by Andrew Morrison with photos by Michelle Sproule | Friday night saw the first annual Dumpling Cook Off go down at the Chinatown Night Market. The nine participating local restaurants knocked the crowds’ socks off with their takes on the classic Chinese staple. The competition had one simple instruction for the chefs: create “something wrapped in something”. The results from Chambar, La Mezcalaria, Wild Rice, Wildebeest, Pidgin, Cibo, Sea Monster Sushi, Harvest, and The Parker were seriously impressive.
Those who forked over $12 got a “dumpling passport”, which is to say nine diversely delicious treats. That’s everything from scallop and prosciutto agnoli from Cibo and veggie “fen guo” from The Parker to Asian lamb dumplings with Tibetan hot sauce from Sea Monstr and caramelized pork confit carnitas pockets from La Mezcaleria. Naturally, it was a very popular event that sold out quickly. There were lots of disappointed, dumpling-less faces drooping through the throng – some of them good friends – and who could blame them for their long faces? The parking lot behind The Keefer was like a hot cauldron of awesome!
I was thrilled to judge the event with dumpling masters Joel and Helen of Bao Bei. Our faves of the night were the gluten-free chanterelle, burdock and turnip dumpling with nasturtium vinegar from Harvest (top marks for innovation); the Turkish lamb dumpling with tahini yogurt, spicy red pepper, cucumber, radish and lemon butter from Chambar (perhaps the most exotic departure from the traditional); the wild boar and fig tortelloni from Wildebeest (amazing flavour combination); and the winning duck confit dumpling from Pidgin. Yup, true to form, Pidgin gentrified the living shit out of their dumplings with truffle, black garlic, and soy. They were flawless little presents of deliciousness, resembling tiny skate egg cases; flecked with promising black, firm on the tooth, plump with smoothly textured duck, and bursting with superb, intense flavour. Their golden dumpling trophy – designed by local artist Diane Espiritu – was well and justly earned.
The ancillary highlights (for me, at least) were the men and women’s dumpling eating competitions. They were so staggeringly savage! I tend to never watch those sorts of things because I always feel like I’ll puke if one of the contestants does (just like the “Lardass” scene in the movie Stand By Me), but this time I couldn’t help but take it in. I have no idea how people can put away food so fast! They must have what the Japanese call a betsubara, an extra stomach for special occasions. It was at once beautiful and disgusting, a mesmerizing Roman spectacle worthy of a serious eyes-wide gawk. Hat’s off to the superhumans who won.
It was great to see such a huge turnout and once again take in the Chinatown Night Market. We’re already looking forward to next year. Long live dumplings!
Like dumplings? On Friday, August 16th, the Chinatown Night Market and Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie celebrate the classic Chinese bite-sized morsel with a Dumpling Cook Off. Come down and watch as some of Vancouver’s top chefs go head to head and battle for the title of best dumpling. Vancouverites can themselves up with a dumpling passport and enter as dumpling contestants in a Dumpling Derby. It all goes down between 7pm and 9pm in the parking lot beside the Keefer Bar. The competitors are coming from Chambar, La Mezcalaria, Wild Rice, Wildebeest, Pidgin, Cibo, Sea Monster Sushi, Harvest, and The Parker, so it’s a great and talented mix. $12 tickets/passports can be purchased here or at Bao Bei. Read more
by Andrew Morrison | The view from the Chinatown Plaza Parkade is the next cool thing. This lookout from several stories up on the corner of Keefer and Columbia in Chinatown isn’t on any tourist map, but the views are gorgeous, especially at sunrise, sunset, and at the height of the Chinatown Night Market, where the only place for the rich smells to go is right up your nose. Be sure to take out what you bring in, except for the donut, which you should kindly entrust to the security guard.
by Robyn Yager | Good, glamourous hair never goes out of style. Give me Veronica Lake, Lauren Bacall, or Ava Gardner hair anytime! If you head down to the Chinatown Night Market this weekend, get your tresses done up Hollywood style by the pop-up salon known as Rock, Paper, Scissors. New York native, Michelle Grimm, is a freelance hair stylist who worked five years in the fashion trade for the likes of Marc Jacobs and Balenciaga. Her pop-up will be at the Market on July 19th and 20th accepting walk-ins. Check out their Facebook Page or shoot them an email for a consultation. Fortunately, Michelle has some fun things in the works for August, so follow her on Twitter and Instagram for updates.
