Illumination Night Market
ChineseBites hosted an event at the Illumination Night Market to have a tasting at 33 stands. The media event had bloggers and social media influencers attend in groups and venture off together. Our badges had a map of all the stalls that was part of the tasting so it was easy to locate and not miss anything.
Disclosure: I was invited to attend a media event. All food & drinks in this review was complimentary.
This summer something new is brightening up the Richmond area with the launch of the Illumination Market that replaces the Panda Market. It is the largest summer lighting show in North America. For those new to Vancouver, Panda Market was the "free night market" which you could go if you wanted less crowds and not having to pay entry for less vendors.
The new market is a $3 per admission, or $20 for a season pass. The zoom pass is $20 which allows for 7 visits and can be shared with your family and friends. Free admission for seniors age 60+ and children under 10 years old with ID. The zoom pass might be the way to go if you're going with a group of friends.
As usual with night markets, do a little research on what you might want to eat, show up early, split up into pairs and hit up the popular stalls first before the lines get crazy.
According to the website this year there are 60 food stalls and 100 retail/game booths.
If you don't know what to get, follow your nose and eyes. You can't go wrong with what smells and looks good!
Our favourites for food were the skewers from Xin Jiang A Fan Ti Halal BBQ, and fried squid from Taiwan Snacks.
If you're looking for a drink the watermelon juice served in a watermelon shell from Fruitme is really refreshing. You also can't go wrong with the iced teas from My Tea, and bubble tea from Comebuy.
Tip: At Hurricane Potato you can mix flavours. We did ketchup and sour cream! Ask them to fry it longer if you like it crispy because ours came out kinda soft and lumpy.
Below is a photo set of every thing we tried. I left the name of the stand under every image in case you wanted to know where it's from. I decided not to do a full review of each item this time. To be completely honest, everything was mediocre to meh except for the skewers from Xiang Jiang, and fried squid from Taiwan Snacks. The Chinese Escargot Noodles was interesting. I enjoyed it but this is definitely an acquired taste as the soup stock is made from escargot.
Their website is broken especially all the links at the bottom of the website. The About Us links to some Spanish resort website. The Getting Here and Career links at the bottom return a non-existent page, "Ooops... Error 404 We are sorry, but the page you are looking for does not exist.".
On the website I would expect a map of all 60 food stalls and 100 retail/game booths so we can have digital reference at the market.
One of the social media icons at the bottom of the website isn't working. It lists Pinterest but it just links back to their own homepage. They should remove the social media icon from the website or update it with a working link.
Overall the user experience on the website needs a lot of improvement.
OVERALL IMPRESSION OF ILLUMINATION NIGHT MARKET
It's a less crowded night market and has all the typical stalls serving up skewers, bubble tea, and squid but the food is mostly average to bad with the exception of Xin Jiang A Fan Ti Halal BBQ, and Taiwan Snacks. The selling point of the night market in the past years was that it was free but now they charge an entrance fee.
They've re-branded the Panda night market as Illumination Night Market and advertise to having the largest lighting show in North America. You'd think you're in for a treat especially after this winter with the Enchant Light Maze (world largest light maze) but the light show felt tiny in comparison. I was expecting a beautiful spectacle and have my shots of food with lots of bokeh.
As someone who uses public transit, one of the biggest pains is getting to the venue. Compared to the other night market which is foot steps from the skytrain I can't think of a reason I'd want to come back as it's not free and the light show isn't impressive enough to make me want to come back for a second visit. If we're going to have to pay for admission I'd rather to go to the Richmond Night Market which has more vendors, better food, and easier public transit access.
With all that being said. Have you been? Would you go more than once? Let us know!
- Food was mostly average to bad
- Difficult to get to via public transit
- Website needs improvement
Less crowded than the other night market
Convenient for those with a car. The parking lot isn't as chaotic to get into compared to the other market