Pokemon, plush, and plenty of food: The 626 Night Market experience

 

The annual 626 Night Market in San Gabriel Valley is a classic outing for people looking for unique food vendors and convention-style booths.

 

For many people this year, 626 Night Market was their first big outing since COVID-19. They were greeted with hundreds of food vendors, ranging from authentic Asian dishes to greasy fair classics to one-of-a-kind treats like fried squid. 

 

There was also an abundance of artists and collectors selling fun merchandise that you usually only see in Comic Con-like settings. From detailed drawings of kaiju to Pokemon plush from Japan to kawaii pins and keychains, it was impossible to leave without some souvenirs. 

 

This was my first time ever experiencing 626 Night Market. Take a look at some of the food and fun to be had at this iconic Los Angeles county event. 

 

626 Night Market: The food

 

There were multiple rows of food trucks and stalls throughout the main section of the humungous lot. Between each row were some benches for people to sit on (directly in the sun). But aside from the smells and signs, the most noticeable thing about this area of the 626 Night Market was the lines. 

 

This fried squit joint had the longest line in the entire place. Every time we walked past this spot it had to have at least 60 people. 

 

 

Wagyu burgers with ramen noodles as a bun substitute! 

 

Dumplings and dim sum (and hot sauce)! 

 

Very sickening fruit juices. I got watermelon mixed with mango the first time and then pineapple and coconut the second time. There was one free refill but it still wasn't worth the $15. The juice was delicious and it was so hot that this kind of purchase was necessary. But still not worth the price. 

 

 

What fair is complete without these kinds of food vendors? Sausage, burgers, fried Oreos, and onion rings! 

 

 

Rainbow grilled cheese! 

 

Fried pork rinds with corn and an abundance of great sauces and spices. My friend and I couldn't even manage to eat half of it together. But this was a delicious experience unlike any other. 

 

626 Night Market: The fluff

 

The amount of cute stuff being sold here was overwhelming. It was like a Comic Con that had exploded and scattered around outside. The majority of sellers were Japanese merchandise (and knockoffs) and artists. The number of cute pins was overwhelming.

 

Authentic Pokemon collectibles from Japan's Pokemon Center. I ended up giving in and getting some stuff myself. They also had a few handmade notebooks and pins. 

 

 

It was very hard to resist these pieces. The attention to detail in these kaiju prints was astonishing. There were a few drawings of Godzilla, Mothra, and Ghidorah that called to me. But I currently have nowhere in my place to really hang them. 

 

 

 

626 Night Market: The fun

 

If experiences are more your thing, the 626 Night Market made sure to have an area for games as well. Many of the booths were classic carnival games. But what made them stand out was the prizing. The plushes were a lot cuter and a bit more high quality than the ones you'd get at a classic carnival or small-town fair. 

 

 

This last one was indeed a pile of plush that you'd literally be dropped into! People went on a giant crane and were then lowered into the pile so they could grab a plush of their choice. The concept was amazing but the large plush was $80! The actual worth of the knockoff plush? Probably $15 at most. Of course, this was all about the experience of being dropped into a pile of plushies, which is a dream come true for some. 

 

The Verdict

7/10

 

The 626 Night Market didn't live up to its full hype for me. The food was the biggest letdown. While being more unique and tasty than your basic fair fare, it was still subpar for the price compared to most of the food in Los Angeles County. And when you're surrounded by delicious Asian restaurants within a mile radius of the fair, it's definitely a little underwhelming. 

 

But the shopping more than made up for the food. It was jam-packed with convention favorites. Many of the artists were ones I've seen before. The abundance of cute, quality products was astonishing. And since so many were one-of-a-kind, it was hard to resist. I ended up buying a lot for my mom and other people who don't see these kinds of vendors as often. 

 

Pros

  • Fun night out, experiencing new things and getting to walk outside
  • Interesting food stalls
  • Great convention-style shopping
  • A lot of cute things
  • Pretty good prizes for carnival games

 

Cons

  • Very hot out and very crowded. Hard to find seats in general, let alone ones that were not right in the sun 
  • Very overpriced food and better options outside of the fair within a few miles 
  • Super long lines (even took 40 minutes to get in)

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