Night bazaars in Asia, open-air markets full of vendors hawking street food, are often thrillingly crowded and chaotic, but are a rarity stateside. John Wang, a former lawyer who grew up visiting such markets in his family’s native Taiwan, decided that multicultural Queens would be the ideal location to build an American version. Now, the parking lot of the New York Hall of Science in Corona is playing host to the Queens Night Market, which brings food from across the borough to one lively location.
The market got off to a bumpy start on its opening night last month; a problem with supply and demand led to long lines. Wang said that trial-by-fire was an important lesson in organization, though, and also accepted dozens of applications from a more diverse crop of vendors. On a visit last Saturday, all appeared to be running smoothly. Even the picnic tables, where visitors slurped noodles and devoured squid on sticks, were quickly wiped free of chili oil splatters.
There are now 51 food stalls, representing nations as disparate as Vietnam, Bolivia, and Hungary.
Takoyaki purveyor Karl’s Balls is among the most popular, along with Gi Hin Mama Food, where cephalopods take an tasty form: grilled on skewers. Thanks to its proximity to Flushing, there are plenty of delicious Chinese dishes, like wontons in chili oil from Mama Ping’s, and refreshing Sichuanese liang mian — cold noodles with garlic, ginger, sesame oil, and crisp strips of cucumber. Also worth sampling are obleas, a Colombian dessert that puts ingredients like dulce de leche, cheese, Nutella, or fruit between disc-shaped wafer cookies, and the Trinidadian bake and shark, breaded and fried shark sandwiches with a variety of sauces and toppings.
Wang said that future plans involve more live music. Saturday’s lineup included Bombay Rickey, a quintet that draws inspiration from surf rock and Bollywood alike; as well as more vendors from the Himalayas, a region whose immigrant community is now booming in neighborhoods like Jackson Heights. The market will run through this Saturday, May 30, and will then go on hiatus until additional dates are added.