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626 Asian night market a ZOO!

Way to crowded. Eating at Roy's instead.

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  1. I'm impressed you got there. My in-laws had been stuck in traffic for over an hour, last time I checked!

    4 Replies
    1. re: FattyDumplin

      SOOO happy about the turn out.
      SOOO glad I'm NOT there.
      SOOO LOLz.

      1. re: TonyC

        At least it's a success? Should have just used the parking lot meant for the Alhambra Farmer's Market.

        Well despite the "quality" of the vendors at least we know it will likely happen again.

      2. re: FattyDumplin

        +1. Traffic was backed up for at least a mile on the 210 freeway.

        1. re: raytamsgv

          CRAZY. I'm glad I got there when I did (around 6). It looked bad when we were leaving but wasn't so bad when we arrived, coming Arroyo Parkway.

      3. Anyone know what food vendors/items were available?

        1 Reply
        1. re: andytseng

          Everything was over an hours wait to get to. Even cell service was spotty due to all the people. The city was definitely not prepared for the huge turnout. It was a boon for the local restaurants, however.

        2. my husband tried to go to Ralph's on Lake tonight. complete grid lock. and there you go for those who doubted the turnout in downtown Pasadena...

          1. From a vendor -- "Popos shutting down the market!"

            21 Replies
            1. re: TonyC

              just looked at their Facebook page. people are ANGRY!

              1. re: trolley

                ANGRY is too mild a word to describe the experience. Sure, a BIG turnout, that should have been expected, if the planners have some iota of common sense. It was poor planning to begin with, you could hardly move in that block. The area restaurants greatly benefited, all the way to Alhambra and San Gabriel, as scores of people who just left after witnessing the horrendous traffic condtion, and a near to impossible navigation to reach any of the booths. There are only a couple of places, I could think of for such venues, if they dare to hold another one - Rose Bowl or Convention Center.

                To those who did not go, you all made the wise decision by staying away.

                1. re: jotfoodie

                  I don't know if they should have expected such a turnout, especially with the response here towards the event.

                  1. re: chezwhitey

                    I was not referring to chow's response. Their own Facebook reponses should have alerted them, plus other bloggers and news media, e.g. LA Times. Spend a minute to think about it, how could not one expect such a turnout.

                    1. re: jotfoodie

                      Given that the last attempt at a night market, Monterey Park maybe 3 or 4 years ago was a big bust, the Pasadena night market was far from a sure thing. Also wasn't the operator quoted just a couple of weeks ago saying that the project was going to be a money loser because there wasn't sufficient vendor interest?

                      1. re: Chandavkl

                        I'm of two minds here: I'm sympathetic to the idea that they'd want to play things safer and plan for a smaller crowd. The problem though -as everyone has pointed out - is that this location left no contingencies for the possibility of a bigger crowd, let alone the incredible turnout it yielded. They couldn't scale up to handle the crush, since the space limited how many vendors could participate. I'm not saying they should have rented out the Rose Bowl for this but it doesn't take a city planning expert to point out: "um, I'm not sure Oakland and Colorado" can take the weight.

                        But all said, I don't think any of this was done with bad intentions (obviously). And what may seem obvious in hindsight is rarely so clear when you're in the planning stages.

                        I'd go to another one...so long as they change locations.

                        1. re: odub

                          I asked above about what actual food there was at the event, because I wanted to know if what they promised had actually been delivered. If the food was there, but the venue was inadequate, I would consider attending their next attempt.

                          If they underdelivered on the food, I'd feel more hesitant.

                            1. re: Chandavkl

                              I read it and laughed. Asian Nightmare Market would be more on the mark.

                                1. re: TonyC

                                  That visual is great, TonyC. It needs to be on a t-shirt.

                            2. re: andytseng

                              I know some people asked about the food.

                              Here's a pix from the KCET photog:
                              flic.kr/p/bzqnEE

                              If you click thru on flickr, you'll see what was available between 5:30-6:30. After that, it was basically all over.

