The Richmond Night Market finally closes this weekend, and because it’s the Thanksgiving long weekend, they’ll be open Friday, Saturday, Sunday as well as Monday. If you haven’t been to the night market this summer, now is your last chance to go!

I finally ventured to the Richmond Night Market for the first time three weeks ago. I had been to the other night market in Richmond, the Summer Night Market, many times in the past, but I had never made it out to the new Richmond Night Market.

If you don’t know the story about why there are two night markets in Richmond, well… the Richmond Night Market opened up back in the mid-late 90s in the parking lot of Lansdowne Mall. I went there once or twice, and there were a handful of kiosks selling bubble tea and merchandise. It was a novelty, and it kept growing larger to the point where they had to vacate their premises in the mall parking lot, and so they moved to an industrial space over on Bridgeport and Vulcan Way. For many years, the Richmond Night Market flourished, and it was quite the experience, especially for those of us who had never been to Asia.

Then, a few years ago, the Richmond Night Market either lost their lease, or gave up their lease looking for a larger/better location for their night market. While searching for a new location, a completely other company came along, took the lease from the old spot, and set up the exact same night market – same infrastructure and all. In fact, it was the same market, but legally, they couldn’t use the same name, so they called it the Summer Night Market. To any outsider, they couldn’t tell the difference between the markets and so kept calling it the Richmond Night Market, even though it technically wasn’t.

Finally, 2012 comes around and the original Richmond Night Market reopens, but in a new location on an industrial lot next to the River Rock Casino, and conveniently, immediately next to the Bridgeport Canada Line Station. All of a sudden, the Summer Night Market has competition, and so the they offer a free shuttle out to their now inconveniently-located night market.

Despite the competition, the two markets flourished all throughout the summer. Both offer similar experiences – a diversity of Asian street food and a collection of vendors selling primarily useless trinkets – all very much in spirit of a carnival midway.

I always say that if you’re going to go to the night market, go on a an empty stomach. The night market’s all about the food anyway. So armed with a handful of twenties and a camera, a group of us made an after-work outing to the Richmond Night Market on September 14. Here’s a snapshot of my experience:

When you first arrive at the Richmond Night Market, it can be a little overwhelming, but you’ll soon get into the groove – meandering, stopping, watching, and assessing which vendors you’ll eat at first.

For us, the first stop was Japanese takoyaki – traditionally chopped octopus in a savoury batter and cooked until its piping hot. These were shrimp takoyaki, with okonomiyaki sauce, Japanese mayo, and bonito flakes on top. Izakaya fans will love these.

This guy was in great spirits, getting the crowds excited as he yelled, “BBQ lamb chicken shrimp!” He’s basting the lamb kebabs in the picture, and I highly recommend them. Get them spicy (doused in chili flakes) – it’s well worth the wait. Perhaps the tastiest meat on stick you’ll find here (in my opinion).

In addition to the spicy lamb, I ordered a stick of “crispy bun”. Covered in sweet savoury sauce with sesame seeds, they were like mini pork buns – satisfyingly crispy on the outside, without the pork filling.

You have to balance the savoury with the sweet, so we hit up this popular vendor who was selling ice cream and fruit dessert concoctions known as “iceys”. I think they’re Taiwanese, although I could be wrong.

This was the mango tapioco “icey” – with a big blob of vanilla ice cream in the middle. We drank it like a milkshake and I could have easily consumed another!

There are all kind of items on offer – traditional dim sum and night market staples like curry fish balls.

Squid tentacles, now there’s a night market snack. They sell them just like French fries – piled into a tiny cardboard carton and you snack on them as you meander through the crowds.

Tempting, but I didn’t have it in me. By this time I was getting stupidly full, and cut back on purchasing food, although I did consume some BBQ pork buns (3 of them). That will do you in, although I found MEGA Chicken strangely alluring…

There is a general seating area – picnic tables and bar tables – at the far end of the market, and it’s here where you’ll notice the purple glow of artificial trees; a rather soothing effect amidst the chaos of the market.

The Care For Life Foundation has set up these wishing trees, where people donate $5 and can write their wishes down and attach it to the branches.

All in all, we spent about an hour and a half here before feeling the urge to want to head back home. It’s then a 10 minute walk back through the parking lot to the Bridgeport Canada Line Station and then a 20 minute ride back into downtown Vancouver.

How to get to the Richmond Night Market

It’s simple! Just get on any south-bound Canada Line from Vancouver (it doesn’t matter if it’s YVR Airport or Richmond Brighouse) and get off at Bridgeport Station. From Bridgeport Station head down to street level and walk west along River Rock Casino until you see this:

Note that the ground is a parking lot, but at times covered in gravel, so wear comfy flat-heeled shoes.

You’ll follow the pathway built through the parking lot and you’ll see this guy…

… and then you’ll be at the admission booth where you’ll be charged $1.50 as an entrance fee (yes, I know). Bring exact change to make it easy, and then voilà!

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