Monday, July 28, 2014

Night It Up! 2014

Where: Markham Civic Centre
When: Friday, July 11, 7PM-12AM
            Saturday, July 12, 3PM-12AM
            Sunday, July 13, 3PM-10PM
Admission: Free!

Night It Up! (NIU!) is a three-day outdoor night market that is packed with unique Asian street food, Toronto’s very own gourmet food trucks, variety of merchandise and dynamic stage performances featuring various local talents. NIU! is modelled after night markets that take place in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and many others from across Asia that give Canadians a glimpse into the Asian street food culture.

Tips for first-timers
  • Not a fan of huge crowds? Afternoons are your best bet! No lines, and no hot sweaty crowds to maneuver around either
  • Bring a bottle of water..unless you want to pay for a bottle, and trust me you'll need it. 
  • Have your cash READY upon ordering. Nothing causes slow line ups or disgruntled patrons more than people fumbling for cash and looking for exact change
  • Long line ups do not necessarily mean the best food. Indeed, long line ups usually mean fan favourite vendors who come every year (there's no avoiding the lines for Wei's Stinky Tofu or Takoyaki) but there are TONS of new vendors every year who have really unique food and short lines! 
  • Want to get food for cheap? Wait until the last half hour of the night. Around 11:30, most people will have left NIU and most vendors will want to clear out their food or else it will go bad. That's good news for us attendees! I've gotten skewers for $1 and bubble tea for $0.75 before because vendors just want to finish selling their food.
J got the opportunity to attend their food blogger tour who were gracious enough to provide samples that best showcased their food.

Mamak Satay
Website: Mamak Satay
Facebook: Mamak Satay
Instagram: @mamaksatay



Mamak Satay specializes in Malaysian satay skewers. We loved that it was different from the conventional lamb and beef skewers offered at Night It Up. Their presentation was on point and the peanut satay sauce that came with the meat was seriously delicious! Check them out at other upcoming food festivals!



Roy's BBQ


The food at Roy's BBQ is not for everyone, unfortunately. It is a very Asian style food which is great if you're used to it, but if you're not then it may not be for you. They offered two dishes – one was a grilled chicken soft bone and the other were "cooling" rice squares to beat off all the fried foods offered at Night It Up. Personally, I loved both dishes – I LOVE chicken cartilage and the rice squares had really good seasoning as well but Jon is not a big favourite of either because he doesn't like them normally anyways. 



ShareTea
Facebook: ShareTea Toronto



The Oolong Tea Creama (pictured above) was an oolong tea with a sweet thick cream cap at the top. It had a cream-cheese like texture and ShareTea encouraged you to eat it first or mix it into the entire drink itself. 

   

For a hot day, the winter melon tea (left) was perfect. Even more so because winter melon is known for dispelling heat toxins. It was so refreshing and I would definitely get this again! The Taiwanese Milk Tea (right) was pretty standard - not too sweet nor too diluted. Their tapioca bubbles were perfect that day although I had heard some complaints that the previous day served very hard bubbles.

ShareTea actually has several brick and mortar locations around Toronto such as in Pacific Mall and Northtown Way in North York. Check them out!

Stuffed & Co
Facebook: Stuffed Wings
Twitter: @stuffedandco
Instagram: @stuffedandco


We were really excited for Stuffed & Co because it's such a neat concept. A stuffed wing? We asked how they got the filling in but they aptly replied that it was a secret. That's fine - as long as I can get more of it :D My only concern with their food is that it gets really messy to eat but hey! If it's not messy, it ain't street food.

Currently they are only a catering company but I expect big things from them!


We got the Cheesy Mac Stuffed Wing!
Me.N.U.
Twitter: @menufoodtruck
Instagram: @menufoodtruck

I remember when Me.N.U. had just started out as a food vendor at T.O. Food Fest and Night It Up. I am extremely pleased to hear of their success and their new food truck and restaurant ! Congrats!


1-Up was by far our favourite! The 1-Up was filled with cheese, three types of mushroom, sundried tomatoes and artichoke hearts on the inside (Get it? Mushrooms? 1-Up?) while the Porkzilla had marinated pork butt, Chinese sausage, broccoli, roasted corn and shitaki.

This booth was hands down one of our favourites for the tour. At first, we were not in the slightest bit enticed by the fact that it was a deep fried rice ball but o-m-g I'm a believer now. A crispy exterior gives way and cracks open to reveal ooey gooey savoury fillings. So delicious and I cannot wait to get my hands on more.

Ice Volcano Ice Cream
Twitter: @icevolcano

One of the more fun stops at Night It Up is the Ice Volcano vendor where they create ice cream right on the spot using liquid nitrogen. It's like a science experiment infront of your eyes! One notable aspect of Ice Volcano is that they use fresh ingredients – we had the mango and strawberry ice cream and there were actual pieces of the fruit! It also helped that it was SCORCHING that day so a little ice cream was the perfect remedy :).


Watermelon Kings

Watermelon Kings offered watermelon smoothies inside a watermelon ($5). Pretty standard and nothing special but I still get it year after year!



Asian Poutine
Lobster & Shrimp Poutine ($7)
Thai Iced Tea ($4)
Thai Iced Tea & Lobster and Shrimp Poutine
This booth was pretty mediocre to me, in my opinion. Don't get me wrong the Thai Iced Tea was good and we would definitely get that again. We loved that it was served in a plastic bag just like in Thailand :). However, the poutine was seriously over hyped. Soggy fries with a scarce sprinkling of lobster and shrimp with an overly salty sauce. Quite disappointing especially when your booth name is named after poutine!

Authentic Osaka Takoyaki

A Night It Up! favourite - takoyaki! Takoyaki is a ball shaped Japanese street food snack made of dough and is typically filled with diced octopus. Topped with a squirt of Japanese mayo and usually bonito flakes, but in this case, not! I could literally eat these for days (and for the weekend I did hehe).


Lifestyle Hot Dogs
I adored the concept of this booth - it builds off the Japadog idea where you take an ordinary hot dog and add exotic and unique ingredients to spice it up. Unfortunately it failed in execution - I was handed a cold, untoasted Wonderbread bun with a cheap hot dog and some kimchi and nori flakes haphazardly thrown on top. Such a disappointment!



Fantastic (aka. Á≤Čtastic!)
This booth's idea was to bring the Asia street noodles to Markham. Street noodles in Asia typically are sold in bags. The flavours were SO good but I paid $5 and I only got a very small portion! My picture reflects the bag I received before I even dug in! If not for the price, I would buy this again in a heart beat. 



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All in all, another successful year for Night It Up! Lots of new vendors to keep the variety up while also maintaining the old  fan favourites. For more information, please visit their website at nighitup.com and don't forgot to follow them (@nightitup) on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

**Disclaimer: Food provided on blogger tour was complementary, opinions are our own.