Sunday, July 31, 2011

T&T Waterfront Night Market

Just 3 weeks after experiencing my first night market in Richmond BC, I was excited to learn of the second annual T&T Waterfront Night Market in Toronto, Ontario. I quickly altered my weekend plans and arranged to make quick trip down the 401 with a couple friends.

Night Markets are popular all over Asia were vendors sell everything from prepared food items to cell phone cases.  They have a more laid back and casual atmosphere than they daytime counterparts and are a popular evening hangout for all ages.  Many of these markets have sprung up in North American cities over the past few years in areas with a high Asian population.  In Ontario, there is also an annual night market in Markham every July called Night It Up! 

We arrived in Toronto and met up with a small group of family and friends and headed down to the parking lot of the T&T Supermarket on Cherry St. for the market.  Just as we arrived, the skies opened up and a torrential downpour began.  Already soaked to the bone, we huddled under a vendors tent until the storm could pass.  So, what better time to start eating!!
A very soggy start to the evening

We started off with some BBQ pork jerky type item, and I grabbed a mango lemonade...figured I might as well buy from the vendors that were allowing us to hide under their tents!

Next we had a little help from our friends wife who braved the storm to run out and get us some more snacks.  We all shared a big basket of popcorn chicken and eggs in tea.

I am generally not a big fan of hard boiled eggs, but never one to shy away from trying a new item, I dug right in.  It is prepared by gently cracking the shell all over as to allow the tea to permeate the egg.  The result was a sweet and earthy flavour and officially the only type of hard boiled egg I really like! 

When the rain finally stopped, we pounded back a pile of goat skewers before I decided to wander around on my own.  The market was quite large, taking up the entire T&T parking lot.  I figured there was probably the same amount of vendors as the Richmond Night Market, however they were more spread out.  Probably a good thing because the crowds really started to pour in once the rain stopped.  There was a stage at the north end, but due to the rain the shows were cancelled for the evening. 

Next I grabbed a pulled pork taco, which was less than exciting.  I love making Mexican/BBQ fusion food at home, so I was looking forward to the taco, but I really shouldn't have wasted my time.  It was just dried out pulled pork on a dried out corn tortilla with a couple picked onions on top.  There appeared to be no cilantro, pico, or anything else available as condiments.  Thankfully I only spent $2 on it.

I checked out the oyster omelettes being made.  They used these giant circular frying pans to make a bunch of omelettes at a time.  This is one item you should share with friends as it is absolutely huge!!

One big difference I quickly noticed between Toronto and Richmond's night markets was the amount of stinky tofu in Toronto.  The smell was at times overwhelming as there were at least 6 vendors selling this aromatic dish.  In Richmond there was only one vendor selling it and there were frying in somewhere in the back corner of their stand so the smell was not evident at all.  I tasted it at that time and it had quite a mild and enjoyable flavour.  I was looking forward to it in Toronto, but after smelling it for a couple hours I decided to pass this time.  I later learned that the smell of rotting organic matter is something that can stay with you for hours, if not days later.  I still recommend trying it, as you will honestly be pleasantly surprised....however, just eat it quick before the smell hits you!!

Next was my favorite of all the dishes I tried that evening....I giant steamed bun with beef bulgogi.  The bun was fresh and the meat perfectly cooked.  Cilantro, cucumber, and lots of fresh jalapenos topped it off perfectly!

Just as they had at the previous night market I attended, the BBQ squid was a very popular item.  It did not disappoint.  I could have eaten the squid and steamed bulgogi buns all night long...

Met  back up with my friends about an hour later and they shared some of their takoyaki.  I was pretty full, and the lines were getting huge, so I decided that I had eaten enough for now.  We grabbed a some huge pineapple drinks and gathered the rest of our crew.  With another storm looming over the CN tower only a couple miles away, we quickly grabbed a couple cabs and headed out to the comforts of a friends condo to warm up and (finally) dry off.  

Overall, the market was well worth the trip from Ottawa.  I enjoyed some new dishes and spent the evening with family and friends who are as passionate about food as I am.   Can't wait for next year!! 

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