From crawfish-filled buns to biang biang noodles: the hottest ticket in town this weekend was a showcase of Asian eats.

Convenient to carry and munch on the go, hand-held snacks like these skewers are a night-market hit. (Photo by Sara Hayden)

There’s a saying in Chinese that literally translates to “people mountains, people sea”: 人山人海. It figuratively means a vast, vast crowd. And that’s exactly what gathered in the Milpitas Great Mall parking lot Saturday night. The location hosted the lucky ones who scored tickets to Dealmoon’s sold out Asian Street Food Night Market where more than 50 vendors from all over the Bay Area served up hundreds of dishes showcasing different Asian cuisines.

You could smell the event before you could see it — the aroma of spice, sizzling meat, savory sauce. As you got closer, you could first see the smoke curling over white peaked tents housing flaming grills, and then the line curling around the parking lot and doubling back on itself.

People waited to shop, play games and, of course, eat. On the menu? Fresh bean jelly, roasted chestnuts, marinated duck heads, milk teas and much more.

Clockwise from top left: Lili Guo and Shawn Shen challenge each other to a game of Jenga at Dealmoon’s Asian Street Food Night Market in Milpitas; Luo Chao of the Crab Lover restaurant serves samples to the capacity crowd; April 23 Florist Kathy Xu prepares a bouquet; Dealmoon, a Chinese-language deal services site, is now experimenting with Bay Area events. After a successful run on the East Coast, it brought its Asian Street Food Night Market to Milpitas on Oct. 20. The event sold out; a mascot greets guests at the market. (Photos by Sara Hayden)

In Asia, the night market (夜市 in Chinese) is a neighborhood fixture where friends gather, families hang out and couples date. Dealmoon, a Chinese-language deal service, brought it to life as a one-night affair so the Bay Area could get a taste.

So here is our list of the local favorites from the 6–5–0 area code that caught our attention and quelled our appetites at the market. Take a look:

Crayfish is red hot with a numbingly spicy soup at Tasty Pot. (Photo by Sara Hayden)

Tasty Pot

Crayfish production in China has jumped by hundreds of thousands of tons in the last decade. Appetite for the 小龍蝦, “little lobster,” has kept pace, domestically and abroad.

The sweetness of strawberry lemonade is welcome after spicy crayfish at Tasty Pot. (Photo by Sara Hayden)

Taiwanese hot pot joint Tasty Pot offered a particularly succulent version. The magic is in its boiling soup, with a satisfactory 麻辣(numbingly spicy) seasoning that tingles rather than burns. The sides provided a welcome balance to the spice — a sweet strawberry lemonade and buttered ear of corn.

At Saturday’s event, there was no showing of the night market classic 臭豆腐 (stinky tofu), but if you visit one of Tasty Pot’s physical locations throughout the Bay Area, you can treat yourself to the fermented favorite in hot pot form.

Tasty Pot; Westlake Shopping Center, 215 Lake Merced Blvd, Daly City; (650) 992–0888

Dim Sum USA has more than just dim sum. We enjoyed an open bun stuffed with lamb and cilantro, and cold noodles. (Photo by Sara Hayden)

Dim Sum USA

Dim Sum USA is a place where we might typically turn to for dumplings, however we couldn’t resist a couple of the other items on the menu.

On arrival, the late afternoon felt like summer in the Great Mall parking lot. With that in mind, we sprung for 涼麵 (cold noodles). The no-frills recipe got the job done with perfectly springy noodles, finely sliced cucumbers and a sauce of sesame paste and soy.

After an initial cool-down, we were ready for Dim Sum USA’s steaming lamb 肉夹馍 (an open bun stuffed with meat), topped with crisp cilantro.

