By Ashley Chen
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
Enter the gates of the Chinatown-International District (CID) and witness the return of Seattle’s vibrant cultures at the night market! Take a look around. You’ll definitely find a small souvenir to take home. Or take a smell around. The aroma of BBQ spring rolls has filled every nose on the street.
Due to the pandemic, the CID Night Market was cancelled last year. Because vaccination rates have gone up recently, the Chinatown-International District Business Improvement Area was able to host a night market on Sept. 25. Two blocks were closed off just for the occasion, populated with trucks and booths. Eric Pham, a first-time visitor to this year’s market, cites how he “saw a variety of diversity, including white and Black people.” Not only that, there were “a lot of food stands that served Vietnamese, Korean, and Chinese food, along with McDonald’s and boba.” The diversity of the market really brought cultures together, one of the hallmarks of the night market.
Here were some of my favorites:
One of the first places I visited was Glow Tea. The line extended about half a block for at least four hours. Their drinks are the pinnacle of boba aesthetic. The most striking element of their boba is the shape of their cup. Instead of sticking to a traditional tall cup, Glow Tea opted for a light bulb. A light bulb might seem like a strange shape for a simple drink, but the drink actually lights up! At the bottom of their cups is a pressable light switch that activates colored lights throughout the drink, as if it lit up the streets and the hearts of the visitors of the night market.
A booth that caught my attention was that of Joyce Hwang. The booth was filled with cute, colorful vinyl stickers that seemed perfect for my laptop. Stickers are great gifts for friends. Many of my friends have laptop stickers or a collage on their water bottles. Even though all of these stickers are on the cute side, Joyce Hwang makes many different genres of stickers. There’s something for everyone.
Joyce Hwang also creates other art objects, including but not limited to prints, shirts, and journals. You can check out some of her other works at joycehwang.com.
Dyme Designs was a unique store featuring every gemstone you could think of. The family running the shop seemed very educated in their craft. With every person that approached them about what a gemstone meant, they would be able to explain off the top of their heads the meaning behind the gemstone.
Dyme Designs is a family-run business inspired by Chinese culture and Asian art. You can find out more about them at dymedesigns.com.
Tsuchronicl had another set of fancy pins and stickers that I adored. The booth was lined with an array of anime-inspired art. I was lucky enough to pick up a Kitty Boba Pin because many of Tsuchonicl’s other pins are sold out on her website.
Tsuchronicl is owned by Alice, a part-time artist based in Seattle.
Seattle Best Tea
When Seattle Best Tea proclaims themselves to be the best tea in Seattle, they’re not exactly lying. The Taiwanese-owned shop offered delicious tea this weekend. I got a generic Black Milk Tea. The place was pretty popular given that they ran out of pearls when I got there. The people running the booth were really kind and asked me if I was okay with not having pearls. The tea had even more flavor without them.
Something about the Seattle Best Tea booth that caught my attention was one of their big signs. Even though they’re a Taiwanese-owned business, their sign was in Vietnamese. Chinatown is not only “Chinese,” it’s an International District with many different racial demographics and a diverse set of cultures.
The owners, Joe Hsu and Lydia Lin, established their Chinatown business in 1996.
The corgis from Single Sploot were adorable. Almost all the stationary sold at Single Sploot had corgis on them, ranging from car window stickers to washi tape.
Even when I was just walking by, someone mentioned how corgis’ butts are perfect. It was a really humorous comment, making the lively energy from the corgi stand spread throughout the entire night market.
Single Sploot is run by Linsey and Emi, a corgi mom and corgi duo.
These last couple of places, I got a good glimpse at but didn’t have the time to go visit:
ToPo’s Tornado Potato
The line for Tornado Potato was comparable to the line for Glow Tea. Every couple of people that passed by was holding a stick with a spiral of potatoes. Visit mytornadopotato.com.
Crawfish King was also very busy. The food smelled really good and they installed a PA system just to make sure everyone knew when their food was ready. You can check them out at crawfishkingwa.com.