[By Matthew Lim]
I first heard about the 626 Night Market two years ago as a service opportunity. I didn't think much of it until I began to look into it and found out what it was all about. Held at the Santa Anita Racetrack, the 626 Night Market is a massive outdoor Asian night market where over a hundred food trucks, vendors, and merchandise retailers come celebrate the diverse Asian culture of Los Angeles.
As some of you may have guessed, the name for this festival comes from the area code that covers most of the San Gabriel Valley and parts of Monrovia, Arcadia, El Monte, and West Covina. It's named after this region because of the high concentration of Asian Americans that live in the area and the very strong Asian culture that accompanies it. Jonny Hwang, the founder of the night market, wanted a way to express his Asian culture and found it interesting how night markets were not very popular in America. With this concept in mind, he went on to organize one of the most popular events of the summer. The market’s success has allowed it to continue for three years straight and spawn more markets, such as the OC Night Market, the DTLA Night Market, and the KTOWN Night Market.
The 626 Night Market was open three weekends this year, July 18-19th, August 15-16th, and September 12-13th. This year, I went to 626 with a smaller group of friends than I had in previous years after I learned that the crowds at the market tend to be huge. It's much easier to handle the crowds with less people and also allows for less stressful planning. Just like an authentic Asian night market, the place was packed with people, and all the lines were pretty long. However, the food did not disappoint. Ranging from Honey Sriracha Spam Musubi (rice with spam wrapped in seaweed with you guessed it, Honey and Sriracha) to pho tacos (the name is pretty self explanatory, if you don't know what pho is... You haven't lived yet), the food choice was expansive and cheap.
If you're not that into food, never fear. Although food is the main attraction at the Night Market, there are still many merchandise shops. Clothing brands such as Stussy and quainter options like a portable bookstore were also at 626. There were carnival games, which you could play for prizes, as well as an art walk that featured local artists selling original signed prints of their work. Some of the other attractions of the night market were the live performances by local artists in the community, including various YouTube stars. No matter what you're interested in, the 626 Night Market has something for you!
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