pixelbunny's picks

A foodie and beauty blog

Night It Up!

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For the past twelve years, there’s been a night market held in Toronto that brings together numerous vendors of asian street food, trinkets, and entertainment. Five years ago, it changed it’s event name from Toronto Night Market to Night It Up! and it’s still been going strong ever since. The only asian style night markets I’d ever been to were the ones in Hong Kong, and the Richmond Night Market. I was always curious about this annual event, but work kept conflicting with the weekend and I would always miss it. That is, until this year. Lucky me, I didn’t have to work! Mr. Pixelbunny and I finally went to Night It Up and see what it’s all about.


The Atmosphere

Held outside of the Markham Civic Centre, the event hosts over 100 food and merchandise vendors. Each booth is essentially a tent with a table in front, with a mini kitchen just behind it. The event is cash only, so make sure you have enough on you! Otherwise, there is an ATM on site.

There’s also an outdoor stage with live entertainment featuring local singers and talents, so there’s always something good to listen to as you munch away at all the food! If nature calls, there are port-a-potties on the premise along with portable hand washing stations. There’s also a good police presence there, as you can see them walking in twos or threes, scanning the area or lining up to partake in the glorious eating.

Mr. Pixelbunny and I went in the late afternoon around 4:30pm and wandered and ate until 7pm. I’m pretty sure even more activities occur at night, but we were stuffed and needed to leave before our tummies growled for more.


The Food

Night It Up! - pork skewer
Pork Skewer – $2

The first thing we had was the pork skewer from Karmayan (booth G1). They are a Filipino cuisine booth and they had these great, succulent pork skewers. There’s two people manning the grills, and they each cook numerous pork skewers. Once they’re done, they’re placed in a aluminum tray in the middle where the person taking the orders can retrieve them. We waited a little bit for ours to finish cooking since the tray was empty. It only took another couple of minutes, and we were presented with steaming hot skewers of juicy pork. Slightly salty, slightly sweet. Loved it.


Night It Up! - watermelon juice
Watermelon Juice – $7

One of the more pricier fares of the day was the watermelon juice from Watermelon Juice (booth G2). It’s a small watermelon, hollowed out, then refilled with blended watermelon. You’re definitely paying the price for novelty here, and you’re at the mercy of whether the watermelon is sweet or not. However, for those who enjoy it so much that they want more, there is a refill option for $2.


Night It Up! - twist taro
Twist Taro – $5

The rotato was always on Mr. Pixelbunny’s radar, but once he saw there was a taro version, he had to order it. The twist taro is from Happy Twist (booth F4). You can watch them drill a hole down big chunks of taro or through a potato, insert a skewer into it, then have it placed in a machine that makes the rotating cut. After the machine is finished, someone takes the skewer, holds it vertical with the taro/potato at the top, then raps the end of the skewer on the table, elongating the taro/potato. Imagine stretching a slinky. Yup, that’s what it looks like. After that, it gets dunked into a vat of boiling oil to fry, and then taken out to dry. It’s neat watching the whole process at work. Almost like an assembly line.


Night It Up! - Okonomiyaki
Okonomiyaki (regular size) – $7

A popular place that was recommended on the website was the okonomiyaki from Okonomiyaki on Fire (booth F3). This was way better than my previous experience with okonomiyaki (see my post here) and much more tasty too. There were a lot of shredded cabbage in ours and not too heavy on the batter. I would have preferred a some more aonori and katsuobushi than was provided, but the flavour was still good. I definitely recommend this!


Night It Up! - grilled salmon cheeks
Grilled Salmon Cheeks – 2 for $5

Also from Okonomiyaki on Fire (booth F3) was the grilled salmon cheek skewers. The photo on their sign is misleading because I’m absolutely positive those are scallops. I didn’t take a picture but if you’re there, you’ll know what I mean. The salmon cheeks are silky and soft, and lightly seasoned. Some of their other fare were Japanese style grilled zucchini skewers and grilled lamb chop skewers, both of which are also 2 for $5.


Night It Up! - shucking fresh oysters
Shucking fresh oysters

We spotted this and couldn’t resist getting into the long line up.


Night It Up! - Pacific Tiger oysters
Pacific Tiger Oysters – 7 for $10

We had headed over to Diana’s Seafood (booths B9 and B10) and waited in line for 20 minutes for their delicious fare – freshly shucked Pacific Tiger Oysters. At 7 for $10, this puts your oysters for only $1.43 each, which is an amazingly good deal! Especially since these oysters are quite large and meaty. They also have a very nice sweet after taste to them. This one is a must try if you come!


Night It Up! - Cola Bomb and Sunset Grenade info
Info about what we had next

When looking up info about Night It Up!, I read this post, about Baron Hau, a local chef. He is bringing molecular gastronomy to Night It Up! and it’s at Modernist Desserts (booth K4).


Night It Up! - Cola Bomb and Sunset Grenade
Cola Bomb (back) and Sunset Grenade (front) – $3 each

This picture doesn’t do these desserts justice! The Cola Bomb is this gelatinous sphere of cola, that’s covered with strawberry foam and sprinkled with chocolate powder, freeze dried caramel bits, pineapple gel, and a slice of dehydrated pineapple. Amazing! The Sunset Grenade, is a sphere of mango juice, sitting in spiced apple juice, with a thin layer of grenadine syrup at the bottom. When you look at it, it seriously looks like a raw egg. Once you drink it, the sphere sits in your mouth until you break the sphere, letting loose an explosion of awesome manga juice. If you’ve never tried or heard of molecular gastronomy before, you have to try this. It’s a really neat way to experience something truly amazing!


Night It Up! - takoyaki
Takoyaki – $12

Next was takoyaki from Naniwa Taro (booth K1). These are the best takoyaki I’ve ever had in Toronto! Crispy outside, soft inside, and fully cooked inside too! A little pricey (it works out to $2 each!) but tasty. Wish it was a little cheaper though.


Night It Up! - making stinky tofu
Adding stinky tofu to the oil

Lastly, we went to Wei’s Stinky Tofu (booth F6) to try their infamous stinky tofu. Lucky for us, they were making a fresh batch.


Night It Up! - frying stinky tofu
Frying Stinky Tofu

Look at them bubbling away! The aroma was certainly stinky at times, but the breeze was in our favour and blew it away from us.


Night It Up! - stinky tofu
Stinky Tofu – $5

At last, the stinky tofu! To be honest, it didn’t smell stinky at all. It’s served with some chili sauce and pickled cabbage. The sauce it’s served with is a garlic pepper sauce. Slightly disappointing only because I was expecting a really pungent smells, but otherwise, the tofu tasted great! Check one off the bucket list!


The Verdict

There are tons of other vendors that we haven’t tried but were too full to attempt. With so many food vendors, you certainly won’t leave hungry. Admission is free, and parking is just a short walk away. What are you waiting for? The weekend is almost over!


The Place

Night It Up!
Markham Civic Centre
101 Town Centre Blvd, Markham, ON

July 12, 2013 – 7pm to midnight
July 13, 2013 – 12pm to midnight
July 14, 2013 – 12pm to 8pm

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Written by Jessica

July 14th, 2013 at 12:24 am

Posted in Events,Food