By Tammy Scileppi
As the sun sets on summer, a global open-air night market springs to life, filled with the promise of an abundance of tasty, affordable foods from different lands — cooked to order right in front of you — and a seemingly endless array of merchandise and artist offerings sold by even more vendors, in addition to live music and entertainment.
All the elements that make for a laid-back Queens-style Saturday evening spent with good friends and family.
Inspired by the massive night markets of Asia, where head organizer John Wang spent summers with his parents in their native Taiwan, the Queens International Night Market welcomes you back this fall so you can once again experience all that it offers.
Discover what’s new this time around every Saturday night from 6 p.m. to midnight, starting Sept. 29.
There’s nothing like those mouth-watering bursts of cooking aromas that fill the night air when the food vendors fire up their grills. And isn’t it fun to watch as your favorite noodles get stretched and tossed? Or, when the tortillas get filled and the dumplings get pinched? And don’t you love it when the spicy stir-fry chicken cooks up moist and tender?
Next time you go, you should taste some basted beef hearts and for dessert, don’t forget to try a dish of carefully folded dessert crepes.
All this fabulousness happens next to the undulating walls of the New York Hall of Science in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. The host of the 1964 World’s Fair represents a perfect global spot.
“Over the last three years, we’ve managed to represent over 80 countries through food at the Queens Night Market. It’s a testament to how truly global New York City and Queens are,” said Wang. “Some of the things we feature can be hard, if not impossible, to find in New York City, such as Mauritian food, Romanian-Hungarian Chimney Cakes, Burmese palatas, Laotian larb, Filipino balut and Thai sai ua.”
New food entries and returning favorites to keep an eye out for include: Laotian Larb, Filipino Balut, Dinuguan and Lugaw, Mauritian Dhal Puri and Biryani, Burmese Palatas and Tea Leaf Salad, RomanianHungarian Chimney Cakes, Salvadoran Pupusas, Thai Sai Ua, Afghani Pakawra and Bolani, Trinidadian Shark Sandwiches, Ethiopian Injera, Spanish Paella, Malaysian “Ramly” Burgers and Kaya Toast, Shanghainese Fried Soup Dumplings, Mexican Tacos al Pastor, Indonesian Kue Pancong and Kue Putu, Brick-Oven Pizza and much more.
While most people look forward to the Night Market for the eats, others can’t wait to forage for unusual finds at bargain prices and discover the cornucopia of items that the host of popular local nonfood vendors have in store, as there’s plenty of local art, crafts, jewelry, and lots more to discover.
This fall, art and merchandise vendors will include Pusheen merchandise, Queens Thread (Queens-themed apparel), Rainbow Media (human rights apparel), Sweetly Sincerely (calligraphy art), Native Expressions (Kechwan crafts and apparel), Theobucket Vintage (vintage brooches and ads), Threads by Jill (artisan cat toys and treats), Treelights4me (light-up art), and Unicorn of Doom (jewelry and accessories).
Others will be selling items like map-illustration art, soy candles, LED balloons, K-pop swag, stationery, small batch soaps, and Mexican handcrafts.
You can bet that this year’s live shows will rock the park every Saturday night.
“This fall, we’ve got another great mix of international performances and local groups ready to entertain,” said Wang, who mentioned past shows that featured Balinese gamelan ensembles, Bollywood dance troupes, African dance troupes, Brazilian capoeira, Hawaiian dance, as well as jazz, blues and salsa music.
“To date, the Queens Night Market has showcased nearly 200 musicians, bands, and performance groups from all over the world. While these groups and artists have performed pro bono the last three years, the event now has a modest budget to help compensate performing artists, thanks to two arts grants recently awarded to the organization,” he added.
So, don’t miss the free multi-cultural lineup of performers, which will include, among many others, DJ Lil Buddy, the Night Market’s resident DJ who will open and close the market with a wide range of tunes, including pop, Latin, dance, and hip hop music.
Other performers include Os Clavelitos, an American Samba Band combining Brazilian rhythms with English lyrics and Brewster Moonface, a vocally driven band with a minimalist rhythm section and a mission to bring the blues back to the mainstream.
The Chinese Center on Long Island will perform a visually stunning Lion Dance along with other traditional Chinese folk dances.
QC Fanna, Queens College’s Fusion Bollywood Dance Team, will dazzle with Desi dance styles that incorporate elements from other cultures.
There’s also Viva, a guitar-slashing rock diva once described as “the love child of Little Richard and Joan Jett.”
While you take in the fun festival vibe, you’ll also be able to enjoy a relaxing, picnic-like atmosphere.
“The space we occupy is pretty sprawling, so there’s plenty of room to spread out, even on our busiest days. People can race to find open picnic tables, they can bring a picnic blanket and claim a spot on the massive lawn or chill out in the beer/wine garden,” Wang said. “We’ve conveniently gathered affordable food from all around the world (much of it difficult, if not impossible, to find elsewhere in New York City) to one convenient location.”
And you can’t beat the food vendors’ $5 and occasionally, $6 price caps.
Wang said it’s a confluence of all those factors that have made the Queens Night Market so successful.
As with every year, the season will end with a Halloween Night Market — set for Oct. 27 — which includes trick-or-treating and an open costume contest for adults and children, full of awesome prizes for the winning entries.
The market has now welcomed nearly one million visitors and counting, since it launched in 2015. And the event has helped jumpstart 200-plus new businesses here in New York.
Nearly 700 vendor applications have been received so far this year and the Night Market continues to accept applications on a rolling basis through the end of the season
For more information, visit www.queen