OC Night Market
The ever so popular 626 Night Market packs up and moves to Orange County this Mother’s Day weekend. The inaugural OC Night Market opened its doors at the Fair Grounds on Friday at 4 P.M. Of course, I knew I had to be on hand to check out the new venue myself. So… off to the OC it was! After 2 hours of traffic, I finally arrived shortly after the 4 P.M. opening.
Do you see this open space? I was ecstatic. The 626 Night Market typically has so many patrons that it’s hard to navigate between the crowds. Lines for vendors are usually so long that they end up veering into other vendor’s lines. Going right when the OC Night Market opened was such a good decision! I practically walked up to the Ramen Burger line. If you’re an avid reader of my blog, you know this is a sight that never happens. Ramen Burger lines typically wrap around the block a few times. This was a major score! Here's the OG burger. It's a must-order each time.The Ramen Burger also debuted a burger that is new to the West Coast-Shredded Beef Ramen Burger. This newer addition to the Ramen Burger family comes with the handmade ramen bun, scallions, spicy aioli sauce, 100% shredded beef, and baby arugula.
I got my usual favorite pork belly. I also tried a Kelp and Rayu Musubi. I got to try a Potato Swirl from Swirl’s right next to Mama Musubi. The potatoes were fried to just the right texture. It was a fun finger food.
Here's a little Instagram video I made documenting the process.
I ran into Jay from JayEats. He was enjoying his potato swirl. You can follow him on Twitter here: @chefjayIt was nice also running into Master 626 Night Marketer, Alex.I saw a vendor serving poke and I had to stop and try. For those that don't know, poke is a Hawaiian appetizer. It's basically a sashimi salad. I ordered the Ahi Tuna Poke and the Spicy Salmon Poke from the Poke Bar. Unfortunately, their dish wasn't a stand out for me. I would have liked to see a thinner wonton skin or some sort of different outer bun. I would have also liked to see fresher sashimi chunks. Both fish had a bit too much sesame oil and too much seaweed. I would have liked to taste more of the fish. My good friend picked up these macarons from JoJo Bakery. The center filling was almost a mousse-like texture. I tried the Green Tea one. Although I can't say it's the best macaron I've had, it wasn't bad.
One of the vendors that I was most interested in was RAQ Lobster, which served charcoal grilled lobsters. It was $10 for a half lobster and $18 for 1 whole lobster . My friend bought this to-go to take home and I can't wait to try it. I do wish there was more meat on the lobsters. I will definitely eat it on the spot next time instead of having it to-go.
At this point I was too full. I wanted to purchase something from RAKKEN strictly based on the fact that their motto was amazing. Play Hard. Eat Harder. Those are wise words to live by. I got a Passionfruit Green Tea drink from Boba Mi Taco. I liked how the drink had a higher proportion of tea vs passionfruit. I would love to be able to try their food as well next time. My friend really wanted Stinky Tofu so I obliged to help her eat some. Although I love deep fried Stinky Tofu, my general opinion of it is that Stinky Tofu in the U.S. is not stinky enough! This particular vendor also had a Broiled Stinky Tofu option. I wish they had a Steamed Stinky Tofu option as well. No one has been able to top the Steamed Stinky Tofu I've had in Taiwan. I hope someone in the States will be able to provide a comparable version soon! Corn, corn, corn! Any festival or night event is never complete without Mexican Corn aka Elote. Unfortunately, the vendor ran out of Elote. I did like that this option was easier to eat that gnawing on a entire corn. I also loved that their condiments were off to the side so everyone could season their corn themselves. Naturally, I dosed my corn in butter, mayo, chili powder, garlic salt, and garlic.
Use the hashtag #inthe626 to show me what you eat in the 626!If you like ice cream sandwiches or cookies, you should try Paradise Cookies. The cookies are homemade cookies inside the truck. The cookies are crispy on the edges and soft in the middle.Vendor Squid Roe has these amazing deep fried squids on a stick. I loved their logo and their concept. This screamed fair food to me. It was perfect for the OC Night Market. Having gone to almost all of the night markets around town, I can say that I liked the Fair Grounds venue. I enjoyed seeing new vendors at the event (not the just the ones that you see at every night event). There were some unique dishes I really wanted to try. There was a crawfish stand I would have liked to try. There were also rather gimmicky offerings that I would have liked to try like the potted ice cream and the drinks that came in mason jars.
The OC Night Market is going on until Sunday, May 11th. Parking is $7. Admission is $5. Crowd wise, it definitely got very crowded at night, but because the venue was more spread out than Santa Anita Park, it was easier to navigate. I say go early and stay late. Don't expect to go late and be able to get through too many lines!
Address: 88 Fair Drive , Costa Mesa, CA
Happy Night Marketing!