Troyasia Night Market: important, but poorly executed
This past Friday, Troy’s third annual Troyasia Night Market dazzled event goers with a plethora of Asian cuisine and amazing aesthetics. This event was hosted by multiple food vendors—each bringing their own take on Asian street food to the table. Korean food was supplied by K-Plate and Sunhee’s Farm and Kitchen, Japanese food was introduced by The Little Rice Ball, and Superior Merchandise Company brought beverages. There was an immense turnout from the local community making for an entertaining night.
When I first got to the market, the first thing I noticed was the large sample tiles mat that had been reconstructed into a dance floor. There were strings of fairy lights and paper lanterns that gave the entire market a rustic and artsy vibe. There were small cards listing the vendors available for that night, but more vendors were present than the ones listed. While my friends and I stood in line, we couldn’t help but marvel over the fact that the restaurants were making the food in front of the customers and thus fostering a feeling of togetherness and family.
Although Troyasia Night was intended to be a fun celebration of Asian culture, it wasn’t smoothly executed. The venue was smaller than anticipated, and, when mixed with such a large crowd, didn’t allow for personal space. I agree the decorations were beautiful, however, I couldn’t really appreciate the event’s aesthetic since the room was so crowded. There was barely any space to stand with all the lines intertwining. Additionally, one vendor ran out of food as soon as it was my turn to order; I waited in line for nothing.
Despite my negative experience, I still believe Troyasia has potential. This event should definitely happen again, but perhaps with a few changes. I would love to attend such a market during the day rather than at night. Downtown Troy has beautiful locations to sit throughout the day which would create a more open, comfortable environment for visitors. There was minimal seating at Troyasia Night, and having it during the day would allow people to wander and maybe sit by the Riverfront instead. I also believe a bigger location would better accommodate the lines of people waiting for food. Troyasia Night Market could maybe take place on one of the streets where the Farmers Market is set up. This would definitely create more room for people to enjoy the event’s atmosphere with the string lights and soothing music.
Let me be frank: the pricing at this event is disappointing. Night markets are supposed to be cheap and affordable—they should be a place where you can eat all night without breaking the bank. But the prices were so steep that my friends and I ultimately chose to eat dinner at Bespoki Bowl. One vendor was selling Vietnamese spring rolls for $4 each, or $7 for two. That’s highway robbery. Shrimp aside, the ingredients are dirt cheap and easily purchased at an Asian supermarket, and the dish itself requires little effort to put together. The other price points weren’t much better. I think that the vendors need to be true to traditional night markets, and show that Asian food can be low price, yet high quality (not oily and fried like American Chinese food).
Additionally, a friend of mine said that it’s always cold, and sometimes rainy, when this event is held; the friends I went with complained about how cold it was. Perhaps the Troyasia coordinators could consider hosting the event earlier in the year. For example, the Mid-Autumn Festival is commonly celebrated among Asian cultures, and usually takes place a few weeks earlier.
I know I’m being critical. But, being a Taiwanese-American man who grew up in the very Asian San Francisco Bay Area, I know just how beautiful Asian culture can be, and I want to see it flourish here. I love that the event encourages Asian culture and cuisine in a place where it’s rather lacking—for that alone, I’ll always root for it.