                              Did anyone order a massage chair?

                              1. re: andytseng

                                I was intrigued by a stand they had called Bling Bling Dumplings...I wanted to try. However, my odds of getting a dumpling in that horde were lower than a screaming teenager scoring an autograph at a Beiber event.

                                1. re: MonsieurKnowItAll

                                  Appears to be a catering company, as opposed to a restaurant.

                              2. re: odub

                                I think staging it at the Rose Bowl is a terrible idea. Here's why.

                                As I said below, one of the greatest successes of the 626 night market is that it actually captured, in some small way, the feeling of actually being at a night market in Taiwan. Night markets are exciting because they are seamlessly woven into the fabric of an urban center, and the best ones do not stand alone. There's an energy that comes from the people, the sights, the smells (good and bad), the noise, the lights. It's chaotic exuberance at its most stimulating.

                                However, a night market staged in the lonely parking lot of the Rose Bowl takes several steps back from feeling authentic.

                                The greatness of night markets in Taiwan come in the way they organically integrate with the existing shopping and pedestrian culture. Sticking one in an out of the way place, that people wouldn't go to otherwise, means that you're eliminating the wonderful synergy of the pop-up stands and the brick & mortars. Even if this particular market didn't integrate with the brick & mortars, it was in the middle of an urban downtown center and as such it still retained a bit of that feeling. Putting the same stands in the lonely, isolated area of the Rose Bowl parking lot makes it akin to a carnival, something wholly self-contained, and not an experience which organically integrates with the environment.

                                Mr Taster

                            3. re: jotfoodie

                              Well, if they decide to do it again, I can say with some certainty v2.0 will be a lot better in terms of organization and vendors. Vendors were hesitant to commit resources to this event, but now that they realize what the potential is for getting their name out, they will jump at the chance.

                        2. re: trolley

                          Wow. Just looked at Yelp, the young'uns were PISSED & not nearly as considerate.

                          Hwang has already spoken with LA Weekly: http://blogs.laweekly.com/squidink/20...

                          1. re: TonyC

                            Unbelieavable comments - ""We had 8,000 Facebook fans on April 14, and that's what we expected," Jonny Hwang, one of the founders said. "

                            Huh ??? Does this person has a brain at all ? Does he realize how Facebook works ? 8000+ likes, how about all the friends of who clicked on the LIKE, that number could explode exponentially.

                            Secondly, he mentioned they prepared for 8000, somebody please tell me, if that small block can hold 2000 people at any one time. I think a 1000 would already be overly crowded.

                            They were lucky, that nobody went berserk and shouted FIRE in that cramped block. That would be beyond anybody's imagination of the consequences.

                            1. re: jotfoodie

                              Even luckier that no one screamed " 火 !!! "...

                          1. re: trojans

                            They should make a t-shirt: "I Survived the 626 Night Market."

                            To be candid, I'm not really upset at the event if only because "underestimating turnout" is a lot better than overestimating it. So the fact that they were woefully underprepared for the thousands of people who turned out was more likely an outcome of overly conservative estimates but for a "first-time" event, I can sympathize. That said, I also agree with everyone who could have pointed out months ago that the location made NO SENSE AT ALL. And sure enough, traffic was a nightmare...I saw cars backed up on Los Robles, starting around Main! That was crazy. I wanted to roll the window down and tell opposing traffic, "don't go!"

                            So yeah, location planning took an L here. And yes, the Rose Bowl, next time, sounds like a much better idea. I can't cosign on the Convention Center though; what kind of night market takes place in a convention hall? (Of course, what kind of night market takes place off Colorado and Oakland?)

                            Anyways, we got there around 6, and it was already insane and clearly about to get much much worse so we bounced after 10 minutes of gawking. I would have been tempted to go back around 10 but sounds like it wouldn't have been that much better.

                        3. That is so funny....we went to Roy's as well. We tried...made our way up and down the stalls, many being closed due to running out of food. Crazy!

