It’s been a busy season for Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, which recently played host to the U.S. Open and the Maker Faire. Following the wave of enthusiastic sports and tech fans, zealous foodies are now anxiously waiting for the return of the Queens International Night Market, which will officially kick off its fall season at the park on September 30th.
Now in its third year, the much-anticipated event brings together a rotating cast of 130 local vendors that represent over 80 countries. In addition to food and drink offerings, which are generally capped at $5, various activities will also be taking place: from quirky jazz sessions and performances by Bengali dance troupes to a “heart-pumping” balloon popping race. (It’s only fittingly that it all takes place in Queens, the most diverse borough in New York City.)
Because October is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month, this year’s event will also play host to an American Cancer Society fundraiser as part of ACS’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer campaign. Entry for the night market is technically free, but ACS volunteers will be collecting a suggested donation of $5 per visitor at the gates. Following its debut on the 30th, the night market will operate every Saturday until October 28th, culminating with a Halloween bash.
In anticipation for its kick off, we’ve prepared guide of 10 not-to-miss vendors — get your stomachs (and wallets) ready.
10. Burmese Bites
Noticing the lack of Burmese food in the street fair industry, Myo Lin Thway — the mastermind behind Burmese Bites — decided to “hit the road.” For more than a dozen years, he served food at Myanmar Baptist Church Food Fair fundraisers, which give him the confidence to go public with his iterations of dishes like Chicken Curry Palata, Keema Palata and Ohno Kaukswe (coconut chicken noodle soup).
At the night market, Keema Palata — a savory dish of unleavened, griddle heated flatbread served with minced white meat chicken — is a fan favorite.
9. Twister Cake
Image via Twister Cake
If you’re craving a sweet treat, head to Twister Cake, a family owned and operated “mobile bakery” established in 2010. It specializes in Kurtos Kalacs, a traditional cake made by rolling dough around a cylindrical spit.
The team at Twister Cake utilizes an “authentic, generations-old, Transylvanian” family recipe and only the freshest ingredients to make its homemade desserts, which can be topped off with ice cream and whipped cream.
8. Jhal NYC
Jhal NYC is not just your typical street food vendor: it’s a social venture built to empower New York’s Bangali community through food. By employing stay at home mothers and new immigrants, the team behind Jhal hopes to create a sense of community for its staff members, who are able to build language skills and prepare for future careers they are seeking to transition into.
The venture has come a long way since its inception: this year, it was nominated for a Vendy Award — its Fuchka, a dish made with crunchy semolina-based shells stuffed with a yellow peas mixture, is certainly a reason why.
7. Moon Man
Photograph courtesy of Moon Man
Cousins Nigel Sielegar and Wenny Purnomo, the founders of Moon Man, grew up in Indonesia where street food was an essential part of their childhoods: “The image of street vendors turning simple ingredients into humble culinary masterpieces was and still is, magical for us,” they write on the Moon Man Facebook page.
In order to bring a bit of that nostalgia to New York City, Sielegar, an award-winning designer, and Purnomo, the food expertise, joined forces to bring the Moon Man project to life. It now serves ridiculously delicious coconut pancakes (kue pancong), providing a taste of Indonesia right here in the city.
Joon (a term of endearment in Farsi) is the brainchild of Jessica Spiegel, an architect from Florida, and Amir Alerasoul, an investment analyst from Tehran. Inspired by a trip back to Alerasoul’s homeland, the duo decided to launch their food stand to make up for the lack of Persian food in the city.
At the Queens International Night Market, you can find Joon — another Vendy nominee — dishing out tahdig (crispy rice) paired with savory stews, in addition to kebabs.
5. The Malaysian Project
Image via Facebook: The Malaysian Project
If you’re craving some Malaysian cuisine — look no further. The Malaysian Project does not disappoint with its “Ramly” burger, which pays homage to the fast food chain in Kuala Lumpur that shares the same name.
Born and raised in Malaysia (and accustomed to the abundance of street food there), the team members behind The Malaysian Project strive to share dishes made from scratch. “Our mission is to serve food that reminds us of home as well as our culture, as it goes hand in hand,” they note on their website.
4. In Patella
With a tagline like “New York’s truly traditional Paella,” In Patella is not joking around when it comes to “Spain’s most famous, yet equally misinterpreted dish.” Stemming from the province of Alicante (Valencia), the In Patella team has one humble mission when it comes to food: to promote the authenticity and cultural traditions surrounding Paella.
It’s more than a recipe, they argue. It’s a lifestyle built on generations of relationships between family and friends. (Also, look at the size of that thing.)
3. Sichuan Naan-wiches
Another hybrid we’re very much looking forward to are Sichuan Naan-wiches. Yelper Rinku K. gushes about the novelty of the dish:
“…who takes naan shaped into a traditional burger bun roasted in a true tandoor, speckled with fresh sesame seed to sammich some sweet and sour shredded BBQ chicken? A squirt of Sriracha and you’ll be as solid as the Himalayas.”
In the melting pot that is Queens, it’s not unusual to discover a West African dish delivered in an East Asian twist. At “Obe,” which translates to “stew” or “soup,” Nigerian Jollof Rice is served in bibimbap style, with plantains, vegetables, pepper chicken and creamy spinach stew (efo) on top.
1. Theobucket Vintage
Image via Facebook: Theobucket Vintage
And finally…for those who want to get some shopping in, pay a visit to Theobucket Vintage, a purveyor of vintage brooches, print advertising, baseball and a rotating selection of “items nostalgic in nature.” The small craft business buys and sells its ware from estate sales and auction houses, so the curated collection of ephemera is one-of-a-kind.