Design by Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist
My fondness for late-night snacking undoubtedly stems from a childhood and, in fact, a life accentuated by the presence of the night market. Indeed, some of my happiest memories come from exploring China’s night markets with my parents and grandparents.
The senses are most awakened when the sun goes down and the night is lit not by stars, but rather by twinkling lanterns hung stall by stall in a sprawling mecca of all things delicious. Food somehow seems to taste better when prepared on an old propane grill by a third-generation cook whose venerable recipe has been refined through decades of practice and served on a paper plate or on a skewer. The Night Market is not just a culinary adventure, but a full sensory experience.
While we wouldn’t expect you to put together a night market on the scale you might find in the outside world, you can absolutely collect a few key foods, tools, and decorations that can help recreate the mood and the spirit of this delicious nocturnal experience. And to help you out, we’ve rounded up some of the must-have ingredients – all from AAPI business owners and builders – to help you bring a piece of the diaspora home.
Nothing screams the night market like silk lanterns, and these beauties can also add pop to your garden even when you’re not recreating a traditional event.
This portable, personal grill from traditional Japanese maker Toiro Kitchen is the perfect place to cook up all your favorite snacks on sticks.
Night markets are always more fun with the addition of a little booze, and we’re big fans of this Filipino rum from Kasama.
While you might use western spoons for your night market soups or desserts, these traditional spoons with their much larger surface area allow you to sip more efficiently. The hand-painted beauty also gives an elegant touch to your night market.
For recipe inspiration, look no further than the aptly named Night + Market cookbook, written by chef Kris Yenbamroong who owns a restaurant of the same name.
Even if you don’t have time to prepare your dumplings by hand, you can still capture authentic flavors thanks to the Fly By Jing team.
Whether you’re eating a meat skewer, spring rolls or bao, a good dipping sauce is key. We love Omsom’s Variety Pack for all of these purposes.
You’ll need a sturdy dining table to hold all your delicious dishes, and luckily Outer has some beautiful, durable pieces for just such an occasion.
While you might not associate ice cream with Asian culture (usually the substitute is shaved ice), Noona’s Ice Cream takes inspiration from traditional Asian desserts and turns them into a complete (or dairy-free) treat. We love the Toasty Mochi flavor.
My favorite night market treat has always been soup dumplings, or xiao long bao, which you can make at home with this spruce steamer from Our Place.
These sturdy porcelain bowls are simple enough for everyday use, but also perfect for your night market holding and serving rice dishes.
Family-style serving is endemic to many Asian cultures, and this serving bowl made from natural Korean soils can help you serve your favorite dishes to all of your guests.
This infusion set comes with everything you need to host an entire tea party in your living room or outdoor space. Plus, we love the terracotta glaze.
While you can use a tea bag for your Night Market tea, you’ll get a much more authentic and interactive experience when you steep your tea with loose leaf. To that end, we love this green tea from Tea Drunk.