The largest Asian night market in the United States is headed back to Arcadia this Labor Day.
Many of the 626 Night Market vendors sell authentic Asian foods like skewers, stinky tofu and noodle dishes, but the market also offers a lot of unique, Instagram-worthy items. The next 626 Night Market, the last of the year, will take place on Sept. 4, 5 and 6 at Santa Anita Park. Admission is $3 (children 6 and under get in free), and parking is free.
From charcoal burger buns to teddy bear curry, here's what to eat at the last 626 Night Market of 2015:
Teddy Bear Thai Curry
Inspired by adorable Japanese bento boxes, Lazy Bear will be making its signature jumbo crab stir-fried curry using the family’s secret recipe from Thailand — along with a cute, rice-molded bear on the side. The curry recipe was passed down from the proprietor’s mother, who operates a luxury dinner cruise on Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River.
Moving Live Uni, Lobster and Octopus
Beach Live Fish Restaurant will be serving live seafood, Korean-style. Expect live octopus that's still moving, sliced into bite-sized pieces and topped with sesame oil and sesame seeds. Its most popular item is the uni bowl, which features sashimi and uni over rice served in a sea urchin whose spikes still sway. Beach Live Fish Restaurant also will have fresh lobster sashimi that will go straight from the tank to your plate. Be kind to the staff and they may even let you pick your prey.
Japanese Bamboo Charcoal Burgers
You’ve seen those crazy, limited-edition, pitch-black hamburgers from Japan, but you’ve never seen them here in the United States — until now. Oko Café from Gardena will be cooking up a handful of different burger combinations with unique-looking cheese and buns made with bamboo charcoal powder imported from Japan. The brisket and short rib patty will be paired with three house-made sauces: sumo yellow, kuro black and wasabi green. The Tokyo Kuro Burger will feature the patty along with kuro black cheese, bacon, egg, lettuce, tomato and onion, and the Osaka version will feature the hamburger with kuro black cheese, bacon, shiitake mushroom, lettuce, tomato and onion. Oko Café is touting multiple health benefits of the bamboo charcoal kuro buns — according to Oko, it detoxifies harmful chemicals from the body, reduces signs of aging and prevents heartburn.
Gigantic Dog Poop- and Flower-Shaped Cotton Candy
If it's not Instagram-worthy, is it even worth ordering? Cloud Food Creations tests this theory with cotton candy it crafts into large, rainbow-colored shapes that resemble flower bouquets — or dog poop. These outrageous cotton candy spectacles are a frequent sight at night markets in Asia. Your bouquet will be topped with a tangy Tajín seasoning made of chile peppers, lime and salt, plus Pop Rocks for an extra-sugary crunch.
Fruit Honey Soda and Korean BBQ Tacos
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La Sriracha Racha keeps Night Market-goers on their toes with shark tacos, maple bacon cotton candy and fried frog legs. This time around, the hot sauce powerhouse will be making organic honey soda on site with a CO2 tank. Choose from strawberry lemonade, ice tea lemonade, melon, peaches and cream, or original ginger root. La Sriracha Racha also will be serving Korean barbecue tacos with fresh veggies and three different sauces.
Other interesting foods to check out:
- The reigning Night Market king, the Original Ramen Burger, will be doing a mash-up with Bruce Tea, a new drink company created by Bruce Lee’s daughter and inspired by the tea blends her father drank. The teas are blended with royal jelly, ginseng and honey.
- The Bonks Lab will be making Filipino handcrafted drinks. Expect traditional drinks such as the Tita, made with mini agar-agar jellies with sago, banana and brown sugar, or the Buko Pandan, packed with coconut shreds, pandan jellies, milk and syrup, and shaken with ice. Other specialty drinks include calamansi iced tea and Filipino dessert favorite mais con hielo, made with sweet creamed corn kernels, milk, ice and syrup.
- Cafe949 will be making golden popping fish balls, curry fish balls, BBQ pork baco (bao + taco), shrimp tempura baco and popping fish ball udon.
626 Night Market, Sept. 4-6, 4 p.m.-1 a.m.; Santa Anita Park, 285 W. Huntington Drive, Arcadia, 626nightmarket.com.