Night It Up!
DISCLAIMER: These samples were provided free of charge to me by Night It Up and their vendors
Nelson @ Markham Civic Center: I look forward to this Asian style night market every year. I wish we could have this more frequently in Toronto, but we don't, so I always try to make my way to Night It Up. I just love the atmosphere of food everywhere assaulting your nose, eyes and ears. And of course your mouth when you finally get up to the front of the line and manage to order something. This year in mid-afternoon there were very few lines and having a media pass helped things along.
It was a hot sweltering day, so we first stopped by Juicy Melons by @EatingCityOut for some refreshments. These are watermelon skewers with coconut brittle on top. An interesting combination that turned out to be quite good, where it also provided some crunch. We also had a refreshing drink of watermelon juice spiked with mint ($5) to go. I wasn't sure what to expect with this taste combination, but it was better than I expected. Refreshing.
Next stop was El Perro Heffe @ElPerroHeffe serving mexico city street food. The first pic is of the octopus el diablo with cilantro and benito flakes ($3), but I didn't try this myself.
Instead I tried the Hot & Sour Chicken with Chinese cabbage, green peppers and onions ($2.5). It thought it was interesting that they would be serving a sour dish up, which usually isn't too popular with the masses. It was really tasty and had a great depth of flavour. It was sweet and of course sour, but definitely not like a Chinese-American sweet & sour thankfully.
Oh-Oh hotdog is straight up copy of Japadog. The names of their hotdogs seemed like they were exactly the same as Japadog and even the booth on the map is named japadog, which lead to some confusion. I asked if they are associated with Japadog, but they said no. This one is terimayo with edamame, thai chili, sriracha aioli, teriyaki sauce seaweed and sesame seeds. They said they make their thick hotdogs completely from scratch and I was surprised at how consistent it was and exactly like a real hot dog. I wonder if this is an easy thing to do, but it did taste good. For my half, the toppings were a little sparse, but at least the ingredients went fairly well together.
This is the oroshi hotdog, which I didn't get to try. Still off putting how much of a carbon copy this place was of the original Japadog in Vancouver.
I like the cleverly named food stand ME.N.U @menufoodtruck. They were selling fried rice balls ($3 each). Their different rice balls were also cleverly named, such as porkzilla, angry birds and dragonballz. I had the chance to try the Angry Birds with roasted chicken stuffed with mozzarella. It was decent as it was similar to Chinese fried rice with some cheese and a bit of chicken on the inside. What made it really good was the sweet chili and sriracha mayo on the outside.
Papa Chang's is a new Taiwanese restaurant that I have wanted to try for a long time. First up from them is fish skewers. These were amazing and my favourite item of the day. The fish was flaky and tender on the inside and crispy on the outside. The various sauces on top added a lot of great taste to the overall well-cooked skewer. Delicious!
Of course they were serving stinky tofu. It was good, but for some reason I feel as if I have had better. It wasn't that stinky, but at the same time, didn't taste that freshly cooked either. I found out that they can't serve this at the restaurant because of the smell, but the only place you can get it is at the Night It Up.
Lastly from Papa Chang's is deep fried chicken skewers with wasabi mayo. These were also deep fried well and tasted good, but I liked the fish version the best.
Tacocat @thetacocat seems to be a mainstay at Toronto night markets and I must admit they have a memorable name. They were serving some different food than what I had previously tried. I really wanted to try the mapo tofu fritters ($5), but alas it was not the featured sample. They had some calamari taco ($4, not pictured) instead, but I didn't try any. Instead, I opted to try some KFC Torta: Korean freid chicken sandwich cabbage and carrot slaw ($4).
I've had great experiences with Korean fried chicken, but this wasn't really in that style. The chicken was deep fried and excellent because it was so heftily meaty, crunchy, but the toppings also made it saucy and spicy. It reminded me a little of a pulled pork sandwich with the slaw in the sandwich. This one was a good Asian style sandwich that I enjoyed. Seems to be they have improved their food.
Cup Cup dessert was selling the egg puffs you often see and smell at Chinese malls. The difference here is that they top it with different ingredients and creative names such as tic tac egg (condensed milk, peanut butter, granulated sugar), japaegg (snow crab surimi, cucumber, wasabi mayo), chocopig (seared bacon, chocolate, caramel), nunu nana (nutella, banana corn flakes) and cinnaberry crisp (cinnamon, bacon bits, raspberry). You can see the cinna berry crisp on the left and the nunu nana in this pic. Nutella and banana is a classic combination, but the corn flakes added some welcome crunch. The cinnaberry crisp had a strong fruity taste, but I didn't get much bacon so I can't comment on that. There were samples of the chocopig and tic tac egg, but I didn't try any and they aren't pictured.
I did try the japaegg and thought it was interesting that they tried making a salty dish with the (semi) sweet egg balls. Creative and it tasted pretty good as well.
Sugar Love was serving fried mochi & ice cream. I had this one with green tea ice cream (not that flavourful but was nice in the heat), wafers (made my mouth dry) and peanut deep fried mochi. Now the mochi I really liked and wished they just served these instead. It had a bit of crunch, but a very soft interior and overall tasty. Yum!
I didn't get to try this one with peanut mochi, mango ice cream and chocolate sticks, but it also looked good.
Dat Chick Craze @DatChickCraze was serving pop'n chicken. On the left is the hot blazin' chicken which was spicy as you would expect. On the right was my favourite from this booth, a Taiwanese inspired popcorn chicken with a ton of basil. Oh man, was this one good. It was salty and extremely flavourful that just explodes.
Last is the pop'n chicken in a waffle. Interesting idea and the soft fluffly waffle was even sweet with syrup. Some people might like this one a lot, but I thought the basil was better.
Finally at our last stop, I was already bursting from eating so much. Puffles was again serving egg puffs, but with different flavours (chocolate, green tea and original)and with a lot of toppings. This is the rocky mountain. At this point I was really full and this was too sweet for me. I can see how it would appeal to some people with a sweet tooth.
I had an awesome time trying out such a great variety of food! This is such a fun event and I'm glad I could make it this year. The samples were a great way to try out a lot of the booths and perhaps try something new. Thank you Night It Up and keep on putting this event on please. Last day is today, don't miss it!
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