                          1. A lot of the complaints seem to be about the traffic. Did anyone take the Gold Line to Memorial Park and walk the 10 minutes to the event? Did that change the perception of the event for you?

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Mattapoisett in LA

                              While traffic was a major complaint I note that facing an hour wait to get food, or booths running out of food early, also led the way here as far as dissatisfaction was concerned.

                              1. re: Mattapoisett in LA

                                I did indeed take the Gold Line and walk, which made the road traffic less of a concern. Unfortunately, my entire experience there still consisted of awkwardly making my way through the dense crowd for an hour before heading back to the station, riding back to my car, and driving into Alhambra for some actual 626 night food.

                                I just managed to cut my aggravation in half, but there was still a lot of frustration in general.

                              2. Did anyone get a shot at the food? I don't know if this will continue to have the massive draw but I'd think a change in location would be a thought. With a fair amount of industrial areas around the SGV (which I'm guessing are ghost towns at night), why not take advantage of those areas instead?

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: bulavinaka

                                  We had some pork tongue and duck gizzard tacos (it was the shortest line we could find). Not bad, the tongue was a little bland though. We left shortly after that because of the crowding. Thankfully my friend lives within walking distance of the night market so parking wasn't an issue for us.'

                                2. I thought it was an impressive first attempt.

                                  First of all, this is a night market, not a nighttime farmers market, which is what a lot of people seemed to anticipate. There is a *huge* difference in both experience and expectations between the two.

                                  The best Taiwanese night markets are, by definition, crowded, congested, unpredictable, chaotic. And that's what's great about them. Farmers markets are organized. The greatest surprises come from that exciting new varietal of rutabaga. Or perhaps a new street musician on Ivar. Conversely, finding unpredictable gems like this T-shirt is one of the great joys of night marketing in Asia:

                                  http://www.engrish.com/wp-content/upl...

                                  The thing that surprised me most about this event is that it actually felt a little like Taiwan, and that's a BIG step in the right direction. (Sadly, I didn't see any hilariously misspelled t-shirts).

                                  Having said this, the food logistics at 626 Night Market were terrible. A crowded mess. That needs to be priority one for organizing 626 #2.

                                  As for the traffic and parking, it was a non-issue for us. There was an outrageously easy workaround. We anticipated the crowds and exited Marengo north of the 210. Found easy parking and walked for 10 minutes to the market. Again, think of how it works in Asia. People walk more. Or they ride easy-to-park scooters. Or take public rail. Parking and traffic problems solved multiple times over.

                                  I also love ipsedixit's idea about closing down Valley Blvd for a few blocks starting at Del Mar, so the brick and mortar shops are integrated with the night market pop-up stalls. That way you have a wide expanse of space. The regular customers who visit the brick & mortars mix with the people who are showing up just for the night market. Plus it will encourage different foods-- why would anyone wait in line for xiaolongbao from a tent when there are 6 restaurants in walking distance that can serve them? Bring out the roasted duck tongues! It's a win-win all around.

                                  I hope this continues. With this as the starting point, the second time has a chance of being much, much better.

                                  Mr Taster

                                  17 Replies
                                  1. re: Mr Taster

                                    I notice that, in what is fairly lengthy post, there is not one word about the food you ate. Did you eat any or where you "shut out" like so many others?

                                    1. re: Servorg

                                      My days of waiting an hour+ for *anything* (let alone food I could just drive to Monterey Park to get without the wait) are long behind me.

                                      Mr Taster

                                      1. re: Mr Taster

                                        In that case I can't even begin to fathom how this event could be called "...an impressive first attempt." If one is putting on a food centered event and what sounds like a majority didn't even get one thing to eat, but instead gave up in frustration and went elsewhere to dine. I think that could more rightly be called a colossal failure (being polite) or (being less polite) a FUBAR or perhaps a SNAFU or even a FUBB.

                                        1. re: Servorg

                                          The last time I was at a night market, (Mong Kok, bout a year ago) I also left without lining up for food. But I did end up buying a badass burnt toast keychain for $1.50.

