On Saturday, the Queens Night Market kicked off its inaugural evening of food, art and other wares in the parking lot of the NY Hall of Science in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Though it was a pared down version of organizer John Wang's initial vision, that didn't stop thousands of hungry New Yorkers from descending on the market, making for long lines at food stands and some traffic snarls as people tried to find parking. Once inside, there was much to choose from, from squid skewers to grilled corn to noodles—plus some rogue vendors who setup on the perimeter to help thin out some of the crowd.
"We knew that if more than a few thousand showed up that there'd be lines, but it was at least five or 10 times more people than we expected," Wang revealed. "A lot of complaints were how long the food lines were, which partly was a consequence of us not expecting as many people to come as they did. So we’ll obviously have more vendors signed up for next time, including more food vendors which will hopefully mitigate some of the long lines." Wang says that every single one of the vendors had sold out by the end of the night.
The most recognizable face of food was probably Karl Palma, who runs Karl's Balls, serving octopus-stuffed takoyaki topped with bonito flakes and kewpie mayo. The Tei Nei Ya stand was offering griddled noodles, yakitori-style skewers with chicken and salty pieces of fried chicken. Also on skewers, griddled squid tentacles and bodies, dressed in a savory seasoning and nibbled directly off the stick. The Burmese Bites stand was offering a Burmese version of roti, gossamer thin sheets of flatbread cooked on a flattop, stuffed with a meat and egg mixture, and then hacked into handheld portions.
Wang says that the overwhelming response has also led to a massive amount of applications for future iterations of the Market. "We had a limited number of vendors the first time, only the ones who were willing to take a blind risk with us," Wang said. "We've had 50 to 100 applications in the past 12 hours, which is almost more than we had when we first started."
The market has already confirmed 15 Saturday nights at the NY Hall of Science through October, with an additional eight or nine dates they're leaving open to visit other parts of the borough. The next market will be back in the park this Saturday, with even more food and hopefully a fully functioning 7 Train.