I had only heard of the night markets of China and Southeast Asia, seen them on TV, heard of the delicious meats on sticks being purveyed in the hours after the sun goes down. So last year, upon hearing that the International District right here in Seattle would do their best to imitate this great tradition, I was devastated to realize that I wasn’t able to go on the two nights that it would be happening. Consecutive Saturday nights in August, a tough time to find me hanging around my fine city. Luckily, this year, with the addition of a third Saturday, I could make it. I was pleased to see that it had been enough of a success that they were growing it, and I only hope it grows even more.
As I arrived in the ID last night, shortly before nightfall, the atmosphere was, to say the least, festive. I was overjoyed to see the packed in crowds, watching the mini-olympics, eating crazy foods on sticks, and everyone generally looking like they were having a good time and participating in this brand new tradition to Seattle. I stopped first to pick up a Beard Papa cream puff. Having heard that these are the stuff of legends, I did as a good foodie would and spent my $2.25 ($2.25! For a teeny little cream puff??) on a cream puff. It was quite good. Out of this world? I’m unconvinced. Worth my two and a quarter dollars… probably. There were some very tempting looking curried fish balls on sticks (crazy things on sticks! Yay!), but I was suckered in by the thought of 2 tea eggs for $1.
Many of the stands would run out of food and stand empty for a while, which I took as a good sign, that they weren’t prepared for such big crowds, though it did mean a line for any stand that had food at their stand. I was disappointed to see many of the white people sticking to the fried rice and potstickers at the Jade Garden stand or the noodles from another nearby stand. Luckily it seemed that the other stands were doing decent business from people of Asian descent. I stepped out of my own comfort zone, buying what was titled a “Durian Souffle.” In reality it was more of small tart. I’ve never had durian before (bad foodie!) but I love stinky foods, so I thought I’d give the souffle a shot. I am not going to say it was the greatest thing ever, but it didn’t turn me away. It was not so much stinky as had a very muddled flavor that was somewhat earthy. I am sure this wasn’t the same as having the fresh fruit, so I’m still psyched to try that on my trip to Southeast Asia. For now, it satisfied a little curiosity in me.
All in all, it was a very pleasant experience and I was glad to see the turnout. I truly hope that this great event continues to grow and be supported by the community. I’ll see you next year at the night market!