How to Recreate a Night Market Experience at Home
The best kitchen tools, snacks, and decor to simulate the street food experience.
My penchant for late-night snacking no doubt stems from a childhood, and, indeed, lifetime accentuated by the presence of the night market. Indeed, some of my happiest memories come from exploring the night markets of China with my parents and grandparents.
The senses come most alive when the sun sets and the night is illuminated not by stars, but rather by twinkling lanterns hung stall by stall in a sprawling mecca of all things delicious. Food seems to somehow taste better when prepared on an old propane grill by a third-generation cook whose venerable recipe has been refined by decades of practice, and dished out on a paper plate or onto a skewer. The night market is not only a culinary adventure, but an entire sensory experience.
While we won’t expect or challenge you to put on a night market of the scale that you might find in the outside world, you can absolutely bring together a few key food items, tools, and decorations that can help to recreate the ambience and the spirit of this delightful nighttime experience. And to help, we’ve rounded up just a few of the must-have ingredients—all from AAPI business owners and creators—to help you bring a piece of the diaspora to your home.
Nothing screams night market quite like silk lanterns, and these beauties can also add some pop to your backyard even when you’re not recreating a traditional event.
Night markets are always made more fun with the addition of some booze, and we’re huge fans of this Filipino rum from Kasama.
While you could use western spoons for your night market soups or desserts, these traditional spoons with their much larger surface area allow you to slurp more effectively. The hand-painted beauty also lends an elegant touch to your night market.
For recipe inspiration, look no further than the aptly named Night + Market cookbook, penned by Chef Kris Yenbamroong who owns a restaurant of the same name.
Even if you don’t have time to hand make your dumplings, you can still capture some authentic flavors thanks to the Fly By Jing team.
Whether you’re eating a meat skewer, spring rolls, or bao, a great dipping sauce is key. We love the variety pack from Omsom for all these purposes.
You’ll need a solid dining table to hold all your delicious dishes, and, luckily, Outer has some beautiful and durable pieces for just such an occasion.
While you may not associate ice cream with Asian culture (generally, the substitute is shaved ice), Noona’s Ice Cream takes inspiration from traditional Asian desserts and turns them into a dairy-full (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 in holding and serving rice-based dishes.
Family-style serving is endemic to many Asian cultures, and this serving bowl crafted from natural Korean soils can help you dish out your favorite foods to all your guests.
This brewing set comes with everything you need to host an entire tea session in your living room or your outdoor space. Plus, we love the terracotta glaze.
While you could use a tea bag for your night market tea, you’ll get a much more authentic and interactive experience when you brew your tea with loose leaves. To that end, we love this green tea from Tea Drunk.