The OC Night Market (OCNM) is an even that happens twice a year, over a 3 day period, at the OC fair grounds. I had heard about this event last year, but after it had already finished :(. When I saw on Instagram the upcoming dates for this year I knew that I had to make it. The advertised food looked amazing. When you walk into the market there are a bunch of clothing, jewelry, and art vendors set up, but just make your way past them, because what you really want is what’s at the other side- THE FOOD!! There are two rows of food stalls set up with food trucks and tables in the middle. The majority of the food at the OCNM is Asian inspired. Luckily we went to the second weekend of the event and I was able to stalk Instagram for the best food to try. I’m pretty unfamiliar with Asian food, so I needed some direction haha! Fortunately a lot of Asians in OC go to the OCNM and I was able to learn from them the best things to try. Below is a list of each food item we tasted with a short description. Hopefully some of you can make it to the LA Night Market or to the OCNM next year!
Ramen Burger- $14
This was one of the items I was most excited to try. I know that many burger shops now sell ramen burgers, but I’d never tried one before. We ordered the original with and egg on it. Overall I really liked the burger. It was a decent size, and the ramen bun was way better than I expected. It was crunchy on the outside, but not hard, and soft in the middle. It held up well to the burger. I don’t, however, think it was worth the price.
Verdict- if you’ve never had a ramen burger I think that it’s a must try at least once in your life item, but if you’ve had one before just skip it.
Spiral Potato- $5
The spiral potato is basically a whole potato spiraled open on a stick and then fried. It turns crispy and is basically like eating potato chips off of a stick. You can choose from about 10 different flavors to put on your potato, and they even do half and half. We choose sour cream and onion on one side and butter on the other.
Verdict- I think people get this for the novelty of it- basically how it looks and photographs haha! You can eat chips any time, so I personally would save room for something better!
Giant Fried Squid- $12.99
The giant fried squid is truly GIANT! It was bigger than my head. They basically take a squid, put it on a stick, flatten it, and fry it. Then you sprinkle seasoning on it and cut it into pieces with scissors that they provide (but first take a picture 🙂 ). They also provide sides of mayo, hot sauce, and thousand island sauce.
Verdict- it was definitely not the best squid I’ve ever had- it was overcooked and a little chewy. But I would order it again, especially in a group, because it was big and good.
Lobster Roll (from Anchor Hitch)- $7
Think coast of Maine, buttered brioche toast, and fresh lobster! This lobster roll was small but packed with fresh lobster in a perfectly toasted, crunchy bread shell, topped with caviar, and served with a lemon wedge.
Verdict- Small for the price, but worth every penny! One of the best things I tasted all night. I could eat like 10 of them haha!
This was another item that I was extremely eager to try. Food Beast created a donut out of ramen. It’s basically ramen soaked in horchata, then filled with a filling of choice (cream cheese, chocolate, strawberry), fried, and then topped with a topping of choice (same as fillings plus sprinkles).
Verdict- Most definitely worth it!! WAY better than I thought it was going to taste. The horchata gave the donut a great, sweet flavor. We chose to fill with chocolate and top with chocolate and cream cheese, and it had just the right amount of sweetness. I hope the romnut is back next year.
Crab Fries Poutine- $10
I had seen this poutine all over Instagram and everyone was raving about it. I’m not a huge fan of crab, but we decided to just go for it. Thin fries topped with fresh crab and a garlic cream sauce.
Verdict- I’m so glad we ordered this because it was probably my favorite savory thing we had all night. The garlic sauce was so flavorful and garlicky, but the freshness of the crab cut through the heaviness of the sauce. The fries were perfectly crisp and didn’t get soggy, which I loved. A must get!
When I saw all of my Asian friends posting these balls covered in sauce I had to look up what Takoyaki was haha! Takoyaki is a popular Japanese snack comprised of a wheat flour based batter usually filled with minced octopus, tempura scraps, and green onion. It is then topped with a takoyaki sauce, similar to Worcestershire and mayo, and shavings of dried bonito. People on Instagram were saying that the takoyaki here was some of the best they’ve had outside of Japan- so of course I had to try it!
Verdict- So, I have nothing to compare this to because I’ve never had takoyaki, or anything like it. It was a very weird, pudding like, texture in the middle with chunks of chewy octopus mixed in. None of us like the texture of the balls, and they were definitely fishy tasting. I did, however, like the sauce that was on them. I probably would not order these again.
Twice Cooked Pork Buns (28 OC)- $3-$4 each
People were seriously going crazy over these buns on the internet. 28 OC is a new restaurant in OC, that had a booth set up at the OCNM. They were serving two types of buns: filet mignon and pork belly. These buns are first steamed and then fried and drizzled with sweetened condensed milk.
Verdict- The boys only liked the filet mignon but, but I liked the pork belly one the best. I think because it was sweeter. I liked the crisp outside of the bun and the sweetness that the sweetened condensed milk provided, but overall I was not very impressed. I would not order again.
Short Rib Crunch Burger- $6
A small palm sized crunchy fried bun filled with short rib, pickled cucumbers, cilantro, and a siracha mayo sauce.
Verdict- most of our group thought it didn’t have a big enough punch of flavor. I thought it was just right, because I don’t like spicy food ;). The texture with the bun and the cucumbers was perfect. For $6 I would order again.
Salted Caramel Churro- $4 & Fruity Pebble Churro w/ Ice Cream- $5
Churros are one of my favorite desserts to eat. I was super excited that the OCNM was offering different flavored churros. We decided on salted caramel and Fruity Pebbles (because I’m cereal obsessed haha), and only got one with ice cream because we were getting full. But the ice cream for $1 is a steal!
Verdict- Both churros were good and worth buying again. BUT, the salted caramel was out of this world! It tasted like the churro was filled with butter and caramel. It had so much flavor, yet stayed crispy on the outside. A must try at the OCNM.
Okonomiyaki (vegetable)- $6
Okonomiyaki was another one of those foods that I had never heard of and had to look up after seeing so many people post about it. Okonomiyaki is a Japanese savory pancake usually made up of flour, yam, eggs, and cabbage. It can also contain cheese, corn, shrimp, pork, octopus, other veggies, and/or mochi. It’s cooked on a griddle, like a pancake, and then topped with a sauce almost identical to the takoyaki and then mayo.
Verdict- we ordered the plain vegetable okonomiyaki and topped it with both sauces. The texture was very similar to the takoyaki, but way more tolerable because the pancake was thin and crispy on both sides. I love veggies, especially cabbage, so I ate almost the entire pancake on my own (which was the size of my face). Some of the others, however, didn’t really care for it. It was definitely worth $6, and I will for sure be ordering it next year…maybe I’ll venture out and try a different flavor!
Fried Ice Cream (Mexican flavor)- $12
Who doesn’t love fried ice cream? By this time we were stuffed, but the fried ice cream here was supposed to be amazing…so we had to ;). We ordered the Mexican flavor, which came with caramel ice cream and a chocolate and caramel sauce drizzle.
Verdict- The portion is huge. The ice cream had a perfectly crunchy exterior and remained firm in the middle. The ice cream itself was GOOD! This fried ice cream was addicting, and despite how stuffed we all were we couldn’t stop eating it. I will be back for more fried ice cream!