                                          I believe there were 60 stands, only 25 were food. At least the organizer had the foresight to NOT name it "food market". He might've been stoned Saturday night.

                                          There has been no mentioning of how much Pas will "fine" the Hwangs... It's gonna be an ouchie.

                                          1. re: TonyC

                                            One has to wonder if the city really thought this out either. I mean, we keep harping on the 626NM folks for underestimating the crowd but you don't to be on the city planning board to figure out the logistical problems the night might create. City could certainly have been more pro-active.

                                            Case in point: on Sunday, me and the fam participated in Civlavia which involves shutting down 20 or so miles of city streets and supposedly, it only costs $100,000 per event to pull off this feat. And everything seems to run incredibly smoothly and safely despite tens of thousands of bicyclists descending on downtown.

                                            1. re: odub

                                              odub, comparing the night market to ciclavia is apples to oranges at this point. This was ciclavia's 4th time around. Furthermore, they had plenty of consultation with bogota where ciclovia originated. The first ciclavia had no idea how many people would show and they started smaller, I think around 5-7 miles of closed off streets. They are now up to 10-12 miles of closed off streets. Ciclavia started out small and has grown each time. Thankfully, they've accounted for the estimated growth each time and planned accordingly. Hopefully if 626 comes back, they will do the same and not make the same mistakes twice.

                                          2. re: Servorg

                                            Hi Servorg, you nailed it on the head. By the comments alll over, most were not impressed but outrage was the norm. I have great respect for Mr. Taster, but I have to beg to differ on the first line of his comments.

                                            When most people could not even get ONE thing to eat, and did not bother to wait. The 12 of us left without anyone able to get a single bite,we all ended up in Alhambra. We all have summed up the experience - it was Horrendous, Horrific, Dreadful, Awful, Appalling .... you all get the picture.

                                            1. re: jotfoodie

                                              The difference is that a night market is not a food festival in the way, for example, the grilled cheese festival is. Great Taiwanese night markets are about shopping and energy, crowds and chaos, interesting and unusual sights sounds and smells. Food is a part of that mix but if not the only element. I enjoyed myself in spite of the food problems, because we spent time in the other part of the festival and dined elsewhere.

                                              This was a great first effort because they got an impressive amount right, in spite of the food problems. As I said elsewhere, it actually felt a little like Taiwan, in the middle of Pasadena of all places. That is a feat in and of itself.

                                              Mr Taster

                                              1. re: Mr Taster

                                                With all due respect (and I mean that sincerely, since I generally trust Mr. Taster's, um, tastes), I disagree. Since childhood, I've been to Taipei and Shanghai to see family and the other night felt NOTHING like the kind of chaotic, crowded markets I'm used to in both cities.

                                                I also grew up in the SGV and I know that part of Pasadena and don't think you can create a "proper" night market on that particular block. The street layout and local storefronts are all wrong. There was *no* integration, no sense that the 626NM seamlessly worked its way into the urban fabric of the city, none of that whatsoever. It's possible you could make it work somewhere else in Pasadena (I still don't think it's the right city for it but whatever), but Oakland and Colorado? No.

                                                I also have never waited an hour to get food at any alley/market stand in Taipei or Shanghai. I can't completely blame that on the 626 folks - 25 stands is no small feat but you can't blame them if a gazillion people descend.

                                                Anyways: you know what actually feels more like the night markets I remember? The monthly Rose Bowl swap meet: that's crowded, that's chaotic, that's slightly claustrophobic but it also feels far more organic despite it taking place in a big ass parking lot outside a football stadium. You don't need literal walls to create the feel of an alley if you have enough people and stands and a bit of smart planning.

                                                1. re: Mr Taster

                                                  I have been to quite a number of night markets from Taipei, Taichung, and Kashiong, and NONE of my experiences were that terrible as the one in Pasadena. They were crowded all right, but you can move, you can breath, and lastly you can eat and shop.

