Night market (South San Francisco)

The Night Market has extended their hours to both lunch and dinner – – anyone have any experiences to report?

Modeled after a Hong Kong night market, it’s a hip and fun space—there were projections on one wall, customer supplied art on another wall, and loud contemporary music. Menu had a mix of full dishes and inexpensive snacks. Satay beef brisket had a savory full body base and, to my liking, an abundance of gelatinized collagen and not a tough piece in the bowl.

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I might have gone earlier if they didn’t market themselves as recreating the night market experience. Not exactly big fan of the folding chairs…unless its in an actual dai pai dong! Interestingly if a guy arranges a first date at the fine confines of a dai pai dong on a steaming sidewalk in the middle of July, he may either discover a Chowhound companion for life, or perhaps more likely, not get through the first date. None of the space is hip and fun. :smile:

It reminds me of a amusing dialogue I overheard between a guy and his date in Hong Kong at a dai pai dong type of place. Guy reached for his wallet to pay the bill, he asked if his date could help him with the bill when he didn’t have enough money to pay the full bill. The date jokingly said how her date was supposed to impress her when he couldn’t even pay a dai pai dong bill, and his response was- I didn’t expect you to order this much expensive stuff.

Food at night market is cheap and the menu is wide. I am sure I will show up at some point. Would be interested to hear more about the food.

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I haven’t been to a Hong Kong night market, but if it’s anything like a Malaysian hawker center, The Night Market’s atmosphere has been adapted – – central kitchen, hygiene, stackable stools rather than folding chairs, and no temperature problems, even on the hottest day in San Francisco history. On the upside, I can’t think of any other local Chinese owned restaurants with a similar vibe— it feels more like Oakland than SF/peninsula.

If anyone would like to join me, send me a private message-- I will likely return there for lunch this Friday.

The term “night market” as applied to HK to me connotes paces to buy CD’s or fake Rolexes but with little food. I lived next to the Temple Street Night Market for 3 months and worked near the Ladies Market at the time.

As @sck said, the HK equivalent to a mainland or SEA night market would be a DPD or “Temporary Market.” I recall eating at a Temporary Market NEAR the Temple St. night market and ordering a whole deep fried crab and being given a roll of toilet paper for napkins.

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I agree with @souperman that Hong Kong doesn’t have the type of night market food culture like in Taiwan. Night markets there look more like this:

Notice a eatery to the right side of the street/ market.

And certain type of food that Night Market SSF serves, like fish balls, are served from carts like these:

which were Hong Kong’s answer to the food trucks in the US. With the government pushing for cleaner streets and cracking down on unlicensed hawkers, these are now mostly gone or gone legit like shops like these:

Those carts didn’t congregate and create a night market. Rather one would find a lone cart or two near high traffic street corners, near bus stations, etc.

Dai pai dongs are dying off too, with something like 10, 20 left in Hong Kong. Some of them are now pushed into lower traffic government-run ‘cooked food centres’ that are attached to indoor wet markets.

Though a bit late to the party, I can say I went to Night market twice. Once on the soft opening (which was also only open during lunch hours) where they had a drastically small menu:

Lemon tea was okay, just didn’t seem to have enough astringent black tea that I usually expect.

At that time, they had pineapple buns with a pat of butter; however, the bun just wasn’t hot enough. I also prefer a more doughy bread interior and it was a little lite and somewhat dry even with the butter.

Their version of hainan chicken was decent, just the meat didn’t seem as smooth. I still personally prefer the one that ABC makes.

Once their night time hours actually opened, I tried their pomelo mango sago and was rather disappointed. The texture was too thick and didn’t have a good consistency. The one at Sweet Honey dessert in Colma was more in line to my expectation (reminds me of Hui Lau Shan) with a great texture.

However, this was right when they opened so take my review with a huge grain of salt. Looks like everything is improving based on Hyperbowler’s last dining so I’ll probably stop on by eventually.

That sago looks horrific.

Ha… did not finish it lol. It tasted as good as it looked.

I returned for another good meal. Snack items are inexpensive and the offal ones in particular seem sized for a few people. Some of the menu items overlap with what’s served at Hong Kong Style cafes, for which my experience is limited to places that use crazy amounts of MSG in everything. Are other places serving food of comparative quality?

