OC Night Market: Giant Squid and Pusheen The Cat

Every year during the summer, hundreds gather to the Orange County fairgrounds to enjoy one of the largest Asian night markets in all of the United States. And why wouldn’t they? The OC Night Market offers over 200 booths and food trucks, selling a wide variety of gorgeous art, delectable food, and desserts that are to die for. The OC Night Market is put on by the same people who brought you the 626 Market, the first and largest Asian night market in the United States. The night market 2016 season started Friday, May 13th and continues all through this weekend. Don’t worry if you missed out, events will be popping up at the OC fairgrounds in Costa Mesa, June 17th -19th and August 26th-28th. If you live in the Los Angeles area, you can also go to the 626 Night Market with events spanning through July and September in Arcadia. With two locations and multiple events, there’s no excuse miss out on an exciting night of food, fun and memories.

I can’t tell you enough how good the food is here. With so many places to try, the hardest decision is picking where to start. We walked around for a solid 30 minutes before finally finding the perfect place to get some roasted corn with mayo and spices, a must have for Elise and I each year! If you’re not used to straying too far from the western palate, some of the menu items may sound menacing at first—trust me when I say this, you will be digging into a fried giant squid by the end of the night. Speaking of giant squid, there are squids everywhere at this event. Squid tentacles, fried squid balls—you can even order a bucket or cooked squid beaks. If you’re as big of a fan of squid as I am, look no further than the OC Night Market. I can personally recommend Squidies and Platoon as the best booths to get your fix, but with so many great choices to choose from, it’s impossible to go wrong. 

Don’t let the long lines deter you, either. In my experience, if there’s a crowd lining up at one place you’ve been dying to try, it usually means another booth on your list is open and ready to serve you. There are some exceptions to that sentiment, of course. We never did get our steamed buns that night as the line was zig-zagging with hungry people all night long. In the end, the lines always move fairly fast and get your food to you in a timely manner. Regardless, with enough patience and exploration, I can guarantee you’ll get to try everything your heart desires. 

Another great thing about the OCNM is how kind and energetic everyone is. You seldom see a scowled face here. While the main attractions are the hundreds of booths dedicated to amazing food, the event is also ripe with exciting live music and carnival games to bring out the kid in you. The band we payed the most attention to was The Bell Weathers, who put a pep in everyone’s step with their enticing stage presence and upbeat music. Although they were the only one we happened upon, bands from all genres filled the air with great music all night long. The carnival games are something you should at least stop by. While they have your classic games like tossing rings on bottles, they also have some that I’ve never seen before including a game where you attempt to pick up gold fish with a paper net. If you’re like me and gambling isn’t your thing, it’s always fun to cheer on those brave enough to try for the oversized teddy bears.

Some Tips:

Before you go, there are some things to keep in mind. First of all, nearly everything at the event is cash only. While there are plenty of ATMs scattered around the entire event, if you’re looking to save money on transaction fees, it’s probably wise to just stop by your bank on your way over. Also be sure to bring enough money for everything. Parking is 9 dollars and the entry fee is 5, not to mention that you’re going to want to try everything at the event. All in all, we spent about 30 dollars per person, a small price to pay for the smiles on our faces and the extra weight we left with that night.