Night It Up! returns for 2015 with three days of Asian street food


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The annual Asian night market that attracts over 100,000 patrons to Markham.

Image: Suresh Doss

As far as night markets go, they don’t get any bigger than Night It Up!, the annual Asian night market that attracts over 100,000 patrons to Markham.

Hosted by the Power Unit Youth Organization, the street fest, returns to the Markham Civic Centre for its 14th year with expanded programing and a slew of new vendors.

The spirit of NIU! reflects that of popular night markets found in Southeast Asia, particularly Taipei. What makes NIU! special is the lineup of food and non-food vendors, oftentimes brand new popups and first timers that are set up next to each other to create a unique atmosphere that is rarely rivaled with other festivals.  The selection of food also tends to be unique at NIU!, going beyond the generic definition of Asian street food, to feature creative and wonky items like fried noodles stuffed in hotdog buns, grilled tripe and tofu stinky enough that you smell it from across the parking lot.

 
NIU! vendor fries quail eggs

 

This year, you can expect to see more Vietnamese snacks, from newcomer Asian Munchies. Popup Penny Lou Lou will be serving bubble cakes, which are similar to Hong Kong style egg waffles. Also, remember those ramen burgers that were popular two years ago in Brooklyn? You can expect to find them at the event from popup vendor, Ramen Burgers.

“Our team is looking forward to hosting another great Night It Up! and doing our best to integrate the Pan Am celebrations,” said Shirley Ng, chairperson of Night It Up!. “There is a lot of work involved in planning an event of this size, and a hundred per cent of the organizers are youth volunteers who have dedicated their time and efforts over the past year."

It’s also a foodie pilgrimage of sorts. Each year, thousands flock to the event from all across the province, armed with cameras and brightly-cased iphones.  So, if you plan on going, Friday evening tends to be the best time as the thinner crowds are create a more comfortable vibe.

 
Grilled meat on a stick is a popular item at NIU!, the event features a variety of vendors representing the many different corners of South East Asia

 

Food trucks that have confirmed their attendance are Me.N.U., My Sticky Rice and Born2Eat as well as various other local food trailers and ice cream vendors.

There are also a number of new sports events taking place including the Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ultimate Fan Zone, Toronto Argonauts Experience, and the inaugural ‘Markham’s Strongest Woman’ Competition.

This year’s beneficiary is Yellow Brick House, a non-profit charitable organization mandated to provide services in York Region to women and children who are victims of violence and abuse.

Night It Up! runs July 24 to 26 at Markham Civic Centre, 101 Town Centre Blvd., Markham. Hours vary each day, so check their website for details.

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Suresh Doss is resident food and drink writer and associate web editor at Post City Magazines. In addition to covering the culinary scene, Suresh regularly hosts food events across the GTHA. You can follow him on Twitter (@spotlightcity) or Instagram (@suresh) or email him at sureshdoss@postcity.com.

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