The star of my two visits was the curry pork skin, and I regret not getting a more complimentary photo. The skin is soft from slow cooking and the resulting lard- flavored gravy, tinged with a fragrant curry powder, is liquid gold.

The curry powder is also tasty on the fish balls— I wonder which brand of curry powder they use? It’s very aromatic.

Cola soy sauce chicken has a savory sweet taste that neither overwhelmed the chicken nor was syrupy. A super sweet dipping sauce comes on the side.

For two dollars you get 8 bouncy quail eggs with creamy but cooked center.

I liked a sweet item on the specials board, I forget its name— it’s a doughnut like thing with some reduced sweetened condensed milk on the side.

Next time I’ll try the wonton noodle soup, which they started serving today.

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No crazy amounts of MSG here?

MSG probably in the fishballs themselves, but I didn’t note any MSG in the sauces or other ingredients (I’m not against MSG in moderation-- or the corn syrup used in the Lemon Coke I ordered :slight_smile:

Another winner on the pork skin front— roast pork buns. Pork skin was crisp, and it’s flavor penetrated the clamshell buns and enhanced the meat. I ate some skin in its own, and found it more flavorful and less teeth cracking than the skin of the suckling pig I had at Koi Palace a few months back.

Rice rolls had a sauce with an umami and nutty component (hoisin and sesame paste?). Tasty.

Fried Chicken steak skewer was a deep fried chicken fillet and had some kind of spicy mayo drizzled on top. Fine, but there are more interesting things on the menu.

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I’ve been overwhelmingly pleased on my previous three visits, but I struck out this time.

Wonton noodle soup was dominated by sesame oil, and the broth itself lacked flavor or body. On the plus side that means they’re not dousing it in MSG. The wontons were OK – – bouncy, large chunks of shrimp were in a favorable ratio to pork; Tight wrapping with no tail of excess wrapper; wrapper and generous amount of Chinese broccoli were overcooked

Roast pork on Rice noodles also suffered from over cooking – – the white rice noodles sat in the bottom of the bowl soggy and stuck together, the pork on top was dry, in the turkey breast sense.

I couldn’t finish the sweet chrysanthemum tea, which seemed even sweeter than the lemon Coke I enjoyed last time I came here.

The saving grace of the meal was the $2 quail eggs, which still kicked butt.

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Haha, adding sesame oil is how I cheat at home when I need to cook noodles in plain water and get some aroma at the same time, when I don’t have any stock on hand. If their menu is as big as they were a month ago when I looked at it, they probably suffer a bit from trying to cook too many dishes. Its hard to have noodle soups on the menu without a noodle station and the volume.

How’s the noodle itself?

Traditional wonton noodle soup has noodle on top of the wontons to keep the noodle al dente.

Ha, the menu is pretty small compared to most Chinese restaurants! Except for hainan chicken rice, the remainder of the lunch menu are different permutations of items I posted, for example I think there is a different noodle dish with the roast pork or chicken salad.

The noodles in the wonton noodles were good – – nice snap.

The owner has some interesting plans for the space (e.g., actually cooking the food on the carts!). Wrote about Night Market as part of a story on night market-like (or at least night market-inspired) entities in the Bay Area. It’s a fun spot.

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A great article, and it’s good to see you posting here, Luke!

I revisited the curry fish balls, curry pork skin, and quail eggs, and all were as good as previous times. They make all the fish balls in house except for the ones used for curry fish balls— regardless, I found the texture less rubbery, and the curry more aromatic, than the curried fish balls at Cooking Papa. Is a better version of the dish available elsewhere?

What do they use the other fish balls for, noodles? You mean they have people pounding fish by hand into pulp in the kitchen the Chiu Chow way? If so, that’s old style, labor intensive and that’s news! Because you don’t even see fish balls made the old style way often at all in Hong Kong any more. Or some other mechanical means?

How’s the texture of their other fish balls?

I haven’t had their other fish balls, which are for their soup. Next time I go I’ll ask how they make them.

Vien Huong makes their fish balls in house, and they have a less rubbery feel than processed ones. I wish I’d asked about technique! Teochew Noodle Shack doesn’t make their own.

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