriel Valley akin to the original night markets found in Asia, has now come to Los Angeles. The first-ever DTLA Night Market was held at the lot across from Staples Center in the heart of downtown, with plenty of food and retail vendors, art and live entertainment.
Having covered past 626 Night Markets, the downtown L.A. event seemed to have a slightly different vibe, with more of a modern, eclectic selection of vendors as well as crowd, which also seemed to skew younger, at least during the time we were there on Friday.
The event was held June 20-21st, running from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. both nights. Quick protip: If you’re going to taste a variety of good food, it’s best to get there earlier in the day, to beat the rush. You’ll get dibs on the best items before they may run out, and also avoid long lines. If you’re going for the ambiance and more of the true “night market” feel, go in the evening when it’s bustling with more people, lights and live music.
With an artwalk, hookah lounge, beer garden, 97.1 AMP Radio DJ’ing onsite and more, the event had a lively vibe, with a diverse group of vendors offering a variety of different bites for purchase. Here are some of the top bites we tried:
This red velvet mochi egg waffle comes from Puffect, a bakery that specializes in creating these unique crispy-on-the-outside, fluffy-on-the-inside waffles that can commonly be found on the streets of Hong Kong. Some of my fondest street food memories in Hong Kong (I lived there one summer, and plan to share those adventures as well… so much good food!) involve these delicious treats. Puffect offers lots of creative takes on the classic egg waffle by creating flavored batters such as Thai tea and green tea, in addition to the red velvet variation. A host of add-ons can texturally enhance your egg waffle experience, as our mochi-studded dessert provided chewy pockets of gooey, starchy goodness.
This special version of the original Ramen Burger is a collaboration with La Sriracha Macha, a Mexican-inspired version of the now-ubiquitous Sriracha sauce. The patty was good and all, but the ramen bun was unique and tasty, with an even texture throughout that held up well when repeatedly bitten into (unlike some other imposter ramen buns). The sauce added great flavor that made the entire thing juicier, with a little heat.
Kalbi taco buns from Crasians had a “secret ingredient” which gives the traditionally soft bao a crunchy exterior when frying. I think it’s some sort of larger bread crumb flake, because it looked liked flaked coconut but didn’t taste like it. Delicious nonetheless.
This anything-but-ordinary fried chicken sandwich was created by Formosa Cafe’s Brian Huskey (who is also a former “Top Chef” contestant). The crispy exterior and juicy interior of the chicken was accompanied by the refreshing coolness of the coleslaw, a sweet richness from the Okinawan purple potato, and a little kick of heat from the accompanying jalapeño yuzu sauce. All of these components joined forces to create one of the most well-balanced bites of the entire event.
The newest item from Mama Musubi is the Currywurst rice ball. With a quality tidbit of Berkshire pork sausage and a dab of Japanese curry aioli, the flavors added a nice depth to the seasoned rice + seaweed base. I’ve had other rice ball variations from Mama Musubi, all of which have been varying degrees of tasty. Still, I’ve always felt that it’s a lot of rice for what you’re paying, and more importantly, for all the stomach real estate (as I like to call it) that it takes up during a food event. The rice is quite filling, and there’s a lot of it in proportion to the actual toppings. Still a pretty solid bite overall.
Now, on to the uni cream and truffle oil tater tots from Lotza Tots. Rich, creamy, just the right amount of uni– which, by the way, is sourced straight from the Maruhide Uni Club… so you know their sea urchin is legit. These tots were quite rich as you’d expect, but Lotza Tots was kind enough to entice us with a special half-order. Flavor-wise, these tots were uni-tater perfection. True indulgence at its finest: a little deep-fried fair fare, topped with creamy class.
Other interesting eats and drinks included spiked Amaretto boba by Boba 7, Hello Kitty and other character-inspired cupcakes by Mwokaji Cakery, liquid nitrogen frozen popcorn by NitroPop, and fried ice cream from Frio Frito. There was also watermelon-basil lemonade, ice cream sundaes in the form of potted plants, and much more to try! The first DTLA Night Market was certainly a hit. If you want to check it out for yourself, the next 626 Night Market series will be held in Santa Anita Park in Arcadia on the following Fridays and Saturdays, from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m:
- July 18 & 19
- August 15 & 16
- September 12 & 13
For those who have only been to the 626 Night Market, the OC Night Market, or this past event in downtown, it’s safe to say you’ll experience a few new things at each location. For updates on the next event, check out the 626 Night Market website.