Besides the fact that Richmond Night Market (8351 River Road) is the biggest of its kind in North America, it is also considered one of Metro Vancouver’s premier summer food destinations.
Its outdoor food stalls offer over 500 different street-style gourmet eats, which include everything from classic dim sum to Asian-style tacos, bubble tea to deep-fried squid, ice cream to poké bowls, and much more.
So how does a night-market newcomer navigate through the endless options of mouth-watering grub during his or her first visit? You start with the most popular and iconic items that are always a hit, and never a miss.
Here are 10 must-try food and drink picks to check out at the Richmond Night Market, which is open Friday and Saturday (7 p.m. to midnight) and Sunday and holidays (7 p.m. to 11 p.m.) through October 9, 2017.
1. Soft shell crab tacos from Tabetai Tacos
You’ve probably tried Mexican tacos, but have you ever tasted it with an Asian flair? New to the night market this year is Tabetai Tacos—a food stall that specializes in Asian-inspired tacos. Its most popular item is a soft shell crab taco made with crispy fried soft shell crab, teriyaki glaze, spicy miso mayo, guacamole, masago (fish eggs), nori (seaweed), and a corn tortilla. Not a fan of seafood? It also offers kakuni (pork belly) and gyutan (beef) taco options.
2. Strawberry and balsamic ice-cream bun from Bao Bar Sweets
Ice-cream sandwiches will always be a childhood (or adulthood) favourite, but the new bao buns from Bao Bar Sweets show fierce competition. Its ice-cream buns feature perfectly deep-fried mantou (Chinese sweet bun) that is both golden and crispy. A must-try flavour is strawberry with balsamic drizzle sprinkled with basil flakes. Other top contenders include toasted soy milk, matcha, and Vietnamese coffee.
3. London fog tea-ffee from Sippy Tea
As you make your way through the hungry crowds, you may notice many people holding a plastic pouch close to their mouths. The answer to this is simply Sippy Tea’s introduction of its tea-ffee in a pouch (reusable and recyclable)—a combination of tea and coffee served in cute little bags. Try the London fog tea-ffee for a light and milky drink; if you want something with stronger flavours, go for the Thai coconut or chocolate lavender.
4. Barbecue oysters from Oyster & Scallop BBQ
You may be familiar with hot dogs and patties on your well-loved barbecue at home, but a certain food vendor at this night market takes grilling to the next level. Think barbecued shellfish that is juicy and succulent, with the perfect amount of flavour. We dig the BBQ oyster (shell included) seasoned with soy sauce and topped with scallions—eat it on your own because it’ll be too tasty to share. Its BBQ scallops are grilled the same way but topped with vermicelli, which make it just as delicious.
5. Satay pan-fried squid from The Squid Co.
Seafood is a big hit in Metro Van, so it’s not a surprise that many night market vendors like to serve up fresh bounty from the ocean. The Squid Co. specializes in pan-fried squid, and visitors can choose from a variety of flavours that include garlic, the signature, hot and spice, curry, and our favourite—satay. This chewy and satisfying food item is easily sharable because you can just grab a couple more skewer sticks, and you’ll be good to go.
6. Deep-fried chicken wings from Little Phnom Penh
Vancouver Chinatown’s legendary Vietnamese slash Cambodian restaurant (and frequent Golden Plates winner) Phnom Penh decided to join the Richmond Night Market last year, and it’s been a popular spot ever since. One of the most iconic dishes at the eatery has been its deep-fried chicken wings, which is now offered at the night market stall known as Little Phnom Penh. The wings are crispy, juicy, seasoned with garlic and served with lemon and pepper sauce—you will always want more than one. It is served in orders of four, six, or 12 pieces.
7. Thai-style butterfly pea milk tea from Milk Cha
If you’ve never heard of butterfly pea tea, it’s made from blue butterfly pea—a plant that originates from South East Asia. To try this exotic beverage, check out the photo-worthy drinks from Milk Cha. This vendor combines fresh milk and butterfly pea tea to create gorgeous and thirst-quenching milk teas. It offers eight different flavours on its menu, and one of its most popular is the Thai-style butterfly pea milk tea. Can’t decide between Thai-style or oolong or earl grey? Choose to have your drink in its sharing cup—it allows you to try two different flavours at once.
8. Barbecue skewers from Chef James Company
He dons a full executive chef uniform and keeps hungry guests entertained by yelling in his microphone. Chef James is known for his charisma, but also for the mouth-watering Xin Jiang-style skewers that he barbecues on multiple grills. Choose between AAA steak beef, chicken, honey garlic prawns, lamb kidney, or the best-seller—lamb skewers. The line-up may look long, but it’s usually a quick wait because the chef is efficient and knows what he’s doing.
9. Roasted garlic pepper hurricane potato from Rotato
Easily taking the crown for having the longest line-up and wait times, the Rotato stall is something that you must check out if you’ve never visited the Richmond Night Market before. A hurricane potato, or rotato, is a twisted potato on a stick that is deep-fried and sprinkled with a seasoning of your choice. Its flavours range from seaweed salt to curry, sour cream onion to honey mustard, cheddar to ketchup, and more. But its top pick is roast garlic pepper—order this and you’ll never look back. A word of advice, get your rotato as soon as the market opens, or wait until the end of the night to avoid hour-long waits.
10. Rose-shaped ice lolly from Rose Popsicle
What’s a night market visit without one or two (or five) desserts? If you’re the type to documents all the eats that you’ve tried, why not pick something that is both photogenic and attractive to your taste buds? Rose Popsicle’s flower-shaped frozen treats can do the job; flavours include orange, blueberry, grape, lychee, and strawberry. You may be tempted to refrain from eating it because it looks perfect, but we suggest taking a bite before the summer heat turns it into liquid.