Well, I was in luck because Vancouver has its very own annual summer night market. And I happened to be right in the midst of the commotion. I can't believe I even told Amanda that it was alright if we never made it to the night market. I'm really glad she responded with, "Man, if people found out that I didn't take you to the night market..."
I'm not sure if she ever finished that sentence or if I tuned it out because I didn't want to know the consequences. Either way, I'm glad I made it to the craziness that was the night market. (Thanks, Amanda.) Stands stood next to stand... it was hard to see the gap where one stand ended and the next began. Endless rows of stands served snacks and traditional delicacies from all over the Asian continent... I was enthused to see the different foods represented from Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Korea, the Philippines...
Of course, my stomach had a field day. We started off with a crepe that was filled with strawberries, Nutella, vanilla ice cream, and a good helping of whipped cream.
Watching the crepe master make it was a bit of fun in itself. The crepe creator solidified the crepe batter, laid the strawberries out one by one, drizzled chocolate syrup, dropped vanilla ice cream, and folded the crepe all in less than five minutes.
Right next to the crepe stand was a skewer stand that offered everything from grilled lamb skewers to barbecued ice cream on a stick. Whoooa... BBQ ice cream? Curious much? I asked the cashier what exactly BBQ ice cream was, and she replied, "Look. Picture."
Hah. I guess her answer meant that it was time to fully satisfy our sweet tooths.
It was so obvious which order was ours. There were just three little spheres of ice cream smoking next to a dozen or so lamb skewers on the grill. The poor little ice cream balls looked so out of place that I couldn't stop laughing.
They topped it off by drizzling the ice cream with a bit of condensed milk and Hershey's chocolate syrup. One bite, and Ian exclaimed, "Man! These are cream puffs!"
Oh, and how right he was. They really tasted simply like frozen cream puffs that had a smoky essence. I was disappointed by the advertising... but delighted by what I tasted.
My sweet tooth was satisfied... overly so. I wanted just some plain water to get the potential tooth decay taste out of my mouth, but I came across a Japanese stand with a fresh ginger cooler. It was sweet but sharp and biting at the same time... all the characteristics of fresh, raw ginger... and none of the characteristics of ginger ale. Amanda took a sip of it, and she made the same face that a child would make upon tasting chopped liver for the first time. I don't think either of us appreciated the little bits and pieces of fresh ginger floating around inside the drink. Perhaps onto something else...?
At the same stand I ordered the Japanese-style burger with an extra helping of kimchi in the middle. At that time I think I was attempting to fill my void of Taiwan's Mos Burger, a hamburger chain that specializes in Japanese-style hamburgers, many of which have sticky rice in place of the typical bread bun. Each time I took a bite, the pressure from the chomp squeezed the center of the burger, which caused teriyaki sauce to oooooze out of the middle... it dripped onto the rice bun... the napkin... my hand... mmmmm...
We got some Japanese takoyaki too. Half a dozen spheres of octopus were covered with Japanese mayonnaise, okonomiyaki sauce, seaweed confetti, and of course, the flakes of bonito that wisp with the heat of the takoyaki. I love watching the bonito flakes writhe in the heat, especially on okonomiyaki.
We saved the one item we were all waiting for last. Although we went straight for the Hong Kong style egg waffles when we first walked into the night market, the line was so long that we decided to come back later. And even when we returned, the line was just as long... the only difference was that our craving for the waffle increased ten-fold.
I snuck a little peak behind the stand's plastic curtains to see the waffle machines at full capacity. Each time the waffle iron clamped down to close, the batter would seep out and leave a trail of batter droplets on the iron. After hundreds of times of closing the waffle iron, more and more trails of batter accumulated onto the iron's surface, leaving an unconsumed little hill of semi-cooked waffle behind.
After waiting for what only seemed like an eternity, we picked up our double order of original egg flavored waffle and chocolate flavored waffle. And I'll be the first one to say... it was worth the wait. I was already stuffed to the brim with crepe, ice cream, ginger water, rice and meat, and takoyaki, but it was so hard to stay away from these waffles. Each sphere (we had a lot of spherical-shaped food at the night market) was crispy and warm... and I tore each section off one at a time and popped each one. With each bite I broke the crust and allowed the steam to escape (the waffles are hallow) from the waffle's insides to the insides of my mouth. Ooooh... it's like a reminder that the waffles just came right off the iron. FRESH. That waffle was FRESH.
Mmmm... fresh waffle. Fresh crepe. Fresh okonomiyaki. Fresh everything. I inhaled a bit of faux Taiwanese atmosphere while inhaling carbs galore from around the world. Man, this night market was amazing-awesome. That's one thing I'll say that has USA beat. Night markets in Taipei, Keelung, and Kaohsiung? Oh yeah, there are plenty. Night markets in LA? You'd think there would be. But night markets in Vancouver? I didn't think so, but I'm sure as hell glad that there are. (Take out the horrid manure scent from the Home Depot across the street, and you've got an even better night market.)
Hey SoCal, I say we have some night markets at the Pomona Fairgrounds, OC Fair, and Del Mar Fair whenever the fairs aren't around.
Next post: The most expensive poutine ever