Honolulu Night Market: A Street Party in Paradise
683 Auahi St., Honolulu, Hawaii
The Honolulu Night Market happens once a month, every third Saturday in the funky neighbourhood of Kaka’ako. There’s lots of free parking in a nearby lot at 555 South Street.
I found out about the Honolulu Night Market from Yelp Hawaii’s instagram page. The event is hosted by Street Grindz, a Hawaiian company representing the food trucks for the Islands. As my readers know, I absolutely love street food so I made it a point to check out the Honolulu Night Market and made sure to skip dinner to clear my appetite for street eats.
We could see the trucks and hear the music blasting at the Honolulu Night Market from blocks away. The party was already getting underway when we arrived and it was only 7 pm. Our first stop was my newest obsession: spam musubi. Hawaii’s Fried Musubi is the big purple truck that sells deep fried musubi with free sides of fried chicken. How could I resist? There is a full selection of musubi on the menu but I picked my favourite: spam. This was definitely a salty treat, the deep fried crust was crispy and salty and the spam in the middle was salty and mysterious, just the way I like it. What the heck is even in spam, really? The fried chicken drummettes were complimentary but were delicious!
We loved the Pig and the Lady Noodle Bar so much that we stopped here for their award-winning banh mi even though their stand boasted the longest line up and we had already tried their pho in the morning. The Pig and the Lady started out at the KCC Farmers’ Market but will soon be opening their bricks and mortar shop. I can only imagine the lineups at the shop.
The Pig and the Lady’s pho French dip banh mi is on Honolulu Magazine’s list of 100 things to eat. We had to try it. A great twist on the traditional Vietnamese sandwich, the crispy French baguettes were filled with a generous helping of 12 hour slow cooked beef brisket along with sauteed bean sprouts and onions and served with a steaming bowl of pho au jus. It was the best of all worlds, incredible, juicy, beef brisket, packed with explosive flavour and falling apart with tenderness, ready to be dipped in this rich, full-bodied pho broth that only enhanced the flavours of the meat. I have never tasted a sandwich that was so crammed full of flavour, each bite was better than the next.
For some more poke, we ordered some poke nachos that we munched on while we wandered the rest of the market. I love the contrast in textures of the crunchy chips against the silky poke. The mild flavoured chips also helped offset the super salty fish.
Our last food stop was the truck called Whatch Fillin.’ My bargain hunting boyfriend had to try this place. He was so intrigued by the fact that the pies this place was selling were only $3 each. While we were waiting in line, I noticed that Whatcha Fillin’ has been featured numerous times in local Hawaii media. I guess everyone else is also curious about this cheap and popular food truck. The truck offered mini pies filled with savoury and dessert ingredients.
We ordered the Jacobs, which was a chicken pot pie featuring chicken, carrots, potatoes, peas, green beans, onions and gravy. The little pies really were stuffed full of filling. We shared one but I think if I ate a whole one by myself, it would be enough for a small meal. The chicken in the pie was tasty and the gravy was rich and creamy. This was a real comfort food pie. The actual pies – there were two of them that were sandwiching the ingredients- were actually fluffy and not soggy at all.
For dessert we had the baby cakes which was filled with cheesecake and caramel. This totally appealed to my sweet tooth and love of cheesecake. The caramel in the cake were just melted caramel squares though. I could tell since one of them didn’t entirely melt and stuck to my teeth as I gobbled up the rest of the pie.
The Honolulu Night Market is not all about food, we got a strong sense of community and taste of the lively night life amongst locals in Honolulu while we wandered the market. Each monthly night market event features a theme, and this month’s theme was Fashion! To celebrate haute culture and style, a runway was set up and a fashion show featuring Neiman Marcus’ latest looks took place at the back of the market near the barn.
Inside the barn building were more local clothing and accessories vendors selling cool, one-of-a-kind items. I was reminded of the markets on Brick Lane in London, England.
There was also a skateboarding ramp where skaters tried out tricks.
For some tunes at the market, a live DJ was spinning on top of a big truck at one end of the market, break dancers and performance artists were hanging around the truck and interacting with people. There was even a juggler to entertain guests.
The night market takes place in an area on the island known as Kakaako, the hub of urban culture and trendy boutique restaurants. The place even has its own hash tag advertised on the walls of the buildings. The vibe is young, hip and energetic, I would come back to have brunch in the restaurants or just to wander around the boutique stores even if there wasn’t a night market going on. It’s always wonderful to see a community fueled by social media. Honolulu is much more into social media than other cities we have visited. San Diego for example has many cool restaurants but none of which truly engage their customers in social media, at least none of the restaurants we visited.
One useful booth was the hand washing booth, big tables with tanks of soap dispensers came in handy when our hands were sticky from street food.
The other cool thing about the Honolulu Night Market? There’s booze here! A fully stocked bar can be found at the back of the market, it was one of the booths with the biggest lineup.
As for seating, we found a little brick alleyway filled with round tables and chairs that we could lay out our feast on.
We had so much fun at the Honolulu Night Market and were so full afterwards. Check out the next market on November 16, 2013. The theme will be retail therapy, one of my favourite things.