Ktown Night Market was born to bring together a multi-ethnic street cuisine culture, not only from Koreatown itself, but also from the Los Angeles and Orange Counties. From the outside and near the entrance, it doesn’t leave a lasting impression.
There are a few vendors and sponsors lined up, more notably Hepp’s Salt Bar (truffle salt anyone?) & AgStandard (almonds roasted over almond wood from Central California). However, the real heart of the festival happens past this. It’s when you simultaneously hear the bass bumping from your left and smell an inexplicable combination of gluttonous love on your right that you know that your $3.50 ticket was worth something.
Popular food trucks like Seoul Sausage (The Great Food Truck Race runner-up), Middle East (The Great Food Truck Race winner), and Okamoto Kitchen ran lines all the way to other product and service booths like Scratch DJ Academy (who, by the way, was passing out awesome customized painted vinyls). All were delicious in their own respect, but the real MVPs were three trucks that captured my heart that night:
1. The Stick House Gelato
These are the desires of your cool summer fantasy – cold, creamy, and mouthwatering ice cream or gelato.
Their friendly and knowledgeable “Gelateristas” will give you an option to dip your gelato stick in toppings you’ve always dreamed off – pistachio, hazelnut, coconunt, chocolates, and sprinkles. Are you getting jealous 110ºF residents? You should, because these will whisk you off to the supposed streets of Italy – at least until it’s gone. Then you cry.
Their website notes that there is a $1.00 discount for the “Golden Hour” where it is “...the last hour of light before sunset when the sun is lower in the sky, the light is softer and redder; the shadows longer. For us it’s a time to reflect on the day that’s passed and dream about the night to come.” Delicious and poetic? Yes, yes they are.
2. The Chairman
Some say that these Bao buns are the equivalent of Eddie Huang’s Baohaus, which is a huge compliment since Eddie Huang is an amazing restaurateur, food personality, and chef. He even has his own running television show, Fresh Off The Boat. A simple menu with a complex palette of flavors – you can get dishes like the Miso Glaze Pork Belly or Miso Cured Tofu. The real stars of the show, however, are their Bao buns. For some, it’s a reminder of their childhoods with classic Chinese pork bellies inside. For me, it’s a reminder that Asians always know how to do it right with nutritional balance and flavor profiles.
3. Papa Fritz
Where waffles and pommes frites are done right. Papa Fritz describes them as popular street foods in Belgium, but my true love lies with the Bulgogi fries fusion. Bulgogi, green onions, Kimchi, Gochujang sauce, and sesame seeds… this is my own reminder of home dumped on crispy fries.
I would say they are just as epic as any of the 27 loaded fries mentioned in Rebecca O’Neill’s article, maybe even better, since it has both the guilty pleasure and healthy value. Did you know that Kimchi is almost the best probiotic food and it’s gaining popularity? That’s right, we are going to rule the world with Kimchi.
In the end, what I loved the most about KTOWN Night Market is that it was a great space for local vendors and restaurants. Even more heartwarming is that most of the clothing shops and even featured musicians (like Ehwhenkeem and Ashley Yoon) are all close to home. The best way to show you are of the local community is to feature the local community. Much like any other homegrown food festival, such as Alaska’s Copper River Wild! Salmon Festival, KTOWN Night Market is about proving home is where the heart is and here, I was truly back at home.
The event was held at the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools on June 17 & 18, but never fear! If you missed out, there will be another one held in Downtown Los Angeles on July 2016.