626 Night Market is an annual market that allows people in the San Gabriel Valley to experience Asian culture during the summertime. The event takes place four weekends throughout July to September. Over 300 different food vendors, crafts, arts, games, and music/performance entertainment allows for a variety of social interactions in the venue.
The 626 Night Market is inspired by the open street markets in Asia, with Asian cuisine, trends, and merchandise sold at the market. The market also showcases local businesses, restaurants, and performers that embrace other cultures found around the world, which diversify California. The event started in 2012 by Onny C. Hwang, a Taiwanese businessman. After the massive success of the 626 Night Market, the OC Night Market and NorCal Night Market opened. As it has become increasingly popular among all ages, the event has 100,000 more attendees each weekend.
The majority of the food is Asian-inspired, as the event focuses on Asian cultures. Already popular foods in the US, such as boba, Korean BBQ, and ramen are changed in nontraditional ways, such as boba in a baby bottle, Korean BBQ tacos, and Ramen burgers, with noodles as the bun. Street food from areas including China, Korea, Japan, and the Philippines are sold at 626 to satisfy everyone’s cravings.
The event continues until midnight, so there is plenty of time to try all the various styles of Asian street food in one night. There is food for everyone, such as sweets for kids, and drinks for adults. 626 Night Market is very popular among teenagers with social media, so photo backgrounds are set ready for picture taking. The setting can also be taken advantage of, as the spectacular horse track, though closed off, is open to look at.
While 626 Night Market is a fun event, with many attractions, it can also be educational to youth about Asian culture. Yvalisse Ganzon, a high schooler who attends every year explained the event by saying, “this food festival is amazing in itself, however, it hits even closer to home as it serves all types of Asian food. Me, being a Filipino, I have to travel out of my neighborhood just to get food that I can connect to – but with the 626 Night Market, I’m able to find foods that my own family would make and even try things that I’ve never heard of from other Asian countries. The event is perfect for whoever wants a taste of home or those who are interested in understanding Asian culture in their own city.”
Going to events with nontraditional foods and entertainment can give a taste of what their culture or their friend’s culture is. Asian American musicians, or other performers that range from traditional to Kpop, provide entertainment that heightens the 626 Night Market experience. The exciting atmosphere is inviting to many people of all backgrounds, and during the event, they can appreciate the Asian lifestyle.
Hannah Sung, Grade 10
Crescenta Valley High School