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626 Night Market

The 626 Night Market is in San Diego this week. This time in Mission Valley Mall (close to Buffalo Wild Wings). This food festival is primarily based in Northern LA (San Gabriel Valley) and makes stops in Arcadia, Orange County amd the Bay Area. I believe this is the first time in the Mission Valley area (as previous San Diego event have been in the downtown area). Having been to the Foodieland Food Festibal last year at the SnapDragon Stadium also in Mission Valley, I wanted to compare. The 626 Night Market will make another stop in the Del Mar Fairgrounds later this year.

First impressions, it is much much smaller than the FoodieLand festival, which I expected. There's just 4 rows of vendors with the food vendors on one side and craft vendors on the other. There is a stage with a DJ setting up. I'm sure there are more entertainment options at night. Some games. Even an Army recruiter (???)

As far as the food vendors, there was a decent variety of food options: Asian, Mexican, and Hawaiian. I didn't see any African/Ethiopian cuisine represented.

Here are a sampling of the vendors at the festival:

There didn't seem to be that many unique dishes. Most seemed to be the standard food that you get at a food court. Not saying it's bad, just that I like to get unique food I usually can't get anytwhere else. Here are some standouts:

Pizza stuff Boa Buns. Steamed or fried.

Hawaiian Honey Cones. I had these at Foodieland last year. It was pretty interesting. They were like long, honey-flavored packing peanuts with soft serve at the ends. Was actually pretty decent. I remember it was kinda pricey.

This may or may not have been the same vendor as Foodieland. This looked good but I wasn't in the mood for it. Was considering the wagyu sliders but since this is a foodie festival, I'm pretty sure it was pricey.

I was going to get skewers from this stall, but I only saw a flat-top grill so I decided not to. Looking back ar this picture, I noticed the stall says they use charcoal, so possibly they had them going in the back (which they should put on display like they do for the squid).

This ice cream stall looked interesting. It's served in a container thyat looks like a potted plant. You choose the ice cream and the "dirt" topping.

Here is what I did have:

Tacoyaki is a taco stall, but instead of using corn tortilla for a shell, they use all melted cheese. Sounds pretty good, right? Three different protein fillings: lobster, Wagyu steak, or pork belly. I chose the pork belly

The shell was cooked well. I believe they use cheddar and probably Monterey Jack. Decent crust. You have to wait a minute or two for it to harden a little bit or it will be too flimsy to hold. There is some chopped tomatos and onions. There's also some chipotle sauce. Actually too much. The pork belly was cooked pretty well. Nice char and decent size and portion for a taco. This was pretty good but way way too rich. Make sure you have a drink on hand because it is that rich. It was pretty big too. Enough for two people. It is pricey.

I had to find something to wash this down. I figured Sugar Cane juice would do the trick. Plus it would remind me of Singapore

There are several flavors to choose from. You can even do a flight of different flavors

I chose Blood Orange. Wasn't that bloody. Decent though and hit the spot

I was in the mood for Poke, so I decided on this California Poke Nacho stall:

This stall serves salmon, tuna, shrimp poke, or fish ceviche over fried wonton noodles. The good: the people in the booth seem really nice, especially the guy at the counter. Although they weren't completely prepared, he did go over what was available. He also said that they can offer two different protein in the order. I went half salmon and half Spicy Ahi Tuna. He said "Good choice, we make our spicy marinade in-house".

The portion was huge.

Now, unfortunately the bad: this is the worst Poke I ever had. The fish was low grade. It was very mushy. The Spicy Tuna was horrible. It didn;t taste like a marinade. It tasted like tangy BBQ sauce. It was not spicy at all. Plus some of the fish were not fully defrosted. It felt like I was eating a fish snow cone. Even the krab salad was pretty bad. The only saving grace was the fried wonton, which there was a lot of. Very dissapointing.

Now for something sweet.

I decided on something light, so I got the Cookie Butter Mochi Bites. It was pretty decent, airy and light. I saw the mochi waffle stick after I ordered this and was bummed i didn't get that instead.

And lastly, I saw someone with the spiral potatoes, so I had to finish the trip with it.

Ironically, this was the best thing at this festival. What's different from the others I've had at other places is that it was battered. It's pretty similar to the Australian Battered Potatoes at the San Diego County Fair. It was pretty crispy and not soggy at all. The potato underneath the batter was cooked well and the garlic parmesan seasoning was very nice. It was a very big portion and I was surprised to get this big of a portion from one potato.

After this, I was spent.

Here are some observations from this outing:

  • A lot of vendors don't put a price list of their menu items. You get the sticker shock when you pay.

  • Prices seem higher than Foodieland. At least the admission fee is low ($4)

  • Portion sizes (at least for the vendors I visited) are huge. Defintely sharing size which is good, unless you go alone

  • Not many dining areas. I went close to opening (1pm) and by 2:30p, it was pretty packed and not much seating left. I can only imagine how chaotic it will get at night.

All in all, it was a OK experience. Would I go back again? On the fence. It was smaller event and just seems pretty pricey, but there were other stalls with reasonable prices. Luckily I didn't go to this while extremely hungry.

626 Market - San Diego

Mission Valley Mall

1640 Camino Del Rio N

San Diego, CA 92108

April 5 - 7

Hours: Friday 3PM-11PM

Saturday and Sunday 1PM-11PM.

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