Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Ethnic Foods of the San Gabriel Valley: 626 Night Market

Cuisines covered in previous posts: Mexican, Cajun, Nepalese, Lebanese, Thai, Basque, Argentinian, Cuban, Vietnamese, English, Belgian, Spanish, Jewish, Greek, Greek Diner, Hawaiian, Salvadoran, Iranian, Armenian, Afghani, Indonesian, Korean, Cambodian, American, California Cuisine, Soul Food, Japanese, Filipino, Barbecue, French, Italian, Polish, Hungarian, Pizza, Mongolian Barcbecue, Pakistani, Indian, Peruvian, Malaysian, Burmese

We're almost there...this is the penultimate post in this series. Next week, we'll tackle the 800 pound gorilla of the San Gabriel Valley ethnic food scene but this week, we'll take one little detour before wrapping it up.

In Asia, night markets draw lot of people late at night to gatherings of food booths mingling among other merchants, kind of like a late night flea market.

Taiwanese immigrant Jonny Hwang missed the markets and thought the SGV, with it's large Asian population, would be ripe for such a venue. The 626 Night Market was born (the name is taken from the area code of the San Gabriel Valley).

While the first version got off to a shaky start in Pasadena back in 2012, the night market has had much more success after moving to Santa Anita Racetrack in Arcadia.

It's a mostly Asian flavor, although there are some food trucks bringing in other cuisines.  Stands ranging from cheap to expensive sell all kinds of different Asian goodies.

There's Indonesian roasted chicken, stinky tofu, intestine stew, Sriracha lobster balls, and even a Chinese stand selling incredibly delicious Belgian Liege waffles.

Starting at it's afternoon opening time, the market steadily crowds up. After dark, it can get quite crowded and is very busy. If you like that kind of Asian nightlife, you'll love it. If you're more of a quiet, reading-a-book-by-the-fireplace kind of person, come early and you'll love it too.

Since it takes place at the racetrack, you are free to slip over to the grandstand, partake in a little off-track betting, get a drink at the bar, and even eat at the racetrack restaurant but most come here to eat the myriad varieties of Asian cuisines and try their hand at new, exotic, and sometimes scary new stuff.

It's highly recommended. Parking is free and the general admission price of the racetrack, which is less than $5, is all it takes to get in.

Come try a nice slice of Asia plopped right into the middle of the San Gabriel Valley.

Copyright 2014 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

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