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Toronto Night Market

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Minnow Jul 11, 2008 08:06 AM

I'm heading out to the Night Market this weekend, and pretty excited about the idea. However, I'm pretty ignorant when it comes to Asian street food... can anyone give me a heads up about what to look out for? What things I shouldn't pass up? Thanks!

(www.torontonightmarket.com for those who are wondering)

  1. BokChoi Jul 11, 2008 08:46 PM

    Just came back from there - it was a mad-house! Had lots of typical Chinese street fare (dumplings, fish balls, bubble tea), but also some more exotic items ( whole grilled squid, stinky tofu, pork intestine noodle soup, fibre basil drink (?) some sort of giant crepe - forgot the name, Edo's Kobe Hot Dog $5), and tried-tested-and-true (raw oysters by Diana's Seafood). Expect long lines and total gridlock (both walking in the market, and trying to find parking). Fun atmosphere with shows on the centre stage.

    I managed to get some photos, but only got to try the oysters (parents weren't too fond of the smelly tofu scent that permeated the air). Will try to go back tomorrow to try different items.

    Photos:

    Smelly Tofu:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/28531775@N06/2660352314/

    BBT:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/28531775@N06/2660353842/

    Giant Crepes:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/28531775@N06/2660356096/

    Grilled Meats:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/28531775@N06/2660350034/

    Fish Balls:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/28531775@N06/2659520777/

    Oysters ($10 for 8):
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/28531775@N06/2660354820/

    Fibre Basil drink:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/28531775@N06/2660351432/

    Skewered Meats:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/28531775@N06/2660355210/

    Mashed Dumplings:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/28531775@N06/2660353330/

    Boiled Sticky Rice Sausages:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/28531775@N06/2660354348/

    Pork Intestine Noodle Soup:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/28531775...

    Cheers and Happy Eating!

    4 Replies
    1. re: BokChoi
      e
      EarlyDrive Jul 12, 2008 08:48 AM

      Went last night. Glad we went, to experience, but I would not likely go again.

      The parking is insane so, if you go, try to get up there by public transit.

      The first thing we tried was the Malaysian roti (flaky) stuffed with beef, with a coconut sauce and a hot pepper sauce. $7 or $8. By far and away, the best dish of the night. Just delicious. It's the first or second stall to your left when you arrive. We were 2nd or 3rd when we joined the line, and we waited about 20-25 minutes.

      Had some fresh coconut water from next door, $3, cold and refreshing. No line up.

      Then spicy lamb on a skewer, grilled over hardwood charcoal. $1.75 per skewer, quite delicious if a little fatty.

      I then waited in line for the takoyaki while G waited in line for the Taiwanese sweet cakes. I waited for about 45 minutes and then got an order of the takoyaki -- $5 for 6 dumplings, topped with seaweed flakes, a sweet sauce, and Japanese mayonnaise. There were nice bits of octopus and ginger in the balls, but they were quite undercooked and tasted too much of batter. In my opinion, they were not at all worth the wait.

      Meanwhile, G's line had barely moved. After we finished the takoyaki, I headed up to the front of the line for the Taiwanese treats (think the Korean walnut balls but shaped like a fat hockey puck, filled with black beans or a custardy filling) -- they looked delicious. The woman cooking them only had capacity to cook about 16 at a time. The customer at the front of the line had 3 paper bags all lined up and was having the bags filled for herself, as the cakes were cooked. She was clearly waiting for the full order of 16. Each round of treats would have taken about 20 minutes to cook. Being 15 or 20 people back, we left the queue.

      We looked for some short queues:

      I had a delicious plum oolong tea made with fresh plums, and tapioca balls. No wait. $5.

      G had the fried mango ice cream. Over-priced at $5. Just a small ball of mango ice rolled in panko and deep-fried for a couple seconds. Quick wait.

      We then checked out some of wares stalls: gerbils in fish balls, cool Japanese robot things. A game of "streetball' fenced into a corner. Automobile companies, with engines open, selling cars.