Friday’s return of Night Visions – this time to the Chinatown Night Market – was a big success with a great turnout of folks keen to see a selection of works by 40 Canadian photographers – everyone from Fred Herzog to John King – projected onto the side of the Keefer Bar in the middle of Chinatown.
Night Vision returns this summer, and its organizers are honoured to be invited to take part in the revitalization of Vancouver’s Chinatown Night Market. First held in 2009, Night Vision has illuminated Vancouver summer nights and filled hundreds of ears with music on two blissful occasions. The events showcased beautiful photography from artists around the world, and lent Strathcona park a magical atmosphere (complete with sprinkler-induced excitement). There’s nothing quite as nice as this: gazing at glowing photographs projected on a big screen under cover of summer darkness.
Natasha Lands returns this year to DJ to a selection of Canadian photographers. The exhibition will be projected onto the side of the Keefer Bar in the middle of Chinatown, and will begin with a selection of photographs by Fred Herzog. Herzog has been photographing the essence of Vancouver urban life for over fifty years. His images capture a time and place that is uniquely its own, and the faces, streets, and signage captured on film remain as vital and animated now as they were in the 50s and 60s. He will be joined by forty photographers from across Canada, reaching from Corner Brook, Newfoundland (John King) to Victoria, British Columbia (Ali Bosworth).
Meet us in the parking lot of The Keefer on Friday, July 5th at 10pm. Come early to enjoy the market. Be sure to bring a comfortable chair or a few blankets because we’ve traded out grassy fields for tall buildings and we want you to stay for the whole show.
When: July 5th at 10pm
Where: Chinatown Night Market, Parking lot of 135 Keefer St, Vancouver
Winner Winner debuted at the soft start of the new Chinatown Night Market over the weekend. The new street food vendor serves up just one dish, a pile of delicious Singaporean-style chicken over rice with a ginger chili dipping sauce for just $6 a box. The fun operation was launched by Stanley Yung and Bao Bei’s Chen-Wei Lee (center and right in top photo). Once you get close enough to it, you’ll hear Jonathan Grand Pierre (bottom photo) calling out things like “The sauce is the boss!”, “Winner winner chicken dinner!”, “The rice is the main event!”, among other things (he’s a funny guy). The “official” opening of the Night Market isn’t until June 1st, but Winner Winner will be rolling “soft” again this weekend, so check them out!
Every Fri, Sat, Sun until September 8th | 6pm-11pm | Keefer St. between Main & Columbia.
More tasty Chinatown Night Market news:
The much anticipated, revamped Vancouver Chinatown Night Market is ready to launch its 2013 season officially on June 1st.* After 17 years at the helm, the VCMA have welcomed a new group of volunteers to the project in order to “help give the Night Market a fresh look and feel,” says Henry Tom, VP of the VCMA and Chair of the Night Market Committee. After a long winter of hard work, the new team is eager to introduce its revitalized summer schedule revealing some of the best outdoor entertainment and shopping in the city as well as a weekly on-site food truck gathering organized by the Vancouver Street Food Society and will include favourites like Vij’s Railway, Roaming Dragon, Le Tigre, Tacofino, and Mogu. Read more
The Vancouver Chinatown Night Market has been making some game-changing additions to its roster of vendors for this summer. Vancouverites and visitors alike can now expect more live music, more food, more storytelling, new vendors, outdoor classic movie screenings, Mahjong, epic ping pong tournaments, and much more. Regulars can rest assured that imported wares (both fanciful and functional) will still be standard fare, as will such legendary snacks as the Potato Tornado, but by the magic of the moon (and overhead flood lights) – lo and behold! – something new will strike their fancy every weekend from June 1st to September 8th, from 6pm to 11pm.
