NOTE: As part of the ChineseBites media event, all food and beverages were free, but all opinions are based on my own experience.
This weekend, I was invited by ChineseBites to sample all the stalls at the International Summer Night Market along with other food bloggers. This was the original night market back in the day, and it’s opened up once again this year. Located near Ikea, ISNM seems to have less traffic, but that also means less line ups and crowds! There is free admission and parking if you can find street parking, so definitely a good deal compared to the one by River Rock.
First up, we went for BBQ Squid, which offers all your favourite squid dishes. There are actually two squid stalls right across each other, but we decided to go for BBQ Squid.
Of course, we went for the must order BBQ Squid, and they gave us the sample in a small size. We had it original with an added spicy sauce. The sauce ended up to be a Thai chili sauce, which gave it a sweet and spicy kick. The squid had a nice char on the outside with a smokey flavour. Very tender and not overly chewy.
Next up is a night market must! Skewers! Surprisingly, Halal BBQ was the only skewer stall at ISNM. So if you wanted skewers, this was your only choice. The people are all dressed up in their Xin Jiang outfits and you can smell the skewers from a mile away! They offer lamb, chicken or chicken wing skewers.
We went for the Lamb Skewer and got it spicy. They basically dust on some spicy powder on your skewer. The meat was sizzling hot and full of flavour. We did find that the meat was slightly dry though. Wish it was more moist!
Top Wok – Curry Fish Balls
Forgot to get a picture of the Top Wok stall, but you can’t miss it since it’s near the beginning and full of red decor. It’s a dim sum stall and we decided to try their Curry Fish Balls. They have a spicier version, but I chose their regular version. At $3 for a small size, you get around 5 fish balls. The sauce is slightly spicy, but not overwhelming. Another staple at the night market!
CoCoRo seems to be a new stall this year and is definitely an eye catcher with all the pink advertising. They feature tons of deep fried desserts, frozen yogurt and okonomiyaki.
Deep Fried Ice Cream
First, we went tried the Deep Fried Ice Cream, which comes with chocolate sauce and icing sugar on top. The dough on the outside is a little tough to penetrate through with the fork, but once you do so, the vanilla ice cream oozes out. You get a mix of hot and cold in your mouth. It was surprisingly pretty good. I thought it would be really oily, but it wasn’t. The dough also tasted pretty decent compared to some other deep fried ice creams I’ve had.
Japanese Seafood Pancake (Okonomiyaki)
We then shared the Okonomiyaki, which was a good size and perfect to share between four friends. Japanese mayo and a savoury sauce was drizzled on top and topped with bonito flakes. We found some squid in our pancake, but we wished there was more. Still, it was a very flavourful and good item to share with friends.
Next up was Duang, which featured an assortment of deep fried goodies.
What caught our eyes was the Monkey Brain, which I’ve also seen in some menus at other Japanese restaurants. The owner explained to use that it is imitation crab and avocado deep fried with a delicious sauce. He said it sounds weird but to trust him that it would taste good. And he was right! This was basically like a deep fried California roll, but so much better! The spicy mayo and teriyaki-like sauce was addicting. I don’t even like avocados, but I could eat this again and again.
Long Hurricane Potato Fries
Next up were the infamous hurricane potato fries, also known as rotato these days. There are two stalls that sell it this year. They all claim they are the “original”, but I honestly don’t remember which one was here first. The stall we tried was called Long Hurricane Potato Fries, and the sauces they offers now are just endless!
14 flavours to choose from and the pricing here is much cheaper than the one at the night market by River Rock (which I hear has over 30 minute waits). I believe that the other stall offers yam and zucchini now, so that would definitely be something to try! (We were way too full to try anymore starchy items…)
BBQ Hurricane Potato
We got the BBQ Hurricane Potato, and when they said ‘long’, these were definitely long! I swear they are much longer than back in the day, which means a good deal for us! The potatoes are lightly dusted with the barbeque powder and they are sizzling hot! I almost burned my fingers eating this. I did wish that they were slightly crispier, but I hear that the second stall does just that.
Soy Boy offers fresh soy pudding and a variety of toppings which are house made. This had got to be K’s favourite stall of the night. She loved it so much she asked if they had a physical store. Unfortunately, they don’t right now, so I guess she will need to pay another visit here for this.
The house made tofu pudding plus two toppings of your choice will set you back at $6.
Toppings include: grass jelly, red beans, pearls, mung beans, kidney beans, taro, honey cubes, yam balls, and fruits. You can sample the honey cubes and yam balls, which are probably their most unique toppings.
Tofu Pudding with Sweet Potato Mochi and Pearls
We got the Tofu Pudding with Sweet Potato Mochi and Pearls. You get a pretty big bowl of tofu pudding which is served cold. They then add syrup for you and you can choose between original or ginger syrup. We went for the original and it was the perfect amount of sweetness. The sweet potato mochi balls are a must order! They are home made and made with Hawaiian sweet potatoes. If you love mochi, you will love this. Chewy and with just a hint of sweetness. Along with the syrup, it works just well. As for the pearls, these are also house made and taste way better than your regular black pearls. I find those to be too chewy, so these are great, especially knowing that they are made in house. The guys here are also super friendly so feel free to ask them more about the toppings!
