On Friday, Apr. 26, UC Santa Barbara’s Taiwanese American Student Association (TASA) held its fourteenth annual night market in Storke Plaza. Invoking feelings of nostalgia and awe in visitors, TASA organized the sale of traditional and mainstream Asian cuisine, held performances by multicultural dance teams, and hosted fun carnival games for attendees.
TASA offered many popular dishes traditionally sold at Taiwanese night markets, such as Taiwanese sausages, minced pork rice, green onion pancakes, and jasmine milk tea. The popcorn chicken was especially popular; even after most of the other stands had closed, there was still a long line of people at 11:00 p.m., eagerly anticipating their serving of the piping hot, crunchy, juicy snack.
TASA also sold dishes that are uncommon outside of Asian communities. For example, one stand sold Chinese tea eggs — cracked eggs boiled in tea, sauces, and spices, taking on a marbled appearance. Another dish, oden, a type of Japanese soup with fish cake and tofu skewers, piqued the interest of many visitors as it was a steaming hot drink during a cold night. In addition, wintermelon tea, a sweet drink which is as popular as boba milk tea in Taiwan but relatively unknown in the States, was also sold.
While TASA itself contributed to selling much of the food at the night market, it also invited many other Asian-Pacific Islander (API) organizations such as the Taiwan Student Association (TSA), Korean American Student Association (KASA), Hong Kong Student Association (HKSA), Vietnamese Student Association (VSA), Japanese Language Cafe (JLC), and Kapatirang Pilipino (KP) to participate in the event.
Each organization sold food that was culturally connected to the communities it represented. For instance, HKSA sold Hong Kong egg waffles, a crispy and lightly sweetened egg-shaped waffle snack. JLC sold Japanese yakisoba, a dish made of fried buckwheat noodles with a sweet yet savory sauce. Seoul’d Out, UCSB’s K-Pop club on campus, sold Korean hotteok, sweet pancakes with a dark brown sugar filling.
While people ate their food, they had the opportunity to enjoy popular Taiwanese music coming from the speakers, socialize with their fellow market-goers, or watch performances at the stage. The audience cheered for multicultural hip-hop dance team Black Reign, K-Pop dance team SS805, and the Chokis, a Chinese dance team, as each performed routines to popular music among the API communities.
By the end of the evening, every food stand was completely sold out, serving as a testament to the event’s success.