                                                  1. re: jotfoodie

                                                    I'll say this much though: the difference is that night markets in Asia are not "events." They're destinations, maybe but mostly, they're just THERE.

                                                    The challenge facing 626NM - and I'm very sympathetic with them on this point - is that they don't have the benefit of carving out a space over time. They can only create an event and events are unpredictable, can be very difficult to adequately plan for, and can easily be victims of their own popularity.

                                                    Ultimately, what people want - I think - is a real night market; some place open 365. I don't know if that' realistic/achievable given city codes, given the local consumer base, etc. So until then, we're going to get saddled with night market events but that can never achieve the same "lived in" feel of a night market that's literally built into the fabric of a city vs. one that is temporarily erected for a night.

                                                    1. re: odub

                                                      >> night markets in Asia are not "events." They're destinations, maybe but mostly, they're just THERE.

                                                      That's precisely the point I was trying to make in comparing the 626 Night Market with the nightmare of the Grilled Cheese invitational. A night market is not a festival. And it is certainly not a food festival, even though food plays an important part.

                                                      My take on the event is that given that the overcrowding at the food section was a major problem, the rest of the market was enjoyable. And despite the overcrowding, I noticed several more subtle things that gave me a positive impression that the organizers had a proper vision based upon personal experience at real Asian night markets.

                                                      I loved that they limited the de rigeur American "carnival foods" that are ubiquitous at typical American festivals. For me, nothing spoils the mood of a non-American festival more than the presence of over-the-top American excess. Long Beach Grand Prix? Bring on the gigantic plates of BBQ and foot-long hot links. But keep them away from my night market. Having said that, I understand that it doesn't matter what the theme of the festival is-- There Will Be Kettle Corn. But for the most part, that was it... I saw Taiwanese roasted corn. Lamb sticks. I think I saw Taiwanese sausages. I didn't smell any stinky tofu, so that's a mark against the organizers. But I appreciated that the organizers quite obviously said "no" to the deep fried oreo people, the hot dog people, the funnel cake people. Those were all very positive signs that the organizers are making a real attempt to build something authentically Taiwanese.

                                                      Another subtle thing that gave me confidence in the event (and added to the subtle feeling of being in Taiwan) was the cheezy little game at the Taiwan tourism booth (stand the Taiwan Beer bottle upright with a fishing line). Night markets in Taiwan have these kinds of homemade games and they added to the feeling that the organizers are trying to do this right. I'd love to some more of these homemade games appear at future events.

                                                      Now of course the overcrowding in the food section was ridiculous, but I loved that there were lots of people. China and Taiwan are crowded places. Asia is crowded. Try shopping at Wal-Mart in Beijing-- it's not the comparatively placid experience that you'd have here. The aisles are too narrow, the carts are too wide, and it's elbow-to-elbow. A proper night market has to have large crowds. Not jam-packed as the food section was (although the most popular markets get pretty bad on popular weekends), but a night market is not a place for a casual stroll around the shops. The bustle of activity and the throngs are central to the experience.

                                                      I'm not jumping on the angry bandwagon because I feel like I can see what the organizers were trying to do. Chances are that if I were organizing a night market based upon my experiences and vision having traveled through Asia (and with little professional organizing experience), it would look a lot like 626. Like it or not, these guys are the current stewards of the SoCal Night Market, and even if their execution was problematic, I think their vision is in the right place.

                                                      I think we need to support the organizers so that they are encouraged to improve future events. Now that there's proven demand for this, I'd love to see this in a larger space, integrated into the businesses. Imagine converting Focus plaza into a night market, and ultimately expanding it down Valley. Outdoor foot massage chairs, roasted duck tongues, hilarious unintentionally misspelled t-shirts, and stinky tofu stands for as far as the eye can see. The thought of it brings tears of joy to my extremely Caucasian eyes.

                                                      Alright, that's enough said on this topic.