All About Ice Cream
All About Ice Cream is a stall featuring parfaits, but what caught our eyes were the fruit juices! Yes, you get to carry around a watermelon or pineapple, filled with it’s blended juice! Definitely picture worthy and we had over 10 people ask us where they could get this while we were walking around.
How cute is this Watermelon Juice? It’s literally just blended watermelons, and I don’t think they add anything else like sugar. So depending on your watermelon, it could be sweeter or less sweet. I would’ve liked ours a bit more sweet, but it was still refreshing nonetheless. They do add some ice cubes as well, but I think there could’ve been more to make it more icy cold. A bit on the pricey side at $8 a juice, but if you share it with a friend, then it’s more affordable.
TW Traditional Snacks
Taiwanese food is always great at night markets, so TW Traditional Snacks offers all your Taiwanese night market staples. From candied fruits to wheel cakes and pork sausages, you can get your real Taiwanese experience here.
Deep Fried Stinky Tofu
But what’s even better is that they sell Deep Fried Stinky Tofu! It may be pungent at first, but the taste really isn’t as stinky as it smells. The tofu is fried to order, so you do need to wait a bit. It comes with some chili paste and a stinky sauce, although I thought it wasn’t as stinky as the authentic ones. The tofu itself is quite average, but I still enjoyed it because the sauce was flavourful. It also comes with a side of cabbage.
Miss Lina offers crepe cake, which is all the hype these days. Layers of crepe on top of each other is the way to go! They offer 5 flavours, including an exotic durian flavour.
Matcha Crepe Cake
The cakes are pre-made and come out of the fridge when you order. They come in a case, so you can take it home to eat if you wish. Of course this is not comparable to the famous Lady M crepe cakes, but these are pretty good for what we can get in Vancouver. We got the Matcha Crepe Cake. The layers were very thin and the cake was creamy with a hint of matcha flavour.
Yuja Ade and Fruit Icy
A new stall that caught our eyes was Yuja Ade and Fruit Icy. These are basically the two items they sell. Run by these Korean guys, the stall offers you a taste of what’s hit in Korea right now. The Fruit Icy is your famous Korean patbingsoo or shaved ice with fruits on top. We didn’t try this, but instead went for the Yuja Ade. Yuja is this marmelade that is made from the fruit, yuzu, and is combined with honey or sugar. It’s basically like making a jam. The guy told us that this is usually served as a hot tea, but since it’s hot in the summer, they have made it as a cold drink.
The guy explains that the Yuja Ade is basically the yuja along with tonic soda. This is so refreshing and I love the sweet citrusy bits at the bottom. Plus, he said it’s great for women since it has three times more vitamin C than lemons. I want to make this at home now! Super friendly guys at the stall so definitely stop by when you’re thirsty!
Mr. and Mrs. Poppins Popcorn Bar
Mr. and Mrs. Poppins Popcorn Bar is newly opened as well and offers gourmet popcorn! They offer three flavours: Cinnamon Toast Sugar, White Truffle Oil Parmesan, and Sweet Seaweed Furikake.
The popcorn is popped fresh and seasoned as you order. You can also sample the flavours before you purchase. The seaweed flavour is definitely one that is unique. Run by couple, Victoria and Chris, they are super sweet people, so drop by to sample some popcorn!
White Truffle Oil Parmesan Popcorn
We ended up leaving with a bag of White Truffle Oil Parmesan, which was a huge bag for a low price of $3. Perfect for sharing, and it still tasted great the next day for us too! The popcorn has a strong aroma and taste of white truffle oil, which I absolutely love. Pretty addicting!
Sugar Twist Cotton Candy
Probably the most unique stall at ISNM would have to be Sugar Twist Cotton Candy.
It’s cotton candy art here! Depending on how many layers you want, the price increases. Their popular art includes butterflies and flowers.
It’s so amusing watching the guy spin the cotton candy!
Butterfly Shaped Cotton Candy
We got the Butterfly Shaped Cotton Candy, and it was almost too pretty to eat! Another picture worthy item at the night market. They also ask if you want the flavour to be original or strawberry flavoured. We chose strawberry, so at the end, they spin in some strawberry flavoured sugar. It’s actually pretty tasty and not overly sweet like the ones at carnivals. The shape does deflate pretty quickly once you start pulling it apart.
I don’t remember the stall name for this one, but there are only two stalls for Takoyaki. Here we have the original flavoured one, and they were decent. Quite average and nothing spectacular.
Lazy Den Tea House
And to finish off our long night of greasy food, we ended our adventure at Lazy Den Tea House. They offer basic green teas and some Taiwanese snacks. They actually have a physical store in Port Moody as well.
Oolong Green Tea
We got the Oolong Green Tea, which was simple, but very good. I liked how it wasn’t sugary but rather had a strong tea flavour. Very refreshing!
Overall, ISNM is a great place to drop by for some snacks. The Richmond Night Market by River Rock has more stalls, but ISNM is less crowded and I found that the prices were relatively cheaper. With only two lanes of food stalls, ISNM definitely does not have as much to see and less variety for food though.