As it enters its fifth season, the Queens International Night Market continues to introduce distinct culinary perspectives to new audiences.
The outdoor market will return to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park this Saturday with close to 60 vendors serving cuisines from around the globe; about a third are Night Market rookies.
“The Night Market is more a curation of stories rather than specific dishes,” founder John Wang said. “In the past four years the vendors have represented more than 80 countries, and the new participants for the 2019 season continue to showcase the diversity of New York City. It’s our mission to highlight the cuisines of as many different countries as possible right here in Queens.”
Here are some of the highlights of this year’s incoming new vendors:
Signature dish: Smoked pastrami ($6), house-smoked and house-cured, served on rye bread with mustard and a pickle on the side
Meet the vendor: Chef/owner Andrew Steinberg has been working in restaurants since he was 15, touting everything from Kosher kitchens to Morimoto to Applebee’s on his resume. A New York native, he strives to make Berg’s pastrami in the style of the city’s most beloved Jewish delis, citing Katz’s as a major influence.
Fun fact: Berg’s is true Queens pastrami — it’s smoked and cured in a Long Island City prep kitchen.
Signature dish: Czech-style langosh ($5) — fried, disc-shaped dough offered in both sweet and savory varieties, from garlic and cheese to cinnamon and sugar
Meet the vendor: Owners Vera Bloch and Jana Horul, who grew up in Pilsen in the western Czech Republic, both say that they decided to “just run with their crazy idea” to start a business focused on this popular Czech street food.
Fun fact: The booth will also pour Kofola, a Czech soft drink made with a mixture of fruit and herbal extracts.
Signature dish: Soul Food Sunday Cupcake ($5), featuring a cornmeal-crusted fried chicken wing atop garlic Parmesan mashed potatoes, which are piped like icing onto a honey cornbread cupcake
Meet the vendor: Chef/owner Lynette Thompson says the seeds for her burgeoning catering business — and now Night Market stall — were planted when she was an undergraduate student at SUNY New Paltz. “I hated the food served in the cafeteria so I would go out and shop for ingredients myself to make my own meals,” Thompson said. It has been her goal to participate in the Night Market since she saw photos online a few years ago, she added, and she is upping the ante at her stall by offering multiple types of mac and cheese.
Fun fact: Thompson also runs a photography business, Marcel Marcel Photography, with her husband.
Delicacy Brigadeiros Craft
Signature dish: Brigadeiros (three for $5), handmade truffles offered in traditional flavors, such as dark chocolate, and more unexpected, like Parmesan cheese
Meet the vendor: Originally from Rio de Janeiro, owner and baker Beatriz Melo founded Delicacy to honor her grandmother, who is also a baker. In addition to the Night Market, Melo sells her sweet treats online.
Fun fact: At the Night Market, Melo plans to have some fun with Brazilian pão de queijo, bite-sized baked cheese rolls, by experimenting with different fillings, including guava paste.
Dotty’s Norwegian Kitchen
Signature dish: Fårikål ($5), a rich lamb and cabbage stew brimming with potatoes, pickled vegetables and a flatbread with chutney for dipping
Meet the vendor: Mimi Blitz and Wesley Wobles, partners in life and business, named Dotty’s after Wobles’ grandmother, who grew up in Norway and taught him her recipes.
Fun fact: Wobles cooked fårikål for family and friends every year during Christmas before deciding to launch Dotty’s.
Signature dish: Vietnamese hu tieu ($5), a noodle soup typically found in Ho Chi Minh City made here with pork bone broth, shrimp, pork ribs, chives, scallions, cilantro and rice noodles
Meet the vendor: Husband-and-wife owners Patrick Lin and Ly Nguyen opened Em restaurant in Bensonhurst last year. With their Night Market stall, they are testing the waters to potentially open a second brick and mortar in Queens.
Fun fact: Hu tieu was the first dish that Nguyen cooked Lin when they were dating.
Jaa Dijo Dom
Signature dish: South African kota ($5), the ultimate sandwich: thick-cut, toasted and hollowed out white bread loaded with fries, cheese, bacon, sausage and a fried egg, topped with the fiery peri-peri sauce and milder peri mayo
Meet the vendor: Owner Charles Chipengule, who was born and raised in Botswana, founded his Pan-African catering company in 2017 because he felt that the flavors of his home continent have been underrepresented in New York. “I want dishes like kota and bunny chow to be as familiar to people in the States as lasagna,” Chipengule said.
Fun fact: Like several of his fellow Night Market vendors, Chipengule credits his grandma for his passion for cooking.
Signature dish: Filipino lugaw ($5), ginger-flavored rice porridge garnished with a soft-boiled egg, fried garlic, scallions and pulled chicken
Meet the vendor: Chef/owner Judy Mae, who launched Kanin NYC specifically to take part in the Night Market, says lugaw epitomizes “Filipino comfort food.” It’s one of five dishes she plans to offer.
Fun fact: This is Mae’s first foray into the food business. With her two children now in college, she says she decided to “take the leap” and embark on this new career path.
Signature dish: Singaporean laksa ($5), featuring rice noodles with shrimp, bean sprouts, tofu puffs and fresh herbs (instead of a hot broth, the ingredients are coated in a concentrated, creamy coconut curry sauce)
Meet the vendor: Amy Pryke, who hails from Singapore, worked for a consulting group in the States before deciding to enter the food industry. “Singaporean restaurants in New York were hard to come by, so I decided to start my own pop-up business,” Pryke said.
Fun fact: It has been a busy year for Pryke — she is currently enrolled at Columbia Business School, set to graduate in May with an MBA. Her goal is to open a fast-casual Singaporean eatery.
Signature dish: Chicken satay lilit ($5), a Balinese-style dish made from minced chicken mixed with grated coconut, coconut milk, lemon juice, shallots and peppers to form a cylindrical meatball that’s skewered by a lemongrass stalk for easy eating then topped with spiced coconut flakes and served with Sambal Matah, a fiery chili sauce
Meet the vendor: Chef Hendra Lie, an Elmhurst resident, graduated from the Institute of Culinary Education and cooked at The Musket Room before venturing out on his own.
Fun fact: Lie combined two distinct words to name his business — “warung” in Malay refers to a small, family-owned eatery, while “jancook” is a common expression in Indonesia used to convey amazement or pleasure.
IF YOU GO
The Queens International Night Market will host preview nights on Saturday and April 27 from 5 p.m.-midnight and run every Saturday through Aug. 17 and from Sept. 28-Oct. 26 | New York Hall of Science, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park | tickets $5 at queensnightmarket.com