Gooey grilled cheese sandwiches filled with braised short rib. Homemade fig and mascarpone ice cream sandwiched between warm oatmeal cookies. Chunks of fresh lobster meat bursting out of a toasted roll. Three reasons L.A. street fairs — from Downtown's Art Walk to Venice's First Fridays — have become a breakaway hit within the city's food scene. Today is no exception, as Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade plays host to Malaysia Kitchen Night Market from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., transforming part of the three-block tourist (err, shopping) Mecca into a Malaysian street food celebration.

L.A.'s nighttime open-air market — brainchild of Malaysian Kitchen For The World's campaign to promote Malaysian cuisine in the U.S — follows on the heels of a similar event held in New York's Grand Central Terminal's Vanderbilt Hall. This Friday, however, local Malaysian restaurants such as Yazmin, Manja, Belacan Grill, Monsoon Café, and Starry Kitchen are sharing free samples of Malaysian street food specialties like chicken satay with spicy peanut sauce, pickled cucumbers, beef rendang (in layman terms: spiced dry beef curry), and nasi lemak (a coconut rice dish served with spicy curry chicken or beef rendang).

In addition, Southeast Asian and Malaysian food expert and cookbook author Robert Danhi is handing out tastes of his very own Coconut “Kaya” Toast: a local spread made from eggs, sugar, coconut milk, flavored with pandan and then eaten on toast. And while we know better than most how strong the lure of samples can be, take some time to enjoy the traditional Malaysian dance performances and overall atmosphere, which mimics the brightly-colored tents, umbrellas and glowing lanterns found in Kuala Lumpur's open air markets.

L.A. Malaysia Kitchen Night Market: Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica. Event runs from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public.

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