Dim Sum USA; 1459 Beach Park Blvd, Foster City; (650) 356–0688

Sweet or savory, you could find any bun to suit your palate at Dealmoon’s Asian Street Food Night Market in Milpitas. These dessert piggies are filled with custard. (Photo by Sara Hayden)
Hosts take turns taking orders for Bun Bao at Dealmoon’s Asian Street Food Night Market in Milpitas. (Photo by Sara Hayden)

Bun Bao

For us, no night market trip is complete without a steamed bun, neatly twisted at the top with vegetables or meat stuffed inside for a perfectly self-contained snack. Those served at Bun Bao were a two-handed affair that surprised — and delighted us — with an unexpected crayfish filling (see crayfish trend above).

Bun Bao serves throughout the Peninsula.

Check them out (and order) online at www.bunbao.com.

Paul Ng of Noodleosophy finishes making pulled noodles by hand at Dealmoon’s Asian Street Food Night Market in Milpitas. (Photo by Sara Hayden)

Noodleosophy

The San Mateo favorite is well-known for its fresh 拉麵 (ramen) and 扯麵 (pulled noodles), which are always handmade — hand-kneaded, hand-cut, hand-pulled—and served with delicious toppings: pickled vegetables and shredded pork, lamb dusted in cumin, and mashed garlic & ginger, among others.

On this occasion, they whipped their noodles into perfect shape for a dish that’s sometimes called 油泼扯面 (hot oil noodles), or “biang biang” noodles. The wide fresh ribbons were (unsurprisingly) a popular favorite at the market.

Noodleosophy; 41 E 4th Ave, San Mateo; (650) 376–3927

Eden Silk Road showcased the richness of the cuisines that have historically developed along its namesake. (Photo by Sara Hayden)

Eden Silk Road

As the evening cooled, it was time to delve into something hearty. 大盘鸡 (“big platter chicken”) did the trick with peppers that kicked, potatoes that nearly melted and juicy pieces of chicken. Cumin, star anise and peppercorns warmed from the inside out as Eden Silk Road showcased halal dishes from the ethnic minorities along the Silk Road.

Eden Silk Road; 231 S Ellsworth Ave, San Mateo

Don’t be fooled by these fruits at Douce la Vie Patisserie. They’re even sweeter than they look. (Photo by Sara Hayden)

Douce la Vie Patisserie

Naturally, we finished the night with something sweet. Fruit is an ever popular dessert, but Douce la Vie Patisserie’s version dials up the decadence. On display were what appeared to be palm-sized oranges, lemons and pears that proved to be handmade confections on closer inspection.

Douce la Vie Patisserie has confected fruits featuring chocolate shells and cream. (Photo by Sara Hayden)

“What you see is what you taste,” co-owner Ran Chen explained. The “fruits” were in fact thin chocolate shells that enveloped cream and their respective fruits inside.

The patisserie is currently accepting custom orders online.

When it comes to eating, friends divide and conquer at Dealmoon’s Asian Street Food Night Market in Milpitas. (Photo by Sara Hayden)

Stay up to date with other coverage from The Six Fifty by subscribing to our weekly newsletter, featuring event listings, reviews and articles showcasing the best that the Peninsula has to offer. Sign up here!

More local eats from The Six Fifty:

The 650’s 3-minute guide to the Peninsula’s best ramen

Morning Wood brings ohana vibes and epic Hawaiian brunch to San Bruno

Exploring the aisles of Takahashi Market, the Peninsula’s emporium for Hawaiian & Japanese goods

Plant-based Peninsula: the Six Fifty’s guide to vegan & vegetarian eats around Silicon Valley

Legendary Hawaiian chef Sam Choy brings ‘true’ island food to the Peninsula with Poke to the Max

You May Also Like

Congresswoman Barbara Lee holds her fist up at a solidarity George Floyd protest event in Oakland.

International film festival brings documentaries back to Peninsula theaters

Five steps of flavor: Eats Meets West Bowls creates customizable fast-casual feasts in Belmont

What’s abuzz in Atherton: The coolest high school club is…beekeeping?

How a local writer joined extreme kayaker Scott Lindgren for the Netflix doc “The River Runner”