      Quite a number of ads said the food was all under $3. This is not the case at all and it could end up being quite expensive, if you manage to get to the front of the line. If you go expecting a night market like Kota Baru or Bangkok, you will be disappointed. If you go with no expectations and don't mind being shoulder-to-shoulder and waiting in very long line-ups, it's cool to check out.

      By the way, I hear BokChoi's parents about the scent: within a few minutes of hitting the market, you will smell the smelly tofu. It's a bit hit at the market, so there are a number of vendors. The line-ups for smelly tofu were at least an hour. We didn't even try. You can actually smell the tofu in the parking lot across the street -- it wafted through the night air. Not unpleasant at first, but after a couple hours, it was a bit much. Unavoidable.

      1. re: EarlyDrive
        p
        peppermint pate Jul 12, 2008 11:23 AM

        Thank you and BokChoi for the info. Just out of curiosity, what time were you there last night? And were you able to determine if the market was open only during the evening tonight or also during the day? Either way, I'm feeling less than energetic to tackle the crowds, though the Malaysian roti sound fantastic!

        1. re: peppermint pate
          BokChoi Jul 12, 2008 11:33 AM

          Hi Peppermint Pate,
          I arrived at around 9:30PM and stayed until about 11:30. I was told about the market from the seafood purveyor, Diana's Seafood (oyster guy), and he said he would be there today from 1PM until 1AM tonight. I have not returned, but his information should be reliable. Hope that helps! Cheers and Happy Eating.

          1. re: BokChoi
            e
            EarlyDrive Jul 12, 2008 03:40 PM

            Hi peps. We just missed BokChoi. We arrived around 7:30 and stayed for a couple hours.

    2. n
      neighborguy Jul 11, 2008 12:34 PM

      I've only been to the night market in Bangkok and it was QUITE exotic...even with managed expectations about Toronto Nightmarket I'm concerned if I go I will be underwhelmed and disapointed.The Metro Square food court is one of my faves and I figure I can go there anytime and get decent eats without being overcharged or having to wade thru a crowd. And this is after finding a parking spot, which is normally a tale onto itself...
      This is the first I've hear of the Toronto event. Will there be even 5% of wares of the other nightmarkets available? I'm talking about all the wacky and wonderful stuff us good Ontarians have become not accustomed to experiencing.

      1. s
        Sinfulia Jul 11, 2008 11:23 AM

        Never been, but i hear they offer 'stinky tofu' there. I tried this on a trip to China - didn't like it much as I couldn't get over the reek. But if you're adventurous, i'd definitely give it a try.

        1. p
          peppermint pate Jul 11, 2008 08:37 AM

          Hi Minnow - was just about to do a similar post so I hope you don't mind me adding my questions to your thread. For those who have been before, is it typically quite crowded during the day as well as at night? If I don't show up till 10:00 pm tomorrow night, do I have to worry about anybody being out of food? Will parking be a nightmare at that time?

          I have oodles of delicious memories of great night markets in Bangkok, Penang, Singapore and Kota Bharu - if they have even a fraction of the goods at this thing, I'll be a happy camper indeed!

          3 Replies
          1. re: peppermint pate
            e
            elrik Jul 11, 2008 08:49 AM

            I haven't been in a couple of years, but the times I have gone it has always been very crowded (early and late evenings). While good, the food was nothing exceptional and I don't really recall ever seeing anyone serving anything outside of the foods they would normally sell at their restaurants.
            It has maybe 10% of the appeal of the real street markets that I went to in Taiwan, so expect it's mileage to be similar for you if you have been to the ones in Bangkok, Penang etc. That being said, it is still a nice little outing and a different activity for Toronto, so by all means go, just don't expect it to compare to the markets you get in Asia.

            1. re: peppermint pate
              e
              EarlyDrive Jul 11, 2008 09:15 AM

              peps, it doesn't look like the market even starts until 7 (from minnow's link).

              1. re: EarlyDrive
                p
                peppermint pate Jul 11, 2008 09:32 AM

                Hi EarlyDrive - I know, it's confusing - if you go into the site and click on "event info", it says it's on from 1pm-1am tomorrow, though the main page says 7pm-1am both dates.

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