                                                      Mr Taster

                                                    2. re: jotfoodie

                                                      As far as traffic is concerned, how many people actually drive to a night market in taiwan? they all walk, moped or bike to it. Due to the car-centric culture of the US, it was hard for them to predict exactly what was going to happen. furthermore, had the local businesses accounted for what was going to happen, they would have been savvier and opened their lots for paid parking.

                                                      1. re: chezwhitey

                                                        "Due to the car-centric culture of the US, it was hard for them to predict exactly what was going to happen"

                                                        I would say that if you've spent even a few months in L.A., this is NOT hard to predict. Regardless of the urban differences b/t LA and Taipei, if you're not taking the *local* transportation cultures into account, you're completely failing at basic planning.

                                                        1. re: odub

                                                          What we're missing here is not just the differences in transportation cultures, but the different attitudes towards crowdedness as well. Americans don't manage being crowded really well. One of the things we noticed about street crowds in the Hong Kong area was how nobody really minded being jammed together. We saw families with little kids walking separately, without the kind of anxiety or enforced hand-holding you'd see here. I'm normally very American in my wanting a certain amount of personal space even out in public, but just being surrounded by swarms of people who lacked those hangups rubbed off on me, very much to my own amazement.

                                                          That said, I'm really glad we picked that night to have a dinner party at our house! Otherwise I'm sure I'd have joined the ones snarling about the fiasco downtown …

                                                          1. re: Will Owen

                                                            counter: the crowd was clearly predominantly Asian, see vid action:
                                                            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7mPbCy...

                                                            The complaints weren't from white people who've never dined communally with strangers. Folks who voiced their anger were once the "little kids walking separately, without the kind of anxiety". See wacowla facebook page for reference:
                                                            http://www.facebook.com/wacowfanpage

                                        2. got there at 10p, no traffic, no wait, no food either.

                                          if anyone saw 2 corgis walking around, that was me haha.

                                          wow reading that review, I'm glad we ended up leaving to go to the real 626 instead (crepe in a grip, new mgmt which sucks, and phoenix bakery which has some ridiculously good taro goods)

                                          1. Yeah, I work on Los Robles and Green/El Dorado and people from here had no problem parking (parked in our underground parking) but some only walked across the street and then turned around. No way were they going into that madhouse. Others went, but told me that they could not even move, much less get anything to eat. I think it would be better if they put it up on Union or Green streets and closed a few blocks there. I was wondering about the location when I first started hearing about it. But, like people have said, it was hard to anticipate how many people would go. Now they know, so they have some decisions to make - including the vendors. Will be interesting to see what happens.

                                            6 Replies
                                            1. re: WildSwede

                                              I think one of the smartest things Pasadena could do in the long run is turn Colorado Blvd into a permanent pedestrian-only area between the 710 and Lake Ave, and put E-W traffic onto Green and Union. That would make Colorado available for many special events, like a regular night market. I know resistance would come from many corners, but I think the long-term benefit would be amazing.

                                              1. re: Peripatetic

                                                That is a brilliant idea! Who do we need to talk to? Although, maybe all the way to Lake would be a little overkill. How about just to Arroyo Parkway? That way, all of Old Town would be covered. Wait, what would they do with the parade?

                                                1. re: WildSwede

                                                  "... Wait, what would they do with the parade?"...

                                                  Therein lies the rub.

                                                  1. re: J.L.

                                                    No change for the parade. Same route.

                                                2. re: Peripatetic

                                                  I've been wishing and hoping for this for years. It's the only thing that would get me to venture back to Old Town on any kind of a regular basis - and Pasadena is my lovely hometown that I hate to mess about in, these days.
                                                  I would do pedestrian-only + a trolley.

                                                  1. re: Peripatetic

                                                    YES! That would be awesome! It's not like Old Town needs drive-by traffic. They rely on foot traffic anyway. It would be nice if it could eventually then extend to encompass the Paseo. I used to live there and while it was an awesome place to live, the empty storefronts were depressing. Maybe the Night Market could take over the Paseo? Vendors would be spread out and they've got lots of underground parking.