Some of the new vendors for the revamped summertime market that sprawls down Keefer Street include Community Thrift and Vintage, Woo2cu, Draw Me a Lion, Project Space, Derek Gaw (Laser cutter), Mellifera Bees, The Window, Cocolico, Olla Flowers, Project Limelight, Poppytalk, Sharks + Hammers, Lissu/Ystava, Duchesse Vintage, Espiritu Design Studio, AKA Designs, China Cloud, Kaffe Coffee, We Are Local, The Soap Dispensary, and Sugo Sauce. New offerings will run the gamut from kitsch and classic to sweet and savoury.
So come spend some long, warm summer nights with your friends and family celebrating the Chinatown of yore and today while shopping, eating, playing, and creating new memories in what will always be a very special place!
Honour Bound details the many cool things that we feel honour bound to check out because they either represent Vancouver exceptionally well or are inherently super awesome in one way or another
Diane Espiritu is one of many new vendors who will be showing and selling their creations at the revamped Chinatown Night Market. She studied Industrial Design at Emily Carr University of Art and Design before launching Espiritu Design Studio, a ceramics-focused studio in Chinatown. Diane attributes her creativity to growing up with a resourceful father who could not resist the challenge of finding a dual purpose for everything he came across. When the utilitarian nature of his engineered objects lacked elegance, Diane finessed a polished finish. Today, she combines the spirit of that mindful innovation with a modern design aesthetic.
What type of artist are you? What style of work do you produce? I’m an industrial designer at Espiritu Design Studio, a company we started in 2011. Initially, it was an effort to find studio space to make and market my own in house designs [but] soon I was working with a variety of clients to bring their visions to life, too. I specialize in two mediums: functional and architectural ceramics and soft product design.
Three things about Coal Harbour that make you want to live there? The seawall as it winds its way into our beloved Stanley Park, the proximity to beaches, and green spaces.
What inspires you? I draw inspiration from a number of sources. I’m very aware of my surroundings. Whether it’s the built or natural environment I like to connect with the objects living within these spaces. I’m fond of new experiences and encountering surprising elements. I look for emotional experiences. I admire thoughtful makers that make you smile when you interact with their creations. I appreciate the craftsmanship, mindfulness and sensibilities required to achieve a form that is as elegant and simple as it is intuitively functional.
You are one of the first local designers to jump on board and grab a table at the revamped Chinatown Night Market planned for this summer. What is it about the Night Market this year that has you most excited? I want to embrace the idea of being a part of something new as it emerges [...] I would love to take this opportunity to collaborate with like-minded designers on a few small scale projects.
Tell us about your studio space in Chinatown? Espiritu Design Studio is located in the Chinatown Mall. The main level contains the equipment and tools we need to execute soft product design projects. I share this space with my dear friend and design colleague Angel Dawn, who works with fibre, leather and other materials. If there is any evidence of organization in the studio it is because her skills are impeccable. The second level is where all the ceramic magic happens. The studio is my home away from home so I try to make it cozy. I place reminders of the people who have supported and inspired me along my journey over the years pinned to the studio walls.
What is your favourite creation right now? I’m really digging the potential of the pieces that I’m creating for the Chinatown Night Market. These are pulling inspiration from the distinctive elements of our neighbourhood and the idea of collaborating with other local designers and members of the Vancouver Design Bureau.
What is your favourite Chinatown indulgence? When a fruit comes into season and it’s readily available at the markets, I will consume copious amounts of it daily. My favourites are mangos and the sweet yet tart mandarins.
Where can Vancouverites find your work? Recently, I had the great opportunity to create ceramic taps for artisan sake in collaboration with designers Tlell Davidson and Craig Stanghetta for Pidgin. You can also find the ceramic coffee pour-over cones that I designed for Panoramic Coffee Roasters at The Pie Shoppe. While I begin to court local shops to carry my work, you are welcome to visit my studio in the Chinatown mall by appointment to check out what’s hot off the kiln shelf!
