New faces, tastes at Summer Night Market

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

Look for Hurricane Potatoes and the Roaming Dragon food truck

Mia Stainsby

Kwang Chul Lee, of Hurricane Potato, holds up a couple of them at the Summer Night Market in Richmond. Photograph by: Arlen Redekop, PNG, Vancouver Sun

At a glance

Summer Night Market.

Where: 12631 Vulcan Way, Richmond.

When: Open 7 p.m. to midnight and 1 a.m. Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays to September 26.

I don’t care about hair clips, socks, CDs or anything I can’t eat at the Summer Night Market in Richmond. And I’d like an electronic anklet to keep me from getting too close to the snake exhibit. “You mean they’re outside the cage?” I squeaked when my partner informed me that one was draped around someone’s neck. I scurried like a nervous rat to the comfort and distraction of the food-hawker zone.

This year, there are some new and interesting food vendors. Some of them are nicely tricked out with design-conscious fronts, cute names and business cards. Others have no name, the food on offer being their only pitch.

We were greeted by a new stall at starting gates. Mollie’s Mini’s does doughnut holes. (I could get all technical and argue that they aren’t holes, they’re balls! But I won’t.) Amid all the exotic Asian fare, Mollie’s might seem like a great big yawn but these poppers are light and tasty, especially when they’re freshly hot. Just don’t get carried away. But who am I kidding? Go on. Get totally carried away. You’d have to go to Asia to find street-hawker food like this for $2 to $5. And to compensate for not actually being in Asia, these stalls are health-inspected.

Another new item I like is the Hurricane Potato. They’re whole potatoes sliced into a spiral and stretched out, looking like a double helix; they’re deep-fried but not oily and come with a choice of sauces. At $3 each or two for $5, it’s a deal.

Sumo Bites takes the idea of a burger and turns it Japanese, even more than Japadog and their hotdogs. The ‘buns’ are made of rice (kernels) formed into patties, grilled and then sandwiched around sukiyaki beef, teriyaki chicken or kurobata pork. “We saw them in Taiwan and fell in love with them,” said the perky young entrepreneur.

For the longest time, hotdogs were something I avoided, but now that they’ve risen above the ballpark version, I’m interested. A new “designer” hotdog stand offers several –nori, Thai, bonito, kimchee and cheese. I tried a kimchee hotdog. “All beef, barbecue sauce, cabbage, kimchee, fried shallots and sesame seeds” the sign said. Not bad.

I almost walked past the Rollie stand. Too much like same-old spring rolls I thought. There are two savoury and three sweet fillings in the crispy rolls. I tried the ‘apple pie’ filling but declined the ice cream. I expected canned apple pie filling but, instead, found fresh apples inside. The blueberry filling, I’m told, is locally sourced.

Moving on, I dove for one of my favourite treats. Korean fish-shaped waffles filled with sweet bean, so cute, they’re like Hello Kitty pets. The woman making them has it down to an art. Heat griddle to 350 F, pour in batter, then filling, cook for 1½ minutes. Done! You can get six for $5.

Next, the Xin Jian Man BBQ stall, where I tried barbecued lamb and chicken on skewers.

I was defying rules of etiquette and digestion, swerving between savories and sweets. I tried another new savoury, the quail egg wrap, right next to the Sumo Bites stand. Unfortunately, the egg wasn’t fully cooked and I let my husband have most of it.

There were new stalls I didn’t try. A French toast stall departs from the norm. It comes stuffed with chicken or pork. “Ordinary ones are always like toast and jam. It’s too boring,” says vendor Fred Hsu.

I passed by a place that sells barbecued ice cream, where ice cream is wrapped in dough, put on the barbecue, and I suppose, when you bite into it, you’ve got an ice cream gusher.

At another stand, a fusion of German and Indian offers curry wursts, along with tandoor chicken and butter chicken. J.J.’s Hot Cobs has a rotating roaster set up. Inside, there’s unhusked corn as well as yam roasting away.

And this weekend, look for a new food truck, Roaming Dragon with pan-Asian street foods with items like braised pork belly steam bun sliders, chicken karaage with passion fruit and palm sugar, shredded duck salad. The culinary consultant behind the menu? None other than Don Letendre, recently executive chef at Opus Hotel.

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