The first Night Market event of the year was a smashing success, drawing a diverse record crowd over the 3-day weekend at OC Night Market in Costa Mesa, CA on May 19-21. The attendee count was a record for OC Night Market in our 4 years at this venue! Many veteran vendors came back to serve the very Instagrammable swirl potatoes, grilled whole lobster and takoyaki but we also saw some new faces trying out new concepts like ice cream tacos or butterfly pea flower lemonade.
For every vendor listed below I probably ate food from 3 more that I couldn’t fit into this post, but here are the 9 top foods that I tried at our last event:
1. The Sandwich Society Ramen Grilled Cheese and Brazilian Lemonade @thesandwichsociety
The Sandwich Society is a new concept from veteran vendor Hotato Potato (@hotatopotato) of the Swirl Potato. I nabbed the Ramen Grilled Cheese made with jalapeños, corn, kimchi and house special sauces right at Friday opening. I loved it! I was afraid the ramen and grilled cheese would be really bland but the jalapeños and kimchi gave it just a bit of kick and was not too spicy for someone who normally avoids spicy food. I forget the price, maybe $8-10?
I also ordered the Brazilian Lemonade since I had never heard of such a thing before. It was so good and addicting, that stuff was like crack. The drink tasted a bit milky or like yogurt and came in a very large mason jar for $8. A quick google search shows that the ingredients are limes (including the zest), condensed milk, water, sugar and ice.
The Sandwich Society will be back for 626 June and September. They also have a brick-and-mortar in Santa Ana.
2. The Milky Way OOO BAE Ice Cream Taco @themilkywayy
Had to get the OOO BAE ice cream taco for the incredible eye candy! The new vendor is sister to another vendor, the creator of Norigami Tacos (@norigamitacos) with the sushi tacos. This ridiculously purple dessert taco is made of ube ice cream, mochi, coconut and edible gold and was an item exclusive for our event. It was pretty good since I liked the added texture in the ice cream. Price was $7 a taco. No, I could not taste the gold. No, I did not poop gold.
They are confirmed for OC June.
3. Baked Dessert Bar Ube Custard Cupcake in a Jar @bakeddessertbar
Baked Dessert Bar was a completely new vendor and the Ube Custard just oozed delicious ube goodness. The Chocolate Champorado was alright, very light and not too sweet the way many Japanese desserts are light, you know? I would have preferred a stronger chocolate flavor. My coworker coveted a flavor called Strawberry Lychee but they kept selling out each night before she could get to it. The cupcake in a jar idea was totally adorable and very reasonably priced at $5 for a cupcake and $6 for a cheesecake.
They have a store out in Rancho Cucamonga and will be back for OC June.
4. Shrimp Daddy Hawaiian Garlic Butter Shrimp and Dole Whip with Mochi @eatshrimpdaddy
Shrimp Daddy got a lot of hype from being at Smorgasborg LA so we were really excited to have them at our event for the first time. I got the Hawaiian Garlic Butter Shrimp on a plate with steamed rice with furikake, Hawaiian mac salad and chilled pineapple with li hing. I looked up li hing, or li hing mui, and it’s Chinese salty dried plum. The taste is a combination of sweet, sour, and salty. It has also been described as tart, and even tangy. The reddish-orange powder did not have a very noticeable taste if the description sounds too weird to you.
The shrimp were large, crispy and definitely buttery! The portion was big enough to be your only night market purchase for the night or split between two or three people. Pro tip: split food items with friends in order to try a great variety of foods! It was about $13 and $3 more for the pineapple boat. If you want to save money, they have a full portion in the pineapple on a table near the front of the line so you can use it to take pics for the ‘Gram and just get the plate. The Dole Whip with mochi was good but like a Disneyland $4 Dole Whip with mochi for about $8. I washed everything down with the frozen slush beer that Kirin was giving out free samples of.
Shrimp Daddy will be back for all other events.
5. Seoul Street Bulgogi Elote Fries @seoulstreetco
Seoul Street is a long-time vendor. I always skipped them before since they have insane lines during most hours of the night and thought they were just another trendy vendor with fries. This time, I had the bulgogi elote fries with corn, lime, fresh pico de gallo, avocado garlic sauce, Mexican and mozzarella cheese, bulgogi beef and mayo. So bomb. Not sure what the price was, maybe $8-12? A staff member gave me some of hers and I also shared with someone else. It was a large enough portion to share so that you have enough space in your tummy to try more foods!
Seoul Street is confirmed for all future 2017 events.
6. Sumo Dog @eatsumodog
Sumo Dog was lauded as a Coachella favorite and featured on many media outlets such as Eater LA, LA Weekly and Thrillist when they opened their store in K-Town earlier this year. This was their first time at our events and I tried their signature Sumo Dog with wasabi relish, pickled baby bell peppers, spicy mayo, teriyaki sauce, and wasabi furikake for $10. The sausage was juicy and flavorful with Japanese inspired toppings for the perfect salty-savory blend. It was very satisfying. I saw someone else order the enormous hot dog called the Godzilla for $15 but I was way too intimated to get that!
They are confirmed for the rest of the events.
7. Nikumanya Melty Cheese Pork Bun @nikumanya
I go to Nikumanya when I’m tired of deep-fried, greasy foods. Their Japanese steamed buns are a night market staple, the most popular of which is the Melty Cheese Pork Bun. The addition of the cheese makes it little more westernized and fusion. All of the buns are $5-6 and each comes neatly cut in half with a small side of a soy sauce for sharing.
They are currently confirmed for OC June and 626 June. You can also find them at their shop at the Tokyo Central Food Court in Gardena.
8. Ensaymada Project Maple Bacon Ensaymada @ensaymadaproject
People go crazy for this Filipino brioche. Like they’ll buy the ensaymadas by the dozen and the vendor will pack it up nicely in a big gift box. They have a lot of flavors so I’ve been spending the past few years getting a different flavor each event. Prices are $4 each, $20 for 6, $32 for 12. I picked up the Maple Bacon and wanted to eat it right then, so the vendor microwaved it for me. So. Deliciously. Soft. And creamy! It was also also light and not too sweet or savory.
They will be back OC June and 626 June and July. Ensaymada Project also has a shop out in Canyon Country.
9. Cafe 949 Lobster Baco @cafe949
A new item from long-time vendor Cafe 949, the Lobster Baco (Bao + Taco) was touted as HOT, CRUNCHY, SOFT batter fry BAO buns stuffed with LOBSTER meat and topped with housemade GARLIC cajun aioli sauce, CAVIAR, veggies and LEMON. Letters in caps put there by them, not me. They are known for their whole, grilled lobster and garlic noodles and have been with us for years so I was curious to see what new item an old vendor would come up with. And the Lobster Baco did not disappoint! It really was crunchy and the lobster hella amazing. The Lobster Baco was a bit pricey at about $10 per bao, I believe, but it was fresh lobster and an item I couldn’t pass up.
Cafe 949 will be at all events except 626 June, for which they are wait listed at time of writing this post.
One event down, 6 more to go! Our next event is OC June 16-18 and then after that we finally open our flagship 626 Night Market event in Arcadia on June 30-July 2.
Join the rest of our events on Facebook:
OC Night Market [June 16-18]: http://bit.ly/OCNMJune
626 Night Market [June 30-July 2]: http://bit.ly/626NMJuly
626 Night Market [July 21-23]: http://bit.ly/626NMJuly2
626 Night Market [August 11-13]: http://bit.ly/626NMAug1
OC Night Market [August 25-27]: http://bit.ly/OCNMAug
626 Night Market [September 1-3]: http://bit.ly/626NMSep