If you want to be a vendor at this summer’s Chinatown Night Market, click here to learn how.
As we’ve noted before, the Vancouver Chinatown Night Market is bringing a heady mix of time-honoured tradition and new school flavour to the summer festivities on Keefer Street. Check out the teaser video (attaboy Ken, great job!) and read more after the jump… Read more
As Scout recently reported, Bao Bei owner Tannis Ling and pop-up organiser Ken Tsui have joined with the Vancouver Chinatown Merchant’s Association (VCMA) to reinvent the 18 year tradition we know as the Chinatown Night Market. They’re now calling for vendor applications!
This year, the Chinatown Night Market is mixing it up – old and new, imports and originals, mainstream and handmade – in an effort to celebrate our love of art, culture, summertime and the ever-changing Chinatown neighbourhood.
If what you do jives with this atmosphere, a vendor stall might be for you!
The New Night Market’s performances, workshops and attractions will draw a wide, culturally diverse audience with a full season seeing over 100,000 unique visitors. There’s something here for families, friends, young and old; for those from within the Chinatown community and beyond. Ideally, the assortment of vendors we assemble will collectively have something to appeal to one and all.
The right fit of wares–be it pins, preserves, perfumes or paper–can be unique or not, charming or simply utilitarian but should be “easy on the pocketbook”. In all practicality, keep in mind that the Night Market is a walkabout street fair, so smaller, “carry-able” items or those with innovative, transportable packaging are ideal.
The 2013 Chinatown Night Market is currently offering stall rentals on a monthly basis, half or full season. If you would like more information please email: contact [at] vancouverchinatownnightmarket.com
Learn all you need to here. Spread the word.
Tannis Ling, owner of Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie, and Ken Tsui, a well known pop-up organizer responsible for popular events like Black Lodge Diner, Eat Together and The Hawker Stand, have joined with the Vancouver Chinatown Merchant’s Association (VCMA) to reinvent the 18 year tradition we know as the Chinatown Night Market.
It’s no secret that the Night Market has struggled in recent years, but with the neighbourhood in the midst of an exciting renewal period and an influx of new businesses wanting to participate, the VCMA, Ling and Tsui see the summer of 2013 as the perfect opportunity to update it. They aim to harness Chinatown’s resurgent spirit while helping to preserve its cultural DNA. The goal is to create a dynamic cultural hub and social space that will appeal to all ages and all cultures.
In such an effort, collaboration is everything. Local design firm Glasfurd & Walker is working with Bao Bei to rebrand the Night Market, and the Street Food Vancouver Society is on board to help diversify and complement the range of food already offered by bringing in a selection of trucks to the market’s western border on Columbia Street. There will be an area for dining set up with picnic tables and chairs, and there’s a rumour going around of new restaurant patios opening for the occasion.
New programming will include outdoor Chinese movie screenings, ping-pong tournaments, cooking competitions, storytelling nights and mahjong lessons. Workshops available for kids could include kite making, calligraphy, circus arts, and more.
Of course, one of the integral aspects of revitalizing the night market is the incorporation of inspired and original vendors. To this end, Ling and Tsui are – starting today – looking for artisans, craftspeople, and food makers with excellent products and accessible price points.
They are making a call out to vendors for expressions of interest. To be clear, this is not a request for commitment. Just acquiring vendor interest will help them move forward and into the next stages of planning.
Booth rate rentals start at $42/night and comes with a 10′ x 10′ tent and 6′ table. Vendor rentals are available for a full season (32 nights), half season (16 nights) or a quarter season (8 nights).
If you are interested in becoming a vendor or a sponsor, please contact Tannis Ling or Ken Tsui at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Andrew Morrison is the editor-in-chief of Scout and BC’s Senior Judge at the Canadian Culinary Championships. He contributes regularly to a wide range of publications, radio programs, and TV shows on local food, culture and travel. He live and works in the vibrant Strathcona neighbourhood, where he also collects inexpensive things and enjoys birds, skateboards, whisky, shoes, many songs, and the smell of wood fires.